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Pippin: His Life and Times (1981)

At the goading of the ominous and omnipresent Leading Player, Pippin, the eldest son of King Charlemagne, samples life's pleasures to discover his place in the world and the meaning of his life.



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Director: Richard Quine
Stars: Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, Betty Garrett
Comedy | Musical

A young prince named Pippin searches for meaning and purpose in his life.


A coming-of-age story set in 19th-century Germany and centered on a group of teens discovering their sexuality.



Cast overview, first billed only:
The Leading Player
Leslie Denniston ...
Benjamin Rayson ...
Joanie P. Oneill ...
Debra Phelan ...
Linda Haberman ...
Kate Wright ...
Allison Williams ...
John Mineo ...
Sword Bearer
Charles Lee Ward ...
Lee Mathis ...
Frank Mastrocola ...


At the goading of the ominous and omnipresent Leading Player, Pippin, the eldest son of King Charlemagne, samples life's pleasures to discover his place in the world and the meaning of his life.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


After Chicago (2002) became a big hit, Miramax bought several Bob Fosse-related musical properties, Pippin among them. The feature project is reported to be in development as of 2013. See more »


The Lead Player sings during the song "Simple Joys" that wouldn't you rather be... "a twig on a fig in Galilee." The line from the song that is supposed to be sung is "a fig on a twig in Galilee". See more »


The leading player: Sweet summer evenings, sapphire skies, feasting your belly, feasting your eyes. Simple joys have a simple voice that says time is living's prize. And wouldn't you rather be a left-handed flea, a crab on a slab at the bottom of the sea, a newt on the root of a banyan tree, a fig on twig in Galilee, than a man who never learns how to be free?
See more »


Referenced in Modern Family: Slow Down Your Neighbors (2011) See more »


Morning Glow
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Sung by William Katt and The Players
See more »

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User Reviews

Yeah, the Video Taped version ain't great
16 April 1999 | by (Iowa City, IA) – See all my reviews

But it still manages to capture the look, feel, and spirit of the original stage production. Great musical numbers and dance numbers compensate, IMO, for the flaws of bringing it to video (and the original "director's cut" unedited version makes up for much of the cited flaws anyway).

Pippin isn't really adapted for video, but is rather simply a taping of a stage production (compare it to Cats - the video version _was_ staged for video). This is a mild flaw. Cats obviously takes advantage of F/X, close-ups, etc., while Pippin's camerawork is pretty much static.

The standout is Ben Vereen, at his peak here carrying the show. Chita Rivera (Fastrada) and Benjamin Rayson (Charlemagne) are the best of the supporting player. Katt and Denniston are kinda weak, and Martha Raye, while adequate, isn't as good as Irene Ryan in the original Broadway production.

Overall, Pippin is an entertaining musical which is competently captured on the (complete) video.

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