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This revisionist fairy tale is told from the Wolf's point of view. He was minding his business when along came this precocious little girl, Red Riding Hood. "And the nerve of that cowardly woodsman, daring to hint that I was attacking her", the wolf cries. Naturally, the animals of the forest do not believe him. Written by
When the Wolf tells Red Riding Hood that "people who give presents to each other are the luckiest people in the world" this is a sly reference to the hit 1960s song "People" which was introduced by Barbra Streisand in the Broadway musical "Funny Girl," the songs for which were written by Robert Merril and Jule Styne who also wrote the songs for "Dangerous Christmas." See more »
'The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood' was originally aired on ABC-TV on 28 November, 1965 ... almost a month before Christmas. The material really has nothing to do with Christmas, and it's obvious that a few Yuletide details have been bunged in just to make it likelier that this production would be optioned and scheduled as a 'Christmas' special (which it really isn't) so as to be more commercial and get higher ratings. The script by Robert Emmett isn't very good ... but the score is by the great Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, the same team who wrote the songs for 'Funny Girl'. This isn't one of Styne's best scores (nor Merrill's), but anything written by Jule Styne is worthy of notice.
This is a musical retelling of the Red Riding Hood story ... told from the viewpoint of the wolf! That's a very clever idea; unfortunately, it's the only really clever idea in this production. The wolf (renamed here Lone T. Wolf) is played by Cyril Ritchard, which is part of the problem. Ritchard was an extremely effeminate performer. His effeminacy was an asset in some roles, such as when he played Captain Hook (on a ship at sea with all those pirates, whoops!) or when he starred as Kreton the alien in 'Visit to a Small Planet'. But here, his prissy demeanour makes the big bad Wolf seem merely ridiculous. As the wolf, he wears a frock coat and gloves plus a furry headpiece that makes him look like something out of 'Cats' ... plus a long bushy tail that makes him look like Basil Brush gone grey. Even worse are the scenes in which Ritchard's wolf gets dressed up in Granny's nightdress. Drag humour isn't funny if the man wearing women's clothes is just as effeminate WITHOUT the women's clothes.
Worse luck, the story is told in flashback. Lone Wolf (Ritchard) is describing his version of events to the other wolves ... who are played by Eric Burdon and the Animals. Get it? The wolves are played by the Animals. Ha bloody ha. It might have been amusing if the Animals had got out their instruments and played 'The House of the Riding Hood', but no such luck.
Red Riding Hood is played by Liza Minnelli. I've always disliked this performer due to her extreme archness, but I recognise her talent without enjoying it. In flashbacks, Ritchard's wolf explains that Red Riding Hood was the actual villain, and that everything which happened was her fault, not his. The woodsman (Vic Damone) turns out to be Prince Charming, making this production seem like an early version of 'Into the Woods'.
The best things in this production are the Styne/Merrill songs, especially "You'll Need a Song" (sung by Damone) and 'Ding-a-Ling' (sung by Minnelli and Ritchard while the wolf is pretending to be Granny). I'll rate this production 3 points out of 10, and most of that's for the score.
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