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The Fantasticks (1964)

Neighboring widowers plot to romantically unite their son and daughter by pretending to feud and forbidding the two children to associate with each other. Their scheme works and the two ... See full summary »



(book), (play) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Susan Watson ...


Neighboring widowers plot to romantically unite their son and daughter by pretending to feud and forbidding the two children to associate with each other. Their scheme works and the two youngsters fall head-over-heels in love. To end their "feud" the fathers hire a bandit and his henchmen to fake an abduction and allow the son to rout the assailants. The plan works, but the two love birds discover that requited love is much less exciting than forbidden romance and they break off their relationship. Matt, the son, resolves to see the world and receives a severe buffeting, while Luisa, the daughter, has an unhappy romance with the bandit, who steals her most precious possession, her mother's necklace. Matt returns, sadder but wiser, and the two former lovers reunite. Written by David Bassler

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Release Date:

18 October 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Fantasticks (#14.1)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


[first lines]
El Gallo: Let me tell you a few things before we begin the play. First of all, the characters: a boy, a girl, two fathers. It is hard to know what is most important or how it all began. The boy was born, the girl was born, they grew up - quickly - went to school, became shy in their own ways and for different reasons. Read romances, studied cloud formations in the lazy afternoon and instead of reading textbooks tried to memorize the moon.
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Referenced in Rosemary's Baby (1968) See more »


Abduction Ballet
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Lyrics by Tom Jones
Performed by Company
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User Reviews

Excellent chamber musical, with the "rape" scene downplayed.

I viewed a kinescope of this TV special in the Museum of TV & Radio. This production of 'The Fantasticks' is a Hallmark special, so -- like all of that breed -- it's impeccably well-done family viewing, and squeaky-clean. One problem with 'The Fantasticks' (adapted from an Edmond Rostand play) is that the fathers of the young lovers conspire with another man to have one father's daughter raped. Even though the libretto takes care to establish that the word "rape" is being used in its more obscure sense of abduction rather than non-consensual sex ... still, when modern viewers hear the word "rape", they're going to interpret it in the sexual way. Appropriately, this production revises and downplays that difficult part of the plot.

This production's staging is note-perfect: on a spacious indoor set that convincingly depicts a rural outdoor setting in autumn. (As the beautiful opening song notes, this is September.) I was surprised by the elimination here of the top-hatted character known in the stage play as the Mute, somewhat equivalent to the Property Man in Chinese drama. Two other minor roles have been incorporated into the roles of the fathers, Hucklebee and Bellomy. A press release issued at the time this special was broadcast on American TV stated that this was "to make the fathers' roles fatter and funnier".

And, oh, those fathers! The boy's father Hucklebee is played by the great Bert Lahr, whilst the girl's father (a slightly more difficult role) is tackled by the great Stanley Holloway. Lahr and Holloway had never worked together before, yet here they convince us that they've been cronies for years (despite their wildly diverse accents). Their harmonising on the comic duet "Never Say 'No'" is hilarious. Also, Ricardo Montalban is splendid and quietly dignified as El Gallo, the pimp of the rape that's not a rape.

As for the young lovers ... as the boy, John Davidson is, well, squeaky-clean. I was much more interested in seeing the performance of Susan Watson as the girl. It's amazing that Susan Watson is today so obscure. In the early 1960s, Watson was a vitally important Broadway performer: the bridge between Barbara Cook (before her) and Bernadette Peters (after her). Watson was the generic ingenue, starring in several Broadway musicals: among others, she played the Ann-Margret role in the stage version of 'Bye Bye Birdie'. Seeing her vivacious performance here, I'm surprised that she never translated her stage stardom into screen stardom. I'll rate this excellent chamber musical 9 out of 10.

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