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The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957)

Overwhelmed by rats, a medieval town hires a magical piper who can rid the town of the pest in exchange for gold but the crooked mayor has no intention of honoring the deal.

Director:

Bretaigne Windust

Writers:

Robert Browning (poem), Hal Stanley | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Van Johnson ... Pied Piper / Truson
Claude Rains ... Mayor of Hamelin
Lori Nelson ... Mara
Jim Backus ... King's Emissary
Kay Starr Kay Starr ... John's Mother
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alan Aaronson Alan Aaronson
Kathie Anderson Kathie Anderson
Les Clark Les Clark
Brian Corcoran Brian Corcoran
Cyril Delevanti
James Elsegood James Elsegood
James Gonzalez
Alex Goudavich Alex Goudavich
Fred Hansen Fred Hansen
Jess Kirkpatrick
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Storyline

The singing, rhyming citizens of Hamelin hope to win a competition with rival towns for royal recognition. To this end, the mayor outlaws play (which is a bit hard on the children) and refuses to help a rival town when it's flooded. But rats (seen only as shadows), fleeing the flood, invade Hamelin in droves; a magical piper, whose music only children (and rats) can hear, strikes a bargain...which, once the rats are gone, the Mayor and council renege on, to their subsequent regret. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Now! a giant color spectacle! from the pages of the immortal classics comes this famous story!..


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 November 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El flautista de Hamelin See more »

Filming Locations:

USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hal Stanley Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

They speak of melting gold coin to make bells for the town clock. Gold is too soft to make a bell. To coat a bell with gold, would not require thousands of coins. See more »

Quotes

Mayor of Hamelin: What would you do with such a sum?
Pied Piper: Have fun!
See more »

Connections

Version of The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Morning Waltz
Music by Edvard Grieg (adapted from "Morning Mood" from "Peer Gynt")
Music Adapted and Conducted by Pete King
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Abuse of authority and rats, twin scourges of Hamelin!
1 October 2002 | by Bobs-9See all my reviews

I had never heard of this movie, and got a chance to see it for the very first time in a cheapie DVD edition. I marvel at the tremendous amount of obscure old films out there. An entire lifetime wouldn't be enough to know them all. While this one is problematic, on the whole I'm pleased to have discovered it, as I love finding these little-known byways of films past.

I agree that while this was originally conceived as a children's film, it would bore to death most kids today, having been desensitized by the blazingly fast pace of today's video and film styles. This is best appreciated as a bit of 1950s kitsch, and as such I find it an interesting museum piece. I was a bit puzzled by the lack of depth in much of the cinematography. It just didn't seem particularly cinematic, but looking it up at the IMDb and finding it to be a made-for-TV project sort of explained that to me. The look was dictated by the budget, and perhaps an idea that this shallow staging was best suited to the small screen circa 1957, which was very small indeed. As it was recorded on film rather than videotape, its origins as a TV production were not quite immediately apparent, but it's certainly an odd mixture of cinematic and television style.

What's been said below is true, i.e. garish primary colors, a clumsy sometimes-rhyming and sometimes-not script, saccharine sentimentalizing and simplistic moralizing. Some of the rhymes sound to be lifted from, or at least inspired by, the poem by Robert Browning originally published in 1887, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin: A Child's Story." Also, no doubt mandated by the demands of TV executives and/or sponsors, a happy ending is tacked on at the end which is quite unlike that of the original story. Regarding the odd name of Hamelin's unfortunate rival city, it seems to me that it was meant to be pronounced Hamel-OUT, as a simple (very simple) play on words (Hamel-IN and Hamel-OUT. In and out, get it? Har har!). Well, I guess they thought kids of the time would find that amusing.

It is an interesting idea to set a musical to tunes by Edvard Grieg, who produced an abundant supply of melodies. My guess is that this was inspired by the musical "Kismet" having used melodies by Alexander Borodin so effectively. Besides "Peer Gynt," there are tunes from Grieg's "Norwegian Dances" and his Piano Concerto. While the lyrics are hardly masterpieces, I did find it amusing to hear one of the Norwegian Dances adorned with the lyric "flim, flam, floom."

It's strange indeed to see chanteuse Kay Starr performing what sounds to me like a sultry torch song to lament the disappearance of her child. As the film was conceived as family entertainment, maybe this was thought to be something for the adults in the family, but the effect is just bizarre. I couldn't identify a Grieg melody in this song.

Van Johnson does a fine job in the dual roles of the Piper and Truson, the town civil libertarian and whistle-blower. More than addressing just the issue of human greed and deceit, the script seems a somewhat liberal take on the issues of free speech and the abuse of power in a democratic government. Good old Claude Rains seems to give his all in the role of the corrupt mayor of Hamelin, and though he's a bit long-in-the-tooth by then, he plays the part with relish and what seems to me total commitment. Good for him!

It seems to me that the main attractions of this film are its nostalgic and kitsch qualities, and if those attributes irritate you, you'd do well to avoid it, but it does have value as sort of a museum-piece curiosity, half video and half cinema, with some McCarthy-era liberalism thrown in. I'm glad to have discovered it.


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