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The Music Man (1962)

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Harold Hill poses as a boys' band leader to con naive Iowa townsfolk.

Director:

Morton DaCosta

Writers:

Meredith Willson (based on: "The Music Man"), Franklin Lacey (written in collaboration with) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
2,652 ( 4,425)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Preston ... Harold Hill
Shirley Jones ... Marian Paroo
Buddy Hackett ... Marcellus Washburn
Hermione Gingold ... Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn
Paul Ford ... Mayor George Shinn
Pert Kelton ... Mrs. Paroo
The Buffalo Bills The Buffalo Bills ... School Board
Timmy Everett Timmy Everett ... Tommy Djilas
Susan Luckey ... Zaneeta Shinn
Ron Howard ... Winthrop Paroo (as Ronny Howard)
Harry Hickox ... Charlie Cowell
Charles Lane ... Constable Locke
Mary Wickes ... Mrs. Squires
Sara Seegar ... Maud Dunlop
Adnia Rice Adnia Rice ... Alma Hix
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Storyline

It's the early twentieth century American Midwest. A con man currently going by the assumed name Harold Hill has used several different schemes to bilk the unsuspecting, and now travels from town to town pretending to be a professor of music - from Gary (Indiana) Conservatory of Music, class of '05 - who solves all the respective towns' youth problems by forming boys' marching bands. He takes money from the townsfolk to buy instruments, music, instructional materials, and uniforms for their sons. However, in reality he has no degree and knows nothing about music, and after all the materials arrive and are distributed, he absconds with all the money, never to be seen again. Many of the traveling salesmen in the territory have been negatively impacted by him, as the townsfolk then become suspicious of any stranger trying to sell them something. For Harold's scheme to work, he must gain the trust of the local music teacher, usually by wooing her, regardless of her appearance. And if the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of that man and his 76 trombones, and the wonderful, wonderful tune he played on every heart in town! See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 June 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Meredith Willson's The Music Man See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,240,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,953,846
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording)| DTS | SDDS | Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

River City was based on Meredith Willson's home town of Mason City, Iowa. The movie had its world premiere there. See more »

Goofs

In the opening musical number, "Rock Island", sung by traveling salesmen aboard a moving railroad car, the salesmen are jiggling up and down to the rhythm of the train. But the car and the scenery outside are perfectly steady, revealing that the salesmen are actually dancing, not being joggled by the train. See more »

Quotes

Mayor Shinn: I settle your hash as soon as I get these premises off my oldest girl.
[sic]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits appear in the style of a Broadway show's curtain call. First the minor characters are shown with the performers' names. The credits then progress through the cast ending with the lead. See more »


Soundtracks

Piano Lesson
(1957) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Performed by Shirley Jones and Pert Kelton
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

But he doesn't know the territory!
28 February 2001 | by michael.e.barrettSee all my reviews

It seems redundant to add my comments when so many people have already done justice to it, but I'm still in the glow of having finally seen this movie as God intended--in Cinemascope! When I saw it long ago on TV, I was struck by how unusual it was but kept noticing certain distracting bits around the edge of the screen--it was the fade-outs and split-screen effects I was missing! Watch this film in letterboxed form ONLY please--it's visually, musically and dramatically innovative.

Its splendors have already been mentioned. I add two minor treats: 1) appearance of lanky character actor Hank Worden (of "The Searchers" and "Twin Peaks") as the undertaker, and 2) script so full of bizarre slang and expressions, it's as if P.G. Wodehouse or Damon Runyan were writing turn-of-the-century Americana.

My two carps are minor: I would have told Morton Da Costa to lose all the heavy-handed cutaways to the train wheels ("Rock Island") and chickens ("Pick a Little, Talk a Little") because we already got the point, and Ron Howard's cute lithp is a turn-off for me, but I never like cute kids. However, he's good at the climax, and when Shirley Jones hears him singing "Wells Fargo Wagon" and tears the evidence against Harold Hill out of the book (a librarian!), it's one of the most convincing turnarounds in musical history. Especially because she's still not fooled by the hucksterism, she just perceives it differently in comparison with the easily manipulated small-towners around her. She realizes that he's selling hope and joy despite himself ("There's always a band.") And when she just thanks him for his gift ("Till There Was You") and doesn't mind if he flees, of course he realizes he would be insane to leave. Another heartfelt turnaround.

One of the most graceful musicals, marked by blurring of the line between straight dialogue and songs--as the line "there was love all around but I never heard it singing" implies, you can hear the singing if you listen for it in the world. It's in the trains and the chickens and the bands you hear in your head and the pride in your children playing that clarinet by the "think system." Moving.


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