Cinderella (1965 TV Movie)
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Meanwhile, in 1964, Rodgers decided to mount a new production himself (Hammerstein had since died) with a new cast and adaptation, replacing the farcial quality of the original with a more traditional version. The result was another ratings smash, and as intended, a television perennial which was repeated for years. This time, the title role was played by young Lesley Ann Warren, who was introduced in this production and began a career which is still going strong today. Stuart Damon (later to gain fame on "General Hospital") played the prince. The supporting cast had Academy Award-winners Celeste Holm, as the fairy godmother, Jo Van Fleet as the stepmother, and Ginger Rogers as the queen. The beloved Walter Pigeon was cast as the king. And, as the two stepsisters Prunella and Esmerelda, were Pat Carroll and Barbara Ruick. Although the story stuck to the familiar fairy tale this time, the original songs were , of course, retained.
What more can be said for this near-perfect treasure? Ms. Warren is simply glorious as Cinderella, her fresh beauty complimented by her sweet singing voice, and Damon is her ideal Prince (Christopher) Charming. Celeste Holm sparkles as the fairy godmother, and she and Warren share one of the best numbers "Impossible/It's Possible". Van Fleet is a beautifully caustic stepmother, and both Carroll and Ruick are outstanding as the step-sisters. Unfortunately, both Rogers and Pigeon have little to do as the king and queen, but they ARE regal in their roles.
There are a couple of drawbacks--although critics at the time praised the "lavish production"; in reality it is done in the manner of a stage show, with sparse (and very basic) settings, and typical television camera-work. But the biggest error was using videotape instead of film for this production. Because of it's limitations, videotape does no justice to a show like this, severely limiting the visual values needed to compliment the other elements. It may be fine for situation comedies, but it was totally wrong for a musical fantasy. It must be admitted, however, that after a few minutes, one gets used to it, but what a difference film would have made! Because this version is the traditional one, it is my favorite of the two, but both are so different in approach and treatment, that each can be enjoyed on their own terms.
Two cast members of the 1965 version were already professionally acquainted with "Cinderella". Walter Pigeon provided the uncredited narration for the 1955 MGM film adaptation "The Glass Slipper" and Barbara Ruick was the daughter of character actress Lurene Tuttle, who played "Cousin Loulou" in the same movie. Another winner, that version featured Leslie Caron as Cinderella.
The Tunes: timeless, perfect, memorable, stuck-in-my-mind, forever in my heart, Rodgers and Hammerstein's most catchy words and music - bar none...
The Actors: from the tender innocence of Leslie Ann Warren to the giddily comical Pat Carroll and Barbara Ruick, terrifically snide Jo Van Fleet, regal Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon, handsome Stuart Damon,
The Story: simply told, tenderly and dramatically unfolded,
The Production: effectively suggests the magic by its otherworldly sets (no matter the changes in television and special effects that came much later in film history),
Forever an important part of growing up, still in my heart, my sister's heart and my dear parents' hearts...we often still sit down and watch...enjoying ever second together as if it were 1965, all over again.
But Lesley Ann Warren.... Let's say I fell in love that night, and have had a crush on Lesley Ann ever since, even after I've been married for eight years. (Grin) However, having seen this version any number of times now, I think I can give a more objective opinion.
Music: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II supplied the score; need we say more? This show turned me on to R&S. In particular, "Ten Minutes Ago," "Impossible," and the instrumental waltz at the ball (where Warren and Stuart Damon have their first dance) are incredible.
Cast: Excellent all the way. More objectively than above, Lesley Ann Warren as the young innocent who wins true love was inspired; while her voice is a little undeveloped at this age, it lends a certain charm to the performance. Her dancing was excellent across the board; not surprising, since she was trained as a ballet dancer before taking this part.
Stuart Damon was also excellent as the Prince (unnamed in the production). Far more handsome in 1965 (logically!), he was wonderful as the romantic young here, returned from adventures, but without a wife to carry on the dynasty. An excellent singing voice, and he used it on some wonderful songs.
The others of the cast were, in short, generally great. Walter Pidgeon and Ginger Rogers were wonderfully witty with each other; Jo Van Fleet, Pat Carroll and Barbara Ruick as the stepmother and stepsisters were characters you love to hate; and Celeste Holm was an excellent, sympathetic fairy godmother.
Costumes: Cinderella in her ball gown was the main reason I fell in love with Lesley Ann! In that floaty gown, with her hair pulled up and a long Hepburn swan's neck, she was the picture of beauty to a six-year-old boy. Still is....
Production: This may let people down today if they rent or buy the videotape (Hallmark Entertainment). Logically enough, the state of the art had advanced in 35 years, and the jaded viewer of today may not accept the simple camera cuts and video dissolves of 1965. Ride with the boat; you'll still enjoy if you give it a chance.
Highly recommended, both to the student/historian of television and to the simple viewer. My 5-year-old daughter enjoys this tape immensely, and she's a child of the modern effects world!
I'm not sure why it's listed as 1965 as I'm sure I saw it in 1964.
In Melbourne, our fourth TV channel was about to launch (the first three commencing in 1956). I can remember the launch of ATV10 vividly. I used to watch the test pattern before it officially went to air. For much of the time they played the 1957 CBS LP of Cinderella because the "new" version was in their first week of programming.
I was 15 at the time and managed to record the music on reel to reel tape. I loved all Rogers and Hammerstein's productions and immediately was attracted to the music and lyrics. And one could argue that because everyone already knew the story of Cinderella the entire production almost worked in one's own mind by simply listening to that soundtrack.
It was musically so well done in the original 1957 version. Several years later I found the LP and couldn't buy it quick enough.
I saw the "1965" version and was totally absorbed with it. Arguably it was the best cast to ever perform it. So many stars who were all well cast. Particularly Barbara Ruick and Celeste Holme.
The only bit I've ever seen of the 1957 production is a B+W clip of Julie Andrews singing "In my own little corner". My God I wish I'd seen it live - in colour. I saw it in the TV special : Rogers and Hammerstein - The Sound of Movies.
I enjoyed the 1999 TV version - but I don't think Brandy was strong enough musically - and frankly I thought she was miscast. I also didn't like some changes to the fundamental rhythyms that R&H created.
I can't understand why the R&H version of Cinderella hasn't become as popular as the story itself. I guess this has something to do with the R&H Organisation. It would be a wonderful show for school children to perform.
The 1957 soundtrack is one of my favourites. And I would love to see the 1965 version again. Maybe it wasn't popular in Australia because I can't recall ATV10 ever screening it again. But R&H were very paternalistic over their shows. Possibly too much.
I think R&H's Cinderella will live forever.
A Lovely Night ... indeed!
I probably haven't seen this film since I was ten. But the very lovely memory is still with me.
I remembered all the songs, all the costumes. Who cared if the sets looked cheesy? This was the very first movie that ever spoke to me. I have remembered it all my life. And today I finally got to see it again! I just bought the video today - and I've watched it 3 times already tonight! (making up for lost time <grin>)
I would have loved to see the Julie Andrews version...but it was aired the year I was born and never aired again. I did see the Disney 97 version...and I HATED it! Not worth my time! (except maybe for Jason Alexander! <nuther grin>
For pure simple family entertainment this movie tops my list. And it should top everyone else's as well!
This TV production, although simple by today's technology, retains all of the original magic as when I had first seen it. "Cinderella" is perfectly cast here, with the lead played by the meek budding actress Leslie Ann Warren, in her debut. Walter Pidgeon and Ginger Rogers as the King and Queen, respectively, give true meaning to those positions of status. And Cinderella's stepmother, as portrayed by Jo Van Fleet, displays a catty quality that has her in fine form. The two stepsisters, as portrayed by Nancy Ruick and Pat Carroll, are hilarious at times. The costumes are really effective for the period of time they portray.
Young children, especially young ballerinas, would appreciate this fine TV production.
Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon are just wonderful and elegant as Cinderella and her prince respectively. Their voices ring true to happiness.
Jo Van Fleet again proves her adeptness at being a difficult mother. This time, she does it in a comedic way. Her scene with the prince at the ball is a riot. Looking at herself in the mirror, she knows what she is.
Celeste Holm should be everyone's fairy god-mother. She has always been a voice for toleration from her scenes in "Gentleman's Agreement," and she shows it again in this fine production.
Get to your video stores and have the kiddies see this wonderful movie. They'll yell for more.