Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
USA, 1982. Columbia Pictures, Rastar Pictures. Screenplay by Carol Sobieski, based on the stage play by Thomas Meehan, from the comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray. Cinematography by Richard Moore. Produced by Ray Stark. Music by Charles Strouse. Production Design by Dale Hennesy. Costume Design by Theoni V. Aldredge. Film Editing by Michael A. Stevenson.
Adapted from the Broadway musical, which itself was based on the popular Depression-era comic strip, this insanely bad mishmash of a musical is about the titular plucky, redheaded orphan (Aileen Quinn) who goes to live with a filthy rich Manhattan industrialist (Albert Finney) as part of a publicity stunt to improve his reputation in a city drowning in unemployment. The girl’s spark of energy and genuine love inspire him and his kindly secretary (Ann Reinking) so much that they keep her for good, which doesn’t sit well with the conniving woman (Carol Burnett) who runs the orphanage that Annie came from, who along with her dishonest brother (Tim Curry) and sister-in-law (Bernadette Peters) contrives to get Annie back and take Finney for all he’s worth.
The songs ring out loud and clear for the world to hear, some of them tunefully cute, some of them really annoying, but John Huston was never meant to direct a musical and he does a terrible job of it. The dramatic scenes are too heavy, the dance numbers are sometimes too busy, and the whole bloated thing is too darn long. The first death toll of the traditional musical film had been rung thirteen years earlier with Hello, Dolly!, but Annie came around just in time to drill one of the last big nails into the coffin.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Art Direction; Best Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Carol Burnett); Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Aileen Quinn); New Star of the Year-Female (Aileen Quinn)