The Music Man


(out of 5)

Meredith Willson’s eternally popular musical steeped in cloying Americana has been turned into a giant, thoroughly irritating film experience.  is still playing for the third balcony as the titular con artist who goes to small, wholesome towns pretending to be a traveling salesman, convincing people to order band uniforms and instruments that he has no interest in delivering on.  Arriving in a lovely Iowa burg, his experience is altered by his love for a gorgeous librarian named Marian () which threatens to turn him legit except for the real traveling salesman who is hunting him down to expose his fraud (honestly, they make movies about this sort of thing).  A series of tuneless songs with a few well-known hits scattered among them lengthen the torture of a good deal of cardboard performances and contrived jabs at humour.  The only sign of life is Jones, who gives real dimension to all her scenes (she can’t even hug her little brother without genuine warm feeling), highlighted by her gorgeous duet with a barbershop quartet that is the film’s best number.  Ravishing sets and costumes are a pleasure to look at, but the whole thing has the same heavy, stilted feeling that Warner Bros would bring to their adaptation of My Fair Lady a couple of years later, though with far less charisma from the performers and dialogue.  For devoted fans of musicals only.

USA, 1962

Directed by

Screenplay by , in collaboration with , based on the musical by

Cinematography by

Produced by Morton DaCosta

Music by

Production Design by Paul Groesse

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Academy Awards:  1962

Golden Globe Awards:  1962



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