Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum
Release Date: June 30, 1971 (USA)
Running Time: 100 min
Genres: Family, Musical, Fantasy, Comedy
Commentary Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is my favorite children's movie. I loved it as a child the first time I watched it at age nine, and I have enjoyed it ever since. Based on the Roald Dahl children's novel, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", the movie catches much of the spirit of the novel. The acting is also quite good, most notably Gene Wilder's role as Willy Wonka, the highly eccentric chocolate factory owner and candy maker. Julie Down Cole also gives quite an impressive performance as the extremenly spoiled Veruca Salt, especially with her rendition of "I Want It Now". The movie is both very exciting and somewhat disturbing at the same time, which I'm sure was the intention of Mel Stuart as well as Roald Dahl, who's book is more or less a morality play.
Introduction: The movie begins in a small European town, where lives a very poor boy named Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum), who lives with his mother and four grandparents in a tiny cottage. Charlie passes by Willy Wonka's huge chocolate factory every day on his way home from his daily paper route after school. He longs to go inside and learn of the secrets of the factory, but the gates are locked.
The Golden Tickets: Then one day, Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) decides to let five lucky children into his factory by hiding five golden tickets inside random Wonka Bars. In addition to being given a daily tour of the factory, the winners are to be rewarded with a lifetime supply of chocolate. The contest results in a worldwide frenzy to find the golden tickets. After a few months, four of the golden tickets are found by four nasty children, each spiteful in their own way. Finally after much grief, Charlie manages to find the last golden ticket.
The Chocolate Factory: The next day, Willy Wonka opens his factory doors to these lucky children as well as one member of each of their families. Mr. Wonka takes them through several whimsical rooms and shows them some incredible wonders, but in the process, each of the four nasty children one-by-one ends up getting left behind in a grave predicament. Finally, only Charlie and his Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) remain. Willy Wonka tests Charlie's loyalty in a very frightening way, but Charlie passes the test, whence Mr. Wonka decides to give the factory to Charlie and his family, revealing that the real reason he'd issued the golden tickets was to find a suitable heir.
Music Songs from the movie include the following:
"The Candy Man" by Aubrey Woods
"Cheer Up, Charlie" by Diane Sowle
"(I've Got a) Golden Ticket" by Jack Albertson and Peter Ostrum
"Pure Imagination" by Gene Wilder
"Oompa Loompa Doompa-de-do" by the Oompa Loompas
"I Want It Now!" by Julie Down Cole
Cultural Significance Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was not a big hit when it was released, but it has since gained a rather large cult following among both children and adults, much like The Wizard of Oz, a similar movie from several decades earlier. Although most of the songs from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory aren't very well-known, "The Candy Man", the opening song, became a big hit the following year for Sammy Davis Jr. In 2005 the movie Charlieand the Chocolate Factory was released. Although very similar to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and somewhat more faithful to the novel, I don't think it's quite as great.
Here's the original movie trailer.
Here's a compilations of songs from the movie, along with sing-along lyrics.
Here's Willy Wonka's performance of "Pure Imagination" in the Chocolate Room.