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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 37.5%
Average: 4.17%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Music Man, The
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by PyThomas

"A goody-two-shoes musical that's still pretty enjoyable to watch."
4 stars

When I was driving through Iowa on a family-research bender, one of the cities I stopped in was Mason City, which happens to be the hometown of Meredith Wilson, composer of "The Music Man".

And you can tell the city of Mason City loved him dearly. His boyhood home has been made a historical landmark, and there's a performing arts center downtown whose lobby is modeled after the set of "The Music Man", with horse-drawn carts, old-timey storefronts and gaslights.

This film is an American institution, and it is indeed fully deserving of its legendary status. Everyone's mother loves "The Music Man" (including mine), and who can blame them? It was made in 1962 during the Golden Age of Movie Musicals, when you went to the movies to see exciting song-and-dance numbers instead of sex and explosions.

The story centers on one Harold Hill (Robert Preston), a snake-oil-salesman-type con artist who arrives in River City hoping to swindle some cash out of the good people there and make a run for it. Posing as a music professor, he starts selling people on an idea to start a marching band in the city, tossing up visions of 76 trombones and 110 cornets. Casting a wary eye on this scheme is Marian Paroo (Shirley "The Future Mama Partridge" Jones), a single mom raising a precocious redhead boy, Winthrop (Ron "The Original Opie" Howard).

While "Professor Hill" and his assistant Marcellus (Buddy Hackett) exhort the parents to keep their kids away from billiards ("Yes, we got Trouble, right here in River City, with a capital T, which rhymes with P, which stands for Pool!") and towards a bright and healthy music career, the suspicious mayor of the town (Paul Ford) starts an investigation into Mr. Hill's shady background. As the trap closes in, Harold is anxious to get everyone's money - supposedly for band uniforms and instruments - and move on. Until, that is, he falls in love with Marian and finds it harder to leave River City, even if a shameful fate awaits him.

If you hear people humming tunes like "Gary, Indiana", "76 Trombones", "Lida Rose", "Madame Librarian" or "The Wells Fargo Wagon", well, this film is the culprit. Everyone involved does a splendid job with their roles, and the choreography is tight and whimsical.

Back in 1962, Shirley Jones was hot and Ron Howard was basically a nobody. This film helped further their careers and got Americans and people around the world singing about what is now a dilapidated Chicago suburb. If you're looking for a film to take you back to yesteryear and a more innocent time, "The Music Man" could be a march right up your alley.

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originally posted: 12/14/02 16:39:05
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User Comments

2/25/19 Ed Riddick Best film adaptation of musical. Preston is perfect in lead. 5 stars
5/23/18 Suzanne I memorized the soundtrack as a kid; it's still great! 5 stars
12/03/16 Will Tomory Delightful numbers, sly humor, engaging characters 5 stars
8/29/13 Go get em One of the best musicals of all time. Preston is great 5 stars
9/12/11 the dork knight Dated but cute. 4 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White One of my favorite musicals 5 stars
5/11/04 micheal fallon great movie. 1 of my favorite! 5 stars
12/22/02 Allen VERY GOOD! Almost 5 stars 4 stars
4/26/02 Rockitman007 One of my Favorite Musicals 5 stars
1/20/02 Andrew Carden Bad Orchestraions, and Music, but The Acting Was Good. 3 stars
6/06/01 R.W. Welch Preston's pied piper of River City is one of the great musical comedy bits. 4 stars
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