Dir: Mel Stuart, 1971
Quite possibly Gene Wider’s most iconic role, Willy Wonka is a bizarre, eccentric fun filled character that nobody else could’ve made work in this wonderful musical.
Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) is a poor boy who lives with his mum and a few elderly relatives, one of which is his grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson).
Joe and the other relatives live, eat and sleep in the same bed.
Charlie has a small job delivering papers and a big dream.
Passing the gates of the locked up Wonka factory, a tinker man tells him how nobody ever goes in or out.
Intrigued by the mystery, Charlie asks his grandpa about it and he recites the story of Wonka’s recluseness.
However, there is a big news report that the Wonka factory will open to five lucky recipients of a golden ticket hidden inside Wonka bars.
As the reports filter through that the tickets are being found, Charlie is despondant about ever finding one.
But, after the fifth and final ticket is denounced as a forgery, Charlie has one glimmer of hope.
Finding a coin in a drain, he chances his luck with buying a bar of chocolate.
Slowly opening the wrapper, he spots a gold shimmer and realises what he holds in his hands is the coveted golden ticket.
Rushing home to inform his family, he is stopped by a mysterious figure calling himself Slugworth (Gunter Meisner), a fellow confectionary maker.
Slugworth tells Charlie that if he brings him Wonka’s new secret sweet, the Everlasting Gobstopper, he would reward him with £10,000.
Taking his grandpa Joe along, the pair meet the other winners; Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole), Violet Beauregarde (Denise Nickerson), Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner) and Mike Teevee (Paris Themmen).
Salt is a spoilt, selfish and spiteful girl prone to temper tantrums. She brings her father along (Roy Kinnear). Mike Teevee is the Western obsessed TV addict, who takes his mother along. Then you’ve got Gloop; a German compulsive eater who appears with his mother. The last of the bunch is Violet; chewing gum continuously and brings her car salesman dad to the trip.
All dislikeable people, with awful personality traits, each one of which meet receive unpleasant end to the trip.
Apart from Charlie, of course; a pleasant, kind young man with a heart of gold.
The songs are catchy and bouncy, and you’ll find yourself singing along to them and humming them long after the film is finished.
Basing the script on his own book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl has created a real family film, thinged with the nastiness that he is famous for.
Exactly how much ofDahl’s input remains in the film will always be an enigma as David Seltzer was aksed to rewrite much of the script and shifted the focus from Charlie to Willy Wonka.
Dahl hated the film and wanted nothing to do with it, feeling that it sullied the original book.
But, no matter because what we have got is a fantastic musical extravaganza with, even, a few scary bits in it as well.
Despite it’s ‘U’ certificate, parents of very young children may want to be cautious of the tunnel boat scene as it does contain some nightmarish imagery and unsettling music.
It’s a golden ticket of pure imagination.