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Music Man

The Music Man

4.4 23
Director: Morton Da Costa

Cast: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett


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Meredith Wilson's hit 1957 Broadway musical was transferred to the screen in larger-than-life fashion in 1962. Robert Preston repeats his legendary stage performance as fast-talking con man Harold Hill, who goes from town to town selling citizens on starting a "boy's band," then extracts money from them by ordering instruments and


Meredith Wilson's hit 1957 Broadway musical was transferred to the screen in larger-than-life fashion in 1962. Robert Preston repeats his legendary stage performance as fast-talking con man Harold Hill, who goes from town to town selling citizens on starting a "boy's band," then extracts money from them by ordering instruments and uniforms, with the promise that he'll teach the kids how to be musicians. Once he's collected his bankroll, Hill skips town, leaving the kids in the lurch. Looking for new suckers in Iowa, Hill arrives in River City, where he declares that the only way to save the youth of River City from the lure of the poolroom is to organize a boy's band. He charms the mayor's wife Eulalie (Hermione Gingold) into forming a "ladies' dance committee" and sets his sights on winning over local music teacher Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones). Marian rightly considers Hill a fraud, especially when he espouses the "Think System" of learning music: if you think a tune, he claims, you can play it. But Marian becomes Hill's staunchest ally when her young brother Winthrop (Ronny Howard), sullen and withdrawn since the death of his father, exuberantly comes out of his shell at the prospect of joining Hill's band; and Marian's budding romance with the charming but unreliable Hill ultimately brings her out of her own shell as well. Marion Hargrove's script uses most of the original play, with a handful of amusing expansions, especially in the roles played by Gingold and by Buddy Hackett as Hill's comic sidekick.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
Meredith Wilson’s 1957 Broadway smash The Music Man was a big, brass-band valentine to small-town America at the turn of the 20th century. And the film, which followed five years later, is among the most exuberant, old-fashioned delights from the waning days of the Hollywood musical’s golden age. Robert Preston conducts himself splendidly as Prof. Harold Hill, a traveling salesman with a scheme to form a boys' marching band and sell River City yokels the uniforms and gear. Alas, the town’s lovely librarian, Marian (Shirley Jones), smells a rat; and Hill’s efforts to charm her by drawing her awkward little brother (Ron Howard) out of his shell lead to the ersatz professor’s unlikely delivery from the dark side. The film’s impeccable cast includes Paul Ford as River City's confounded mayor, Hermione Gingold as his "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little" biddy of a wife, and Buddy Hackett as Hill's former partner in crime. "76 Trombones" leads the big parade of showstoppers, including "Till There Was You," "Marian the Librarian," “Gary, Indiana," and "Trouble." Speaking of trouble right here in River City, the revealing making-of documentary included on the Special Edition DVD notes that Jones was pregnant during most of the production, necessitating various shoot-arounds. Another fun fact from the 30-minute documentary: The studio wanted Frank Sinatra for the title role, but the musical's composer, Meredith Wilson, insisted that without Preston, who made the role his own on Broadway, there would be no movie. Like the wish-fulfilling contents of "The Wells Fargo Wagon," The Music Man remains something very, very special.
All Movie Guide - Leo Charney
The Music Man is among the best movie musicals, transforming Meredith Willson's Broadway hit into an energetic slice of Americana. Robert Preston's virtuoso portrayal of con man Harold Hill transfers from the stage (despite the studios' nervousness about casting no-name Preston), and the result is one of the most explosively vital performances in any movie musical. Until the very end, Preston never sugar-coats or softens Hill's rapacious self-seeking, nor does Shirley Jones downplay the stubborn snobbishness of his love interest, Marian Paroo. The portrayal of the River City townfolk is memorably caustic: "You can have your fill of the all the food you bring yourself!" runs only one of the snide remarks in their introductory song, which offers, "Glad to have you with us -- even though we may not ever mention it again." The film's embrace of small-town American life is not confined to its sentimental, sickly-sweet aspects (the movie's hero, after all, is a con man, whom Preston's vigorously charming performance dares us to like), and this dimensionality makes the movie as distinctive dramatically as it is musically. Preston carries the movie, but he receives memorable support from Jones, Ron Howard as her brother Winthrop, Buddy Hackett as his sidekick, and such stalwarts as Paul Ford, Hermione Gingold, and Pert Kelton among the River City townspeople. The underrated score includes "Till There Was You," later covered by The Beatles and often mistaken for one of their songs. Made at the acme (yet last gasp) of the blockbuster movie musical in the first half of the 1960s, The Music Man can hold its own among such better-known contemporaries as West Side Story (1961), My Fair Lady (1964), and The Sound of Music (1965).

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Featurette; Right here in River City: the making of; Meredith Wilson's the Music Man; Introduction by Shirley Jones; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Preston Harold Hill
Shirley Jones Marian Paroo
Buddy Hackett Marcellus Washburn
Pert Kelton Mrs. Paroo
Ronny Howard Winthrop Paroo
Hermione Gingold Eulalie MacKechnie Shinn
Paul Ford Mayor Shinn
Susan Luckey Zaneeta Shinn
Harry Hickox Charlie Cowell
Charles Lane Constable Locke
Mary Wickes Mrs. Squires
Oliver Hix Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills Jacey Squires; Olin Britt; Ewart Dunlo
Natalie Core Truthful Smith
Roy Dean Gilbert Hawthorne
Jesslyn Fax Avis Grubb
Percy Helton Conductor
Ray Kellogg Harry Joseph
Anne Loos Stella Jackson
Therese Lyon Dolly Higgins
Natalie Masters Farmer's Wife
Peggy Mondo Actor
Milton Parsons Farmer
Barbara Pepper Feril Hawkes
Max Showalter Actor
Peggy Wynne Ada Nutting
Delos Jewkes Harley MacCauley
Monique Vermont Amaryllis
Timmy Everett Tommy Djilas
Ronnie Dapo Norbert Smith
William Fawcett Lester Lonnergan
Rance Howard Oscar Jackson
Hank Worden Townsman

Technical Credits
Morton Da Costa Director,Producer
Gordon Bau Makeup
Robert Burks Cinematographer
Paul Groesse Production Designer
George Groves Sound/Sound Designer
Marion Hargrove Screenwriter
Ray Heindorf Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
George James Hopkins Set Decoration/Design
Dorothy Jeakins Costumes/Costume Designer
Onna White Choreography
William H. Ziegler Editor


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The Music Man 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Texaschic22 More than 1 year ago
Robert Preston is good in the part of the Music Man, but does as much talking as singing in his "songs". Shirley Jones is wonderful, being the same actress from Oklahoma, Carousel, and others. Ron Howard sings his one and only song "Gary Indiana" like no one else his age could--priceless!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When watching the Music Man for the first time, you will see the difference in it from the other musicals. The difference is, it takes place in a town, which is small, and has not had anything exciting come there. This salesman comes, and charms the town, and even the librarian. The songs, are catchy, and very well known if you hear them. Like the famous one, ''Till There Was You.'' Which was made later by the Beatles. The reason why I took a star off, is because, I cannot stand the song ''Shapoopi''. I find it utterly anoying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading the other reviews, no one seems to be focusing on the great barber shop quartet in the film and their contribution to its success. Playing the role of the city's councilmen attempting to get Prof. Hill's credentials, the group adds a constant musical background to the film that will have you bouncing in your seat during the movie. Their version of ''Lida Rose'' will have you humming it the next day, guaranteed. Robert Preston has never been better as con man/Professor Harold Hill, especially with his showstopping song, ''Trouble.'' Forget the TV version and see the original!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a movie that holds a special place in many people's hearts, and is a favorite of people who don't normally enjoy musicals...this must be because the story is so funny and the performances are still so fresh. The film is an accidental time capsule of sorts, as it depicts so beautifully the early part of twentieth century small-town life. Beautiful to see, hear and share.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hello! Ok. I am 13 years old and The Music Man is my favorite musical of all time. I did it as a school play in May 2003. Since, then I've been in love with it. I really recomend it to anyone who likes musicals. If you saw the Disney version on ABC this one is A LOT better. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Music Man is the best musical movie I think any one has heard! Not only that but I think its the greatest movie ever! I watch it every week! You can never get to old to watch The Music man.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Definately one of my all time favorites - it can't be beat for excellance of performance, production values, and plain enjoyment. If you don't have a smile of your face at the end of this movie, you're probably dead!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is flawless on about five levels,you just cant get sick of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have seen The Music Man many times over and every time I watch I'm amazed at the talent and hard work that went into creating this remarkable movie. Every generation can watch this musical and appreciate the humor, wit and charm of America's best-loved con artist, Professor Harold Hill, as he steals the hearts and pocketbooks of River City, Iowa.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yes, my friends, we got trouble. Right here in River City. Professor Harold Hill (the sensational Robert Preston) has come to sell musical instruments and uniforms and lessons, only he doesn't know one note from another. So what does he do? He makes trouble. Right here in River City. He makes trouble for the mayor (Paul Ford) by urging the townspeople to boycott his pool hall. He makes trouble for the mayor's wife (Hermione Gingold) and her school board ladies by urging them to sing with the barbershop quartet. He makes trouble for Winthrop (yes, it's Ron(ny) Howard) by urging him to sing songs with S's in them (he's got a TERRIBLE lithp!) He makes trouble for the boy's sister, Marian the librarian (Shirley Jones) by urging her to--well, as she tells her mother (Pert Kelton)--"you'll find it in Balzak." Now the professor's got trouble . . . but to look at the lovely Miss Jones, it's really no trouble at all. [filmfactsman]
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great musical! I first saw it in my early 20's and I am pleased it is still available. My wife never saw the movie so we are looking forward to receiving our copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love movies that you can watch with the whole family. It is nice not to have to censor. We need more musical movies like this one. It is a classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If all you know about Wilson's ''The Music Man'' is based on the TV version, buy this disc. From set design, choreography and costuming to the brilliant soprano of Shirley Jones, you can't beat this for entertainment. Why ABC didn't air this masterpiece, instead of demean it with a cheap copy, is beyond belief.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is truly a terrific masterpiece. This film (based on the musical by Meredith Willson) is about a con man named Harold Hill who always tries to lead a boy's band. He comes to River City, Iowa and falls in love with the librarian. Don't even bother renting this movie, because once you see it you'll want to watch it again and again. Forget the Disney version, this film is way better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is definitely one of my favorites. The music really sticks with you. I've gotten teased about it because I coincidentally share a name with the composer! Anyway, this is a very funny musical, and it keeps you entertained. :) Robert Preston and Shirley Jones did an excellent job.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This musical is a classic. I have never seen it performed as well as it was on the video. It was korny at some parts but it held it weight to earn 5 stars.
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