The Pied Piper
The Pied Piper eschews the romanticism of Robert Browning's poem and returns to the grim Grimm Brothers source. Pop singer Donovan plays the 14th century piper hired by a duplicitous burgomaster (Donald Pleasence) to rid the town of Hamelin of its rats. The piper does what he's asked, but is denied the payment promised him; in revenge, he leads all of Hamelin's children out of town, never to be seen again. Though the story is a familiar one, this 1972 Pied Piper is not a kiddie movie. Director Jacques Demy's depiction of the 14th century as a muddy, backward, superstitious, disease-ridden, vermin-infested era transforms this fable into a squalid tale of revenge (incidentally, all those repulsive rodents are real). Donovan is matched by a remarkably restrained Jack Wild as the crippled boy, and John Hurt also co-stars.