The Music Man


2h 31m 1962
The Music Man

Brief Synopsis

A con artist hawks musical instruments and band uniforms to small-town America.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
Mason City, Iowa, opening: 19 Jun 1962
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Music Man by Meredith Willson, Franklin Lacey (New York, 19 Dec 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 31m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (RCA Sound System) (70 mm prints)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1, 2.35 : 1

Synopsis

"Professor" Harold Hill, a fast-talking traveling salesman, schemes to take money from the citizens of River City, Iowa, in the summer of 1912, by convincing them that a boys' band will put an end to the moral corruption resulting from the presence of a pool hall in the community. He sells instruments and uniforms to River City parents with the understanding that he will organize a band and teach the children to play; however, he intends to abscond with the money before the arrival of the instruments. Assisted by Marcellus Washburn, the town stableboy who helped Harold defraud customers in the East, Harold convinces the stubborn Iowa townspeople that he is an accomplished musician with a degree from a conservatory in Gary, Indiana.

Marian Paroo, the piano teacher and librarian, uncovers evidence of his trumped-up credentials; but before she can tell Mayor Shinn, the owner of the pool hall, Harold charms her into believing he has developed the "think system" of learning to play musical instruments by humming Mozart's Minuet in G. Harold's influence transforms the quarreling school board into a harmonizing barbershop quartet, petty gossips into a ladies' dance committee, shy and lisping Winthrop Paroo into a happy child with dreams of playing in a band, and the high-strung "old maid" Marian into a young woman in love. The instruments and uniforms arrive, but Marcellus cannot convince Harold to leave town. On the evening of the ice-cream social, Charlie Cowell, a traveling anvil salesman, arrives in River City to expose Harold's scheme. Marian tries to stop him at first, but he tells her that Harold has romanced piano teachers in many towns. The alerted citizens chase Harold, planning to tar and feather him, but his love for Marian prevents him from escaping the mob.

They handcuff the music man and bring him to Town Hall where the uniformed boys have assembled with their instruments. Harold pleads with the boys to employ the "think system"; and to his surprise, a ragged form of the Minuet in G escapes from the instruments. The shabby band becomes a splendid parade of color and music marching down the main street of River City, led by Harold with Marian at his side. Musical numbers: "Rock Island," "Iowa Stubborn," "Trouble," "Piano Lesson," "Goodnight My Someone," "Seventy-Six Trombones," "Sincere," "The Sadder-but-Wiser Girl," "Pickilittle," "Goodnight My Ladies," "Marian the Librarian," "Being in Love," "Wells Fargo Wagon," "It's You," "Shipoopi," "Lida Rose," "Will I Ever Tell You," "Gary, Indiana," "Till There Was You."

Photo Collections

The Music Man - Academy Archives
Here are archive images from The Music Man (1962), courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Videos

Movie Clip

Music Man, The (1962) - Till There Was You Librarian Marian (Shirley Jones) is magnanimous in her praise of huckster Professor Hill (Robert Preston), with one of composer Meredith Willson's most famous tunes from The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) - Wells Fargo The company starts on Meredith's Willson's tune, an interlude with Mayor and Mrs. Shinn (Paul Ford, Hermione Gingold) and Marian (Shirley Jones), and her brother Winthrop (Ronnie "Ron" Howard) getting his trumpet from Professor Hill (Robert Preston), in The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) - Trouble Robert Preston as fake Professor Harold Hill, introducing himself to River City, Iowa, with Meredith Willson's famous tune "with a capital T," his first big number in Warner Bros' The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) - Iowa Stubborn Just arrived on the train from Illinois, after an opening number confirming the disdain of other traveling salesmen for his scorched-earth methods, un-credentialed music professor Henry Hill (Robert Preston) hears from the folk of River City, Io-way about their own predisposition, in the hit Warner Bros. adaptation of the Meredith Willson musical, with Timmy Everett, and Paul Ford as the Mayor, in The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) - Shipoopi Buddy Hackett never played the part on Broadway, and was a regular on NBC’s Tonight Show at the time, but his one number as Marcellus, friend of the title character, is one of the more remembered and parodied from the landmark Meredith Willson musical, The Music Man, 1962, starring Robert Preston.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
Mason City, Iowa, opening: 19 Jun 1962
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Music Man by Meredith Willson, Franklin Lacey (New York, 19 Dec 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 31m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (RCA Sound System) (70 mm prints)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1, 2.35 : 1

Award Wins

Best Score

1962

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1962

Best Costume Design

1962

Best Editing

1962
William Ziegler

Best Picture

1962

Best Sound

1962

Articles

The Music Man


Nobody thought Meredith Willson could turn out a hit musical back in 1949 when he started working on a story inspired by his Iowa childhood and the time he spent playing piccolo for John Philip Sousa. He'd never written a musical before, just incidental numbers for Broadway, film and radio, and the background score for Charles Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940). His original producers dropped him as work dragged on over eight years. But his mentor, songwriter Frank Loesser, stuck by him and ended up producing The Music Man, one of Broadway's biggest hits of the '50s.

Leading man Robert Preston went into the project an underdog, too. He had been the perennial second lead in Hollywood during the '40s, usually dying before the final reel. In the '50s, as the studios were cutting back production, he moved to the stage, where he had enjoyed a few modest hits. But he had never done a musical before. Nor was he first choice to play Harold Hill, the musical con artist. Wilson had written the role for his friend, bandleader Phil Harris, but Harris had decided not to risk the move to Broadway. Then it was offered to and rejected by Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye and Ray Bolger before they settled for the perfect man for the part, Preston.

With over 800 performances as Harold Hill and a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, Preston would have seemed the logical man to star in the film version, but once again, he wasn't first choice. Both Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby tried to buy the film rights, but Wilson turned them down. He finally said yes to Jack Warner, who wanted box office insurance in the form of Cary Grant. Grant's refusal became famous: "Not only will I not play it, but if Robert Preston doesn't do it, I won't even see the picture" - though the line turned up again two years later when he turned down the Rex Harrison role in My Fair Lady. Finally, after much pleading from Willson and the show's original director, Morton Da Costa, Warner cast Preston and got the studio's biggest hit of the year.

With Preston in place Warner decided to keep on several other cast members, including the barbershop quartet The Buffalo Bills; Pert Kelton, the one-time movie vamp who was now playing the heroine's mother; and Paul Ford, who had taken over the mayor's role from David Burns. Among new additions were Shirley Jones as leading lady (in place of Broadway legend Barbara Cook) and as her younger brother, the young Ron Howard, who would one day become one of Hollywood's top directors.

In another rare move for Hollywood, the film retained almost all of the show's songs. The only change was in Marian's romantic ballad, with Willson writing a new song, "Being in Love," to replace the original "My White Knight." The reason given at the time was that the new song was more in Jones's range. According to show-biz legend, however, "My White Knight" had actually been written by Loesser (it's very similar to a number cut from his opera The Most Happy Fella), who refused to sell the rights to Warner Bros.

Director/Producer: Morton Da Costa
Screenplay: Marion Hargrove
Based on the Musical by Meredith Willson and Franklyn Lacey
Cinematography: Robert Burks
Art Direction: Paul Groesse
Music: Meredith Willson
Music Director: Ray Heindorf
Principle Cast: Robert Preston (Harold Hill), Shirley Jones (Marian Paroo), Buddy Hackett (Marcellus Washburn), Hermione Gingold (Eulalie MacKechnie Shinn), Paul Ford (Mayor Shinn), Pert Kelton (Mrs. Paroo), Ron Howard (Winthrop Paroo)
C-152m. Letterboxed.

By Frank Miller
The Music Man

The Music Man

Nobody thought Meredith Willson could turn out a hit musical back in 1949 when he started working on a story inspired by his Iowa childhood and the time he spent playing piccolo for John Philip Sousa. He'd never written a musical before, just incidental numbers for Broadway, film and radio, and the background score for Charles Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940). His original producers dropped him as work dragged on over eight years. But his mentor, songwriter Frank Loesser, stuck by him and ended up producing The Music Man, one of Broadway's biggest hits of the '50s. Leading man Robert Preston went into the project an underdog, too. He had been the perennial second lead in Hollywood during the '40s, usually dying before the final reel. In the '50s, as the studios were cutting back production, he moved to the stage, where he had enjoyed a few modest hits. But he had never done a musical before. Nor was he first choice to play Harold Hill, the musical con artist. Wilson had written the role for his friend, bandleader Phil Harris, but Harris had decided not to risk the move to Broadway. Then it was offered to and rejected by Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye and Ray Bolger before they settled for the perfect man for the part, Preston. With over 800 performances as Harold Hill and a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, Preston would have seemed the logical man to star in the film version, but once again, he wasn't first choice. Both Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby tried to buy the film rights, but Wilson turned them down. He finally said yes to Jack Warner, who wanted box office insurance in the form of Cary Grant. Grant's refusal became famous: "Not only will I not play it, but if Robert Preston doesn't do it, I won't even see the picture" - though the line turned up again two years later when he turned down the Rex Harrison role in My Fair Lady. Finally, after much pleading from Willson and the show's original director, Morton Da Costa, Warner cast Preston and got the studio's biggest hit of the year. With Preston in place Warner decided to keep on several other cast members, including the barbershop quartet The Buffalo Bills; Pert Kelton, the one-time movie vamp who was now playing the heroine's mother; and Paul Ford, who had taken over the mayor's role from David Burns. Among new additions were Shirley Jones as leading lady (in place of Broadway legend Barbara Cook) and as her younger brother, the young Ron Howard, who would one day become one of Hollywood's top directors.In another rare move for Hollywood, the film retained almost all of the show's songs. The only change was in Marian's romantic ballad, with Willson writing a new song, "Being in Love," to replace the original "My White Knight." The reason given at the time was that the new song was more in Jones's range. According to show-biz legend, however, "My White Knight" had actually been written by Loesser (it's very similar to a number cut from his opera The Most Happy Fella), who refused to sell the rights to Warner Bros. Director/Producer: Morton Da Costa Screenplay: Marion Hargrove Based on the Musical by Meredith Willson and Franklyn Lacey Cinematography: Robert Burks Art Direction: Paul Groesse Music: Meredith Willson Music Director: Ray Heindorf Principle Cast: Robert Preston (Harold Hill), Shirley Jones (Marian Paroo), Buddy Hackett (Marcellus Washburn), Hermione Gingold (Eulalie MacKechnie Shinn), Paul Ford (Mayor Shinn), Pert Kelton (Mrs. Paroo), Ron Howard (Winthrop Paroo) C-152m. Letterboxed. By Frank Miller

Quotes

A man can't turn tail and run just because a little personal risk is involved. What did Shakespeare say? "Cowards die a thousand deaths, the brave man... only 500"?
- Harold Hill
It's as clear as a buttonhook in the well water!
- Mayor Shinn
So what the heck? You're welcome! Join us at the picnic! You can eat your fill of all the food you bring yourself.
- Citizens of River City
You watch your phraseology!
- Mayor Shinn
When a woman's got a husband, and you've got none, why should she take advice from you? Even if you can quote Balzac and Shakespeare and all them other high-falutin' Greeks.
- Mrs. Paroo

Trivia

River City was based on Meredith Wilson's home town of Mason City, Iowa. The movie had its world premiere there.

Shirley Jones was pregnant during filming.

The Buffalo Bills were the 1950 International Champion Medalist Quartet of the S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A., the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America.

Frank Sinatra was Warner Brothers' first choice to play Harold Hill.

Even though Robert Preston had created the role of Harold Hill on Broadway, he was considered as too old to play opposite S'hirley Jones' ' "Marian the Librarian" on the screen. It was only after numerous other actors had refused the role that he was allowed to reprise his performance.

Notes

Al Shea, Wayne Ward, Vern Reed, and Bill Spangenberg appear in the film as a barbershop quartet called the Buffalo Bills.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted Best Screenplay--Musical by the 1962 Writers Guild of America.

Released in United States 1962

Released in USA on video.

Technirama 70

Released in United States 1962