Time: 151 mins.
Won Academy Award for Best Music. Nominations for Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing, Sound and Best Picture.
SYNOPSIS: A footloose con man sets out to fleece a repressed Midwestern community during the early days of the twentieth century by selling them band equipment he doesn't intend to deliver, but instead learns a lesson in moral responsibility from the town's comely librarian.
BOTTOM LINE: This maybe one of the silliest musicals ever made, but it's also one of my all-time favorites. I just can't resist its upbeat energy, colorful costumes and mushy storyline. Sure it's a little slow and overdone at times, but it leaves you happily humming a tune when all is said and done, which is really the only point of a musical. Robert Preston stars as the scheming salesman Professor Harold Hill, who sells the idea of a boys' band to the simple-minded citizens of River City. Excitement grips this small town, but not everyone is thrilled by the presence of this shyster, especially the lovely Marion Paroo (Jones), the local librarian.
However, even she is eventually won over by Hill's enthusiasm and personal attention. The songs run the gamut from ridiculous, like "Shipoopi," to romantic, like "Goodnight My Someone," to infectious, like "76 Trombones" and "Ya Got Trouble." Preston gives the most mesmerizing performance of his career. You can't take your eyes off him and as long as he's onscreen the film is full of fun. Jones is also a strong presence with her beautiful voice, intelligence and surprising comic skills. She and Preston have great chemistry together despite their obvious age difference. Ron Howard is adorable as Jones' little brother with a giant lisp, who gains confidence by being in the band. The large supporting cast gives it their all, with Buddy Hackett and Pert Kelton standing out from the crowd. Though initially created for the stage, the filmmakers manage to open it up and give it a lush and vibrant cinematic look and feel. A classic for a reason.