Stanley Scorsese’s review published on Letterboxd:
On Sunday, I had experienced one of the worst days to ever happen on my birthday. I was kayaking with my wife and friend, I lost the keys to my truck in the creek, I got rained on, and no one would help us until my friend’s brother came to pick us up that night. But yesterday, we came to my house to find the spare key, and I was happy I found it! So after having an awful birthday, I wanted to watch one of my favorite movies my wife got me for my birthday.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is based on the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and it follows 5 kids from around the world visiting a chocolate factory after winning 5 golden tickets.
This was an enjoyable film! This is better than the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp adaptation! I remember watching the original 1971 film when I was in elementary school, and there was a pick between this and I think The Sandlot after we completed our school work. And then while we were watching it, I knew this was going to be a classic! I remember my mom getting it for me on DVD and then I was singing the songs from the film by myself. And I’m not a fan of musicals unless you count South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut or The Nightmare Before Christmas. When I heard the news that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was getting a 4K release, I was excited! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, so my wife got it for me on my birthday including some clothes, 4 other movies and a new PlayStation charger! So without further ado, let’s talk about this timeless classic!
I love the acting from the kids! Peter Ostrum plays Charlie Bucket, Julie Dawn Cole plays Veruca Salt, Denise Nickerson plays Violet Beauregarde, Michael Bollner plays Augustus Gloop, and Paris Themmen plays Mike Teevee. Charlie is a poor but kind-hearted kid working as a paper boy to help his mom have a roof over their head while they take care of his 4 grandparents. Meanwhile there are other kids who aren’t as grateful as Charlie. Veruca is a spoiled brat who comes from her father’s wealth, Violet is competitive but rude, Augustus is a glutton and Mike is obsessed with TV. These 4 kids are good at playing these annoying little bastards where they get their comeuppance. And finally we have the late great Gene Wilder for playing Willy Wonka! Wilder has been known for his comedy in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and his collaboration with Richard Pryor. But aside from his memorable comedies, he was absolutely perfect for playing Willy Wonka! He still has his sense of humor while being eccentric and whimsical, and it all works unlike Johnny Depp’s effort in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
There was some complications apart from making the film. Like Roald Dahl sticking to his book while director Mel Stuart and the crew were making major changes with the musical numbers and the screenplay by Dahl. This led him to disown the film, I don’t know why he would do it because people love it for what it is today. But anyways, after Dahl, Stuart and producer David L. Wolper agreed to make the film into a musical, the crew were looking for child actors to play the kids and the big named actor who could play Willy Wonka. They looked at all the members of Monty Python after they expressed their interest, but they were not considered as popular names at the time. They considered looking at Fred Astaire, Jon Pertwee, and Spike Mulligan. Finally, they looked at Gene Wilder and he said he’d accept it on the condition that he’d trick people to believe that he was crippled and then fall down doing a somersault and bounce back up. No one could’ve played Willy Wonka other than the legendary Gene Wilder!
The entire film was shot in Munich, Germany from August to November in 1970 creating such incredible scenery with the factory, the exterior helicopter shots of the town, and the design of the candy room with the chocolate river is insane! It had to take a good damn long time to design inside the entire factory. The songs are just unforgettable it’ll make you sing along with the film! From Pure Imagination to The Candy Man and so many other songs you can pick from and you’ll have a fun time with them! The score was nominated for an Oscar but it lost to another musical, Fiddler on the Roof. The Academy should’ve given it another nomination for its production design and won for it!
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a timeless masterpiece for people of all ages to have a good time while teaching them good moral lessons. Not to be preachy but not forcing them down the viewer’s throats. I just got done watching it on the movie 4K after my wife gotten it for me as a birthday gift, and it was great seeing it again! It had released its 4K format for the first time 2 months ago, and it looks glorious! If you’re interested in seeing this other than the Tim Burton remake, then I encourage you to buy it on 4K or Blu-ray, watch it and then add it to your collection!
I’m giving Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 4.5 stars!