The Music Man (1962) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Music Man (1962)

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Movie Info

After nearly 900 performances on stage, the hit Broadway musical and play The Music Man comes to the big screen. Harold Hill (Robert Preston) is a traveling con man who lands in River City, Iowa in the year 1912. He alerts the town to the evils of the poolhall and the potential to corrupt the town's youth. The solution is to form a musical band and put musical instruments instead of pool cues in the hands of the moppets. He convinces the townsfolk to give him plenty of money to buy marching band uniforms and musical merchandise. He meets fellow con man Marcellus Washburn (Buddy Hackett) who aids in the scheme. Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones) is the local librarian suspicious of Harold's motives. Harold doesn't know a thing about music, but has a system where wishing will make it so. Hill is almost whisked off to jail when a fellow con man warns Marian of the possible scam. Hill also does nothing to endear himself to Mayor Shinn (Paul Ford) who happens to own the pool hall of such disrepute. The Music Man is a colorful slice of nostalgic Americana and the song and dance film was nominated for Best Picture. Ray Heindorf won an Oscar for his musical direction. Memorable songs from the production include the finale "76 Trombones", "Till There Was You" and "Gary, Indiana." In one of the most glaring omissions by the Motion Picture Academy, Preston was not even nominated for his brilliant, memorable performance. This role marked one of the many highlight of his long and distinguished career, and his name is synonymous with the film. The classic was produced and directed by Morton DaCosta, who performed in similar capacity on the stage play.

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Cast

Robert Preston
as Prof. Harold Hill
Shirley Jones
as Marian Paroo
Paul Ford
as Mayor Shinn
Buddy Hackett
as Marcellus Washburn
Hermione Gingold
as Eulalie Shinn
Pert Kelton
as Mrs. Paroo
Susan Luckey
as Zaneeta Shinn
Ron Howard
as Winthrop Paroo
Harry Hickox
as Charlie Cowell
Ewart Dunlop
as The Buffalo Bill
Oliver Hix
as The Buffalo Bill
Jacey Squires
as The Buffalo Bill
Olin Britt
as The Buffalo Bill
Charles Lane
as Constable Locke
Mary Wickes
as Mrs. Squires
The Buffalo Bills
as Jacey Squires; Olin Britt; Ewart Dunlo
Monique Vermont
as Amaryllis
Ronnie Dapo
as Norbert Smith
Jesslyn Fax
as Avis Grubb
Patty Lee Hilka
as Gracie Shinn
Delos Jewkes
as Harley MacCauley
Ray Kellogg
as Harry Joseph
William Fawcett
as Lester Lonnergan
Rance Howard
as Oscar Jackson
Roy Dean
as Gilbert Hawthorne
David Swain
as Chet Glanville
Arthur Mills
as Herbert Malthouse
Rand Barker
as Duncan Shyball
Jeannine Burnier
as Jessie Shyball
Shirley Claire
as Amy Dakin
Natalie Core
as Truthful Smith
Therese Lyon
as Dolly Higgins
Penelope Martin
as Lila O'Brink
Barbara Pepper
as Feril Hawkes
Anne Loos
as Stella Jackson
Peggy Wynne
as Ada Nutting
Hank Worden
as Undertaker
Natalie Masters
as Farmer's Wife
Percy Helton
as Conductor
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Critic Reviews for The Music Man

All Critics (17)

A treat to re-watch, almost 50 years from its original production date.

Full Review… | July 21, 2012
7M Pictures

Glorious production, with gorgeous music, dancing.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

...a quintessential slice of Americana, featuring wonderful music, engaging characters, and an uplifting story.

Full Review… | January 22, 2010
Movie Metropolis

The music is glorious, but as a movie, this is a photographed play, a nostalgic evocation of small-town American that was congruent with Kennedy's New Frontier; within a year, though, Kennedy would be assassinated and the optimistic mood would vanish

Full Review… | January 31, 2007
EmanuelLevy.Com

One of the most obnoxious musicals ever to be staged for movie cameras.

Full Review… | September 29, 2006
Goatdog's Movies

Robert Preston is note-perfect in a bright musical even non-fans of the genre will enjoy.

August 16, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

Audience Reviews for The Music Man

A con man comes to a small town to form a Boys' Band, but he falls in love with the local librarian. They simply don't make films with this kind of energy any more, which is a good and bad thing. The Music Man, if written today, would more fully explore the ethical questions associated with protagonist Harold Hill's profession, which is appropriate, but Hill's charm in the person of Robert Preston is infectious and fun and makes all ethical quandaries seem like departures from the fun. All of the musical numbers are scat-style super, and the production design shows of the choreography and high-scale - a scale so high that we wonder where all these people come from. Overall, The Music Man defies logic and modern story-telling, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its charm.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

One of a kind film. It really showed what music can do to people.

erika bruhns
erika bruhns

Super Reviewer

Meredith Wilson's sparkling filmization of the landmark Broadway musical about a traveling con artist salesman and the small town he dupes. Rousing Americana's best asset is Robert Preston's memorable performance as Professor Harold Hill. His sunny portrayal brightens every scene he's in. Virtually one musical number after another, there are moments of the sublime ("Seventy-Six Trombones", "Till There Was You") and the expendable ("Gary, Indiana"). The latter contributes to film's almost unbearable 151 minute running time. A bit of editing and perhaps a less stagebound production would have made this a near-perfect adaptation. Nevertheless those minor infractions are far outweighed by the joyous singing and dancing that is on display in this most appealing musical.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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