Thursday, 14 April 2011

I've Got a Golden Ticket!: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971, Warner/David L. Wolper)

Roald Dahl's Charlie & The Chocolate Factory told the story of a young boy who, through his luck of finding a golden ticket, takes his grandpa Joe with him on a tour of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, with Wonka himself being a bit on the strange side. It involved worker squirrels, Oompa Loompas, and a spoilt girl who you really want to slap hard around the moosh. It's regarded as a classic childrens book, and so David L. Wolper decided to make a musical film version of it in 1971, with the backing of the Quaker Oats Company.

This is one boat ride I wouldn't want to go on!

Starring Gene Wilder as the lovable Willy Wonka, the film has a central lesson of 'enjoy what you have, and don't ask for what you don't really want'. It had comedy, a bit of music, and Gene Wilder in one of his most memorable roles (right alongside his role in Young Frankenstein). It opened to favorable reviews, but had a lackluster box office performance, and even lead to Roald Dahl voicing his displeasure at the movie, and wouldn't even sell the rights to the follow-up book Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator. It also led to Paramount to decide against renewing it's distribution deal, and the Quaker Oats company selling it's shares of the rights to Warner. But, I believe it's Warner who have had the last laugh, as it's become a cult movie over the years due to being played on telly quite frequently (especially around Xmas time, when you've gourged yourself on chocolate, and don't want to look at another chocolate bar for about 5 minutes!!), and good VHS, and later DVD, sales.
A lovable character in a cracking film.
The film is supposedly set in the US, but was filmed entirely in Germany, and you can tell it was. The signs, the license plates, and even the street names are all in German, and not effort was made to cover this fact up. But, for that flaw, the film does redeem itself through being very enjoyable, with the other little brats getting what they deserve, and Charlie showing that a good heart always wins. The film was remade in 2006 that was ok, but the original version will always be the better one, mainly because it has warmth that the remake lacks.


  1. Nice write-up sir, this is a unique and entertaining film indeed! It still freaks me out though :P

  2. I try really hard not to hate the remake (it was on telly the other day). I constantly bang on about remakes needing to add something new or take a different perspective, but that films takes the shit-biscuit. I wonder what Roald Dahl would have made of it. He famously hated all film adaptations of his work. Matilda must have had him spinning in his grave. Why Hollywood needs to Americanise everything to saturation point is beyond me. Have you seen the proposed cast list for Akira? Bunch of twats.