This file was generated 2002-09-03 03:17 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2002-08-18.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> September 1999 >> The Music Man
There's no way for me to be objective about The Music Man. Among other things, it introduced me to barbershop singing. I was the tenor in the school board quartet when my high school did it in the Spring of 1990. Even better, I had a crush on my dance partner for Shipoopi.
Meredith Willson's songs are half of the magic of The Music Man. Tunes like "Marian the Librarian" can stick in your head for days. Contrapuntal delights like mixing "Lida Rose" and "Will I Ever Tell You" sweeten the pot even more. As an added bonus, there's some old-time barbershop singing by one of the most famous quartets of all time, The Buffalo Bills. I've heard conflicting reports on Willson's misunderstandings of some of the nuances of the barbershop style, but the songs still sound awfully nice.
Robert Preston may not have been the studio's first choice for the movie version of The Music Man, but on the insistence of the creative team, he starred in the movie. Preston, like several other members of the cast, already knew the role inside and out after giving hundreds of performances in the Broadway production. His rapid-fire delivery, smooth voice, and effortless charm make him live up to Mayor Shinn's pronouncement that "he's a by-God spellbinder!"
It's wonderful to know that studios are interested in bringing some classic movies to DVD with extra material. There's a half-hour documentary with interviews of Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, and choreographer Onna White. The theatrical trailers for Music Man and The Unsinkable Molly Brown are both included. Interestingly, the latter is twice as long as the former. There are subtitles in English and French.
The disc is rife with implementation problems. As soon as the player reads the disc, it immediately starts playing the half-hour documentary instead of starting with either the movie or the main menu. It would make sense that the end of the documentary transitions to the extra features menu if the documentary had been requested from that menu, but starting unbidden makes it confusing. Much more annoying, though, is the volume of the background music behind the main menu. It's significantly louder than any point in the movie, so pressing the menu button without first lowering the volume can be quite uncomfortable.
The menu navigation is somewhat clouded by conceptual disconnects between the arrangements of items on the screen and the direction keys used to reach them. Often, the current screen's options are arrayed vertically in a single column, and the up and down arrows logically move among them. The control to move up a level or to the next screen are often in the same column, but they are accessed by pressing the right arrow. Also, in the cast biography menu, there is a strong temptation (especially when you mistake the names of the characters for the names of the actors) to press the right arrow, which causes a jump to a different menu. It's possible to get used to all of this, but nobody should have to!