Watching all the movies on the Warner Bros. 50-movie box set that I bought for cheap. This week the random number generator developed a sweet tooth when it picked Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Here’s what happens: Young Charlie Bucket miraculously scores a golden ticket, allowing him a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the Wonka candy factory, run by mysterious recluse Willy Wonka. Inside, the factory is truly a magical place, but also dangerous. For the bad children who join Charlie on the tour, the punishments fit their crimes.
Why it’s famous: A perfectly eccentric performance by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, dazzling fantasy visuals, a handful of memorable tunes, and an undercurrent of (possibly sinister) weirdness make this one stand out from so many other children’s movies.
Get your film degree: Willy Wonka often get grouped up alongside The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins, but look at the date. In 1971, the movie was made in the waning days of the 1960s counterculture. This gives the movie a real subversive streak, going psychedelic during the tunnel scene, and a plot in which the snobby rich kids get what’s coming to them.
Movie geekishness: Not enough good can be said about Wilder’s performance. He’s funny and playful, but also dangerous under the surface. The end reveals Willy Wonka has an ulterior motive for his big contest, which put his actions throughout the film in a new light.
Thoughts upon this viewing: Equal parts fun yet cynical, playful yet creepy, there’s really no other movie like this.
Next week: This country’s going to war!
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