I honestly thought that nothing could ever make me like The Music Man. I'm sure you know the musical I mean. Fast-talking conman rolls into small town, gets townsfolk to give up money they don't have for a Boys Band that he can't form because he doesn't even know how to read music, all while he attempts to romance the town's staid and tight-laced librarian. I did try about 12 years ago, I really did since so many people I knew loved the version from 1962 and I really had no interest to seek out another version to take its place. That 1962 version just . . . didn't work for me. The actors, the setting, the whole shebang really. And I really, really did not like Harold Hill. And I couldn't believe that Marian would fall for such an obvious player and con artist.
Then they made a version of The Music Man for tv back in 2003.
And Heidi from Along the Brandywine just mentioned it to me during her Cinderella blogathon a few weeks ago that was so much fun!
And I rented it from Amazon, fell head over heels in love, and my own personal copy is now on its way to me.
Life's a funny thing.
One thing I've discovered is that musicals really don't like to be challenged by newer versions. But I've always been prone to liking musical remakes since they generally breathe a bit of new life into the story. Like my loving the 1962 version of State Fair with Bobby Darin, Pamela Tiffin, Pat Boone, and Ann-Margret over the 1945 version with, well, I'm not sure who's in that version. Or Hugh Jackman's version of Oklahoma! over the one from 1955 that I simply couldn't stand. Oh, except for the new Annie. You can't remake perfection. So, yes, overall I have a penchant for musical remakes. You simply replace the original cast of The Music Man with Matthew Broderick, Kristin Chenoweth, and Victor Garber and I'm instantly in love! Which kind of makes me 1 of exactly 26 people in the entire world who loves the 2003 version over the 1962. Which is kind of sad, but I guess to be expected.
Why do I love the 2003 version? Two words . . . MATTHEW BRODERICK. Yes, I love Kristin too, but from the very first time I saw Broderick as Cinderella's prince over 20 years ago, I loved him. From what I understand about people's reticence to like this version, he downplays the role of Harold Hill. Okay, so, I kind of like con artists. I couldn't enjoy the tv shows Leverage or The Mentalist if I didn't, but they play it more subtle, and let's be honest, Patrick Jane in The Mentalist got out of the business and the characters in Leverage are out to take down the bad guys. So I like con artists to a point, if I have a reason to like them, which the original cast of The Music Man never gave me. He was obnoxious and loud and I never got the feeling that he cared about anyone. People say that the original was "masculine." Well, if that's masculine than please give me a softy any day because at least then I can see why Marian might choose him. At least Broderick plays Hill with some sympathy, like he's trying to make a difference and give people a little hope and enthusiasm, even while he's planning to rip them off. It's a weird, complicated characterization to watch but Broderick pulls it off without a hitch and a lot of people's lives are improved for having known him. I could buy him turning good in the end because I saw the good in him too. Plus, I'm a Broderick fan, in case you missed that fact. He makes everything better.
Then, of course, there's the awesomeness that is Edwardian costuming. Gorgeous scenery, of course, but equally delicious clothing design that made me just want to swoop through the screen and into River City, Iowa! Edwardian garb is some of my favorite historic clothing of all time. Every single one of Marian's dresses are stunning! Of course, Kristin is the tiniest little thing ever, with the perfect hourglass figure, so the clothing really suited her. It felt, oh, I guess you'd say authentic, and just plain fun.
To be perfectly fair, I've always enjoyed the actual musical numbers from The Music Man. It never mattered if I didn't like the musical because I could enjoy the songs without watching the film. They're fun songs, especially Marian the Librarian, but also Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little, My White Knight, and Ya Got Trouble. And oh my gosh, Kristin's voice is INCREDIBLE! You've never heard anything like it! I always knew she was talented since I've heard her sing before, but never on this level. She just absolutely stunned me. Broderick's voice is mild in comparison, but he doesn't have to hit any high notes, instead he's a con artist selling what the people don't need so his songs are mostly spoken lyrics in an interesting syncopation.
Oh, and did I mention Victor Garber? His death in Titanic is the one and only reason that I cry because I will always grieve the injustice of him going down with that stupid, sinking ship! Thomas Andrews should NOT have died! Ahem, anyway, Garber plays the semi-idiotic mayor of River City who can't get his idioms straight to save his life, but at least knows there's a reason not to trust Harold Hill which puts him a step ahead of everyone else. Except that he's a bit of a jerk about it and really cloyingly possessive of his children and his wife. Still, it was fun seeing him since I didn't know he was in it until he walked across the screen.
But in the end, true love wins out, right choices are made, and my heart melted for Harold (or Greg since that's his real name) and Marian. Broderick has always downplayed his acting style a bit, but I love that about him, especially since Kristin is all energy and fervor. The two completely different styles of acting really merged beautifully with these two characters, and I LOVE them.
Since my DVD isn't here yet and I was taking screen caps off my Amazon rental, I couldn't get the kissing scene on the bridge that's so beautiful to screen cap for me properly. Streaming is never a fun thing on my laptop although it's flawless on my Kindle (thank goodness!). So no kissing photos to share, but the one above is almost just as good.
Really, I am so ecstatic to have found a version of The Music Man that I can love. And I think all of the critics have been unjustifiably harsh. I wish I felt any compulsion whatsoever to rewatch the 1962 version, but I don't. Why mess with the perfection that I've found with Broderick and Chenoweth?! Now I'm fighting the dreadful urge to track down some of Broderick's other movies. Can anyone say FERRIS BUELLER?!
And guess what I just found?! Enjoy this brief video of Marian singing "Til There was You," such a beautiful rendition and sooooooo romantic! ❤