WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)

Although it only made $4 million on its initial release, repeated television screenings have turned this musical fantasy into such a popular favorite that a 1996 reissue brought in $21 million. Adapted from Roald Dahl’s 1964 book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the name was changed because “Charlie” was widely known as military slang for the Viet Cong), the film marked the Quaker Oats Company’s sole venture into film production. Dahl wanted British comic Spike Milligan to play Willy Wonka, but the producers chose Gene Wilder in a distinct change of pace from the frenetic neurotics he had been playing since his film debut in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). He proved to be an inspired choice, bringing a great deal of whimsy and physical agility to the role of a mysterious candy manufacturer who invites five children to tour his factory. Although Peter Ostrum, in his only movie role as Charlie, and Jack Albertson, as Charlie’s grandfather, are charming, the other real star of the film is art director Harper Goff. Filming in Munich, he turned the Wonka factory into a delectable flight of fantasy that had critic Roger Ebert likening the film to The Wizard of Oz (1939). (d. Mel Stuart, 100m, Digital)

In attendance: JULIE DAWN COLE, ILLEANA DOUGLAS, RUSTY GOFFE, PARIS THEMMEN