Skip

"the oompa loompas did not have their blueberry driver's licenses... they were shorter than I was wide"
May 18, 2011 7:14 PM   Subscribe

The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Most quotes are from the "making of" documentary from 2001, now on YouTube in four pieces: 1, 2, 3, 4 (also see featurette). The cast reunited on Today show earlier this week. [via]
posted by jessamyn (74 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh wow, thanks for this! (But who is that guy with the mustache and what did he do with little Charlie Bucket??) Me and the mister were talking about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as we fell asleep last night -- remembering those movies and cartoons that came on TV once a year when we were kids, and how weirdly special it felt to see them (and, of course, how you had to plan to be home and to get your parents to agree not to watch one of their stupid grown-up shows ahead of time, lest you miss out for a whole 'nother year, mo-om!).
posted by scody at 7:23 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So so happy to read and see this. Just as there were only 3 Star Wars movies and only 1 Matrix flick, there was never a Johnny Depp / Tim Burton movie. Ever. Not at all. The original was stunningly perfect, and still has one of the creepiest segments ever in a movie. Wonka's layers of menace, the panic of the passengers, the psychedelic effects... I swear it still bothers me a bit, and I've been watching this movie probably for nearly 40 years at this point.
posted by hippybear at 7:38 PM on May 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


My friend John and I went to see it at a Saturday matinee in the Jersey Theater the week it opened. Forty years ago? Yikes.

Gene Wilder is brilliant in that movie, just the right mix of charm and gleeful menace. For a seven year old that hated sappy Disney movies, Wonka was a revelation that they could make a kids movie that didn't talk down to you. The boat ride still gives me the creeps.


I understand that there was some sort of re-make of this a few years ago. We should not speak of it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 PM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love the mustache and super-handsome hairline on Ostrum, as well as the fact that he made the one film and went on to have what looks to be a perfectly nice life. Like Donnie Melvin, he was in something perfect, and that's enough for any actor. Well, I'd vote for him being romantically connected to mefi's own me, but that's just a lark.

I've heard Wonka characterized as the first horror movie for kids, and I think that's pretty spot-on. It was a curious piece, with a curious origin, and it's an ornate confection of horror, humor, and psychedelia for the young that explains perfectly why I came to adore The Abominable Dr. Phibes when I was ever so slightly older.
posted by sonascope at 7:45 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


So shines a good post in a weary world.

One of my favorite classic films for the wonderfully eccentric and punny and snarktastic dialogue alone. So much better than that drab, sterile, alienating remake that came out a few years ago. It's too bad Dahl wasn't a fan.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:46 PM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have such fond memories of being alternately scared out of my wits and laughing with joy. Oh how I wanted that elevator at the end and to be Charlie!!! I really like the making of video. It seemed magical for the creators, director, art director, staff and of course the cast and crew.

Even today when I listed to the Grateful Dead song Candyman I cannot help buy picture Sammy Davis Jr. singing this version instead.

The Candyman can...
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:48 PM on May 18, 2011


Remind me to put the "There's no earthly way of knowing / Which direction we are going" song in the next fighty thread that's going on a lot of derails.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:50 PM on May 18, 2011


I seem to recall, when I saw this movie on tv as a little kid, that they said "Coming soon: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator" at the end of the show, and then I waited for it ... forever. The Vermicious Knids were my kid version of Lovecraftian horror. I found the article and the videos a few days back after seeing the MLKSHK image and then I guess the cast were reunited on the Today Show earlier this week? Neat little random confluence. I loved listening to Gene Wilder explaining how kids were really into the idea of there being some limits and some rules and that that's what one of the meta-messages of the story was. News to me was that the whole thing was a big cross-promotional thing with Quaker who gave them total creative control, hoped to get a chocolate tie-in product and then managed to not be able to get it all together at the end. All the Wonka stuff you could eventually buy was such a letdown.
posted by jessamyn at 7:54 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


News to me was that the whole thing was a big cross-promotional thing with Quaker who gave them total creative control

Just came in here to say the same. I've always wondered how such a gloriously weird movie got made.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:57 PM on May 18, 2011


I read Julie Dawn Cole's - Veruca's - memoir last week. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but it was an interesting look behind the scenes of the filming of Willy Wonka. I also had no idea that she was a working actress in Britain for a long time.
posted by sugarfish at 8:06 PM on May 18, 2011


Man, that Today show clip is disappointingly brief.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:06 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm still pretty sure that, despite the fact that the movie is a musical, when Wonka first escorts everyone into the edible room and starts singing 'Come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination...' he's not singing under the rules of a musical, he's just singing because he's crazy and sometimes he bursts into song.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:08 PM on May 18, 2011 [22 favorites]


Wow. I had no idea, but Gene Wilder was somewhere along the lines of the Director and Producer's 6th or 7th choice to fill the role.

Among the other candidates....Jon Pertwee (aka. The Third Doctor). Personally, I'd have gone for Tom Baker, but ever since reading that, I'm now imagining the move as a drawn-out episode of Doctor Who, in which The Doctor gets stranded in 19th-Century Britain, and decides to start a candy factory out of boredom.

If anything, this version of the movie makes far more sense. He's even got a Tardis space-elevator.
posted by schmod at 8:15 PM on May 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


On Sonascope's recommendation, I think I will watch Dr. Phibes from Netflix, as the sensation of watching Willy Wonka as a kid is something I long to chase after in adulthood. Sure, I can watch the original again, or pretend the Tim Burton movie is anywhere near as good, but it lacks the surprise and/or quality that made it such a perfect childhood experience in the first place.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:37 PM on May 18, 2011


Oooooooo, haven't seen this in ages. Must see soon. Awesome, crazy movie. Quaker oats, huh?
posted by parki at 8:42 PM on May 18, 2011


Composer Anthony Newley HATED how the song "Candy Man" was performed by the actor in the movie, and offered to play the part himself if they'd reshoot the scenes. The producers turned him down, leaving him convinced the song wouldn't be a hit. But Mike Curb saw something in the tune, and co-produced an arrangement and asked Sammy Davis Jr. to record it. Sammy wasn't so sure, but did it anyway.


And sometimes, THAT's how you get a number one hit.
posted by evilcolonel at 9:02 PM on May 18, 2011


By the way, I never saw the movie growing up, though I knew the song. This commercial was scary enough.
posted by evilcolonel at 9:04 PM on May 18, 2011


By the way, I never saw the movie growing up, though I knew the song. This commercial was scary enough.

Years later, most of those kids were found under the flooring in the M&M Man's basement.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 9:12 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


schmod -- that's brilliant, needs to happen as a Dr Who special.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:18 PM on May 18, 2011


They play this movie on constant repeat in the local Powells Sweet Shop, which I find a bit weird. I pop in from time to time, and there's the movie, playing again.

The original movie was something that first brought me and my wife together. We chatted on ... MySpace ... back when that was where people chatted, and somehow got talking about movies. She said she loved Gene Wilder and the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and was unsure about this Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" business. We saw the movie as a first un-date, and we bonded over how the remake wasn't the original. But the melting Small World-esque dolls? Fantastic. (And I liked the Hall of Flags gag, but those two bits don't make up for the rest of the movie.)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:19 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really love this movie, but word is Dahl hated it.
posted by edgeways at 10:00 PM on May 18, 2011


I thought this movie was a terrible adaptation until Tim Burton made his. Now I love it.
posted by Brainy at 10:34 PM on May 18, 2011


Also, I was at a comic con in Rutherford? NJ that had all of the kids together for their first time.
posted by Brainy at 10:35 PM on May 18, 2011


My favorite part--the part that really makes the movie for me--is when Wonka says Charlie and his family can live in the factory, and Grandpa Joe reverts to childhood and excitedly asks "And me?"
posted by infinitewindow at 10:40 PM on May 18, 2011


DAMMIT ITS 2011 WHERES MY FIZZY LIFTING DRINK ALREADY
posted by not_on_display at 11:12 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


That today show interviewer was totally annoying.

No one is linking to the lost chapter yet?
posted by Catblack at 11:26 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


MAN WITH PAPER: "That gambler from Paraguay made up a phony ticket."
posted by clavdivs at 11:40 PM on May 18, 2011


This is the first movie I remember seeing. This is also the first movie I remember fleeing from in fear. Something about the kids being eliminated one by one was too much for my three or four year old brain.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:25 AM on May 19, 2011


OK wait, so what I am basically being told is that the author, director, crew and cast could figure out how to make this spectacular movie but Quaker couldn't figure out how to make a chocolate bar?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:49 AM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Years ago, I had some kind of low-grade flu and was spending the day on the couch with my fever, watching cable TV. I unwisely decided to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Tommy back-to-back.

While I was lying there paralyzed by what looked like a fever dream ONLY ON MY TV FOR REALS and groaning, my loving wife leaned down and in a soothing, caring voice said "Pfft. I told you so. Dumbass."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:10 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Vermicious Knids were my kid version of Lovecraftian horror.

"But why say SCRAM when they wanted to catch us and eat us?"
"It's the only word they know!"

That was my introduction -- along with Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls, which my grandparents inexplicably had a copy of at the cottage -- to horror/comedy. Up until Dahl I knew about scary things, and I knew about funny things, but scary funny things was a concept that had never even occurred to me. And I imprinted on it like a goddamn baby duck.
posted by Shepherd at 5:42 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there an explanation in there for the "chicken getting it's head cut off" flash during the boat ride? Because that's seriously sick to put in a kid's movie.
posted by DU at 6:43 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great post!

schmod - Your comment makes me love this movie even more! Willy Wonka is The Doctor? Brilliant!

One of the best parts of the interview for me is actually seeing how these kids grew up to be normal-ish looking adults. As children, their faces were SO iconic and well-imprinted on my brain with their personas. As adults, the childish personas are almost hidden.

Humans are so darn fascinating!
posted by jillithd at 6:45 AM on May 19, 2011


Is it OK to like both film adaptations of the book?

The original 1971 adaptation was a fantastic work of art in and of itself, but the Tim Burton version was far more faithful to Dahl's vision as a book -- if you didn't pick up on it at the time, most of Dahl's writing was really dark. Even though the original film wasn't sugarcoated compared to other Childrens' films of the time, it was still considerably more saccharine than its source material.

Up until Burton's adaptation, Matilda was really the only film that adequately captured the vibe of Dahl's writing. Willy Wonka is supposed to make you feel incredibly uncomfortable.
posted by schmod at 7:31 AM on May 19, 2011


not_on_display: DAMMIT ITS 2011 WHERES MY FIZZY LIFTING DRINK ALREADY

Ask the Beastie Boys.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:48 AM on May 19, 2011


The Tim Burton version is my go-to example for why CG is, on balance, a terrible thing for movies.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:49 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I must have seen this film 20 times in my life, maybe more, but I have no memory at all of the song "Candyman" being in it. Was it cut from the network TV version?

Then again, there are quite a few scenes I have little memory of, since that movie scared the pants off me, so while I would watch it religiously every time it was on, I would also leave the room religiously for a few of the scary parts.

("Augustus, dahlink, save some room for later!" still haunts my nightmares)
posted by Mchelly at 7:54 AM on May 19, 2011


Is there an explanation in there for the "chicken getting it's head cut off" flash during the boat ride? Because that's seriously sick to put in a kid's movie.

I think the explanation is entirely because it was seriously sick to put that in a kid's movie.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:56 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mchelly: 'Candyman' is at the very beginning, before the Golden Ticket thing is even announced. The guy who works at the candy shop sings it.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:04 AM on May 19, 2011


Is it OK to like both film adaptations of the book?

Yes. If nothing else, you and I can set up our own club for liking both.

We can have candy.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:08 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Buton's version has some of the laziest art direction I've ever seen. It looks like it made in a week.

Also, Candyman?
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 AM on May 19, 2011


DAMMIT ITS 2011 WHERES MY FIZZY LIFTING DRINK ALREADY

They're still cleaning the ceiling. GOOD DAY, SIR.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:57 AM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was about nine when I saw the original, and I have to admit I thought the entire movie was a little bit strange, creepy and unsettling.
posted by freakazoid at 8:58 AM on May 19, 2011


Can I just say I appreciate a movie that finally recognizes what a good snozberry tastes like?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 AM on May 19, 2011


[derail]
filthy light thief, I see your story and raise you the following: the local upscale cupcake bakery is always playing the Sofia Coppola Marie Antoinette when I walk past it. Which is slightly more ghoulish.
[/derail]
posted by pxe2000 at 9:49 AM on May 19, 2011


Up until Burton's adaptation, Matilda was really the only film that adequately captured the vibe of Dahl's writing. Willy Wonka is supposed to make you feel incredibly uncomfortable.

I remember quite liking the movie adaptation of The Witches when I was young. If anything, it was a great venue for Angelica Huston to be creepy.

I really wanted to like the Burton remake, but the CG and the to-my-memory completely fabricated Daddy Issues subplot just ruined the hell out of it for me. WILLY WONKA DOES NOT NEED AN ORIGIN STORY.
posted by Maaik at 10:17 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had nightmares for years about Augustus being sucked up the chocolate pipe.

That sounds a lot dirtier than I'd intended.
posted by cereselle at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2011


I had nightmares for years about Augustus being sucked up the chocolate pipe.

I think what freaked out a LOT of kids - myself included - was the implication that Wonka was actually KILLING OFF the "naughty" children, one by one.
posted by tantrumthecat at 11:09 AM on May 19, 2011


“When the South American newscaster holds up the photo of the fifth Golden Ticket winner—who we know is a fake—it’s a picture of Martin Bormann. The joke was that Bormann was Hitler’s right-hand man and Bormann, in theory, escaped and wound up in Paraguay. But people don’t know who Martin Bormann was and that was my mistake,”

Are you kidding? That's INSTANTLY my favourite joke. How can you beat a joke where some poor schlep is laughing his head off in the Holocaust museum because he just got a joke from the Willy Wonka movie.
posted by Trochanter at 11:12 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


DAMMIT ITS 2011 WHERES MY FIZZY LIFTING DRINK ALREADY
Why, right here, sir!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:57 AM on May 19, 2011


The Vermicious Knids were my kid version of Lovecraftian horror.

OH GOD ME TOO. That book gave me the willies for months.

(And I don't think I've read it since; not sure if I'm still scared of it, or if I'm scared that it won't be as good as my scared-silly memory of it.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:01 PM on May 19, 2011


This is the first movie I remember seeing. This is also the first movie I remember fleeing from in fear. Something about the kids being eliminated one by one was too much for my three or four year old brain.

I had nightmares for years about Augustus being sucked up the chocolate pipe.


Was taken to see this movie in the theater by a friend's mom when I was three. When Augustus got sucked up the pipe, we had to leave because I completely lost it.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:03 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Up until Burton's adaptation, Matilda was really the only film that adequately captured the vibe of Dahl's writing.

James and the Giant Peach was fairly faithful to the writing, I think -- including the bleak horror of James's life under Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge.

I kind of like the Burton Charlie adaptation, except as noted above the unnecessary Wonka back-story. I liked the characterization of Wonka as simultaneously disinterested and utterly terrified of the children: at one point Depp flinches when one of the kids touches him.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:09 PM on May 19, 2011


Oh, and from the linked article:

But an equally important consideration was that the location would not be instantly recognizable, so as to give the film a timeless quality.

To American audiences, maybe. To my eyes the architecture in the exterior shots is always, immediately, unmistakably Germany.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:16 PM on May 19, 2011


I was never frightened by this film but did find it thrilling, and Pure Imagination is one of those songs that frequently pops into my head as I hum my way through the day. As for creepy kids movies, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T held the top spot for most of my youth. The percussionist imprisoned in the drum really freaked me out.
posted by calamari kid at 12:20 PM on May 19, 2011


Count me in with those who like both versions on their own merits. Neither was perfect, but the Wilder one definitely came closer.
posted by owtytrof at 12:21 PM on May 19, 2011


Oh, and also also:

The Tim Burton version is my go-to example for why CG is, on balance, a terrible thing for movies.

*cough* Burton's Alice in Wonderland *cough* awful awful awful.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:33 PM on May 19, 2011


*beyond* awful.
posted by The Whelk at 12:35 PM on May 19, 2011


Burton is not allowed near a computer ever again. Nor, for that matter, near an established property.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:43 PM on May 19, 2011


Was it just me, or was there a weird strain of Irish/Scottish nationalism in Burton's Alice?
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on May 19, 2011


I can't hear you over the blaring noise of Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter doing an idiotic CG-aided dance at the end as though it's some kind of character-driven triumph.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:08 PM on May 19, 2011


When I was 12, I had to have an emergency appendectomy. On Christmas day no less. What made it even weirder was that I was the last patient in an old hospital that was in the process of moving everything into one that was just built. The halls and rooms were completely empty except for a skeleton staff.

My dad spent the nights with me in the next bed, reading Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator to me in sections, between my bouts of projectile vomiting and getting high doses of pain meds. No movie will ever come close to the pictures that book conjured up in my mind while I was in that condition. And it didn't hurt that my dad is a bit of a ham, and basically acted out all the roles in different voices, standing at the foot of my bed, looking like a crazy person.
posted by puny human at 1:09 PM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Or Alice sailing off to start the Opium Wars.
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I must have seen this film 20 times in my life, maybe more, but I have no memory at all of the song "Candyman" being in it. Was it cut from the network TV version?

One of the remarkable thing about the movie is the length of the pre-amble: we are almost an hour in before the kids get through the doors of the factory and into the parts that most people remember. The long build up is consistent with the book - but each minute of the first part of the film must have been WAY less expensive to produce than the final part.
posted by rongorongo at 2:33 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


And there's a lot of throwaway gags in the preamble -- to the point of them almost being standalone skits, like Tim Brooke-Taylor's bit with the computer.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:19 PM on May 19, 2011


WILLY WONKA DOES NOT NEED AN ORIGIN STORY.

Neither did Victor Frankenstein or The Time Traveler but some half-talented screenwriter thought that they should. It's like my #1 hack writer's pet-peeve, creating some stupidly reductive back story to explain the motivations of a character who's actions don't need explanation.
posted by octothorpe at 3:26 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maaik: "I really wanted to like the Burton remake, but the CG and the to-my-memory completely fabricated Daddy Issues subplot just ruined the hell out of it for me. WILLY WONKA DOES NOT NEED AN ORIGIN STORY."

octothorpe: "Neither did Victor Frankenstein or The Time Traveler but some half-talented screenwriter thought that they should. It's like my #1 hack writer's pet-peeve, creating some stupidly reductive back story to explain the motivations of a character who's actions don't need explanation."

Though to be fair, Young Frankenstein (also starring Gene Wilder) was thoroughly awesome.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:17 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Though to be fair, Young Frankenstein (also starring Gene Wilder) was thoroughly awesome.

Young Frankenstein is absolutely NOT an origin story for Victor Frankenstein of the novel.
posted by hippybear at 11:00 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Jessamyn!
This has been one of my favorite movies of all time since the first time I saw it and every time since. I think we've had it on VHS and accessible to the kids for years now.

I knew that "Charlie" had become a respected veterinarian, but I didn't know much about the other kids. I'm happy to get the news. Glad they have all done well.

I watched Gene Wilder through the years when he paired up with Richard Pryor, and OMG, the first time I heard Willy Wonka say the F-bomb was a shocking and interesting day. Then, the Mel Brooks movies. Then he was married to Gilda and all of that sad story. I'm a 40+ year old woman with a huge crush on Gene Wilder, mostly because of the Willy Wonka movie. Also, he's freaking adorable and funny and loyal.

I really appreciated all of the making of and retrospective aspects here.

This is a film I liked my kids to watch because of the cause and effect stuff.
The background is wonderful. Thank you so much.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:00 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


schmod: "Is it OK to like both film adaptations of the book?

I do!

posted by radioamy at 8:09 PM on May 20, 2011


BTW this movie scared the crap out of me as a kid - I hated the Fizzy Lifting Drink part! However I love it now, although it is a little weird when they play it ad nauseam at Powells!

This was a great article, thanks Jessamyn! I had (incorrectly) assumed that since the movie was so different from the book, Dahl wasn't involved much.
posted by radioamy at 8:12 PM on May 20, 2011


I'M COMING FOR YOU ALL
posted by fizzyliftingdrink at 12:36 PM on May 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


tantrumthecat: I think what freaked out a LOT of kids - myself included - was the implication that Wonka was actually KILLING OFF the "naughty" children, one by one.

YES. THIS. Oh my God so very much this. Especially that damned chocolate pipe -- kid woulda drowned, amiright?

I am now, at the tender age of forty, as much of a grown-up as I'm going to manage, and I watch a ton of straight-up horror movies with the blandest of jaded appetites, and yet I still to this day have to leave the room if this goddamn movie is playing.

I'm still grateful to an ex-girlfriend of mine who talked me into reading the book, so that I could find out that the children were still alive. Changed horribly by their experiences, sure, but alive.

jessamyn: [...] kids were really into the idea of there being some limits and some rules and that that's what one of the meta-messages of the story was.

That was actually, I realized when I finally read the book, part of what bothered me so much about the movie -- in the book, Charlie does everything right, obeys all the rules, and is therefore rewarded. In the movie, he breaks the rules and nearly dies, but -- then everything's fine. He's rewarded just for .... being Wonka's favorite, I guess. That one change removes the moral center from the story and makes everything that happens just cruel and arbitrary. /shudder
posted by webmutant at 7:57 PM on May 21, 2011


The moral center is Charlie returning the Everlasting Gobstopper to Wonka, even after Wonka has just dashed all Charlies hopes and dreams. "So shines a good deed in a weary world."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:42 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older O Canada Shatnerized   |   ...Charlie Murphy? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post