The world is astounded when Willy Wonka, for years a recluse in his factory, announces that five lucky people will be given a tour of the factory, shown all the secrets of his amazing candy, and one will win a lifetime supply of Wonka chocolate.
Nobody wants the prize more than young Charlie, but as his family is so poor that buying even one bar of chocolate is a treat, buying enough bars to find one of the five golden tickets is unlikely in the extreme. But in movieland, magic can happen. Charlie, along with four somewhat odious other children, get the chance of a lifetime and a tour of the factory.
Along the way, mild disasters befall each of the odious children, but can Charlie beat the odds and grab the brass ring?
Gene Wilder ... Willy Wonka
Jack Albertson ... Grandpa Joe
Peter Ostrum ... Charlie
Roy Kinnear ... Mr. Salt
Julie Dawn Cole ... Veruca Salt
Leonard Stone ... Mr. Beauregarde
Denise Nickerson ... Violet Beauregarde
Nora Denney ... Mrs. Teevee (as Dodo Denney)
Paris Themmen ... Mike Teevee
Ursula Reit ... Mrs. Gloop
Michael Bollner ... Augustus Gloop
Diana Sowle ... Mrs. Bucket
Aubrey Woods ... Bill
Director: Mel Stuart
Nominated for Oscar
Codecs: OpenDivX 4 / MP3
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a truly magnificent piece of filmmaking and remains one of the most fascinating and wonderful adventure films ever made. One of the things that makes this film so intriguing is that it could have been made at any time. I mean, just from watching it, you can't really tell when it was made. It has been one of my favorite films for almost 20 years now, and it wasn't until today that I actually realized when it was made. Watching it again last night, I had convinced myself that it was made sometime in the early to mid 80s, and I was shocked to find out that this year is the movie's 30 year anniversary. Until now, pretty much the only movie I associate with 1971 is A Clockwork Orange, and it's just strange for some reason to find out that this classic movie was made so long ago.
At any rate, Willy Wonka is a tremendously imaginative and inspiring film. It's a family film, but one of the most important aspects of a family film is that it has to be enjoyable for a variety of ages. This is what makes movies like Toy Story and Shrek such huge successes- the adults will love it just as much as the kids are sure to. Hence: `family' film. On the other hand, this is also the downfall of such other movies that are strictly for a much younger audience, like Cats & Dogs. The makers of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory understood this very well, and you can see that just by the way that the cast is divided. Here are all of these kids (funny how it was only kids who found those golden tickets…) who were at this candy factory, and they had each elected to bring one of their parents with them as the one admissible member of their family who was allowed by Wonka to accompany them to the factory.
One of the best elements of this film is the excellently written script and, even more, the songs. These are some of the best songs in any movie ever made, rivaling even the best of the songs from Disney's films (hey, some of them are really good…). There are, of course, some exceptions, such as `Cheer up, Charlie,' which I have been fast-forwarding through for as long as I can remember, but for the most part, the songs are fun to listen to and they pertain to life outside the movie. They are not just songs about the candy-making genius of Willy Wonka or the excitement of being able to tour his mysterious factory, but they are about life in the real world. They're about believing in yourself and being motivated in life (`Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world, there's nothing to it…'), but there are also some that have to do mostly with the movie but are still just as enjoyable, such as the classic song that Wonka sings in the tunnel on board his boat (curiously named `Wonkatania'), which was creepily covered by Marilyn Manson a couple of decades later.
The dialogue in the film contains some of the most interesting little tidbits in the entire movie. Wonka's lines, in particular, are wonderfully strange and amusing (`A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.'). He is a truly eccentric and fascinating man, and Gene Wilder captures the character flawlessly, as he delivers the lines from the brilliantly written script. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of those rare movies that comes along and completely changes the way that fantasy films are made. It's all about having fun in life and being hopeful against all odds and, most of all, being able to have fun in life. There are times when you have to let things go for a while and just act like a kid. Eat candy, run around and play, steal fizzy lifting drinks and bump into the ceiling that now has to be washed and sterilized, it doesn't matter as long as no one's looking. That's such a trivial little quirk of Wonka's (who sterilizes their ceiling?) that it becomes obvious that the movie is trying to say that it's okay to break the rules every once in a while. Have fun in life.
Besides being absolutely mouth-watering (to this day, I still fantasize about sinking my teeth into one of those gigantic gummy bears), the movie is an uplifting adventure that warms the heart and sends people of all ages away with fairy tale candies dancing in their heads and wonderful songs just behind their lips. It is an always-welcome vacation from reality for people of all ages, and it should always be remembered and loved for that. This movie will ALWAYS be a must-see.
* The combination to the first door in the chocolate factory is 99-44/100% pure, which was an ad slogan for Ivory Soap.
* Voted number 8 in channel 4's (UK) "Greatest Family Films".
* The Tinker quotes from the poem "The Fairies" by William Allingham.
* Among Wonka's lines are the following quotations: "Is it my soul that calls me by my name?" from William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"; "All I ask is a tall ship and a star to sail her by" from the John Masefield poem "Sea Fever"; "A thing of beauty is a joy forever" from John Keats's "Endymion: A Poetic Romance" and "Round the world and home again, that's the sailor's way!" from William Allingham's "Homeward Bound".
* The quote, "We are the music-makers..." is from Arthur O'Shaughnessy's "Ode", which also gave us the phrase "movers and shakers". The quotes "Where is fancy bred..." and "So shines a good deed..." are from William Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice".
* Peter Ostrum, who plays Charlie Bucket, made no other films. He later became a veterinarian. In fact, of all the Wonka kids, Julie Dawn Cole is the only one still acting.
* Bob Roe was also an object of attraction for Denise Nickerson and Julie Dawn Cole. On the day they didn't get to spend with Peter, they would spend it with Bob Roe. Bob Roe was the son of first assistant director Jack Roe.
* Both Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregard) and Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) had a crush on Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket). During filming, the girls would alternate days over which one would spend time with Ostrum.
* Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) hated chocolate.
* According to the DVD commentary, Julie Dawn Cole kept several props from the movie (when instructed not to) including the Golden Ticket, an Everlasting Gobstopper, and a Willy Wonka candy wrapper.
* The length of Veruca Salt's hair becomes progressively shorter throughout the movie as the filmmakers kept burning off Julie Dawn Cole's split ends.
* The scene of Veruca's "demise", was filmed on Veruca actress Julie Dawn Cole's 13th birthday, on 26 October 1970.
* The lines to the song "Sweet lovers love the spring time... " are from William Shakespeare's play As You Like It.
* After the company finished filming in Munich, Germany, the studio and locations were then taken over by the Cabaret (1972) people. On the DVD alt-track, one of the kids remarks, "We moved out and Liza [Liza Minnelli] moved in".
* In the scene where Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) drinks from a flower-shaped cup and then eats the cup, the cup itself was made of wax. Gene Wilder had to chew the wax pieces until the end of the take, at which point he spat them out.
* The reactions of the actors in some scenes are spontaneous. For example, when the children first enter the main factory and see the gardens, their reactions are real, it was really their first view of that particular set.
* A number of the objects and plants in the main factory really were edible, including the giant lollipops.
* The film was originally financed by the Quaker Oats Company. They hoped to tie it to a new candy bar they intended to bring on the market. When the film was released, the company began marketing its "Wonka" chocolate bars. Unfortunately, an error in the chocolate formula caused the bars to melt too easily, even while on the shelf, and so they were taken off the market. Quaker sold the brand to St. Louis based Sunline, Inc. (which later became part of Nestlé via Rowntree) not long after this; Sunline was able to make the brand a success, and Wonka-branded candy (most of which isn't chocolate-based) is still available in the USA.
* The opening credits sequence was filmed at a real chocolate factory in Switzerland.
* The scene where Agustus Gloop was interviewed for being the first Golden Ticket finder was shot at a real German restaurant. Most of the cast members went there for lunch during the time the movie was being filmed.
* At the beginning of the scene when Augustus Gloop is being introduced as the first golden ticket finder and the reporter's head is still framed by the antlers on the wall, Diana Sowle, who plays Charlie's mother, walks from right to left behind the reporter and gives him a brief quizzical look just before moving out of frame. She's cleaned up, wearing makeup and a stylish (for the time) green dress, so she's clearly not appearing as Mrs. Bucket in this scene.
* The little scene with Charlie and his mom before the "Cheer Up, Charlie" song was filmed at 1:00 in the morning.
* Most of the small walk-on parts in this movie were played by German people.
* Before Wonka does his little somersault, he sticks his cane into a brick made of Styrofoam.
* The bees that were used in the gum machine were actually wasps.
* The final Oompaloompa song took a total of 50 takes.
* Roald Dahl's original choice to play Willy Wonka was Spike Milligan.
* Joel Grey was first choice for the role of Willy Wonka but was not considered physically imposing enough. The role was then offered to Ron Moody who declined it.
* Jim Backus was the original choice for Mr Salt but he was considered too recognizable a figure.
* After reading the script, Gene Wilder said he would make the film under one condition: that he would be allowed to do a somersault in the scene when he first meets the children. When asked why, Gene Wilder replied that having Willy Wonka start out limping and end up somersaulting would set the tone for that character. He wanted to portray him as someone whose actions were completely unpredictable. His request to do the somersault was granted.
* During the "Wonka Wash" car scene, the foam used to spurt out was compiled from basic fire extinguishers, but what was unknown to the cast and crew was that the foam itself was potent skin irritant, so after shooting the scene, the actors were left in considerable discomfort when their skin puffed up and required several days to receive medical treatment and recovery.
* Many of the words that come out of Willy Wonka's mouth were literary quotations. This was not in the original script that Roald Dahl wrote. All of the numerous literary references were added for one reason or another by David Seltzer when he re-wrote the screenplay.
* Peter Ostrum went through puberty during the film. His voice is high during the duet of "I've Got A Golden Ticket", and is much deeper later in the film, such as during the bubble scene.
* The song Wonka sings on the boat ride ("There's no earthly way of knowing... ") are the only song lyrics taken directly from Roald Dahl's book. All other songs were written specifically for the film.
* The exterior of the chocolate factory was Munich's gas works.
* The child named Winkelman is played by director Mel Stuart's son Peter Stuart. Also, a girl in the classroom is played by Madeline Stuart, the director's daughter. She was ten years old in 1970 and she suggested her dad undertake the project after reading the book. When she read the book, she suggested to her father that he approach "Uncle Dave" (producer David L. Wolper) with the idea of turning the book into a movie.
* Jean Stapleton was the first choice to play Mrs. TeeVee (Mike's mother) but turned down the part in favour of doing a TV series pilot instead. That series was, of course, "All in the Family" (1971).
* Roald Dahl was reportedly so angry with the treatment of his book (mainly stemming from the massive rewrite by David Seltzer) that he refused permission for the book's sequel, "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator", to be filmed. Seltzer had an idea for a new sequel, but legal issues meant that it never got off the ground.
* Most of the chocolate bars were actually pieces of cardboard in wrappers.
* Sammy Davis Jr. expressed an interest in playing Bill, the candy store owner, but the film-makers deemed it as too kitschy and declined. Nevertheless, the candy store song, "The Candyman", became a staple of Davis' stage show for many years.
* This movie was shot in Munich, Germany, but the producers had to go outside of Germany to recruit enough little people to play the Oompa Loompas (one of the many tragic legacies of the Nazi era). Many of the people cast as Oompaloompas (German or otherwise) did not speak English fluently, if at all. This is why some appear to not know the words to songs during the musical numbers.
* Mike Teavee's father's line, "Not 'till you're twelve, son" took over forty takes to film.
* The picture held up by the Paraguayan newscaster announcing the finder of the last golden ticket is of Nazi henchman Martin Bormann.
* The quote "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker" is from a poem entitled "Reflections on Ice Breaking" by Ogden Nash.
* Willy Wonka's line, "The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last" is a quote from Oscar Wilde's play, "The Importance of Being Earnest".
* Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe) appeared with Roald Dahl's wife Patricia Neal in the movie, The Subject Was Roses (1968). He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for that film, defeating his co-star on this film, Gene Wilder, then nominated for The Producers (1968).
* Ernst Ziegler, who played Grandpa George, was nearly blind, and so was instructed to look for a red light to guide him when his character was meant to be looking in a certain direction.
* Stories concerning author Roald Dahl's immense dissatisfaction with this film are legendary; in fact, he was so unhappy that he refused to ever watch the completed film in its entirety. Once, while staying in a hotel, he accidentally tuned into a television airing of the movie, but reportedly changed the channel immediately when he realized what he was watching.
* The face in the psychedelic tunnel movie is that of Walon Green, friend of director Mel Stuart and screenwriter of The Wild Bunch (1969). According to Stuart's memoirs, Green is the only person who would agree to let a centipede crawl on his face for the sake of a children's film.
* The closing of the film was not scripted when filming began, so the director (Mel Stuart) had to call David Seltzer and ask him to think of something. Seltzer came up with the "happily ever after" bit in five minutes.
* Jon Pertwee had to turn down the role of Willy Wonka because he was in the tight schedule of "Doctor Who" (1963) at the time.
* The musical code for entering the Chocolate Factory played by Wonka is identified by Mrs. Teevee as "Rachmaninoff" when it is clearly the opening strains of Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro".