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Monday, September 12, 2016

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

An inventor (Dick Van Dyke) is struggling to make a living while raising two children (Adrian Hall, Heather Ripley). He purchases an old dilapidated jalopy and fixes it up and is startled to find the car can fly! Loosely based on the Ian Fleming children's novel and directed by Ken Hughes who co-wrote the screenplay with Roald Dahl. This musical has many of the same team that were behind Disney's MARY POPPINS including Van Dyke, the Sherman brothers who did the songs and choreographers Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood. Heresy I know but I actually prefer it to the 1964 Disney film. Handsomely shot in 70 millimeter by Christopher Challis (TWO FOR THE ROAD), it's a great looking film boasting an attractive production design by the great Ken Adam. The songs are appealing including the irresistibly catchy title song and the haunting Hushabye Mountain and the Breaux/Wood choreography is lively particularly in the Old Bamboo number. The film gets a bit darker in the second half after the intermission when they reach the country of Vulgaria where children are forbidden and rounded up and tossed into dungeons. Curiously, the film's reputation seems to be one of inferiority when, in fact, it received very good reviews from Time magazine, the New York Times and Roger Ebert! With Sally Ann Howes, Gert Frobe, Lionel Jeffries, James Robertson Justice, Benny Hill, Anna Quayle, Barbara Windsor and Robert Helpmann (THE RED SHOES) as the dreaded child catcher.

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