Based on a Roald Dahl children’s book, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is an okay family musical fantasy featuring Gene Wilder as an eccentric candymaker who makes a boy’s dreams come true. Handsomely produced in partnership with Quaker Oats, the film has a fair score by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
Dahl himself adapted his book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and his dialog is better than the structure. Plot hook is a merchandising gimmick by Wilder who puts five golden tickets into a candy bar run, and tests the honesty of the winners. Inhibiting the sustenance of interest among those who are not familiar with the book is that Wilder’s character is rather cynical and sadistic until virtually the end of the film. Ultimately Peter Ostrum, the kids’ hero, and grandpa Jack Albertson pass the honesty test.
Sidebar incidents and dialog are the sharpest elements, particularly the running satire on TV news programming cliche.
1971: Nomination: Best Adapted Score