The Pied Piper of Hamelin

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From the poem by Robert Browning

The traditional story of the town where the mayor hires a mysterious piper to get rid of the rats, who, when he is not paid, steals the children of the town.

Cute but silly 50s tv movie- Van Johnson plays both the ‘good guy’ in town, and also the piper; Claude Rains (serious honey, I don’t care how old he is in this one) is the bad Mayor. Except for the fact that the children come back in the end (unlike the poem, where they are gone forever) it’s a pretty good retelling, with a 50s ‘people are more important than money or showing off’ spin on it, including the town being in competition with the neighboring town of Hamelout (ouch!).

And an extremely amusing cameo by Jim Backus as the King’s Messenger, wonderful!

The songs are all set to tunes by Edward Grieg, which means that many of them are minor key and sound like hot tango numbers…very odd choices for a movie like this, but not as bad as they could have been.

But the dialogue. Oh god, the dialogue. True to the tradition of 50s cutesiness, the dialogue is mostly written in a sing-songy rhyming that doesn’t scan, or rhyme well, or even sound like normal speech…this was TRULY PAINFUL to listen to, and had me giggling many times at the awkwardness of the phrasing. Way too funny to miss, but be warned: it’s not for the faint of heart…

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