The Music Man (2003 film)

The Music Man is a 2003 American television film directed by Jeff Bleckner and starring Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth.

The Music Man
DVD cover
GenreMusical romance
Written bySally Robinson
Based on The Music Man by
Meredith Willson
Franklin Lacey
Directed byJeff Bleckner
StarringMatthew Broderick
Kristin Chenoweth
Debra Monk
Composer(s)Danny Troob
Meredith Willson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)John M. Eckert
Editor(s)James Chressanthis
Running time150 minutes
Original networkABC
Original releaseFebruary 16, 2003 (2003-02-16)

The television production, which was broadcast by ABC on the February 16, 2003, edition of The Wonderful World of Disney, is based on the book of the 1957 stage musical by Meredith Willson, which was based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The musical was adapted for television by Sally Robinson.

It was filmed entirely in Ontario, Canada.

The three-hour presentation was watched by 13.1 million viewers, with a 3.8 rating/9 share in adults aged 18–49. It finished second in the first two hours and fourth in the final hour.[1]


Professor Harold Hill (Matthew Broderick), is a con artist and traveling salesman who makes a living by selling musical instruments and uniforms for children in Midwestern towns, promising to teach them and organize them into a band. However, he really knows nothing of music and always skips town once the merchandise is delivered. Hill is sitting on a train in the first scene, playing cards while listening to the other travelling salesmen on the train talk about him and his cons (Rock Island). Intrigued by their conversation, he decides to target the naive citizens of River City, Iowa ("Gentlemen, you intrigue me, I think I'll give Iowa a try"). An anvil salesman named Charlie Cowell realizes who Hill is, but fails to catch him when he hastily leaves the train. Charlie yells out the window of the train "I won't forget your face, Hill!" before the train travels on, while Hill is stepping onto the fresh soil of Iowa.

Hill walks up to two men on a ladder and asks if there is a hotel anywhere, and if so, where it might be ("Iowa Stubborn"). Hill moves on to find the hotel, and meets his former sidekick, Marcellus Washburn, who now is living and working respectably in this rural town. Hill tells Marcellus about his new pitch, posing as a music professor. Marcellus warns Hill that he won't be able to sell the stubborn Iowans any instruments, partly because of the town's current music teacher, Marian, who also happens to be the librarian (Kristin Chenoweth). Harold tells Marcellus that he plans to get Marian off-balance, and then tell the town how he is going to save them from terrible trouble. Marcellus tells Hill the town is in no trouble, and Harold replies that he will "just have to make some." He convinces the residents their only hope of saving their sons from the corruption of the local pool hall is to allow him to create a marching band and help them develop their musical talents ("Ya Got Trouble").

Marian happens to walk by the town square while this is going on, and Marcellus points her out to Harold. Harold abruptly breaks off singing and follows Marian. He attempts to flirt with her in order to "throw her off balance," but Marian cuts him short and walks into her house to continue a piano lesson with her pupil Amaryllis. Marian’s mother, Mrs. Paroo (Debra Monk) scolds her for being out so late and says that she didn't remember the library being open so late in the summer. Marian tells her mother about Harold following her, but while Marian thinks it is horrid, her mother is pleased by the man's interest in her unmarried daughter ("If You Don't Mind Me Saying So"). Marian's young brother Winthrop (Cameron Monaghan) runs into the house with their dog, Shadow. Amaryllis walks in, asking if he would like to come to a party that she is hosting. Winthrop declines, and refuses to say her name because of his lisp—it has an S in it. His mother makes him say it, causing Amaryllis to giggle and Winthrop to get upset and run off. Amaryllis feels sorry, and confesses her feelings about Winthrop to Marian. Marian just smiles and tells her to play her crosshand piece. Amaryllis smiles and plays her piece while Marian sings of her as-yet-unknown love ("Goodnight, My Someone").

The next day, in the high school gym, the River City citizens are attending Fourth of July exercises led by the mayor (Victor Garber) and his wife, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Molly Shannon), when Harold jumps forward, again talking about the trouble River City is in ("Ya Got Trouble" reprise/"Seventy-Six Trombones"). The mayor instantly distrusts Harold and sends the School Board to get his credentials, which do not exist. Harold stands in the entrance of the hall gathering five dollars from the boys' mothers who want to sign their sons up for the band. Then, Tommy, (Clyde Alves), a local bad boy, falls down some stairs trying to get away from the mayor. The mayor catches him and scolds him for hanging around his daughter, Zaneeta. Harold takes Tommy under his wing and gives him money to take his girl out for ice cream, not knowing that Zaneeta is the mayor's daughter.

Walking out of the town hall, hopping for an opportunity to flirt with Marian, Hill is stopped by the four feuding school board members, who ask for his credentials. Hill pulls them into the ice cream parlor and has them each sing, turning them into a barbershop quartet ("Sincere"). As the School Board goes off singing, Hill continues to pursue Marian. He catches up to her and tells her, confidentially, that he has a degree from the Gary Conservatory of Music, "Class of Aught Five (1905)," which Marian instantly doubts. She cuts Harold off abruptly and leaves.

Back at the hotel, Harold confides in Marcellus about his plan to sell not only instruments, but also uniforms and instruction booklets. This should take three weeks instead of the planned ten days. Marcellus argues with Harold that he can't teach the boys to play because he doesn't know one note from another. Harold tells Marcellus that he has created a revolutionary system that you can use to learn to play music, calling it the "Think System": You have only need to think of a note to play it. Marcellus warns Harold that the town social is in three weeks, and the people will want to hear music. Harold says that once the uniforms arrive, the people will forget about the music, at least long enough for him to skip town with the money. Marcellus talks to Harold about setting him up with his fiancee's sister, but Harold doesn't want to settle down with someone who "teaches Sunday school" ("The Sadder But Wiser Girl").

Harold walks by the hat shop where the mayor's wife, Eulalie, and a gang of other women are gathered, trying on hats. The women pull him into the shop, asking his opinion on their hats and gossiping. Attempting to distract Eulalie, he asks her to be the head of the women's dance committee. Harold mentions Marian, and the women begin to gossip about her ("Pick-a-Little Talk-a-Little"/"Goodnight Ladies"). They tell Harold how they shun Marian due to her suspected relationship with the man who left the library to the town—but all the books to Marian ("Old Miser Madison").

Suspicious of Harold's claim that he has a degree from the Gary Conservatory of Music, Class of '05, Marion begins to investigate him. She is interrupted when Harold enters the library and tries again to woo her ("Marian the Librarian").

Harold succeeds in conning Mrs. Paroo into buying an instrument for Winthrop, who is eavesdropping in his treehouse. The boy falls, and Harold gets him down from the tree, making Mrs. Paroo only admire him more. Harold tells Winthrop about how great his uniform will look, but fearing more laughs because of his lisp, Winthrop just runs off. Mrs. Paroo tells Harold that since his father died, Winthrop hasn’t spoken more than three words a day to anyone, so Hill shouldn't feel upset. They walk inside and Mrs. Paroo asks where Harold is from ("Gary, Indiana"). Marian walks in to find Harold getting along beautifully with her mother and is immediately upset, because she still doesn't trust him.

Plot summary ends here. The rest of the story is needed.


Although Variety reported Sarah Jessica Parker was being considered for the role of Marian, it ultimately went to Kristin Chenoweth.[2]

The film was shot in Burlington, Millbrook, Milton, Uxbridge, and Toronto in Ontario, Canada from April to July of 2002.


Song list

  • "Rock Island"
  • "Iowa Stubborn"
  • "Ya Got Trouble"
  • "Piano Lesson"
  • "Goodnight, My Someone"
  • "Got Trouble (Reprise)/Seventy-Six Trombones"
  • "Sincere"
  • "The Sadder But Wiser Girl"
  • "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little/Goodnight Ladies"
  • "Marian the Librarian"
  • "Gary, Indiana"
  • "My White Knight"
  • "Wells Fargo Wagon"
  • "It's You"
  • "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little (Reprise)"
  • "Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You"
  • "Gary, Indiana (Reprise)"
  • "Shipoopi"
  • "Till There Was You"
  • "Seventy-Six Trombones (Reprise)/Goodnight, My Someone (Reprise)"

"My White Knight", which had been replaced by "Being in Love" in the 1962 film, was reinstated for the television production.

Critical reception

Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle called it "passable entertainment" with "strong production values, excellent costumes and art direction, and a rich color palette that conjures cozy notions of small-town America in the early 20th century," but he felt it "never matches the 1962 film with its classic performance by the late Robert Preston. It was Preston ... who galvanized The Music Man with his vibrant, masculine authority ... Broderick, by comparison, is cute, wide-eyed, a bit squishy and about as dynamic and intimidating as Winnie the Pooh. His singing is adequate, his dancing heavy and forced. ... Meron and Zadan, who also produced the successful TV version of Annie in 1999 and the excellent Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows in 2001, have developed a winning formula for quality television movies with bigger-than-usual budgets. The Music Man, handsome but misbegotten, doesn't match their usual standard."[3]

Writing for The New York Times, Michele Willens noted, "In The Music Man, Ms. Chenoweth finally gets a television part worthy of her talent," and she called the dances choreographed by Kathleen Marshall "inventive." [4]

Awards and nominations

The production was nominated for five Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Choreography and Music Direction and Outstanding Art Direction, Costumes, and Single Camera Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie.

Jeff Bleckner was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing - Television Film but lost to Mike Nichols for Angels in America.

DVD release

Walt Disney Home Entertainment released the film in anamorphic widescreen format on Region 1 DVD on November 11, 2003. Bonus features include interviews with members of the cast and creative team.

See also


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