Happy Independence Day
Posted on: 1st July 2012 14:20:16

Welcome to the July 2012 Edition  – The Music Man!


As I begin our second look at this film, I am pleased to say it has returned to DVD and Blu-ray!   


I chose this film to represent Independence Day because I believe it is the perfect slice of Americana.


The setting: A small mid-western town (“ You are in I-a-way”).


The time: Summer, in the month of July at the turn of the century.


The people: Men, women and children who comprise old-fashioned home spun goodness.


Shirley Jones (Laurey in OKLAHOMA!), visits again this time as “ a sadder but wiser” Marion the Librarian.


Pert Kelton is wonderful as Marion’s mother – the widow Paroo. She, like so many mothers of her time, wants to see her daughter married. “When a woman’s got a husband and you’ve got none, why should she take advice from you?”   (Sound a bit familiar? It is a recurring theme in the chosen musicals, (Fiddler on the Roof and Meet Me in St. Louis ).


Ron Howard rounds out the family as the cutest 7 year old with an intelligibility problem. Where’s the speech pathologist when you need her?  


No matter, Robert Preston as Prof. Harold Hill -- The Music Man will bring Winthrop out of his shell.  That is after all what he does – brings people out – opens their eyes to a  “situation (they) do not wish to acknowledge or (they) are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in (their) community”.


Thus begins the salesman’s pitch and a great one it is! A group member, who was a traveling salesman, was heard to say, “You gotta have  ‘hook’ and once they’re ‘hooked’ you reel ‘em in”. In this case Harold baits the hook with the parents and reels them in at the gymnasium, during 76 Trombones as the children begin to follow him.  These are not only great scenes to illustrate a point but also seem to be the most popular and recognizable that can get the group singing!


This is my favorite part of the group—they’re singing, laughing and engaged. I find my patients with the greatest degree of communication difficulty light up when they sing!


This scene also opens up reminiscences about high school marching bands and memories of great parades – perfect for Independence Day.


These scenes are great catalysts for discussions of growing up in small towns and the idea of the family as sources for support and entertainment. 


Family provides solace when one is faced with emotional challenges – Winthrop dealing with his communication issues and Marion dealing with the advent of feelings (bad or good) for the Professor.


Family as a source of entertainment centers around a piano and songs fill the rooms.   Our discussion often turns to the sharp contrast of family relationships then vs. now. “We don’t talk to each other now, we “text, e-mail and facebook”. (It’s true my patients are aware of facebook!) This comment opens the door to talk of family vacations, dinners, family game night, singing at the piano or with the radio.  Those were the days!


While the family in this film is a source of support the community appears to be a vehicle for separation/isolation.  The school board members don’t get along, the ladies of the town don’t like Miss Marion “she advocates dirty books…she made brazen overtures to a man who never had a friend in this town until she came here”.  However, as the Professor continues to promote the River City Boys Band this feeling of isolation disappears. The kids are happy. Winthrop is talking and even the Mayor believes in the Band! (“I’ll stake my River City Band against any Band west of Chicago”).  Amidst her skepticism of the Professor, Marion warms to him, in part because he has helped her brother “blossom into a confident boy”. 


The idea that our perception of people can change is a discussion topic to which many of the ladies in the group can  relate. “I didn’t like him when I met him….he  came after me…he wore me down.  The more I got to know him the more I liked him.” This begins the discussion of courtship!


Best courtship scene -- the footbridge,  Til There Was You!” Don’t believe me?  Ask the Beatles who recorded the song in 1963. The Classic Movie Musical meets pop culture. That’s great crossover!


Have a Happy and Safe Independence Day!




See you in August -- when Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor become stars of the Silent Screen, dance on walls and Sing in the Rain!







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