Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

We just watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tonight. It was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed it. We've been kind of obsessed with it in our house for a while because it was one of the free offered DVDs from Kellogg's cereal. We had to collect five proofs of purchase and every time we finished a box, we would talk about getting Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

In the midst of this cereal box collecting, I got the original book from the libary. The book is by Ian Fleming, of James Bond fame, and like the Bond books, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is filled with marvelous inventions, groan inducing punning names and, well, not so hot writing. It's fine, but it's kind of dry and not really very compelling except for exciting plot points (a car that flies! a cave that opens up into a hideout!).

The book was a bit of a shock to me, because I remember the movie as being full of weird castles and scary child-catchers, geek dads and missing mothers-- in short, being more like a Roald Dahl book than an Ian Fleming book. Well, as it turns out, the movie's screenplay was written by Dahl (and the director, Ken Hughes).

What was also suprising is that most of what I remember of the movie is just the last 40 minutes -- the car becomes a boat, flies, they go to a weird country where children are outlawed and the adults have to pretend to be toys to be let into the castle.

The first hour and a half of the movie concerns the whistling candies, a failed contraption at a fair, meeting the love interest, Truly Scrumptious, and "grandpa" making his daily trip to the outhouse ("I'm off to India!"). There are also lots and lots of songs. I remembered title song and "You are my oochy coochy little teddy bear" but not much else.

A note on Truly Scrumptious: the actress was Sally Ann Howes. According to the IMDB, she replaced Julie Andrews in "My Fair Lady" on Broadway and even earned a higher salary than Andrews!

The songs in the movie were written by the Sherman Brothers, Richard and Robert. They wrote lots of songs for Disney, including the songs from The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins and "It's a Small World." Apparently there is a documentary out now about the Sherman Brothers, called "The Boys."

Well, the kids liked the movie (they've yet to dislike a movie) although Mari closed her eyes when Dick van Dyke and Sally Howes kissed and Austin thought it was boring when she was singing about love. We strongly reminded them that this was all made up and that there is no country where children are outlawed. Hopefully, they won't be scarred the way we were (Julie mentioned afterwards that she remembered the child-catcher scene lasting forever and being much scarier than it did tonight. I remembered it the same way she did).

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang came out in 1968 and watching it, I felt like I was watching a pre-cursor to Wallace and Gromit (similar breakfast making machine) as well as a proto-version of the robot when Truly Scrumptious pretends to be a doll.

Here's Richard Sherman playing his title song from the movie for an audience of toddlers:

And, just because Mark Evanier posted it recently on his awesome website, here's some random Japanese celebrities singing the song (the Sherman link was from Evanier, too) [just the latest in my constant reminders that I will never understand Japanese culture]:


pc said...

There was an article in the LA Times about the book, and the Sherman brothers. Apparently they no longer speak, and haven't in years. Article was not clear as to why, but it appears they never really got along all that well.

pc said...,0,6703263.story

Following up with the link to the LA Times story.