Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 British-American musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It is an adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and tells the story of Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum, in his only film appearance) as he receives a Golden Ticket and visits Willy Wonka's chocolate factory with four other children from around the world.
Filming took place in Munich in 1970, and the film was released by Paramount Pictures on June 30, 1971. With a budget of just $3 million, the film received moderate reviews and performed well in 1971, earning about $4 million at the end of its original run. It then made an additional $21 million during its re-release by Warner Bros. under the Family Entertainment banner in 1996.
The film has since developed a cult following, especially due to its repeated television airings and home entertainment sales. In 1972, the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, and Wilder was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, but lost both to Fiddler on the Roof. The movie introduced the song The Candy Man, which went on to become a popular hit when recorded by Sammy Davis Jr.. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Until 1977, Paramount distributed the film. From then on, all the rights to the film were handed over to Warner Bros. for home entertainment purposes starting in the 1980s.
In an unnamed European town, children go to a candy shop after school. Charlie Bucket, whose family is poor, can only stare through the window as the shop owner sings "The Candy Man". The newsagent for whom Charlie works after school gives him his weekly pay, which Charlie uses to buy a loaf of bread for his family. On his way home, he passes Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. A mysterious tinker recites the first lines of William Allingham's poem "The Fairies", and tells Charlie, "Nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out." Charlie rushes home to his widowed mother and his four bedridden grandparents. After he tells Grandpa Joe about the tinker, Joe tells him that Wonka locked the factory because other candy makers, including his arch-rival Arthur Slugworth, sent in spies disguised as employees to steal his chocolate and candy recipes. Wonka disappeared, but three years later began selling more candy; the origin of Wonka's labor force is a mystery.
Wonka announces to the world that he has hidden five "Golden Tickets" in his chocolate Wonka Bars. The finders of these tickets will be given a tour of his factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate. Four of the tickets are found by Augustus Gloop, a gluttonous German boy; Veruca Salt, a spoiled British girl; Violet Beauregarde, a gum-chewing American girl; and Mike Teevee, a television-obsessed American boy. As each winner is heralded to the world on TV, a sinister-looking man whispers to them. Then, the fifth ticket is found by a millionaire in Paraguay, South America, much to the dismay of Charlie and his family.
The next day, Charlie finds some money in a gutter and uses it to buy a Wonka Bar. After eating it, he uses the change that he has left to buy another one for his Grandpa Joe. At that time, the newspapers reveal that the Paraguayan millionaire had faked his ticket, and when Charlie opens the Wonka bar, he finds the real fifth golden ticket. Racing home, he is confronted by the sinister man seen whispering to the other winners. The man introduces himself as Slugworth and offers to pay him for a sample of Wonka's latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper.
Charlie returns home with his news. Grandpa Joe is so elated that he finds he can walk as Charlie chooses him as his chaperon. The next day, Wonka greets the ticket winners at the factory gates. Each is required to sign an extensive contract before they may begin the tour. The factory is a psychedelic wonderland that includes a river of chocolate, edible mushrooms, lickable wallpaper, and other marvelous sweets and inventions. Wonka's workers are small men known as Oompa-Loompas.
During the tour, Augustus falls into the Chocolate River and is sucked up a pipe to the Fudge Room. Next they all go to the Inventing Room and are each given an Everlasting Gobstoper. There, Violet blows up as a blueberry after chewing an experimental three-course meal gum, against Wonka's warnings. The group reaches the Fizzy Lifting Drinks Room, where Charlie and Grandpa Joe disregard Wonka's warning and sample the drinks on purpose, only to break the rules and get in trouble. They are not caught in the act, but have a near-fatal encounter with an exhaust fan. The next room is the Chocolate Eggs Room, where Wonka uses geese to lay chocolate eggs. Veruca demands she wants one, which leads her to singing "I Want It Now", and then falling down the garbage chute leading to the furnace. Her father shortly falls in trying to rescue her. They go and test out Wonka's Wonkavision to find that Mike has teleported himself and turned a few inches tall. All of this misbehavior has Oompa Loompas singing about their bad conduct.
At the end of the tour, only Charlie and Grandpa Joe remain, but Wonka dismisses them, without awarding them the promised lifetime supply of chocolate. Grandpa Joe follows Wonka to ask him about this, and Wonka angrily tells him that because they had violated the contract by stealing Fizzy Lifting Drinks, they receive nothing. Seeking revenge, Grandpa Joe suggests to Charlie that he should give Slugworth the Gobstopper that they got in the Inventing Room, but Charlie can't bring himself to hurt Wonka intentionally and returns the candy to him instead.
Wonka immediately changes his tone, and declares Charlie the winner. He reveals that "Slugworth" is actually an employee named Mr. Wilkinson, and the offer to buy the Gobstopper was a morality test for all the kids: Charlie was the only one who passed. The trio enter the "Wonkavator", a multi-directional glass elevator that flies out of the factory. Soaring over the city, Wonka reveals to Charlie that his actual prize is the entire factory itself because Wonka had created the contest to find an honest child worthy enough to be his heir. He informs Charlie that he and his family can move into the factory immediately.
- Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka
- Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe
- Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket
- Roy Kinnear as Henry Salt
- Julie Dawn Cole as Veruca Salt
- Leonard Stone as Sam Beauregarde
- Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde
- Dodo Denney as Mrs. Teevee
- Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee
- Ursula Reit as Mrs. Gloop
- Michael Bollner as Augustus Gloop
- Diana Sowle as Mrs. Bucket
- Aubrey Woods as Bill, the Candy Shop owner
- David Battley as Mr. Turkentine
- Günter Meisner as Mr. Slugworth/Mr. Wilkinson
- Peter Capell as The Tinker
- Werner Heyking as Mr. Jopeck
- Peter Stuart as Winkelmann
- Dora Altmann as Grandma Georgina (uncredited)
- Pat Coombs as Henrietta Salt (uncredited)
- Kurt Grosskurth as Mr. Gloop (uncredited)
- Franziska Liebing as Grandma Josephine (uncredited)
- Ernst Ziegler as Grandpa George (uncredited)
- Steve Dunne as Stanley Kael, newscaster (uncredited)
- Tim Brooke-Taylor as Computer Scientist (uncredited)
- Frank Delfino as Auctioneer (uncredited)
- Michael Goodliffe as Mr. Teavee (uncredited)
- Walker Edmiston as the voice of Mr. Slugworth (uncredited)
- Rusty Goffe
- Rudy Borgstaller
- George Claydon
- Malcolm Dixon
- Ismed Hassan
- Norman McGlen
- Angelo Muscat
- Pepe Poupee
- Marcus Powell
- Albert Wilkinson
The idea for adapting the book into a film came about when director Mel Stuart's ten-year-old daughter read the book and asked her father to make a film out of it, with "Uncle Dave" (producer David L. Wolper) producing it. Stuart showed the book to Wolper, who happened to be in the midst of talks with the Quaker Oats Company regarding a vehicle to introduce a new candy bar from their Chicago-based Breaker Confections subsidiary (since renamed the Willy Wonka Candy Company and sold to Nestlé). Wolper persuaded the company, who had no previous experience in the film industry, to buy the rights to the book and finance the picture for the purpose of promoting a new Quaker Oats Wonka Bar.
It was agreed that the film would be a children's musical, and that Dahl himself would write the screenplay. However, the title was changed to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. At the time of release, the Vietnam War was at its height and American soldiers referred to both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces as "Charlie." Studio executives feared that a public who came home each day to see the war on television might be less interested in going out to see the film if they used the original title.
Screenwriter David Seltzer conceived a gimmick exclusively for the film that had Wonka quoting numerous literary sources, such as Arthur O'Shaughnessy's Ode, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Seltzer also worked Slugworth (only mentioned as a rival candy maker in the book) into the plot as an actual character (only to be revealed to be Wilkinson, one of Wonka's agents, at the end of the film).
All six members of Monty Python: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, expressed interest in playing Wonka, but at the time they were deemed not big enough names for an international audience. Three of the members, Cleese, Idle and Palin, were later seriously considered for the same role in Tim Burton's version.
Before Wilder was officially cast for the role, Fred Astaire, Joel Grey, Ron Moody and Jon Pertwee were all considered. Spike Milligan was Roald Dahl's original choice to play Willy Wonka. Peter Sellers even begged Dahl for the role.
When Wilder was cast for the role, he accepted it on one condition:
- “When I make my first entrance, I'd like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I'm walking on and stands straight up, by itself; but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause.”
- ―Gene Wilder
The reason why Wilder wanted this in the film was that "from that time on, no one will know if I'm lying or telling the truth."
Jean Stapleton turned down the role of Mrs. Teevee. Jim Backus was considered for the role of Sam Beauregarde. Sammy Davis, Jr. wanted to play Bill, the candy store owner, but Stuart did not like the idea because he felt that the presence of a big star in the candy store scene would break the reality. Anthony Newley also wanted to play Bill, but Stuart also objected to this for the same reason.
Principal photography commenced on 30 April 1970, and ended on 19 November 1970. The primary shooting location was Munich, Bavaria, West Germany, because it was significantly cheaper than filming in the United States and the setting was conducive to Wonka's factory; Stuart also liked the ambiguity and unfamiliarity of the location. External shots of the factory were filmed at the gasworks of Stadtwerke München (Emmy-Noether-Straße 10); the entrance and side buildings still exist. The exterior of Charlie Bucket's house, which was only a set constructed for the film, was filmed at Quellenstraße in Munich, Bavaria. Charlie's school was filmed at Katholisches Pfarramt St. Sylvester, Biedersteiner Straße 1 in Munich. Bill's Candy Shop was filmed at Lilienstraße, Munich. The closing sequence when the Wonkavator is flying above the factory is footage of Nördlingen in Bavaria.
Production designer Harper Goff centered the factory on the massive Chocolate Room. According to Paris Themmen, who played Mike Teevee, "The river was made of water with food coloring. At one point, they poured some cocoa powder into it to try to thicken it but it didn't really work. When asked this question, Michael Böllner, who played Augustus Gloop, answers, 'It vas dirty, stinking vater.'"
When interviewed for the 30th anniversary special edition, Gene Wilder stated that he enjoyed working with most of the child actors, but said that he and the crew had some problems with Paris Themmen, claiming that he was "a handful".
Before its release, the film received advance publicity though TV commercials offering a "Willy Wonka candy factory kit" for sending $1.00 and two seals from boxes of Quaker cereals such as King Vitaman, Life and any of the Cap'n Crunch brands.
The film was first released on DVD in 1996 the "25th anniversary edition" as a double sided disc containing a widescreen and "standard" version. The "standard" version is an open matte print, where the mattes used to make the image widescreen are removed, revealing information originally intended to be hidden from viewers. VHS copies were also available, but only containing the "standard" version.
A special edition DVD was released, celebrating the film's 30th anniversary, on August 28, 2001, but in fullscreen only. Due to the lack of a letterboxed release, fan petitioning eventually led Warner Home Video to issue a widescreen version on November 13, 2001. It was also released on VHS, with only one of the special features (a making-of feature). Several original cast members reunited to film documentary footage for this special edition DVD release. The two editions featured restored sound, and better picture quality. In addition to the documentary, the DVD included a trailer, a gallery, and audio commentary by the cast.
In 2011, Warner Home Video released the film on HD DVD with all the bonus features from the 2001 DVD. The film was released on Blu-ray on October 20, 2009. It includes all the bonus features from the 2001 DVD and 2011 HD-DVD as well as a 38-page book.
Also in 2011, a new deluxe-40th-anniversary edition Blu-ray/DVD set was released on 1 November, consisting of the film on Blu-ray Disc and DVD as well as a bonus features disc. The set also included a variety of rarities such as a Wonka Bar-designed tin, four scented pencils, a scented eraser, a book detailing the making of the film, original production papers and a Golden Ticket to win a trip to Los Angeles.
The Academy Award-nominated original score and songs were composed by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and musical direction was by Walter Scharf. The soundtrack was first released by Paramount Records in 1971. On 8 October 1996, Hip-O Records (in conjunction with MCA Records, which by then owned the Paramount catalog), released the soundtrack on CD as a "25th Anniversary Edition".
The music and songs in the order that they appear in the film are:
- "Main Title" – Instrumental medley of "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket" and "Pure Imagination"
- "The Candy Man Can" – Aubrey Woods
- "Cheer Up, Charlie" – Diana Lee (dubbing over Diana Sowle)
- "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket" – Jack Albertson and Peter Ostrum
- "Pure Imagination" – Gene Wilder
- "Oompa Loompa (Augustus)" – The Oompa Loompas
- "The Wondrous Boat Ride"/"The Rowing Song" – Gene Wilder
- "Oompa Loompa (Violet)" – The Oompa Loompas
- "I Want It Now!" – Julie Dawn Cole
- "Oompa Loompa (Veruca)" – The Oompa Loompas
- "Ach, so fromm" (alternately titled "M'appari", from Martha) – Gene Wilder
- "Oompa Loompa (Mike)" – The Oompa Loompas
- "End Credits" – "Pure Imagination"
The track listing for the soundtrack is as follows:
- "Main Title" ("Golden Ticket"/"Pure Imagination")
- "The Candy Man"
- "Charlie's Paper Run"
- "Cheer Up, Charlie"
- "Lucky Charlie"
- "I've Got a Golden Ticket"
- "Pure Imagination"
- "Oompa Loompa"
- "The Wondrous Boat Ride"
- "Everlasting Gobstoppers/Oompa Loompa"
- "The Bubble Machine"
- "I Want It Now/Oompa Loompa"
- "Wonkamobile, Wonkavision/Oompa Loompa"
- "Wonkavator/End Title" ("Pure Imagination")
- Willy Wonka
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
- Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (2017)