The original Willy Wonka back on the big screen

Fathom Events has joined forces with Turner Classic Movies and Warner Bros. for the latest in its “TCM Big Screen Classics” series, as the original 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory returns to the big screen to further sweeten the summer.

The film will be screened at more than 650 cinemas nationwide, including the Brassfield Cinema 10 (2101 New Garden Road) and the Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave.) in Greensboro and The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX (5601 University Parkway). The film will be screened twice (2 pm and 7 pm) on Sunday and again next Wednesday. The film is rated G.

Based on the best-selling children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (in part because his screenplay was rewritten), the film stars Gene Wilder in the title role of the mysterious and eccentric candy mogul, who invites five youngsters to visit his chocolate factory after they discover “golden tickets” in Wonka chocolate bars.

Once there, they embark on the adventure of a lifetime, as they enter the phantasmagorical world devised by Wonka – a world of color and fantasy, and perhaps a little danger, too.

The cast includes Peter Ostrom (in his first and only screen role) as Charlie Bucket, whose dream to win a Golden Ticket and visit Wonka’s factory comes true, and Oscar winner Jack Albertson as his kind-hearted Grandpa Joe, who accompanies Charlie on his journey of discovery.

This year marks the 100 th birthday of author Roald Dahl, and this is only one of several events designed to commemorate his life and legacy, although, ironically enough, he essentially disowned the film version, disliking alterations to the original story, how his screenplay was rewritten, and that Spike Milligan – his choice for the role of Wonka – wasn’t cast.

Others who were reportedly considered for the role were all six member of the Monty Python comedy troupe (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin) – but were considered not well enough known. Fred Astaire, Joel Grey, Ron Moody and Jon Pertwee were also considered, and reportedly Peter Sellers pleaded with Dahl to be cast as Willy Wonka.

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz will introduce the film and discuss various points of interest about its inception, production, and enduring popularity some 45 years after it was made.

Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley composed the film’s Oscar-nominated musical score, which includes such memorable ditties as “The Candy Man Can,” “(I’ve Got a) Golden Ticket,” “Pure Imagination” and, of course, the “Oompa Loompa Song.” The film proved so popular with audiences that a remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was released in 2005, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, followed by a stage version presented in London in 2013.

Just for the record, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was the very first movie I saw in a theater when I was a mere lad of three years old, and I have to admit that the “scary tunnel” sequence was plenty scary to me that age. !

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2016, Mark Burger.


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory will be screened 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, (June 29) at Brassfield Cinema 10 (2101 New Garden Road, Greensboro), Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro) and The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX (5601 University Parkway, Winston-Salem). Tickets for Brassfield are $5 (general admission) for the 2 pm screenings on Sunday and Wednesday, $7 (general admission) and $5 (senior citizens and children) for the 7 pm screenings on Sunday and Wednesday. Tickets for Greensboro Grande are $13.34 (plus service charge) for all screenings. Tickets for The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX are $12.50 (general admission) for all screenings.

For advance tickets or more information, visit the official Fathom Events website: www.Fathom-