Our Favourite Films: Annie (1982)

annie 1982 indexMany a classic film has been remade much to the annoyance of cinema snobs like myself, though sometimes it’s vaguely understandable as the film might not be in English, decades old or, horror of horrors, in black and white. But sometimes it’s just bizarre and that’s definitely the case with Annie, adapted from the stage musical the 1982 take gets pretty much everything right, so the fact that it was remade not just in 1999 and 2014 but that a live tv version for December is also in the works is just plain bizarre.

It’s a mixture of Odd Couple and Fish Out of Water tropes as poor old orphan Annie (Aileen Quinn) has a heart of gold (represented initially by saving a dog from a life in the pound) but no one seems to want to adopt her. But then Daddy Warbucks (Albert Finney) comes along and wants to have an orphan at his house for a week, it’s never really explained why but luckily for all involved his motives aren’t disturbing, and though the orphan owner Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett) tries to dissuade him from taking Annie by claiming “She’s a drunk!” Annie does end up in opulent surroundings.

What follows is a slow bonding between Annie and the often surly Daddy Warbucks, while his assistant Grace (Ann Reinking) tries to convince him that he should keep Annie for good. Surprisingly Annie doesn’t want that though as she misses her never actually seen parents, and so Warbucks does his best to try and find them. This is where Miss Hannigan’s evil brother Rooster (Tim Curry, genuinely disturbing) arrives on the scene and he and his girlfriend do their best to take on Annie knowing they’ll get a sod load of money out of Warbucks while doing so.

It’s a movie that’s packed full of incredibly fun and memorable songs, the most famous might be “Tomorrow” and “It’s The Hard knock Life” but there’s not a single bad one in the entire film, with Dumb Dog, I Think I’m Going To Like It Here and We Got Annie being particularly lovable, and it’s a soundtrack I find myself returning to without skipping a track as it’s so infectious and amusing, nearly every one is an earworm but of the variety you won’t tire of.

The film has an unusual sense of humour too as there’s a couple of assassination attempts on Warbucks’ life that barely rises an eyebrow from the man himself, an appearance from the president should feel ridiculous and yet they pull it off sublimely even when he encourages a sing-a-long, and Miss Hannigan and her brother Rooster are villains you’ll love to hate. The dialogue is witty and smart, and though the odd performance is a little over the top (Carol Burnett making out with a radio is especially bizarre) it’s always in an oddly lovable manner. Throw in some inventive choreography, fantastic performances from the cast young and old, and a gripping ending, and for me that all adds up to one of the best musicals of the 1980s.


Alex Finch.
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