US, 1999, 88 minutes, Colour.
Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Alicia Morton, Alan Cumming, Audra Mc Donald, Andrea Mc Ardle.
Directed by Rob Marshall.
Annie is based on the popular Broadway musical. It was filmed in 1982 by John Huston with a cast including Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney and Carol Burnett. It was fairly heavy going and ran for 128 minutes. This version runs 40 minutes shorter.
The film has a lot of verve, memories of A Little Princess and Oliver Twist. However, Alicia Morton as Annie is not as "in your face" as other child performers. However, as in the original, she has a somewhat raucous and strident singing voice. The other children also perform with great verve.
Kathy Bates obviously enjoys herself as Miss Hannigan, even getting some song and dance routines. Alan Cumming shows his versatility in acting as the conman brother, also showing his skill as a singer and dancer. Victor Garber is more low-key than Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, but no less effective. The direction is by Rob Marshall, who also did the choreography.
1. The popularity of the musical? On stage, the first film version, a television version?
2. A telemovie but the big budget: the New York streets and sets, the orphanage, Oliver Warbucks' mansion?
3. The musical score, the songs, their range (or lack of range)? Illustrating the characters, the action? Miss Hannigan and her hatred of little girls? Her brother and his confidence tricks and their all going on Easy Street? Annie and the orphans, the main song, "Tomorrow"? The songs between Annie and Warbucks, joined by Grace to show the hopes and love?
4. The orphanage setting, the hardships of 1933, the young girls, made to scrub floors and do hard work all day, missing their meals? The dominance of Miss Hannigan, her wanting them to love her? Her disdain of them? The escape attempts, Annie coming back, finally getting away in the laundry basket? Retribution from Miss Hannigan?
5. Annie in this setting, her waiting for her parents, her letter, her locket? The confrontations with Miss Hannigan, the escapes, her return? In the laundry basket, on the streets, looking for food, finding Sandy, the policeman accosting her, with the dog? Her finally going back to Miss Hannigan?
6. Grace and her arrival, Miss Hannigan thinking she was being inspected? The proposition about Annie going for the Christmas holidays? Miss Hannigan's reluctance? Agreement? Grace's return with the news about the adoption and the document, Miss Hannigan going out of the room to scream?
7. Annie and her going to the mansion, Grace buying her a new coat, the arrival, the song and dance routines of the servants, the lavish house? Annie and her good manners, not wanting to impose, thinking that she would have to scrub the floors? The entertainment, the preparation for the Christmas Eve dinner, the preparations for the adoption ceremony - and the intervention by her alleged parents?
8. Rooster and his getting out of jail, bringing his girlfriend along? The relationship between sister and brother, the conman, the news about the reward for Annie's parents? Rooster and his disguise, leaving the girlfriend at the orphanage, Miss Hannigan and Rooster pretending to be the parents, the visit to the Warbucks, their crying poor, their pretence, coming back the next day, almost forgetting to take Annie after the cheque?
9. The girlfriend left at the orphanage, the orphans getting the news from her, persuading her that she was being double-crossed, going to the mansion, unmasking Rooster and his sister?
10. President Roosevelt and his coming to the Warbucks for Christmas, all the attempts of the FBI to find the parents, the con artists all swarming on the house, the locket not leading anywhere? The president's arrival, his friendship with Annie, being able to reveal the truth parentage and her parents' death? Annie matter-of-factly accepting this?
11. The happy ending, presents for the children, adoption, Annie finding a home, Oliver Warbucks and his business, stern, melting with Annie, the tour of New York City and the song "NYC"? The shops, the streets, the food, the theatre and Andrea Mc Ardle singing "NYC" in the Broadway musical? Grace, charm? Loving Annie? The regard for Mr Warbucks, the happy ending (although a bit anachronistic in terms of race relationships in 1933)? The happy ending - its appeal to children, to family audiences? Perennial hope - tomorrow?