Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Music Man


I have always had a soft spot for this one. I’ve seen it once on the stage, in Eugene, Oregon, where the end of the first act was the arrival of the Wells-Fargo wagon pulled by a real horse. I know every note of the music and can bore my friends and family endlessly with my spot-on rendition of “Trouble.” (Right here in River City!) The movie is one of the more scrupulous adaptations ever made, almost right out of the stage play. I was stunned to learn recently that Robert Preston had never sung professionally in his life. What an audition that must have been, to nail it so well that they would cast a non-singer in the role! Naturally, Jack Warner tried his best to fuck it up, putting a movie star in the role of Professor Harold Hill. Several hideously inappropriate stars were suggested, including Frank Sinatra, until Warner offered the role to Cary Grant, who scotched the idea for all time by saying “Not only will I not play it, but if Robert Preston doesn’t do it, I won’t even see the picture.” That’s class.