Saturday, February 07, 2009

2/5/09: The Little Prince (1974)

I'm a loyal fan of certain actors. Once I find one I really like, I'll make an effort to track down other films they've done, or I'll make a point to see their newest works. And I'll go that extra mile for performers like Dustin Hoffman, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Hayley Mills, George Sanders and a few others. They've got the magic required to make even a lackluster movie a bit brighter.

Even in his worst films, Gene Wilder can make me smile, and especially in his older offerings, I just love the way he looks. Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silver Streak—this was Wilder at his wildest. Beginning in the late '70s, he started churning out a lot of drivel, and I subsequently lost interest in him. So I turned my attention to digging out whatever early '70s Wilder I could find. The Little Prince, a big-screen Lerner and Lowe musical version of the beloved Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry children's book, showed promise, as it was produced right in the middle of his Golden Period. I was unfamiliar with the source material, but attracted to the pedigree—how do you go wrong with the composers of "My Fair Lady" and the star of Willy Wonka? Answer: by making this 88-minute pile of excrement. It's about as ill-conceived and impossible to watch as any movie I've ever seen; although a couple of the songs were passably tuneful, it's a crime that they were written for this deservedly forgotten bore. Wilder's part—basically a cameo appearance—is one of the only bright spots. It was also interesting to actually see Bob Fosse act in a movie; I'd only seen a representation of him portrayed by Roy Scheider in All That Jazz. (I gather Little Prince is one of Fosse's only on-camera movie roles.) Finally, special mention must be made of Steven Warner, the 8-year-old moppet who plays the Little Prince; his adorableness is off the charts. Sadly, though, the film itself is devoid of charm and should be avoided at all costs. Rating: 1/5.

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