The most recognisable redhead kid long before the days of Ron Weasley was undoubtedly orphan, Annie.
recognisable redhead kid long before the days of Ron Weasley was undoubtedly orphan,
Annie. Based on
the Broadway musical which took its inspiration from the comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, this 1982 musical features
some toe-tapping tunes but does not quite cut it as one of the top musical
In the 1930s during the Great Depression, Annie (Aileen Quinn) is one of many young orphans
living in the Hudson Street Home For Girls, where drunken floozy Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett) lords over them, having them
scrub the walls and floors whilst making them proclaim how ‘happy’ they are. Annie longs for an ordinary, happy life
with a loving family and patiently waits for the day when her real parents
might return to claim her. One
day, Grace (Ann Reinking), personal assistant
to billionaire tycoon, Oliver Warbucks (Albert
Finney), comes to the orphanage seeking a child to reside with them for a
week as part of a publicity stunt.
Annie soon pops forward to the annoyance of Miss Hannigan and is soon
living the lifestyle of a billionaire’s daughter. Meanwhile, Miss Hannigan’s ruthless brother, Rooster (Tim Curry) and bimbo sidekick, Lily (Bernadette Peters) plan to kidnap Annie
by posing as her parents to gain a tidy ransom.
Bizarrely, Annie was directed by veteran Oscar-nominated actor,
writer and director, John Huston –
we can only assume he had a strong desire to try his hand at something
completely different. Quinn was
selected for the part of Annie from thousands of applicants and she does have
an element of Curly Sue tomboyish
charm. However she projects the
pretentious acting style of Shirley
Temple with over-pronunciation and exaggerated gestures. This amplified style is not limited to
Quinn. In the majority of the
film, Reinking’s Grace is a modest and sweet Mary Poppins, but during a song and dance number begins tossing her
hair back and forth unconvincingly like a Rita
Hayworth wannabe. You expect a
degree of over-acting in the theatre but on film this becomes quite irritating. A more profound and funny performance
comes from Burnett as Miss Hannigan.
Stumbling around, swigging gin and hanging off any man who comes to the
door, she openly resents her situation and the orphans who surround her. There are also a few laughs to be had
from Finney as Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks and plenty of unyielding slapstick to
keep up the fun to some degree.
Annie is painfully long for a kids’ movie with such a
lacklustre plot. However, like its
orphan-story predecessor Oliver!,
Annie has some top tunes, this time written by Charles Strouse, with recognisable ditties like Tomorrow and The Hard-Knock Life. The
kids in the film make a talented chorus.
In fact, the scenes in the orphanage are the best ones making you think
that ironically you would rather slum it there than reside with Warbucks and
his nauseating staff. Ultimately Annie
does not achieve her dream of become a regular kid with a regular life. Instead she is thrown in to a life of
grandeur where she is lavished with attention: essentially she becomes an over-privileged princess,
breaking in to song for President Roosevelt (Edward Herrmann). Despite
this however, the film does come with a message or two. Annie remains resolute in the face of a
hard life, with a clumsy, fluffy dog in one hand and an unyielding optimism in
the other that is to be admired. But
as stubborn and wily as she is, she is still a child who longs for someone to
The Blu-Ray comes with an abundance of special features
including original trailers, a cringe worthy pop version of one of the songs,
an Aileen Quinn feature and a Sing Along option – there is no denying this feature
would provide some hilarious boxing day family entertainment. Musical hits like The Sound of Music and Meet
Me in St. Louis are more popular choices around this time of year but at
the very least, Annie does try to teach you to look on the bright side in the
toughest of times.