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Though Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren do a yeoman’s job in the 1972 film their casting being non-singers leaves me scratching my head. I understand there were various production issues not the least of them being plans to eliminate most of the stage songs and worse, to make it a non-musical. This too is perplexing as the year the film was produced (1972) coincided with Kiley’s second time playing Cervantes/Don Quixote and Diener as Alfonzo/Dulcinea as both had originated the roles on Broadway in 1965. He and Denier had a smash on their hands in 1972 just as they had in 1965. So why break what isn’t broken? 

As I’ve read, both Kiley and Diener were set to reprise their roles but Albert Marre (the Stage Director of both the 1965 and 1972 productions as well as the upcoming 1977 revival and btw Diener’s husband) was fired from the film so they all left the project. What a pity. So soon O’Toole was cast along with Loren. At the time the plans were to re-do the play into a dramatic non-musical so the choice to cast him makes some sense. More non-singing actors were soon cast. But then once more the director changed to Arthur Hiller and the musical was on again. O’Toole was horrified that he would soon be involved in a musical but he remained, helping choose his own voice double. I can understand Loren’s casting if one values overt sexuality over singing virtuosity as I believe she was cast after Hiller decided to film a musical. A well intentioned casting considering her popularity but imo she fails to embody the role and unfortunately, the film suffers immensely.

I must admit I am prejudiced to Kiley and Denier and Emily Yancy being fortunate to have seen them perform their roles in 1972 and 1977. The sparse stage settings, the costuming and foremost the excellent acting and music and lyrics so masterfully performed by the gifted cast were an experience I have never forgotten though I was a teenager and young adult at the time. Suffice to say the curtain calls were numerous. I have seen many Broadway musicals but feel the 1972 and 1977 productions of The Man of La Mancha to have been the best Broadway musical I have ever witnessed. The original cast album from 1965 is worth tracking down

A telling incident from the 1977 production...Richard Kiley had been ill and unable to open on the original date. All ticket holders were contacted via mail to inquire if they would prefer to attend on their original ticket date and see Kiley’s understudy or to wait an indefinite amount of time to attend when Kiley was well enough to star in the role. I am not privy to the numbers but I as well a suffienct number of fans chose to delay attendance until Kiley returned. He recovered from his illness and did indeed star in the 1977 reprisal much to everyone’s delight. 

In a way I pity O’Toole. How impossible to come after Kiley. To attempt to fill his very large boots in this role would be asking too much of an experienced singer let alone a Shakespearean actor. But as talented as O’Toole was this was Kiley’s part and no one then or since can match him. Just my thoughts...

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I have never seen the play version of this musical and this movie didn’t make me want to see it. I have heard Richard Kiley sing The Impossible Dream and he probably would have been amazing. This whole movie seem amateurish at the least. Peter O’Toole’s makeup may have worked well on the stage, but was badly done for movie makeup.

I was just watching Mame thinking how miscast Lucille Ball was in that role. That was Angela’s Lansbury’s role. (Or if they made it in Rosalind Russell’s time. She was the ultimate Aunty Mame). Lucy couldn’t sing or dance. And the silkscreen they had over the lens made it uncomfortable to watch. 

I also feel that some musicals should never be movies...Chicago, A Chorus Line, Cats, Annie...I hope someone comes to. Their senses and doesn’t make Wicked into a movie. (Think-of how the messed up The Wiz casting Diana Ross. Another example of miscasting.)

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34 minutes ago, jawz63 said:

I have never seen the play version of this musical and this movie didn’t make me want to see it. I have heard Richard Kiley sing The Impossible Dream and he probably would have been amazing. This whole movie seem amateurish at the least. Peter O’Toole’s makeup may have worked well on the stage, but was badly done for movie makeup.

I was just watching Mame thinking how miscast Lucille Ball was in that role. That was Angela’s Lansbury’s role. (Or if they made it in Rosalind Russell’s time. She was the ultimate Aunty Mame). Lucy couldn’t sing or dance. And the silkscreen they had over the lens made it uncomfortable to watch. 

I also feel that some musicals should never be movies...Chicago, A Chorus Line, Cats, Annie...I hope someone comes to. Their senses and doesn’t make Wicked into a movie. (Think-of how the messed up The Wiz casting Diana Ross. Another example of miscasting.)

I quite agree. But if a choice is made to make a musical film from a Broadway musical hit (and thete have been many successes) then do as Dr. Ament discused in today's lecture on the brilliant musical, 1776 cast as many original stage actors as possible and stay true to the original play.

And yes, Kiley and Diener were amazing. They became the characters. No longer did one see Kiley or Diener but rather Cervantes/Don Quixote and Alfonzo/Dulcinea.

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