Film review: Annie (1982), directed by John Huston
It’s that time of year, i.e. coming up to Christmas, which seems to be a good indication that films like Annie will be on. Why I’m not surprised, and why I’m sort of expecting it to be on just because it’s December is a mystery – the film is not Christmassy in any way, nor does it take place in the winter. The only connection I can see is that Annie wears a red dress with white trimmings and that they end the film with the Warbucks house covered in lights, but that’s not a seasonal thing, it’s a “look, it’s a happy ending!” thing. Anyone got any ideas?
So, the film. Annie (Aileen Quinn) is a feisty kid in a run-down orphanage for girls, headed by the ghastly Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett) – a drunkard who seems to hate children, to be frank. One day, when Annie has been locked in the closet again for her latest attempt at escaping, Grace Farrell (Ann Reinkin) shows up. She works for the Wall Street millionaire Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney), who has decided it would be a great PR stunt to have an orphan to stay with him for a week. Annie is of course the child to get picked.
Mr Warbucks’s home is huge and luxurious, but Annie soon finds her feet – and a haircut, a bath and some new clothes too. Mr Warbucks, however, wanted a boy child, so he has to be persuaded to let Annie stay instead of taking her straight back to the orphanage. After all, it’s only supposed to be for a week …
But a lot can happen in a week, such as the stony hearts of mighty millionaires can melt and become paternal to orphans and husband material to certain members of staff. If only it wasn’t for the sleazy scumbag of an orphanage keeper’s brother (Tim Curry) and his gal (Bernadette Peters) to show up and threaten to spoil the party.
This is a film I have seen plenty of times growing up, but I hadn’t seen it in a long time now, so it was a lot of fun. I was concerned the film wouldn’t be as good as I remembered it, but it was. The child actors are really good, both at acting and singing – especially Aileen Quinn. (Plus, how cute is little Molly?) She really has some tremendous guts! And she got a Razzie for it and all. For shame!
The gruff Mr Warbucks is, well, gruff, and while he softened during the course of the film, I wouldn’t call him a dreamboat, no matter how many Duesenberg cars the man has. (He seemed to have got through the Great Depression very well, and very quickly, considering this is supposed to be 1933.) Miss Farrell is a lovely woman, even though she was a little too quick to soak up Warbucks’s oddly phrased compliments. And what sort of self-respecting woman would say this?
Warbucks: Your teeth are crooked.
Grace: I’ll have them corrected.
Warbucks: I like them crooked.
Grace: I’ll leave them as they are.
(Or something to that effect.)
The star of the show, though, has got to be Carol Burnett. The woman is hilarious! From stirring a bathtub full of booze to kissing the radio, shouting at the orphaned girls or bashing her rascal of a brother over the head because you can abuse children all you like, but murdering them is going a bit too far. Superbly acted and the woman is an absolute comedic legend.
It’s a cute, feel-good film with lots of catchy music. I’ve heard there’s a 1999 remake, supposed to be more along the lines of the original musical, but I’ve not seen it, nor have I seen the musical. Annie, to me, is this film. And I really enjoy it. I thought, as it’s been years since I saw it last, that it wouldn’t be as good as my childhood memories say, but no, it was still pretty good, funny and enjoyable. Both thumbs up and maybe cleaning the house will be more enjoyable with a bit of music. It’s a hard-knock life, but the sun will come up tomorrow … after all.