Mr. Quilp

  • 1975
  • Movie
  • G
  • Musical

A number of Charles Dickens' tales have been made into fine musicals, but some stories simply aren't meant to serve as musical books--as the Readers Digest Group, which financed this movie and chose Anthony Newley to star and write the score, should have realized. Newley and his longtime collaborator Leslie Bricusse had great success with "Stop the World,...read more

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A number of Charles Dickens' tales have been made into fine musicals, but some stories simply aren't meant to serve as musical books--as the Readers Digest Group, which financed this movie and chose Anthony Newley to star and write the score, should have realized. Newley and his longtime

collaborator Leslie Bricusse had great success with "Stop the World, I Want To Get Off" and "The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd" before splitting. Then Bricusse went on to score DOCTOR DOLITTLE (winning an Oscar); GOODBYE MR. CHIPS; and SCROOGE, while Newley wrote CAN HIERONYMUS

MERKIN EVER FORGET MERCY HUMPPE AND FIND TRUE HAPPINESS? and MR. QUILP. In these films, it became clear that Bricusse had been the stronger partner. Newley, who plays the title role of a hunchbacked Shylock as though he were Quasimodo singing baritone, is in cahoots with shyster Sampson Brass

(David Warner) and his sister, Sally (Jill Bennett). Most of the film concerns their relationship with Edward Trent (Michael Hordern), the owner of the Old Curiosity Shop, which is about to be foreclosed when Trent's long-absent, wealthy brother (Paul Rogers) arrives to save the day. Peter Duncan

is the young swain who pants after Trent's granddaughter (Sarah Jane Varley), David Hemmings is an amiable cad, Philip Davis plays Quilp's long-suffering assistant, and Yvonne Antrobus has the unenviable task of being Quilp's wife. The photography and the period sets are excellent, but in an

attempt to make this a family picture, most of the bite is gone, and the result is sheer pap, made difficult to chew by the casting. The Newley-written tunes include "When a Felon Needs a Friend," "Somewhere," "Love Has the Longest Memory," "Happiness Pie," "The Sport of Kings," "What Shouldn't

Happen to a Dog," and "Quilp." Newley, who neither reads music nor plays an instrument, composes by humming into a tape recorder, usually giving the tapes to award-winning arranger Ian Fraser, who transcribes them, enhances them with chords, and makes the songs sometimes better than they deserve

to be. However, Fraser was unavailable to help with MR. QUILP, and the results are dismal.

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  • Released: 1975
  • Rating: G
  • Review: A number of Charles Dickens' tales have been made into fine musicals, but some stories simply aren't meant to serve as musical books--as the Readers Digest Group, which financed this movie and chose Anthony Newley to star and write the score, should have r… (more)

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