Though "Man of La Mancha" enjoyed 2,329 Broadway performances, bringing it to the screen proved expensive, as United Artists squandered $12 million in the belief that the leads needn't sing effectively to make the movie a hit--a silly notion since the music is everything in this
historical opus. Thrown into a 17th-century dungeon for offending the Spanish Inquisition, Miguel de Cervantes (Peter O'Toole) busies himself writing the outlandish, delightful tale of errant knight Don Quixote (enacted by O'Toole), who tilts at windmills, followed by his servant, Sancho Panza
(James Coco). Aldonza (Sophia Loren), a sluttish serving wench, becomes the virginal Dulcinea, the lady of Quixote's dreams. After a group of muleteers enter the village where Quixote and Panza are resting, and gang-rape Aldonza, Quixote's niece (Julie Gregg) begs him to come home, but the old
knight insists upon staying and driving off the pesky muleteers. Quixote is successful but eventually defeated by the Black Knight (John Castle); however, he regains his faith on his deathbed when Aldonza reminds him of all the virtues he has taught her to uphold. His story finished, Cervantes
climbs the dungeon stairs to hear his fate from the Inquisition, with his fellow prisoners lifting their voices in song to him.
Regrettably, Loren shouts her songs, while Coco delivers his in a monotone--just part of the film's awful disservice to Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion's wonderful tunes. Where the $12 million went is anybody's guess since the film was shot on what O'Toole called "the most depressing sets that ever
existed." He stumbles through his role as the pixilated Quixote, Coco appears content to be getting a paycheck for his overacting, and the entire proceedings are ultimately disappointing. Songs and musical numbers (all by Leigh and Darion) include "It's All the Same," "The Impossible Dream,"
"Barber's Song," "Man of La Mancha," "Dulcinea," "I'm Only Thinking of Him," "Little Bird, Little Bird," "Life as It Really Is," "The Dubbing," "A Little Gossip," "Aldonza," "Golden Helmet of Mambrino," and "The Psalm." The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Score.
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- Released: 1972
- Rating: NR
- Review: Though "Man of La Mancha" enjoyed 2,329 Broadway performances, bringing it to the screen proved expensive, as United Artists squandered $12 million in the belief that the leads needn't sing effectively to make the movie a hit--a silly notion since the musi… (more)