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DVD Shopping Bag: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Blu-ray

The Classic as I First Saw it

By Robert T. Trate     October 20, 2009

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Mel Stuart’s classic now on Blu-ray
© Bob Trate


In preparation for another Roald Dahl book, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is making the translation from book to film next month, Warner Brothers is releasing the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on Blu-ray. Unlike the DVD releases in 1997 and 2001 for the 25th and 30th anniversaries the film is presented in 1080p High Definition 16x9 1:85.1 ratio. Warner Brothers thankfully got that right. So what makes this Blu-ray so scrumdiddlyumptious? As if Slugworth himself released this Blu-ray there is nothing outside a short full color picture book that includes lyrics and a few behind the scenes photos. The Blu-ray has identical special features to the 2001 DVD and the 2006 HD-DVD. In short, once you get it you’ll want to move onto something else just like Veruca Salt. The transfer is nothing spectacular but that may very well be a testament to Arthur Ibbetson’s cinematography. The colors are just as vibrant as they were when the film was released back in 1971.
If you don’t own the movie on DVD and you are beginning to dive into the Blu-ray craze then by all means it is not one to miss. There should just be more incentive to buy this classic film on Blu-ray if you already own it. A new commentary by Stuart or star Gene Wilder would have been nice or even one by a film critic, a new trend and one that really puts the film into a perspective, historically.
Last year at this time I had a column called “The Great Pumpkin Issues” (see column). In this column I broke down my interpretation of what Charles Schultz put me through as a child with his cartoon, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Well for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory my story is much different. This was never a film I watched as a child. The only Wonka thing I knew of was the candy that was sold in stores. I never knew it was based on some fictional character. My parents never had me sit down and watch the movie and it wasn’t until college that I actually saw it for the first time. I was at party one night and this huge football player type guy was talking about the movie being re-released on DVD. This was his all time favorite. He went on and on about how scary it was and how Gene Wilder, known to me primarily as Dr. Frankenstein, used to creep him out. I decided since I had one of these new DVD players I would rent it and catch this “classic” for the first time.
For those of you that haven’t seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory it features a hard working little boy named Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum). Charlie lives with his hard working mother and his dead beat grandparents. Charlie might work hard but shows up late for work and immediately demands his paycheck because it is pay day. This should be expected because his grandparents are moochers and have sat in bed for the last twenty years. Poor Charlie has never even seen his grandparents walk before, yet he loves them all the same.
Charlie lives in the same town as the world famous candy maker Willy Wonka. Charlie learns that no one ever goes in or comes out of the factory. He gets this knowledge from his Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) who somehow knows all this yet can’t get out of bed and is often too busy smoking his pipe all day when the rest of the family is eating cabbage water. So how do all the ingredients get into the factory and how does the candy reach the suppliers? Later we learn that Wonka uses household trash and old clothes to make his candy but fear not this is just a kid’s story.  
Wonka has a contest to promote his new candy bar and hides five golden tickets in the candy that will allow the winners to tour his factory. Grandpa Joe buys one for Charlie which is a complete mystery due to his physical state. It is of course not a winner. Eventually Charlie does find a ticket and is off to the factory. Wonka’s rival asks Charlie to steal Wonka’s latest creation, an Everlasting Gobstopper, and offers him $10,000 for just one sample. That sum alone is enough to get Charlie and his family out of the shack and back to three decent meals a day. Charlie wants his Grandpa Joe to accompany him and as if he was touched by some deity Grandpa Joe gets up off his lazy ass and starts dancing around the room. 
The lessons really start flying as each one of other winners is dealt a punishment that fits their lot in life. Charlie on the other hand pollutes one of Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink machines, yeah like that matters when you put soccer spikes into a concoction, and steals an Everlasting Gobstopper. Wonka then informs him and Grandpa Joe that they have lost the grand prize and to get out. Grandpa Joe really steps over the line and accuses Wonka of being a cheat and a swindler after he has stolen from Wonka in his own factory. It is Charlie who redeems not only himself but his Grandpa Joe and gives Wonka back his Everlasting Gobstopper.
If it weren’t for the heart and soul of this little boy, Charlie Bucket played with such brilliant honesty by Peter Ostrum, this would definitely be one of the most bizarre children’s “classics” of all time. Charlie comes from nothing and at the precipice of getting everything he throws it all away to make one person happy. Doing the right thing never stung so much but in the end the reward was totally worth it.
Sorry to paint the reality of the children’s tale so hard but in all honesty I really do love the film. It is a classic film with a bizarre set of circumstances that teaches children there is more to life than just getting something out of it. It teaches them the value of giving something back as well. 
HORROR (in October comes first!)
100 Feet ~ Famke Janssen, Bobby Cannavale, and Michael Pare
100 Feet [Blu-ray]
Blood: The Last Vampire [Blu-ray] ~ Gianna Jun, Allison Miller, Liam Cunningham, and JJ Feild
Blood: The Last Vampire
Blood Ties ~ Jason Carter, Blair Wojcik, DJ Perry, and Anthony Hornus
Brain That Wouldn't Die ~ Doris Brent, Bruce Brighton, Eddie Carmel, and Leslie Daniel
Dirtbags: Evil Never Felt So Good ~ Bill Zebub, Peter Steele, Kerri Taylor, and Elyse Cheri
Freaky Faron ~ Courtney Halverson, Catharine Scott, and Carly Hayes
Isle of the Snake People ~ Rafael Bertrand, Carlos East, Charles East, and Julissa
Last of the Living ~ Ashleigh Southam, Mark Hadlow, Robert Faith, and Morgan Williams
Moonchild ~ Victor Buono, John Carradine, William Challee, and Janet Landgard
P ~ Paul Spurrier, Suangporn Jaturaphut, Opal, and Pisamai Pakdeevijit
Ravage the Scream Queen
Satan's School for Girls ~ Lloyd Bochner, Jo Van Fleet, Pamela Franklin, and Gwynne Gilford
Teenage Zombies DVDTee (Size L) ~ Steve Conte, Brian Murphy, Chuck Niles, and Don Sullivan
Uninvited ~ Cecile Callan, Alex Cord, Beau Dremann, and Rob Estes
The Whistler ~ Cathy Rankin, Cristen Irene, Jose Rosete, and John Dobradenka
White Zombie DVDTee (Size XL) ~ Bela Lugosi
A Fistful of Fuku ~ John Swasey, Monica Rial, Monica Ayres, and Andy Mcavin
An Ordinary Killer ~ Terence Knox, DJ Perry, Dan Haggerty, and Terry Jernigan
Black Rain ~ Etsuko Ichihara, Keisuke Ishida, Kazuo Kitamura, and Norihei Miki
Carnal Utopia ~ Felipe Camargo
Chicago Boricua ~ Christian S. Anderson
Chilly Dogs ~ Skeet Ulrich
The Copper ~ Hans Albers, Karl Ludwig Diehl, Charlotte Susa, and Hermann Blass
The Crew ~ Stephen Graham, Kenny Doughty, Scot Williams, and Rory McCann
The Crew [Blu-ray]
The Final Straw ~ James Anthony Jackson
Latin Dragon ~ Gary Busey, Lorenzo Lamas, and Fabian Carrillo
The Local ~ Dan Eberle, Karl Herlinger, Maya Ferrara, and Beau Allulli
Moon in the Gutter (The Jean-Jacques Beineix Collection) ~ Gerard Depardieu, Nastassja Kinski, and Vittorio Mezzogiorno
No Turning Back
Once Upon A Time In China [Blu-ray] ~ Jet Li Lian-Jie, Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam, and Yuen Biao
The Private Lesson ~ Carroll Baker, Femi Benussi, and Rosalino Cellamare
Sherlock Holmes: The Archive Collection ~ Arthur Wontner, Boris Karloff, John Longden, and Eille Norwood
Spaghetti Western Bible Presents The Fast, The Saved, and The Damned ~ John Saxon, Klaus Kinski, and Gianni Garko
The Tournament ~ Ian Somerhalder, Robert Carlyle, Ving Rhames, and Kelly Hu
The Torturer ~ Nichelle Nichols, Andrew Walker, Mahsa Masoudi, and Sophia Choi
Ultimate Death Match ~ Al Snow, Chuck Williams, Barry Ratcliffe, and Mike Ricker
Wicked Wife ~ Nigel Patrick
A Fistful of Fuku ~ John Swasey, Monica Rial, Monica Ayres, and Andy Mcavin
Ah My Buddha: The Five Bare Aggregates (Volume 5, Eps. 18-21) ~ Chihiro Suzuki
Blassreiter: Part 1 ~ Todd Haberkorn
Bleach, Vol. 21
Blood+: Part Two ~ Kari Wahlgren, Ben Diskin, Crispin Freeman, and Olivia Hack
Clannad: After Story - Collection 1
Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion: R2, Part 2 (Limited Edition)
Code Geass Leouch of the Rebellion: R2, Part 2
Comic Party Revolution TV: Complete Series Box Set ~ Leraldo Anzaldua
Escaflowne: Complete Collection
Ghost Hound Vol 1
Loveless Complete Slimpack ~ Junko Minagawa
My-Zhime: My-Otome Complete Collection (Anime Legends)
Plastic Man: The Complete Collection
Transformers: 25th Anniversary Matrix Of Leadership Edition [The Complete Series] ~ Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Chris Latta, and Corey Burton
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Those Aren't Pillows Edition) ~ Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins, and Michael McKean
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler ~ Alec Baldwin, Drew Barrymore, Josh Brolin, and Jake Gyllenhaal
Withnail & I [Blu-ray] ~ Paul McGann
Criterion Collection
Monsoon Wedding (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] ~ Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shetty, and Vijay Raaz
Monsoon Wedding (The Criterion Collection)
Easy Rider [Blu-ray] ~ Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson
2012: Supernova ~ Brian Krause, Heather McComb, Najarra Townsend, and Stephen Blackehart
Escaflowne: The Movie [Blu-ray] ~ Venus Terzo, Kelly Sheridan, and Kirby Morrow
Faerie Tale Theatre: Bedtime Tales ~ Elliott Gould, Christopher Reeve, Tatum O'Neal, and John Lithgow
Faerie Tale Theatre: Magical Tales ~ James Earl Jones, Leonard Nimoy, Valerie Bertinelli, and Gregory Hines
The Secret of the Nutcracker [Blu-ray] ~ Brian Cox, Janelle Jorde, Helene Joy, and Tom Carey
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray] ~ Shia LaBeouf
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Single-Disc Edition)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Transformers/Transfo... Revenge of the Fallen ~ Shia Labeouf, Josh Duhamel, and Michael Bay
Waterworld [Blu-ray] ~ Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper
Black Adder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition ~ Rowan Atkinson, Brian Blessed, Elspet Gray, and Tim McInnerny
Black Adder V: The Specials ~ Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, and Tim McInnerny
Black Adder III: The Third ~ Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, and Tim McInnerny
Black Adder ~ Tony Robinson, Rowan Atkinson, and Tim McInnerny
Black Adder II ~ Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, and Tim McInnerny
Black Adder IV: Goes Forth ~ Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, and Tim McInnerny
CHiPs: The Complete First & Second Seasons ~ Larry Wilcox, Robert Pine, and Erik Estrada
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Complete Series ~ Joe Lando, Shawn Toovey, Orson Bean, and Chad Allen
The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 ~ Sorrell Booke, Tom Wopat, James Best, and Denver Pyle
Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection Remastered ~ John Cleese, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth, and Prunella Scales
Gilligan's Island: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 ~ Bob Denver, Jim Backus, Alan Jr. Hale, and Russell Johnson
Hawaii Five-O: The Seventh Season ~ Jack Lord, Herman Wedermeyer, Zulu, and Harry Endo
Homicide: Life on the Street - The Complete Series (repackaged) ~ Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, and Kyle Secor
It's Garry Shandling's Show: The Complete Series ~ Garry Shandling
The L Word: Final Season ~ Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, Laurel Holloman, and Mia Kirshner
The L Word: Complete Series Pack
Numbers: The Complete Fifth Season ~ Judd Hirsch, Alimi Ballard, Peter MacNicol, and David Krumholtz
Route 66: Season 3, Vol. 2 ~ Martin Milner, George Maharis, and Glenn Corbett
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs: Complete Series ~ Peter Cullen, Rob Paulsen, Pat Fraley, and Pat Musick
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: The Best of Season 2 ~ Smothers Brothers
Tales of Wells Fargo - The Best of the Color Season - 22 episodes
Vega$: The First Season, Vol. 1 ~ Tony Curtis, Bart Braverman, Greg Morris, and Robert Urich
Peanuts: 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 (It's a Mystery Charlie Brown / Play It Again / A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving / It's the Easter Beagle / There's No Time for Love / You're Not Elected) ~ Chad Webber, Robin Kohn, Stephen Shea, and Hilary Momberger
The William Castle Film Collection (13 Frightened Girls / 13 Ghosts / Homicidal / Strait-Jacket / The Old Dark House / Mr. Sardonicus / The Tingler / Zotz!)
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.


Showing items 1 - 4 of 4
karas1 10/20/2009 4:30:53 AM

The contest wasn't really to promote a new candy bar.   Wonka was looking for a protogee, someone he could trust and leave his legacy to.  He wanted to start off with  child so he could raise him and train him  to do things like he wanted him too.

And Charlie didn't steal the everlasting gobstopper.  Wonka gave the gobstoppers to the kids as a test to see if they were honest or could be corrupted by greed.   Charlie passed. 

Kara S

karas1 10/20/2009 4:47:41 AM

In other news, now available on DVD, the Dukes of Hazard and CHiPs.  Can't live without those...

spiderhero 10/20/2009 1:27:33 PM

What a twisted take on a twisted movie...

spiderhero 10/20/2009 1:28:42 PM

Oh, and nothing about Wonka having slave labor that is obviously paid only in growth stunting candy & unlimited tanning booth sessions?



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