Picks and Pans Review: Annie

UPDATED 05/24/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/24/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

Take a spouse. Take the kids. Take the grandparents. Take a cat. Or a dog. This is the first great movie musical since the My Fair Lady-Sound of Music era that qualifies without reservation as a family film. It has no sex, obscenity, violence or redeeming social value; it is just intelligently, joyfully entertaining. Director John Huston, best known for such dark films as The Treasure of Sierra Madre, The Misfits and Fat City, has, in his first musical, turned the Broadway show derived from "Little Orphan Annie" into a bright, happily sentimental extravaganza. He was helped by choreographer Arlene Phillips, best known for her Dr Pepper commercials, and cinematographer Richard Moore, and he was blessed by his cast. Aileen Quinn, who was 9 when the film was shot last year, sings appealingly, and she manages to be cute without being coy. Carol Burnett, as the tipsy orphanage director whom Annie escapes, displays her considerable comic repertoire of double takes and pratfalls. As a Briton, Albert Finney was a strange choice to play the quintessential American capitalist Daddy Warbucks—but he is effectively bluff, with nicely reluctant warmhearted impulses. Ann Reinking, as the secretary who talks Warbucks into temporarily adopting Annie, is slyly charming and, of course, a peerless dancer. Bernadette Peters and Tim (The Rocky Horror Show) Curry, as a ruthless couple who pretend to be Annie's parents to get Warbucks' reward, are ideal, while Geoffrey Holder, as the factotum Punjab, and Edward Herrmann as FDR are endearing. Huston inexplicably lets clips from Greta Garbo's Camille run on at great length, and those familiar with the original Broadway score will miss some edited-out songs. But this is a movie too wonderful to quibble about. Go see it; you won't want to wait until Tomorrow. (PG)

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