“Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, it’s only a day away!”
Famed cartoon strip character, star of radio and Broadway, Little Orphan Annie came to the big screen with an adaptation of the musical Annie.
The eternally sunshiney and incurably mischievous girl had been in movies as early as 1918, and her 1930’s – 40’s radio show was the biggest thing to hit kidsville in ages, but the moppet had been off the pop culture radar for a while before this lavish feature.
Curly redhead Annie lives in a Depression-era orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan.
Annie escapes, is returned, and thanks to a local promotion, gets to be temporarily adopted by billionaire Daddy Warbucks.
The young girl warms his heart, but Miss Hannigan recruits two partners-in-crime who pretend to be Annie’s real parents.
It’s up to Warbucks, his mystical valet Punjab, dog pal Sandy and the plucky young heroine to foil Hannigan’s plot and make the world safe for orphans everywhere.
In true Broadway tradition, the action, the drama and the comedy are interwoven with frequent song and dance routines, including the orphanage ditty Hard-Knock Life and the a cappella theme, Tomorrow.
Costing over $40 million, this lavish screen version of the Broadway blockbuster had nothing going for it, and as a result, it went nowhere.
An inflated, over-produced behemoth of a show, it substituted production values for entertainment.
Furthermore, it employed a director (John Huston) whose work on the film indicated that he had never directed a musical before, and also that he had no feeling for the genre whatsoever.
A catalogue of squandered opportunities, it wasted the considerable talents of the unmusical Albert Finney (miscast as Daddy Warbucks), Carol Burnett (as Miss Hannigan), Bernadette Peters (as Lily), Tim Curry (as Rooster), and especially Ann Reinking as Grace.
Newcomer Aileen Quinn played the coveted central role with a commendable lack of precocity, and it was hardly her fault that the production surrounding her just sat there like a piece of very expensive upholstered furniture.
The producer of this wasted opportunity was Ray Stark, and despite box office grosses of $60 million, Annie barely earned enough to cover its expensive budget.
The studio bet its bottom dollar (figuratively) that the sun would come out for a 1995 direct-to-video sequel, Annie: A Royal Adventure!
Toni Ann Gisondi