Annie: The sun will come out tomorrow for the latest littlest orphan
By Carol Wallace – The Daily News (New York, New York) May 16, 1982
Her first movie, “Annie,” in which she has the starring role, opens this week in New York. She and her family have already vacationed at director John Huston’s home in Mexico. She has been kissed on the hand by Ricardo Montalban and tickled under the knees by Albert Finney.
Her face is on magazine covers, and her larger-than-life form dominates billboards around New York. She’s riding in limos, signing autographs, doing TV shows and lunching on filet mignon.
Carol Burnett, her co-star, says: “Her talent is monumental.” And there’s a pretty good chance that when “Annie” opens in London, she’s going to meet the Queen. Other than that, things haven’t changed much for 10-year-old Aileen Quinn of Yardley, Pennsylvania.
You can stop asking why they don’t make movies like they used to. Somebody did. This is it. John Huston’s first musical directorial effort is a stylish feel-good blockbuster based on the award-winning Broadway play “Annie” (itself based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie).
There have been some changes made — including four new songs and a reshaping of some of the characters — but the film, like the play, is a no-lose combination of sweet-faced, plucky orphans; a lovable dog, foot-tapping musical numbers, romance, and an all-star cast headed by Albert Finney as “Daddy Warbucks” and Carol Burnett as the gin-loving, man-chasing Miss Hannigan.
The $40 million price tag (not counting Columbia’s intense marketing and advertising blitz) is small change compared with the Warbucks-size fortune the film is likely to haul in. (The film, says one “Annie” insider, was originally rated G. Producer Ray Stark, worried that a “G” rating wouldn’t draw, asked that one of Carol Burnett’s lines be rewritten to include a “Goddamn it.” When that was done. the movie was reclassified “PG.”)
At the core of the 1.900-plus cast and crew who put the film together is Aileen Quinn, a lively, outgoing. well-mannered fifth-grader with a luminous smile. sparkling blue eyes and a heart-shaped, freckle-filled face that seems stolen from a Norman Rockwell painting.
Despite her new celebrity status, she says “I’m still just Aileen,” and remains happiest when playing jacks with her little brother Drew or bicycling with friends around the family’s 10-room Tudor home in Yardley, Bucks County, Pa. “I don’t think of myself as a movie star,” giggles Aileen, who won the coveted “Annie” role over 9,000 youngsters, despite having never had a singing lesson.
“I’ve only made one movie. I hope I don’t get a swelled head or anything. If I get like that, nobody’s going to like me.”
It’s noon on a recent sunny, crisp day. Aileen, in long pigtails (her light brown hair was dyed red to match her “Annie” wig) and wearing a pink coat, black patent flats and white knee-socks, is walking up Fifth Avenue hand in hand with her mother Helenann.
They are surrounded by a Columbia Pictures publicist, her agent, a reporter and photographer’s assistant. The group is maneuvering its way toward Central Park to take pictures, but the click-click-clicking of the photographer is causing a minor gapers block.
A handful of construction workers are sitting on a ledge, munching sandwiches. sipping coffee, and pursuing their lunchtime passion: whistling at good-looking women. Though they usually go for older women — older than Aileen, anyway — she catches their eye.
“Hey, is that the kid from ‘Annie?'” one of the workers yells. “Yeah,” somebody yells back. The worker suddenly bursts into song, just like in the TV commercial. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow…” he sings in a crisp, baritone voice that is so on-key it startles his comrades. Aileen’s mother smiles. But Aileen merely looks at the man in awe, squeezes her mother’s hand tighter, and edges closer for protection.
Nothing is left to chance in the film version of ‘Annie’
By Jack Mathews – The Cincinnati Enquirer (Ohio) May 9, 1982
Imagine how this scene from the film adaptation of “Annie” might play on the screen. Three adults — the boozy Miss Hannigan, her wretched brother, Rooster, and his dimwitted wife, Lily St. Regis — are sitting at a table in Hannigan’s orphanage office when they suddenly spot six orphans sneaking down the fire escape outside.
The trio jumps up and rushes out the door. Rooster leaps over the fire escape railing to cut off the startled youngsters, and the three big people gruffly herd the six littles ones back inside. If this were being shot for television, you would probably first see the three actors at the table, then an outside shot of the kids coming down the fire escape, then closeups of the adults’ faces as they spot the kids, followed by a shot of the three getting up inside and running out the door, and finally, another outside shot of the roundup.
In “Annie,” the entire scene occurs without any cuts. It opens with a tight shot of the three actors at the table, then the camera backs off until we see the kids in the foreground sneaking past the window, and the adults in the background leaping into action. The camera backs up still farther and gradually drops down to ground level, allowing us to see Rooster’s athletic leap from the stairs and the kids being apprehended.
IT TOOK director John Huston and cinematographer Richard Moore’s crew six takes and about four hours to get that scene last summer, at a cost of perhaps $50,000. It will take up less than 40 seconds of the final 90-minute movie.
But it serves as a textbook example of the difference between television and motion picture filming, the difference between getting something done quickly and getting it done stylishly. And it helps explain why motion pictures cost so much more to make.
“It sounds like more work to have five or six cuts in one scene,” said Moore, during a break after that scene. “But that’s how you get a film done fast. You shoot a master shot, then shoot each actor over the shoulder delivering his lines, and you’re out. It’s the way most TV scenes are done.
“Setting a scene up for one shot like this takes a lot of planning and camera rehearsal, then when you go for it, there are so many things that can go wrong.”
This particular scene was set up on a sound stage at the Burbank Studios where all the interiors for the orphanage were built. Moore had his camera mounted on a hydraulic crane, with its wheels resting on dolly tracks carefully laid out on the floor.
WHEN THE shot began, camera operator Tim Vanik had the lens almost touching the glass of Hannigan’s window, and as the actors went through their motions, two dolly grips below smoothly guided the crane wheels down the tracks while another man operated the hydraulic mechanism to lower Vanik and the camera.
In each of the first five takes, something went wrong. The orphans appeared too soon in one. In another, Tim Curry, playing Rooster, leaped too soon. Two others were spoiled by reflections from Hannigan’s window. Moore said later that they never were able to eliminate the reflections altogether, so if you look closely when that scene comes around, you may spot an expensive flaw.
If you look really closely, and you’re an advanced film student, you may notice something much more subtle. Although Moore receives the solo screen credit for photographing “Annie,” he was one of four different cinematographers involved. The original cinematographer, Richard Kline, was fired by Huston after six days of shooting at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Huston said he was uncomfortable with the way things had started out, so he replaced Kline with Moore, with whom he had worked several years earlier on “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.”
ONE MONTH before principal photography ended, the 56-year-old Moore underwent bypass heart surgery, and Harry Stradling Jr. was brought in to finish up. Earlier in the film’s production schedule, while Moore and his crew were filming scenes inside a college building subbing for Daddy Warbucks’ mansion, a second photographic unit, headed by Rex Metz, spent a week in shooting a crucial stunt scene at a defunct drawbridge in New Jersey.
Huston insists there will be no noticable photographic differences in the movie. “You have an original vision, and the photographers adjust their styles accordingly,” Huston said. “You don’t pattern yourself to the cloth, you cut the cloth to the pattern. You won’t notice a thing.”
Annie opens to rave reviews
While Aileen Quinn wins hearts as star of the Columbia Pictures movie Annie, Sears is winning hearts with Absolutely Annie, a four-star collection that includes Annie clothes, Annie dolls, Annie dolls, Annie bedspreads and lots, lots more. Come to Sears for Absolutely Annie, premiering in June.
Annie learn-to-read coloring book
Carol Burnett steals ‘Annie’
By Jack Mathews – The Cincinnati Enquirer (Ohio) May 9, 1982
I saw Columbia Pictures’ film adaption of the musical “Annie” recently, and let me be among the first to predict the film will earn Carol Burnett her first Oscar nomination. [Editor’s note: She didn’t, but she did get nominated for a Golden Globe for this role.]
The advance word was that if anyone was going to steal this show, it would be 10-year-old Aileen Quinn in the title role. But it is definitely Burnett’s boozy, mean-spirited orphanage director, Miss Hannigan, who emerges as the film’s dominant character.
Burnett’s performance was a surprise. I was on the set of “Annie” for two months last summer, preparing a series of articles on the making of the film, and watched several of her scenes being shot. From the sidelines, it looked like she was playing the character too broadly. Other onlookers said the same thing. And Burnett herself expressed concern.
“I hate it when somebody says, ‘You were born to play Hannigan,” Burnett said, during a break one day. “I honestly don’t know what I’m doing with her, whether I’m overplaying her or underplaying her or what. I’m just counting on John’s (director John Huston) judgment, and he says it’s fine.”
IT’S MORE than fine. It’s Burnett’s best work on film, and her Hannigan is sure to be one of the year’s most talked-about characters. Maybe she was born to play her.
As for the rest of “Annie,” I had mixed reactions. Aileen Quinn is terrific as the orphan, with great screen presence and a pure singing voice. Ralph Burns’ musical score and most of the choreography are outstanding, and the sets — from the grungy tenement street and orphanage to Daddy Warbucks’ elegant mansion — certainly take the story into a different realm.
But despite attempts to tone down the play’s unabashed sentiment, “Annie” remains a simplistically sentimental tale, and, in closeup, sentiment often turns to corn.