Last weekend, I saw a production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (CCBB) at a local theater. A couple of people that I knew were in the cast, plus it had been a LONG while since I’d seen any live theater, so I decided to go.
It was a wonderful production — good choreography, great singing, imaginative staging that involved some of the actors walking or running through the audience’s space, and some interesting special effects. My personal favorites: after the “Toot Sweets” number, the stage went dark and the candy whistles lit up in various glow-in-the-dark colors such as red, yellow, green and blue. Another good special effect — as the Potts family and Truly fly in CCBB at night, people in dark clothing walked out on a dark stage and white lights on their heads came on to simulate stars at night.
Very clever. The kids in the audience loved it.
I noted that the CCBB book on which the movie is based was written by Ian Fleming, creator of the 007 James Bond series. On the way home, I got to wondering: what inspired Ian Fleming to create this children’s book, which is so different from his normal fare of the dashing hero with death-defying feats, great cars and stunning women?
So I did a spot of research……
It turns out that Ian Fleming wrote CCBB to entertain his son, Caspar, at bedtime. The book differs from the 1968 film somewhat — in the book version, the family ends up in France and has an adventure there.
But that’s not the only James Bond connection around this book:
- Albert Broccoli was the producer and would later produce other James Bond movies.
- Three actors from the James Bond movies appeared in the CCBB movie: Desmond Llewellyn (Q), Gert Fröbe (Auric Goldfinger) and Anna Quayle (Frau Hoffner in the 1967 version of “Casino Royale”).
And if you see the 1968 version of the movie, look really closely at the Toymaker. It’s Benny Hill.
It was a fun show to see and brought back some good memories. My favorite song from the movie has always been the “Doll on a Music Box” scene, where Truly (Sally Ann Howes) and Mr. Potts (Dick van Dyke) do their Trojan Horse thing to get inside the castle. It’s one of the best soprano/tenor duets even done in a children’s movie.
And to think that Sally Ann Howes filmed all that complicated choreography in one take. Amazing. (Video courtesy of testingdolls, YouTube)