THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE: THE STORY OF CINDERELLA (1976)
Article 3977 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Bryan Forbes
Featuring Richard Chamberlain, Gemma Craven, Michael Hordern
What it is: Lavish musical retelling of the Cinderella story
In order to find a wife for the prince, a King holds a ball to invite all the ladies of the land. However, his heart is won by a lowly stepdaughter whose name he doesn’t even know. When she vanishes at midnight, he sets out to find her.
From the year after this one was released, I’ve so far covered two different musical versions of the same story – both of them softcore porn versions. I make this observation for one reason, and that is to illustrate just how much of an anachronism this one is; its lavish, reverent production makes it feel like it belongs at least a decade or two earlier in movie history. And, truth to tell, I can admire a movie that almost willfully swims against the current of the trends of the time. I can also admire what the movie is trying to do, which is to take a classic fairy tale and flesh it out with a number of real-life themes that have a certain relevance to the story, such as class distinctions and the realities of royal betrothals; if there’s one thing I can say, it’s that a lot of thought went into this movie. Nevertheless, I must admit that my admiration mostly comes from a distance; I’m not particularly enchanted with either the classic movie musical or the Cinderella story, the musical numbers aren’t quite breathtaking enough to win me over, and much of the story speculation I find only mildly interesting. About the only time I really emotionally connected with the movie was when the Chamberlain is forced to undertake the delicate and unpleasant task of breaking up the impending marriage, and much of this has to do with the excellence of Kenneth More’s performance; I found the scene intensely moving, even while being aware it was simply setting up one final paper obstacle that would be easily be demolished by the movie’s ace in the hole (Cinderella does have a Fairy Godmother, after all). That the movie is well loved in some circles does not surprise me, but I’m afraid I was most struck with just how long it takes for things to get moving in the this two-and-a-half hour movie. Again, I wouldn’t say it was bad; I’d just say that it was not for me.