The Pitch

He's just a bang-beat, bell-ringin', big-haul, great-go, neck-or-nothin', rip-roarin', ever'-time-a-bullseye salesman. That's Professor Harold Hill. (He's a fake and he doesn't know the territory.)

Age Recommendations

Watch With the Kids: 5+ Common Sense Media: 6+ New York Times: All ages

Content Advisories

Townspeople raise eyebrows over Marian’s relationship with a man who donated the library building to the city but “left all the books to her.” There is a suggestion that certain of the books are racy. Harold sings euphemistically about his preference for “The Sadder But Wiser Girl.” The ladies of River City are portrayed as hopeless ninnies, but then again so are the men.

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Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth star in a 2003 remake (with Victor Garber in the role of Mayor Shinn). It’s cute, but cannot really compare. After this your kids may be ready for Meet Me in St. Louis or Hello, Dolly!

Thinking of the kids in the knickerbockers

In college a friend played me a recording of her four-year-old nephew reciting the words to “Rock Island”, the patter song of frustrated traveling salesmen aboard a train that opens The Music Man. With luck your kids will attempt to learn it too. The film is called The Music Man, but its primary fascination is with language. Great, greasy mouthfuls of syllables, piled in heaps on endless platters for yours and your children’s delight, from the cornucopia of catalog items delivered on “The Wells Fargo Wagon” to the dance craze “Shipoopi” to the barbershop-style “Goodnight, Ladies” sung in counterpoint to a gaggle of ladies squawking “Pick a Little (Talk a Little).” At the center stands Robert Preston in the role that defined his career, words pouring out of him in torrents as he asks the townspeople how they’d like to see some stuck up jockey boy sitting on Dan-Patch. Make your blood boil? Well I should say. —Chris Ereneta

Edited & designed by Chris Ereneta. Suggestions, feedback, and rants welcome at, @WatchWithKids, or on Facebook. More about this site.