When I was a little girl, there was a musical version of Cinderella starring Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon. It was a Rodgers and Hammerstein production and it used to mesmerize me.
It was made for television in 1965, and was basically a stage play put on film (as you can see by the backdrop in the photo above). It was repeated every year and I remember waiting as the time got close because I was excited to see Cinderella again (no DVD or even VCRs back then!).
It was very romantic and true to the story. And there were some pretty high level actors in the movie too. Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon as the Queen and King, Jo Van Fleet as the evil stepmother, and Celeste Holm as the Fairy Godmother. Pat Carroll and Barbara Ruick were hilarious as the stepsisters Prunella and Esmerelda. And of course, Stuart Damon, later of General Hospital, was a very handsome prince (and had a wonderful voice, too). Lesley Ann Warren was my favorite, though. She was so lovely and innocent as Cinderella, and I became a lifelong fan after seeing this movie.
How does the movie hold up? Quite well I think. Of course there are no fancy graphics or effects, and the staging is very simple, but the story is true, the acting and singing is quite good. It was a more innocent time, and that is reflected in the production. There is no hidden humor or sexual innuendo. It is a simple, romantic love story, and that is how it is played.
Alan was out of town on Thursday, so I asked my neighbor/new running partner if she wanted to go see the new Cinderella with me. Neither of our husbands were really interested so this seemed like a perfect time. I’d heard good things about this new version. It was said to stick to the story, and not try to update or change the original. But how would it hold up to my memory of 50 years ago?
First off, Cinderella herself, played by Lily James, is a lovely innocent. The casting is perfect. She portrays this young woman as a fresh spirit, who wants to follow her mother’s guidelines to have courage and be kind. The prince, portrayed by Richard Madden, is very handsome of course, but seems more mature than I expected. He is more than just a pretty face, and is a good match for Cinderella.
The other characters were well-cast too. Cate Blanchett always does evil well, and as the Stepmother she struts around in gorgeous attire obviously having a grand time with her part. The two stepsisters are a hoot, and Helena Bonham-Carter, in the small but vital role as the Fairy Godmother, is hilarious.
As I’d read, the movie stays true to the original story of how love (and courage and kindness) can conquer all. It is not a musical, but it somehow still sings.
So, how do the two movies compare?
Very well, actually. Both were well done. The new version has the advantage of amazing special effects (the mice!) and an updated feel. The older Cinderella feels a little dated, but it is still a wonderful movie with memorable music. The actors in both movies were well-cast. I still have a place in my heart and memories for the 1965 Cinderella, but I really enjoyed the move into 2015. I recommend taking your daughter, mother, or a girlfriend, and enjoying the romance and beauty.
Have you seen either Cinderella yet? What did you think?