When I saw this at Thrift Town (last time I ever go there), I just had to get it. You can see from the pictures that it is practically brand new! When I played it the picture was crisp and clear, amazing for a VCR video tape that is twenty seven (27) years old. The movie was made in 1982 but the tape you see was cranked out in 1987.
Sounds kind of corny but I really love the movie “Annie” (1982 version). There are different versions of it with different Broadway actors playing the starring role however, I don’t think any of them have played the role as well as it was performed in this one. She is the epitome of the tough little scrapper with an indomitable spirit.
Carol Burnett delivers a performance that is so convincing that it has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Near the beginning of the movie, Ms. Burnett examines the children with such a look of simultaneous contempt and defeat that you instantly understand her character’s state of mind. She resents their youth and opportunity, something she lost long ago, mired in hopelessness. You don’t know whether to despise her as a mean and vindictive sadist, or to pity her wretched condition. I’m convinced that of all the things she has done in her career (an impressive body of work) that this role is one of her finest. I love her anyway but really, you should watch this movie just for her performance alone, never mind every one else’s (they are fantastic too though).
The performances by all in this movie are spectacular, but so is the storyline. Of course, this film is based upon the classic comic strip of the same name, “Little Orphan Annie”, so it has to be appreciated as a period piece, but the message is very contemporary. The comic strip was created by cartoonist Harold Gray and was first run August 5th, 1924, just a few years prior to The Great Depression.
Little Orphan Annie
Little Orphan Annie was a daily American comic strip created by Harold Gray (1894–1968) and syndicated by Tribune Media Services. The strip took its name from the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley, and made its debut on August 5, 1924 in the New York Daily News. It ranked number one in popularity in a Fortune poll in 1937.
The plot follows the wide-ranging adventures of Annie, her dog Sandy, and her benefactor Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. Secondary characters include Punjab, the Asp and Mr. Am. The strip attracted adult readers with political commentary that targeted (among other things) organized labor, the New Deal and communism.
Following Gray’s death in 1968, several artists drew the strip and, for a time, “classic” strips were rerun. Little Orphan Annie inspired a radio show in 1930, film adaptations by RKO in 1932 and Paramount in 1938 and a Broadway musical Annie in 1977 (which was separately adapted as a film by the same name, released in 1982). The strip’s popularity declined over the years; it was running in only 20 newspapers when it was cancelled on June 13, 2010.
After World War I, cartoonist Harold Gray joined the Chicago Tribune which, at that time, was being reworked by owner Joseph Medill Patterson into an important national journal. As part of his plan, Patterson wanted to publish comic strips that would lend themselves to nation-wide syndication and to film and radio adaptations. Gray’s strips were consistently rejected by Patterson, but Little Orphan Annie was finally accepted and debuted in a test run on August 5, 1924 in the New York Daily News, a Tribune owned tabloid. Reader response was positive, and Annie began appearing as a Sunday strip in the Tribune on November 2 and as a daily strip on November 10. It was soon offered for syndication and picked up by the Toronto Star and The Atlanta Constitution.
Gray reported in 1952 that Annie’s origin lay in a chance meeting he had with a ragamuffin while wandering the streets of Chicago looking for cartooning ideas. “I talked to this little kid and liked her right away,” Gray said, “She had common sense, knew how to take care of herself. She had to. Her name was Annie. At the time some 40 strips were using boys as the main characters; only three were using girls. I chose Annie for mine, and made her an orphan, so she’d have no family, no tangling alliances, but freedom to go where she pleased.”
In designing the strip, Gray was influenced by his midwestern farm boyhood, Victorian poetry and novels such as Charles Dickens‘s Great Expectations, Sidney Smith‘s wildly popular comic strip The Gumps, and the histrionics of the silent films and melodramas of the period. Initially, there was no continuity between the dailies and the Sunday strips, but by the early 1930s the two had become one. The strip (whose title was borrowed from James Whitcomb Riley‘s 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie“) was “conservative and topical”, according to the editors of The Great Depression in America: A Cultural Encyclopedia, and “represents the personal vision” of Gray and Riley’s “homespun philosophy of hard work, respect for elders, and a cheerful outlook on life”. A Fortune popularity poll in 1937 indicated Little Orphan Annie ranked number one and ahead of Popeye, Dick Tracy, Bringing Up Father, The Gumps, Blondie, Moon Mullins, Joe Palooka, Li’l Abner and Tillie the Toiler.
I remember when the strip was first adapted for Broadway way back in 1977, I was in grade school at King Jr. High (1980). I so wanted to see the show since it was the only show playing specifically made for kids. In actual truth, most of the kids that I admired were going to see it on Broadway and because I wanted to be like them, I wanted to do everything that they did.
When the movie came out and I finally got to see that, I didn’t like it. Call it youth, call it inexperience but, I just didn’t get it back then. Couldn’t appreciate the period setting, couldn’t understand the orphan angle (you don’t hear the word anymore) and certainly wasn’t into musicals nor Broadway plays. Thought the cartoon was boring. Couldn’t appreciate the work until I had enough “hard knocks” under my belt, myself. On the back side of forty now, I see everything to love about the play.