Best Willy Wonka ever — Gene Wilder in the 1971 version. I saw this at a very impressionable age and love the film, in part, of course, because of my tremendous love of candy. The scene where the kids are unleashed into a candy landscape made my eyes bug out as a child — edible trees, grass, chocolate river, etc. Another scene in the Wonka factory tour, the kids visit a room with flavored wallpaper — the blueberry pattern tastes like blueberries, apples like apples, etc. That scene had me licking strangers’ walls (a little embarrassing for Mom). I mean, what a marvelous idea! Candy on the wall? The whole discovering the golden ticket part of the story influenced how I opened Kit Kat bars for years.
I did catch the newer Tim Burton version, and as much as I dig Johnny Depp, that picture didn’t do it for me. The interpretation revolved around a Michael Jackson-like freak with vivid dentist memories and repressed candy lust. Yuck.
You know why liked the old version? It was a great children’s movie, an awesome fantasy. There’s no guilt, and candy rules. Gene Wilder’s Wonka was eccentric and insulting, but also warm and kind to the (good) children. The bad kids, of course, get punished severely, and so you get the satisfaction of seeing the good people getting what they deserve and the bad getting the shaft, which is just like my office. Ha.