The Muppet Movie" is the first 70s movie I'm tackling for this website. This movie has a great personal value to me. Let me tell you a story.
The year was 1990. Jim Henson was contemplating selling the Muppets, his classic creations, to the Walt Disney Company. At Walt Disney World, Jim was filming a special for NBC which featured the Muppets at Disney World. Cameos in that special were provided by "The Great Muppet Caper" star Charles Grodin as an irritated park employee and Raven (then billed as Raven-Symone) playing a young park-goer who performs a song with Kermit The Frog. Forgive my sidetracking...During my family's annual trip to Walt Disney World, Jim Henson was filming this special. My brother, my late father and I got off the Tea Cups and were told by my Mom that Jim Henson was in the park. We went over to the security guard and asked him if we could meet Henson. He consented, so did Henson and there we were. Jim Henson was a true gentleman. He was kind (he even did the voice of Kermit for me). We took our picture with him and left him to film his special. Within a few months, he was dead of pneumonia. In 5 years, my dad would join him. More than a decade later, Disney finally got the Muppets.
As a Muppet fan, I wept. I also watched this movie over and over again. The plot is that of how the Muppets began their careers. After Kermit meets a talent agent (De Luise) gone adrift in the swamp, he decides to set out to Hollywood to achieve stardom. Along the way, he picks up a bad animal comic named Fozzie Bear, a "whatever" named Gonzo, and a go-getting female pig named Miss Piggy. On the way to stardom, they encounter scam artists, snobs and jerks. The biggest obstacle in their path, though, is a fast-food magnate named Doc Hopper (Durning). Hopper and his assistant Max (Pendleton) track Kermit down to get him to star in commercials for Hopper's fast-food chain that specializes in frog legs. Kermit makes a valiant stand, but will he make it Hollywood?
I learned the jokes and the songs. In particular, there was one song that spoke to me.
"Why are there so many songs about rainbows?
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions but only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we may go and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, The Rainbow Connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me."
"The Rainbow Connection" is a beautiful song. It's an ode to anybody who has dreamed big or still continues to. So many of us have had great plans throughout the years. We were going to write great novels and make great movies and scale high mountains and (to quote Dave Chappelle) sing the songs that we want to sing. Unfortunately, so many things have gotten in our way over the years. We've been put through the grinder at the workplace, we've had to work harder and harder to pay bills and keep food on the table, we've been crushed under the weights of bullies and thugs, our hearts, spirits and even bones have been broken...
Yet even with all that's been dealt to us, the spark of hope remains. We all hold big dreams but will any of us have them realized?
Listen to what the Frog has to say:
"Life's like a movie, write your own ending
Keep believing, keep pretending..."
That's what it is.
Don't forget that The Muppet Movie is now available to order on Widescreen DVD using our special 70s search device... [See DVD section or click here for more details]
By: John Edward Kilduff
"The Muppet Movie" is pure magic. From the songs to the jokes ("I've lost my way"-"Have you tried Hare Krishna"?) to the stunts (and there are some crazy ones), this is a grand movie for all ages. Everybody can find something to enjoy in this one. I give it a 10.
One final note: Thinking about "The Rainbow Connection", I came to a realization. In a way, all characters in all movies from all decades are dreamers. The heroes and the villains all have their visions and hopes. From Dorothy of "The Wizard Of Oz" to Citizen Kane to Cinderella to Wyatt and Billy of "Easy Rider" to Sally Bowles of "Cabaret" to Tony Montana of "Scarface" to Wayne Campbell of "Wayne's World" to Roxie Hart of "Chicago", you name a character from a movie and they'll have a dream attached to them. Love, respect, freedom or even a solution to a bad case of the munchies...It's what they dream about. It's what we dream about. We are the lovers and we are the dreamers. It's as simple as that.
Jim Henson (I) spent an entire day in a 50-gallon steel drum submerged in a pond for the opening scene of Kermit in the swamp.
The film was an analogy for 'Henson, Jim' 's rise to fame.
Cameo: [Big Bird] (voice by Carroll Spinney) from Henson's famous TV show, "Sesame Street" (1969). Big Bird tells Kermit that he's going to New York to break into public television - an obvious reference to Henson's Sesame Street.
In a 2004 interview, John Landis revealed that he was the puppeteer for Grover during the final sequence, as Frank Oz was busy operating Miss Piggy. Landis also noted that Tim Burton was also among the many puppeteers in the finale.
The cameos (in no particular order) are as follows:
Edgar Bergen, the legendary ventriloquist, and his dummy Charlie McCarthy are judges at a beauty pageant emceed by Elliot Gould. The pageant is held at a fair where Bob Hope plays an ice cream man and Richard Pryor plays a balloon seller. Milton Berle plays the used car salesman Mad Man Mooney. Mel Brooks is Professor Max Krassman, a mad scientist who wants to fry Miss Piggy. At the El Sleezo Cafe, where Kermit meets Fozzie, James Coburn is the proprietor where Paul Williams plays piano while Madeline Kahn and Telly Savalas hang out and drink. Carol Kane plays a woman who is the walking punchline to a bad joke. Steve Martin is a snobby waiter. Cloris Leachman is a secretary. Finally, Orson Welles is Lew Lord, the man who makes the Muppets' dreams come true.
This was the last movie to feature famed vaudevillian Edgar Bergen and his wooden sidekick, Charlie McCarthy. It held particular meaning for Jim Henson who cited, on many occasions, how Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy were the major reason he took an interest in puppetry.
Orson Welles plays a studio executive named Lew Lord who draws up a standard rich and famous contract for the Muppets - a reference to the real-life producer Sir Lew Grade (later Lord Grade). When 'Jim Henson' was trying to find a producer to make the Muppet Show happen, no American producers understood or were interested in the concept - but British producer Lew Grade recognized Henson's vision and made the Muppet Show possible.
When the credits are completed (after Animal tells the audience to go home) a black screen appears with the words, "This film is dedicated to the memory and magic of Edgar Bergen."
Edgar Bergen died shortly after his scene was shot in 1978.
Mel Brooks's character has "Prof" written on the back of his coat. This is a tribute to his character in Blazing Saddles (1974) which has "Gov" written on the back of his coat.
"The Rainbow Connection" has become a modern standard. It has been performed by a wide variety of artists including Kenny Loggins, Sarah MacLachlan, The Carpenters, Johnny Mathis, Vera Lynn, Judy Collins, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and Jason Mraz.
"Connection" was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. It lost to "It Goes Like It Goes" from "Norma Rae". The years have proven who the true winner was, though. The proof is in AFI's 100 Years, 100 Songs list. That was their list of the greatest movie songs of all time. "Goes" wasn't on there, but "Connection" was. It came in at #74, and Kermit appeared on the special and talked about the song. He also contributed a few comments to the #3 song "Singin' In The Rain". Oddly enough, he didn't comment on the #1 song "Over The Rainbow".
Over first few credits, Sweetums bursts out of the screen, followed
by many Muppet gags.
After the last credit, Animal is shouting,"GO HOME! GO HOME!". He gets sleepy, says "Bye-bye" and goes to sleep.
A scene in which Fozzie Bear is menaced by a sailor brandishing a broken bottle was cut by the New Zealand censors as being too violent for children.
In the original theatrical version of the film, when he meets Kermit the first time, Rowlf the dog asks Kermit if he wants a drink, to which Kermit says, "I'll have a grasshopper." This small scene has been deleted from all subsequent versions. (Perhaps the filmmakers didn't want a children's movie to advocate an alcoholic beverage?) Not all other copies have been edited.
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50th Anniversary Edition!|
50th Anniversary Edition!|
The soundtrack is no longer available and rare and expensive! Hopefully Disney might pull something out of their hat if they do a Special Edition DVD of this movie. Either way, Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher wrote the score and songs (well, most of them...A reindition of "America The Beautiful" was arranged by Ian Freebairn-Smith). Track listing is as follows:
1. Rainbow Connection - Kermit
2. Movin' Right Along - Kermit
3. Never Before, Never Again - Miss Piggy
4. Never Before, Never Again [Instrumental] - The Muppets
5. I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along - Kermit, Rowlf
6. Can You Picture That?
7. I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along [Instrumental] - The Muppets
8. I'm Going to Go Back There Someday - Gonzo
10. Animal...Come Back Animal [Instrumental] - The Muppets
11. Finale: The Magic Store - The Muppets
Soundtrack Available: Used On CD
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