For the Sunday closest to my sixth birthday, July 28, 1982, my dad took me to see Annie. My dad’s friend Mike came too because he also had a daughter, Donna, who was around my age. Donna and I didn’t really know each other but I remember she gave me a birthday present. It was a small 50 piece puzzle of an image of colorful crayons. The best thing about seeing Annie was that Dad and Mike let me and Donna sit in the front row of the theater! Better than that, they let us sit ALONE in the front row of the theater while they sat somewhere behind us. We thought we were soooooo cool sitting in the front row all by ourselves. And of course we loved Annie. She was spunky and beat up boys and manipulated the hell out of grownups and sang for the President and lived happily ever after with her Daddy Warbucks – and she was a redhead like me! Growing up I must have watched Annie dozens of times on Betamax and then VHS. Each time I watched it a different song became my favorite and each time I watched it Annie was spunkier, Miss Hannigan was funnier and Miss Farrell was more beautiful than the time before.
The other night I went to see Annie in the theater as part of Regal’s Flashback Features but I didn’t sit in the front row this time. I was surprised to see that it was directed by John Huston, not someone known for light family fare or musicals for that matter. Of course his name would have meant nothing to me when I was a kid, but it means something to me now. I don’t think Huston was the best choice as director for this film. Watching it as an adult, the staging is rather clunky and sometimes his camera choices during the dance sequences is just plain odd. Doesn’t matter, I still loved it and I still knew all the dialogue and songs.
I think Maybe (and all its reprises) is the best song in the film. It’s so very hopeful and so very sad at the same time.