In 1968, a beloved family musical premiered. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was adapted from the novel of the same name and set in 1909. It’s both a love story and a story about fathers and what they do for their children.
The father, Caractacus Potts, is played by the ever-charming Dick van Dyke. Though the movie is set in rural England, van Dyke refused to do a British accent after harsh criticism of his accent in Mary Poppins.
Julie Andrews was offered the role of van Dyke’s love interest, but she turned it down since she felt Truly Scrumptious was too like Mary Poppins. Thus, Sally Ann Howes took on the role.
In this musical clip, van Dyke and Howes have joined forces with the kingdom’s toymaker, who now works exclusively for the childish Baron. The townspeople have hidden their children because the Baron employs a wicked Child Catcher. All children are kidnapped so the Baron will not have to compete for toys in the kingdom.
It’s the Baron’s birthday, and the toymaker has brought him two life-size toys. The first gift is Truly made to look and act like an actual wind-up music box. It’s incredible to watch her syncopated movements as she sings “Doll on a Music Box.”
Next, a huge box falls open to reveal Caractacus dressed like a clown with mop hair. After almost falling all over the ballroom, he winds up Truly’s box again. She sings the same song and moves precisely as before, only now Caractacus sings a song from earlier, “Truly Scrumptious.”
The costumes are beautiful. Even the Baron’s guests are all monochromatic in their shades of purple. It’s lovely to watch van Dyke and Howes perform this highly choreographed scene so well. You’ll want to relive the classic again after watching these two.