While it may not be the greatest musical classic in history, it’s ridiculous that it’s taken this long to get The Slipper And The Rose onto DVD in the UK. Made in 1976 (at a time when musicals weren’t popular, irrespective of whether they were any good or not), the movie is an adaptation of Cinderella, although unlike most versions of the story, it concentrates as much on the prince as Cinders.
Richard Chamberlain plays Prince Edward, who believes people should marry for love, but who is trapped in a world governed by protocol, position and diplomacy, where his regal parents are obsessed with ensuring he makes a match that ensures an alliance with another country. 20 miles away in less glamorous surroundings is Cinderella, who’s become a virtual slave to her horrible stepmother and stepsisters. You can guess what happens next, fairy godmother and all, although The Slipper And The Rose adds an extra kink at the end of the tale than we normally see and a whole bunch of jaunty tunes.
The score is by the Sherman Brothers, a duo who should be as famous as Rodger & Hammerstein, but who tend to be ignored because their greatest work was done relatively anonymously for film rather than the stage. However, Richard And Robert Sherman wrote the songs for The Sword In The Stone, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Bedknobs & Broomsticks, amongst others, as well as what some say is the single most performed and most widely translated song on earth, It’s A Small World (After All).
While the songs in The Slipper & The Rose aren’t quite as instantly memorable as the likes of Mary Poppins’, it’s still a very good score, with plenty of good, very effective Sherman numbers. Richard Chamberlain’s very charming as the Prince, and he’s certainly got a good set of pipes on him. Gemma Craven meanwhile is perhaps a little too winsome as Cinderella, although that’s partially the script’s fault, as while it fills out the prince’s character far more than usual, Cinders is left pretty much blank.
Although charming and watchable, The Slipper And The Rose never quite hits the heights to become a true classic, although it deserves a better reputation than it has, if only for the Shermans’ score. Also included on the disc is an original 1974 featurette looking at the making of the movie, which is extremely interesting.
Overall Verdict: An immensely fun musical take on Cinderella that may have missed out on becoming a classic but is nevertheless a very charming movie.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac