The 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a kids classic. Despite — or perhaps because of — the freakier side of the movie involving trippy tunnel rides and hidden jokes, almost every kid loved this movie. The '70s was a different time, and it's crazy reading about the mad situations and insane trivia involved in making this beautiful, freaky movie.
Did you know all of these weird facts about #WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory?
1. Look for the Light
Actor Ernst Ziegler, who plays bedbound Grandpa George, was almost totally blind after a poison gas attack in WW1. The film crew used a red light to direct him to where his character was meant to be looking.
2. The Sad Truth of the Oompa Loompas
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was filmed in Munich, Germany but the producers had a lot of trouble finding enough little people to play the #OompaLoompas. Sadly, this is because the Nazis had killed thousands of people with unusual conditions and disabilities during their reign of terror.
Most of the cast playing the Oompa Loompas did not speak English, and found it hard to learn the words to the songs. You can see some of their lips miswording songs in the movie and the final song reportedly took 50 takes. Oh, and one of the Oompa Loompas is a girl!
3. The Boat Scene
The famously terrifying boat scene not only scared audiences — actor Denise Nickerson (Violet) reports that the kids on set were genuinely frightened. Gene Wilder was so convincing that they thought that he'd really gone mad in the boat.
Marilyn Manson covered the song 'Wondrous Boat Ride' as the opening track to his album, Portrait of an American Family. Have a listen — I'm adamant that Gene Wilder's version is actually scarier...
4. Eat It!
Gene Wilder notes that "about a third" of the items in the Chocolate Room really were edible. This includes the chocolate river, made of cocoa and cream mixed with water, which spoiled and stank very quickly! The recipe caused headaches on set as they had to keep tinkering with the formula: the first attempt at a 'chocolate river' ended up a gruesome blood red. Delightful!
One thing that was not edible was the flower-shaped cup that Willy Wonka eats; it was made of wax, and Wilder had to wait until the end of the take to spit it out.
5. Wonka Better Have My Money
There was some seriously aggressive marketing going on in the movie. Initially financed by Quaker Oats, a ton of Quaker 'Wonka' bars had to be pulled after the recipe went wrong and they all melted too easily on shelves. In fact, the entire movie was retitled to promote the 'Wonka' candy brand, changing from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory'!
The combination to the chocolate factory's first door is an ad plug, too: 99-44-100% pure was the slogan for contemporary brand Ivory Soap.
6. Now there's a girl who knows where she's going!
The only kid in the whole movie who stayed in acting is Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt. Incidentally, Veruca Salt has a rocking band from the '90s named after her.
7. That's Gotta Hurt!
The foam in the Wonka Wash scene was fire extinguisher foam, which the crew didn't realize is a potent skin irritant. The kids, cast and crew involved in this scene required medical treatment when their skin was painfully raw and itchy for days afterwards!
Do you know any weird facts about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?