The Music Man ★½

I'll concede this: there are a couple of good jokes and some eye-catching choreography, but the character of Harold Hill is so intrinsically loathsome to me (as is Robert Preston's game show host-like performance), and the thesis reliant on simple-minded nostalgia for a very whitewashed and very white America so alien that I'm unable to give it much slack even now. It made me cringe when I was a kid. It makes me cringe now. I'm sure that in both cases the problem was as much me and my attitude as the film; but while it may sound slightly nuts, I can't help viewing it as an attack by extroverts upon introverts, up to and including the celebration of a bunch of behaviors that could and should get you kicked out of a library. Shirley Jones is the only bright spot performance-wise; she may not be the audience vessel but she's my vessel until she inexplicably starts to melt to Hill's supposed charms, invisible to me. She also delivers the only song that isn't a bunch of word-salad speak-sung junk, but again, personal bias? I guess. I'm trying to be generous here, I know everyone loves this, but man did I want it to be over a long time before it was.