Originally Posted by Garysb
Though Rosie was Hispanic in the stage version and in the TV remake with Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams, in the movie she was not. They removed any racist references made by Albert's mother, Mae in regards to Rosie. The movie was actually quite different from the stage version.
It's different in the details, not the general flow of the storyline. The major changes:
1.) Rosie was actually racially ambiguous in the film. I always thought Janet wore the black wig because she was supposed to be Latina, but they don't really bring it up. Too bad Chita didn't do the film, if for no more reason than they would have shot "Spanish Rose," probably my favorite solo from the play.
2.) Hugo has way more to do in the movie. That's simply because they had cute lil' Bobby Rydell in there. I guess he was the Zac Efron of his day or something; otherwise I swear I've never even heard of him! In the play, Hugo has absolutely no singing to do whatsoever. He doesn't form one-half of "One Boy," and he certainly doesn't participate in "Lot of Livin' to do." If you ask me, I think the character is a lot stronger when he's a singing participant. In the play, Hugo is reduced to a series of short walk-on parts; he just enters the scene, says something stupid and then walks off. It's no wonder that Hugo didn't sing in the play; awkward Michael J. Pollard played the part originally. Hugo's character is much more well-rounded in the movie.
3.) Kim is way sexier in the movie, I suppose owing to Ann-Margret's status as the goddess of her day. There's no way the Broadway Kim could pull off all that pulchritude...
4.) The "Ice House" is a soda shop in the movie, while it's literally an abandoned ice house in the play.
5.) "Put on a Happy Face" is sung by Albert to a teen girl in the train station; in the movie it's a duet with Rosie. I think it's stronger and much more personal in the movie, and adds to the relationship between Albert and Rosie.
6.) The boys' parody of "We Love You Conrad" is original to the movie. Would have been mighty funny in the play...
7.) Only "The Telephone Hour," "How Lovely to be a Woman," "Sincere," "Hymn for a Sunday Evening," and the "Shriner's Ballet" play out onscreen more or less the way they do in the play. The other numbers were greatly retooled. Arguably, "The Telephone Hour" was increased in scope, but the others are pretty much what you see in the play.
8.) "One Last Kiss" and the Ed Sullivan show scene were originally the end of Act One. I believe it was used as the ending of the movie to add suspense and have something major to build up to. Additionally, need I add that the kid is not running a meth lab in the McAfee living room in the play, nor is there any mention of the Russian ballet or Albert being a chemist. These were needless additions for the movie, and they slow down the pace and get too far away from the lead characters. But the ballet is kinda funny...
9.) Five major numbers were cut for the movie, adding only the title song.
And after all this, the film still
feels like a pretty good adaptation of the play! Some of the changes were, IMO, improvements, some changes were not. It's one of the movie musicals where--if you could somehow marry the film with the play, you'd meet somewhere in the middle and really have something special. The play itself has some shortcomings and irritating moments; some of those were changed for the movie. And the movie is certainly obnoxious in parts (ugh--the human eye behind that turtle shell, and the dumb animation during "Happy Face") but it also streamlines some of the action and makes better use of the principals. The 90s tv version tried to get closer to the play, but also added a bunch of crummy musicals numbers in order to serve its all-star cast. In doing so, it got too far away from the story and proper moods of the play version. I don't know...somewhere in all this mess there's a really big show
to be seen (with apologies to Ed Sullivan).