"Up the airy mountain, down the rushy glen, we daren't go a hunting, for fear of little men. You see, nobody ever goes in... and nobody ever comes out." ~ Tinker, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).
The director of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) has died. Mel Stuart (pictured), known for that synchromystically significant and scary children's film, was also an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His daughter, Madeline Stuart, said he died of melanoma Thursday night, August 9, 2012, of cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 83, born Stuart Solomon, on September 2, 1928.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory's beginnings were born in a milieu of coincidence, synchronicity, and genetic links. Writer J. M. Kenny told of the origins of the 1971 film adaption, in his 2001 documentary, Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Once upon a time, director Mel Stuart's 10-year-old daughter read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and asked her father to make a film out of it, with "Uncle Dave" (i.e. producer David L. Wolper) producing it.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Stuart and David L. Wolper established a base of West Coast documentary production at a time when New York filmmakers and TV network news dominated the field. Before joining forces with the Wolper Organization, Stuart was a researcher for CBS News' 1950s documentary series, The 20th Century, which was hosted and narrated by Walter Cronkite. (David L. Wolper, coincidentally, died on August 10, 2010.)
Stuart showed the book to Wolper, who happened to be in the midst of talks with the Quaker Oats Company regarding some promotional ideas to introduce a new candy bar from their Chicago-based Breaker Confections subsidiary. Wolper talked the company into buying the rights to the 1964 novel by Roald Dahl and financing the motion picture for the purpose of promoting their new Quaker Oats Wonka Bar. Breaker Confections was renamed the Willy Wonka Candy Company (and has since been sold to Nestlé).
The filmmaking of the movie began on April 30, 1970 and ended on November 19, 1970. The primary shooting location was Munich, Bavaria, then in West Germany, because it was inexpensive compared to filming in America and the visual site was conducive to Wonka's factory. Stuart said he was in favor of the unknown nature of the setting for movie audiences. Outside visuals of the candy factory were filmed at the Munich Gaswerks (Emmy-Noether-Straße 10), and reportedly, the side buildings and entryway still exist.
"The two of them grew up in New York and remained close to this day. They used to argue about whose characters were better, and who was more famous. Even well into their 80s they were still challenging each other, which I found rather charming," Madeline Stuart said.
Sources as attributed above in embedded links, as well as mixes and various tidbits from Wikipedia.