Oscar Movies: Man of La Mancha (1972)–Arthur Hiller’s Misfire

Arthur Hiller proves to be the wrong director to adapt to the big screen the successful stage musical.

In this version, adapted by the the play’s writer, dale Wasserman, Don Quixote is framed by an incident from the life of its author, Miguel de Cervantes.

Don Quixote (Peter O’Toole, overacting) is the mad, aging nobleman who embarrasses his respectable family by his adventures. Backed by his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza (James Coco), he duels windmills and defends his perfect lady Dulcinea, who is actually a sluttish whore named Aldonza (Sophia Loren).

Despite the presence of Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren, the movie is dull, muddled and uninvolving on any level.

The only reason Hiller was assigned this musical was the commercial success of his two previous films, the schmaltzy Love Story, which was a blockbuster, and the satirical drama The Hospital.

Oscar Nominations:

Scoring: Laurence Rosenthal (of songs by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion)

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was Ralph Burns for Cabaret.

Credits

MPAA: PG.

Running time: 130 minutes.

Released: February 1, 1973

DVD: May 11, 2004