Annie

Annie

It’s a hard-knock life. Nobody knew that better than Little Orphan Annie, who endured some personal tragedies before becoming star of comic strips, radio, stage and film. The fictional heroine ruled the radio waves during the 30s and 40s but later kept a low profile until a Broadway musical thrust her back into the spotlight. A movie based on the hit musical followed in 1982, simply called Annie.

Annie is an orphan residing at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage during the Great Depression. Bleak and drab don’t adequately describe everyday existence, made so much worse by the alcoholic, abusive Hannigan, who uses the orphan girls as household slaves.

With a mop of red, curly hair, Annie is as adorable as the next urchin but she’s plucky too, planning escapes and saving a stray dog, Sandy, from the neighborhood bullies. She always ends up back at Miss Hannigan’s but she keeps hope that her parents – who left her at the orphanage while she was still a baby – will come back one day. Annie’s sole treasure is half of a locket her parents left with her, to be matched to their own half upon reunion.

Annie’s fortune changes when she is handpicked by Grace Farrell, secretary to rich and powerful Oliver Warbucks, to live at his palatial Fifth Avenue mansion. Though millionaire and orphan are initially awkward with each other, “Daddy” Warbucks comes to love Annie and wants to adopt her. But Annie insists that her parents will come back for her, prompting Daddy Warbucks to institute a national search for them – even though his heart is breaking at the rejection.

Meanwhile, Miss Hannigan’s sleazy brother, Rooster, and his ditzy girlfriend Lily, concoct a scheme to present themselves as Annie’s long lost parents and collect the substantial reward. Miss Hannigan joins the plan by giving Rooster the locket half belonging to Annie’s folks who had perished in a fire years ago. The ruse works and Rooster, Lily and Miss Hannigan abscond with Annie and a large check. On the road, Annie discovers who the plotters really are and attempts to escape. Enraged, Rooster tries to kill her but Miss Hannigan comes to the girl’s rescue after having a change of heart. Annie gets adopted by Daddy Warbucks and even Miss Hannigan enjoys herself at the party.

The film starred Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks and Carol Burnett as the perpetually tipsy Miss Hannigan. Tim Curry is perfect as Rooster as is Bernadette Peters as his girfriend. A keen eye will also spot Geoffrey Holder (Bond henchman and longtime 7-Up spokeman) as Punjab, butler to Daddy Warbucks. The soundtrack of Annie is as famous as the movie, with songs like “Tomorrow,” “It’s the Hard-Knock Life, “Easy Street” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.”

Annie wasn’t a box-office smash and the critics weren’t all that kind, but it did manage to rack up a couple of Oscar nominations, as well as Golden Globe nominations for stars Aileen Quinn (Annie) and Carol Burnett. More importantly, kids embraced the timeless story, the colorful characters, and, of course, the ever-catchy songs – making Annie a favorite among the younger set long after the film was originally released.

Were you a fan of this 80s film? Do you still remember all the songs? We’d love to hear any and all of your Annie memories in our comments section below.

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