Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is largely considered to be a movie classic; a cautionary tale about ill-mannered children, among other things. While the story occasionally dips into darker territory, such as the harsh punishments for the childrens' infractions, mostly the sweetness of Charlie's relationship with his grandfather and the happy ending keep the overall picture light.
Yet amazingly, the principals in one of the darkest chapters in history— Hitler and the Nazi party — affected not only the casting of the film, but supplied one minor cast member.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was shot in Munich, Germany in 1970, almost 25 years after the fall of the Nazis. The producers and director wanted to cast dwarves as the Oompa Loompas, but they soon learned that their plan would be problematic. There were few dwarves left in Germany due to Hitler's wartime policy of murdering people born with birth defects which, according to his demented mind, meant all manner of people, including dwarves. There were so few dwarves to be found locally that when it came time to cast the film, the casting director was forced to search all across Europe. Many of the little people eventually hired were not professional actors and therefore could not dance or sing. In fact, even in the final cut of the film, some of the Oompa Loompas appear not to be singing or not to know the words of the songs. This was because a number of them couldn't speak English.
More bizarre is the announcement in the film, via a television news report, that the last golden ticket has been located by a South American businessman (later to be revealed as a forgery). The photo that the news anchor holds up, supposedly of the businessman with the golden ticket, is of Hitler's real life personal secretary, Martin Boorman. Boorman was a top Nazi official, said to accompany Hitler everywhere he went.
Read more unsettling facts behind popular films here.
Images: IMDB, Paramount Pictures