Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 American musical fantasy family film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It is an adaptation of the 1964 novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Dahl was credited with writing the film's screenplay; however, David Seltzer, who went uncredited in the film, was brought in to re-work the screenplay against Dahl's wishes, making major changes to the ending and adding musical numbers. These changes and other decisions made by the director led Dahl to disown the film.
In a small town, Charlie Bucket, a poor paperboy, watches a group of children visit a candy shop. Walking home, he passes Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. A mysterious tinker recites the first lines of William Allingham's poem "The Fairies", and tells Charlie, "Nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out." Charlie rushes home to his widowed mother and bedridden grandparents. After telling Grandpa Joe about the tinker, Joe reveals that Wonka locked the factory because other candy makers, including rival Arthur Slugworth, sent in spies to steal his recipes. Wonka disappeared, but after three years resumed selling candy; the origin of Wonka's labor force is unknown.
The next day, Wonka announces that he hid five "Golden Tickets" in chocolate Wonka Bars. Finders of the tickets will receive a factory tour and a lifetime supply of chocolate. The first four tickets are found by the gluttonous Augustus Gloop, the spoiled Veruca Salt, the gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde, and the television-obsessed Mike Teevee. As each winner is announced on TV, a man whispers to them. Charlie opens two Wonka Bars but finds no Golden Ticket. The newspapers announce the fifth ticket was found by a millionaire in Paraguay causing Charlie to lose hope. The next day, Charlie finds money in a sewer and uses it to buy a Scrumdiddlyumptious bar. With the change, he buys another Wonka Bar for Joe. Walking home, as Charlie hears people reading the newspapers; revealing that the Paraguayan millionaire's ticket is a fake, he opens the Wonka Bar and finds the fifth golden ticket. While rushing home, he encounters the same man seen whispering to the other winners, who introduces himself as Slugworth and offers a reward for a sample of Wonka's latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper.
Returning home with the Golden Ticket, Charlie chooses Joe as his chaperone. The next day, Wonka greets the ticket winners and leads them inside where each signs a contract before the tour. The factory includes a candy land with a river of chocolate, edible mushrooms, gummy bears, candy canes, and other sweets and inventions. As the visitors sample these, they see Wonka's workers, small men known as Oompa-Loompas. Augustus falls into the chocolate river and is sucked up a pipe to the Fudge Room. In the Inventing Room, everyone receives an Everlasting Gobstopper. Violet becomes a large blueberry after chewing an experimental gum containing a three-course meal, over Wonka's warnings. The group reaches the Fizzy Lifting Drinks Room, where Charlie and Joe ignore Wonka's warning and sample the drinks. They float and have a near-fatal encounter with an exhaust fan before burping back to the ground. In the Golden Eggs Room, Veruca demands a golden goose for herself before falling into a garbage chute leading to the furnace, with her father falling in trying to rescue her. The group tests out Wonka's Wonkavision, only for chocolate bars and Mike to teleport himself and become a few inches tall.
With Charlie and Joe remaining, Wonka says they are not getting anything because they violated the contract by stealing the Fizzy Lifting Drinks. Infuriated by this, Joe suggests to Charlie that he should give Slugworth the Gobstopper in revenge, but Charlie returns the candy back to Wonka. With this selfless act, Wonka declares Charlie as the winner. He reveals that Slugworth is actually Mr. Wilkinson, an employee of Wonka, and the offer to buy the Gobstopper was a morality test that only Charlie passed. The trio enter the "Wonkavator", a multi-directional glass elevator that flies out of the factory. Soaring over the city, Wonka reveals that his actual prize is the factory; Wonka created the contest to find an heir worthy enough, and so Charlie and his family can immediately move in. Wonka then reminds Charlie not to forget about the man who suddenly received everything he ever wanted. Charlie asks, "What happened?" to which Wonka replies, "He lived happily ever after."
Director of photography: Arthur Ibbetson, B.S.C.
Art director: Harper Goff
Production managing: Pia Arnold
Assistant directing: Jack Roe, Wolfgang Glattes
Color by Technicolor
Dialouge coaching: Frawley Becker
Costume designing: Helen Colvig
Music editing: Jack Tillar
Sound editing: Charles L. Campbell
Unit managing: Renate Neuechl