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After 50 years, The Little Prince returns to earth…

The very first interview I ever filmed for the documentary was with artist David Edward Byrd, and my first question to him was if he could remember the first time he noticed Richard Amsel’s work.


“I first became aware of him on the subway in 1974,” Byrd said. “His LITTLE PRINCE poster was up on the where that the horizontal ads were, where the subways used to be in…and I just stood there and stared at it, and, you know, I thought who is this and I found out…I find out really soon shortly after that.”


I’m intending to use Byrd’s comments as a framing device for the beginning and end of the documentary. The name of the titular character could, in some ways, also apply to Richard Amsel himself. And like the boy from another planet, Amsel left our world far too soon.


This brought me back to Stanley Donen’s 1974 big screen musical adaptation of the classic Antoine de Saint-Exupéry story. I actually contacted Stanley Donen about the documentary, and will forever regret that we were not able to meet. His health was declining at the time, and he passed away in 2019. (Amsel also illustrated the poster for another of the director's later films, the 1975 crime caper LUCKY LADY.)

It’s strange to me that THE LITTLE PRINCE has fallen into relative obscurity with modern audiences. My high school French teacher wasn’t even aware of it, and we were reading the book in her class. There certainly was a roster of mega-talent behind the film. It had the director of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, the last musical collaboration between Lerner and Loewe, actors Richard Kiley and Gene Wilder, not to mention the legendary Bob Fosse – whose dance moves in the “Snake in the Grass” sequence directly inspired a young Michael Jackson in the development of his signature stage choreography.


Contemporary critics often refer to the film as a flop, but seem to forget that it was nominated for two Oscars, won a Golden Globe for Best Score, and received another three nominations – including one for young Steven Warner as “Most Promising Newcomer” in the title role.


I grew up with the film, and it left a big impression on me, as did the music. Richard Kiley's signing at the end still brings a tear to my eyes.


Here, go see for yourself and tell me if it doesn’t affect the little child deep within you. Just be warned: SPOILERS.


It’s also hard to believe that the film just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary. Where does the time go…? And what happened to The Little Prince himself…?


When I discovered that actor Steven Warner had discussed the project on the Why I’ll Never Make It podcast, I was floored. After all these years, he’s still recognizable, and recalls the experience fondly. I decided to reach out to him to see if he could share any comments on Amsel’s poster for the documentary. He kindly agreed, and generously provided a little video.

“I do think that (Amsel) certainly managed to capture me, certainly captured my smile,” Warner said. “A lot of people say that it's quite clearly me. Obviously I'm a little bit older now, but I still think that I look like that.


“What's it like to be a part of a poster? … It's a bit of a privilege, really."

Warner recalls surprising some friends who were apparently oblivious to his participation in the film. "I've had some friends over a little while ago for dinner, and they were admiring things here in my dining room. I've got lots of other bits and pieces, memorabilia from my stage career. And they were looking at the poster and again, commenting on who was in it. And I was like, ‘Oh yes, who was in it?’ And they did the same thing: they said, ‘Oh, Gene Wilder.’ And I went, ‘Anything else? Anything else?’ And eventually I said, ‘Anything else? Anything else?’ And I had to tell them it was me. And once I actually pointed that out and they actually looked at the face rather than the names, then they were like, ‘Oh my goodness, Steven, that's you! We didn't realize it was you!' And I went, ‘Yes.’ So again, I think it's quite an honor really, to have something drawn of yourself.”


My heartfelt thanks to Steven Warner for agreeing to interview, and Stephane Scotto Di Perrotolo for filming this from across the pond!


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