Based on Roald Dahl's 1964 book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the film actually came to fruition as part of a plan for the Quaker Oats company to market a new brand of chocolate bar - the product line would be named The Willy Wonka Candy Company - which is why the movies title is different to the books. Dahl worked on the script but was unhappy with the final result, including some of the casting.
It's Gene Wilder's Wonka who is at the centre of the film and his performance is partly what makes it so memorable - mostly because it's really very weird, and kind of unsettling. And that's when the kids aren't being assaulted for daring to like sweets. It's really not clear that Dahl much liked children.
The original 5 kids from the film all returned for the 44th anniversary, Peter Ostrum, Paris Themmen, Julie Dawn Cole, Michael Bolner and Denise Nickerson, with most removing themselves from the film industry after the movie released. See the reunion below.