I do like Cathy Bates. I just don't think she played Miss Hannigan well and, yes, that was 99% Disney's fault. They made her play Mrs Mudge as well, for example, and gave her stupid lines like "I'm saving myself for Oliver Warbucks'.
I didn't like her version of Little Girls, partly because of the way it was choreographed (not Cathy Bates' fault) and partly because of the way she sang it. It was quite a strong performance, vocally, but sounded very normal. Carol Burnett sounded quie manic at times and she had all the little laughs and the emphasis jut right. I thought she sang it more like the stage version.
I think the point of Miss Hannigan hugging and kssing the radio is that at the end of the day, she's a pathetic, drunk spinster, without any real romance in her life, so she pretends, using the radio. The girls laughing at her when they catch her and the window blind falling on her as she tries to shut them out is a great lead in to Little Girls.
Miss Hannigan is supposed to be a bit of a drinker and Carol Burnett played that well. It's not Cathy Bates fault that Disney removed it, but removing it left Miss Hannigan without much personality for me. Disney did the same with the orphans, (as Jon said, where was 'Oh my goodness!)and they didn't have much personality either.
I partly agree that she flirts too much with Warbucks. i didn't like the whole 'Sign' number as I thought it was quite irrelevant. I think the point of the flirting, though, is that, as in the radio scene, Miss Hannigan is pathetic, drunk, lonely spinster, with no romance in her life. She wants to have Warbucks' money and live his rich, lavish lifestyle. She finds it really galling that Annie is the one Warbucks chose, who's getting fussed over and spoilt, while she's still stuck with the orphanage, poor and pathetic.
There are pro's and con's to both movies. For instance, I don't like the end of the 1981 movie when Annie is kidnapped, te railway bridge scene. It's not a bit like the stage show. I also think that Annie should've sung Tomorrow in the film and replacing it with Dumb Dog and Sandy was, well, dumb.
As a whole, though, the Disney movie was such a shambles and whether she was poorly directed or choreographed or not, I still don't think Cathy Bates was well cast. If you watch the casting of the Disney movie in Julie's videos, she says that she thinks the Disney movie will be "the best..." and I think that says a lot. The one thing we all seem to agree on is that the Disney movie was a big letdown.
Carol Burnett may have been asked to sing a flirty song with Warbucks and flirt with the man on the radio but she still gave a far more convincing perfomance. Alicia's ''teeth in your mouth" line wasn't a patch on Aileen Quinn's "you'll have ME to deal with" line to Roseanne Sorrentino and Cathy Bates "Get to work...NOW" was just as bad. Carol Burnett never shouted much as Miss Hannigan but the overall effect was far stronger. I love the scene when her shadow appears in the dormitory door and Aileen Quinn and Toni Ann Gisondi freeze. Far more convincing...