I wanted to put together a list of musicals I enjoy.
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1950). It features one of Howard Keel's best roles; and also one of Betty Hutton's best roles. The MGM production values are spectacular and so is Irving Berlin's music. I do have an issue with the writing of some scenes, especially where Annie has to learn her place in a man's world. But overall, it's a winner.
ATLANTIC CITY (1944). My favorite Republic musical. Republic was the little studio that could do it all. The songs are fun and the performances are energetic. Constance Moore is so talented and I love watching her sing. There are some very good specialty numbers with ethnic performers. Dorothy Dandridge has a show-stopping moment. And so does Louis Armstrong.
THE BAND WAGON (1953). Probably Fred Astaire's best musical of the 50s, or at least it's what I believe. I always think of Nanette Fabray when this movie comes to mind; she should have been in more motion pictures.
BRAZIL (1944). Another excellent musical from Republic. The war years gave us the 'good neighbor policy,' so studios were making musicals that reached out to South American audiences. Tito Guizar, a Mexican, plays the main role. It also features beautiful Virginia Bruce as the female lead; and Edward Everett Horton has some good comic relief bits. It's an extravaganza with something for everyone.
CALAMITY JANE (1953). Doris Day considered this her favorite. It's definitely a crowd-pleaser.
CARMEN JONES (1954). The film is a bit uneven in spots; I think some of the dubbing is off. But Dandridge and Belafonte were never better. Otto Preminger had guts and I can't think of any other director during the repressed production code 50s who could have guided this passionate story as well as he did.
EASTER PARADE (1948). Pure perfection. Ann Miller nearly steals the show from Fred & Judy.
42ND STREET (1933). My favorite of the precode musicals. I think the earlier Busby Berkeley pictures at Warners are not quite as smooth. And this film just seems a little easier for modern audiences to enjoy, meaning it's dated but in a good way.
GIGI (1958). Certainly one of MGM's most successful films at the Academy Awards. I don't like the overall theme, but the performances are charming. And Louis Jourdan does not get enough credit.
GOOD NEWS (1947). Incredibly dated, even when it was first released. The studio (MGM) was certainly going retro with this one. But the dancing is fun; and I think June Allyson & Peter Lawford were always an appealing on-screen team. Plus I love Connie Gilchrist in this picture.
THE PAJAMA GAME (1957). Another dated musical (most classic musicals are). But there's so much exuberance. I developed a new appreciation for Doris watching this film recently. It should be better known.
RICH, YOUNG AND PRETTY (1951). Honestly, Jane Powell musicals tend to be formulaic and sleep-inducing. But she's quite charming in this one, and Danielle Darrieux is fantastic as her exiled mother. I think the story about xenophobia is a little deeper than most musicals and I give Dore Schary's MGM credit.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952). It usually tops critics' lists. It's certainly at the top of my list. Except for an overly long dance number with Gene Kelly & Cyd Charisse near the end, which really gets in the way of the story, this musical can do no wrong. Jean Hagen should have had a supporting actress Oscar for her performance.
SWEET ROSIE O'GRADY (1943). My favorite Betty Grable musical. A lot of her stuff kind of blends together. The stories were never thought-provoking or meaningful. But this picture has some good dialogue; and I think Grable works better with Robert Young than with any other leading man she had.
TEA FOR TWO (1950). Like GOOD NEWS, this was another retro musical. Very dated by 1950, but Warners cast it well. Not only is Doris superb in her first top-billed musical, but the wisecracking supporting players are just as fabulous-- Eve Arden and S.Z. Sakall are both in scene-stealing mode.
TWO SISTERS FROM BOSTON (1946). I think this is my favorite June Allyson picture. I love everything about it. Her chemistry with Peter Lawford; the sisterly relationship she has with Kathryn Grayson; Jimmy Durante's fun style of comedy; Lauritz Melchior bringing a bit of class and sophistication to the proceedings; and the songs are very well produced. Plus, unlike other musicals, this one has a strong storyline.
TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE (1950). Ricardo Montalban is great in this film. He's another one people overlook for some reason. Plus I enjoy the pairing of Louis Calhern & Ann Harding as Jane Powell's parents. They also played a married couple in THE MAGNIFICENT YANKEE.