Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

Opening Salvo For Mad About Musicals Course

578 posts in this topic

2 hours ago, BunnyWhit said:

It’s 1949’s On the Town, of course! This film marks the first time a major studio accomplished production numbers on New York City locations. It was a concept that stuck. How many times, in how many ways, from the silver screen to the small screen, have viewers been dazzled by The Big Apple? Can you count how many times you’ve said, “the city was a major character” and wondered where it all started? You have Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen to thank. Think about this when you look to the topic of how film and culture collide. Think about how different the city is, how it changes through the decades. You can accomplish a similar goal simply by thinking of all the movies you know that include a view of the New York City skyline. My, how it’s changed! 

Many of Leonard Bernstein’s numbers from the stage production of On the Town were dropped for the film, but “Come Up To My Place” remained, thank goodness. It’s my favorite number. Hippodrome! 

I agree about the dropping of Bernstein numbers. Apparently, the thinking was his music was not as accessible. Hello? He was amazing. I love "Some Other Time."

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I enjoy the Bing & Hope travel movies. They combined comedy, slapstick & music. Also, since I'm a JAZZ performer, I find the "Big Band Era" movies very entertaining, the camera work is intriguing and the lighting sequences accentuate the mood in the film. 

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5 hours ago, drsax61 said:

A bit of trivia...1776 has the longest section of musical with no music..  over 30 minutes.

 

Good bit of trivia. It is also a great script. The songs progress the story, and reveal the characters. One of my absolute faves.

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7 hours ago, shelldance said:

SO many musicals! 

What musical have you found yourself watching repeatedly? Gigi, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, Singing in the Rain, The King and I, Chicago, Oklahoma, Sound of Music, Disney .... so many others but these are the ones I have watched embarrassingly repeatedly....so many times!

What is it about that musical that you believe makes it enticing to you for repeated viewings? They are happy, make-you-feel-good movies; I love the dancing and the romance; definitely color is important as others have mentioned.  I'd probably watch more musicals repeatedly but it seems they just don't show them on the TV very often. 

"I would even open this topic to explore what musicals provide for us as a culture": an escape from the worries of the world and humanity.  As in all good romances, the musicals I like provide hope. 

Thank you for responding specifically. Great stuff.

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Grease and Wizard of OZ they are just awesome movies and in the case of Grease if down will lift you right up with the cheery music and fun dance. Wizard of OZ just enchanted since I was a child.

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White Christmas is a holiday tradition at our house, but I could watch it anytime.  The songs are all great. The dancing is great. I'm a sucker for a romantic comedy.

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Wow, this is a tough question, so I'll limit my answer to two choices.  "Fiddler on the Roof" definitely.  I keep watching it to discover more about the relationships between the characters and how they grow and change.  How Tevya evolves as a father and accepts the changes in his life. 

"Sound of Music" is another strong one.  How Maria becomes so confident at the end of the movie and helps her new family love and survive.  The songs themselves are so fun to watch as the characters perform them.

Both of these movies have main characters who have to deal with a world that turns against them, yet their priority is to keep their families together.

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17 minutes ago, HarryTheThird said:

I saw ALL THAT JAZZ last month on the Big Screen and it really resonated. I think that is musical that gets better with age because the issues it covers are so deep (addiction, Death, workaholics, adultery, fame, etc.).

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I'd love to see it in a movie theater. I agree with all that. It's also a groundbreaking film in terms of editing. Check out this fantastic video essay from film critic Matt Zoller Seitz: 

 

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For me, I love the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers musicals the most. The dancing is lovely, and the music and lyrics are romantic and have an air of innocent sophistication that tickles my fancy. 

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Like many of you, I grew up watching old movies, especially musicals. So many favorites from Holiday Inn to Grease it’s hard to choose, however, Guys and Dolls stands out as a favorite I go back to over and over.  First saw the stage show (my sister was in it) when I was about 10. The following weekend the movie was on TV.  I was mesmerized. I like the people or characters, the best can fail and those we expect to be bad can surprise us. It moved me then and still resonates. I also like the club numbers (so fun) and the costumes. So excited for this class!

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The first that came to mind was Mame, which I love for the humor, the catchy songs, and how it tugs at my heartstrings. 

The second also hits me emotionally but is very different: Hair, which I don't think I've seen anyone else mention yet (although I haven't made it all the way through the posts). The music is epically epic and the choreography by Twyla Tharp is magical. 

 

 

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Top three musicals for me: 

Cabaret

Swing Time 

A Star is Born with Judy Garland

 

They're all varying in themes but are eternal classics to me. Swing Time is like comfort food to me, so enduring and sweet. I watch A Star is Born if I need a good cry and you know the soundtrack is one of the best around. Cabaret is beautiful in its grittiness and again, the songs are hard to beat. 

 

Honorable mentions: 

Easter Parade

Top Hat 

Chicago

 

I'm sure I left some out but there are so many! Which is why I'm so excited for this course. 

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Mame, it has to be Mame. No matter what adversaries occur, she always stays positive. On the darker side, I would have to say Rocky Horror Picture Show. It reminds me of a time when your biggest decision was who you would sit with at the Friday night football game. I loved going with a big group of friends to the midnight showing of RHPS.

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I am struggling to come up with a list that wouldn't just go on and on.  Having said that, Camelot, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The King and I,  Oklahoma......You see what I mean.  Musicals transcend time and place and bring those who love them joy.  I think that music just makes everything in life a little sweeter and and lot more real.  Our hearts need melody and dance and something to get lost in, hence, the musical brings all that and more.  I love Disney for their attention to songs and bringing young and old to the theatre to get lost in the story and songs.  I love the people who were brave enough to know we all needed musicals and God Bless them all, past, present and future who will always leave us humming, shuffling and believing!!  Sing like no one is listening and dance like no one is watching!!

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10 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

So, then the fact that my son and I break out into song in NYC waiting for a train is, uh....a little bizarre is an understatement?

Depends on how many commuters join in.

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I'm a sucker for the Edwardian turn-of-the-century musicals, My Fair Lady (England), Gigi (France), Music Man and Meet Me in St. Louis (USA).   Mostly because of the elaborate costumes and sets.   I remember seeing My Fair Lady when it came out in 1964, and from the opening flower unveiling to the opera gowns, the Ascot gowns, and the ball gowns, I was a smitten 12 year old. Cecil Beaton was a master.  The slew of stage adaptation musicals in the 50's/60's allowed for better costumes/sets I think because the plot/music/dialogue was a known entity and less of a financial gamble.  

I also like Footlight Parade; the Shanghai Lil' with FDR tribute, just classic, and the waterfall number couldn't be campier.  Great dialogue, with Cagney as a tough guy and hoofer, not just a stock character.  

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These are some of the musicals that are my favorites:  "All that Jazz", "Guys and Dolls", "The Red Shoes", "Cabaret", "West Side Story", "Wizard of Oz", and "Sound of Music".  Really looking forward to visiting the earlier Broadway musicals of the 30's and 40's. Loved the great dancers like Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, and Fred Astaire.

Always loved the lighting, staging effects, and costuming of the different eras.  The dance routines were so flawless, and mesmerizing.  They had great songwriters and composers.

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"Mary Poppins."  Wore out the LP.  Wanted her to come live with us.  I was 6.

"Stormy Weather."  Still watch the Nicholas brothers on Youtube.

"Viva Las Vegas." Yeah, I know, but ... Ann-Margret.

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From the time I was little I was always watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on VHS and for a child to sit through a movie as long as that (it's almost two and a half hours) it must have been very captivating for me. I remember one day the VHS stopped working and for my next birthday (I couldn't have been any older than 7 or 8) I received 6 copies of it on DVD. I no longer have any of the DVDs because I was a careless child and ruined them all, however with the technologies of today I can easily stream it online, as I frequently do.

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Two great examples of the type of musicals that I enjoy the most are Moulin Rouge and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I think the most important attribute of musicals that I love is that the musical numbers aren't "pop-out" numbers, but instead  are organic elements in the telling of the story. They are also musicals whose scripts are of the calibre of story telling found in strong non musical film. Then add creative, moving, well convieved, well performed, and well photographed musical numbers, then what do you have? True Movie Magic! That's my opinion.

Also, both films are love stories,  and I am not a fan of the Love Story genre, but these musicals got me to drink the Love Story Potion, bottles and bottles in fact! 

-Terri

AKA. Our2RightFeet

 

 

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Being a child of the the 70's and 80's I repeatedly watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Grease, Xanadu, Labyrinth, and Hairspray. Why? Simply because they are fun and silly and a little out there and I feel transported to another galaxy every time I watch them. And they always put a smile on my face no matter how many times I have seen them. ?

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I really enjoy Lady Be Good (1941), for showing the ups and downs of a married couple who are also a songwriting team, watching the budding acting careers of Ann Sothern and Robert Young (before he was Father Knows Best or Marcus Welby MD), watching the acerbic judge who won't allow their 2nd divorce (Lionel Barrymore), and the delightful songs.  But I really DON'T think "The Last Time I Saw Paris" fits well in the film, much lauded though it may be.

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