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oldmoviefan88

Best Musicals of all time

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Well, I am one of those people that likes to separate movie musicals from movies that are based on stage musicals when I create a list like this. So, I think I will give my top 10 from both.

 

*Movie Musicals*

10. The Wizard of Oz

9. CoverGirl

8. Meet Me in St. Louis

7. Athena

6. Take Me Out to the Ballgame

5. Shall We Dance

4. Mary Poppins

3. Singin' In the Rain

2. Calamity Jane

1. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

 

*Adapted Stage Musicals*

10. The King & I

9. Hello Dolly

8. The Music Man

7. On the Town

6. Kiss Me, Kate

5. Hairspray

4. 1776

3. Oklahoma

2. Sweeney Todd

1. West Side Story

***I know that some of these were changed when brought to the screen, but I will still put them on this list as the stage is where they originated.

 

Some honorable mentions: Guys and Dolls; Swing Time; A Hard Day's Night (if that counts); Easter Parade; Brigadoon; Pal Joey; Holiday Inn; and Hans Christian Andersen

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Well, it's so hard to narrow it down, but I'll try

These first 5 are very close together

1. West Side Story

2. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

3. The BandWagon

4. Singing in the Rain

5. Meet Me in St Louis

After that I don't know the order, but here are my other all time favorites

Silk Stockings

Yankee Doodle Dandy

White Christmas (fav Christmas movie)

King and I

Sound of Music

American in Paris

Animal Crackers

Fiddler on the Roof

Sleeping Beauty (the cartoon--it's a musical)

and I should stop now before I'm here all day

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I love this list!!

 

1. *White Christmas* (my favorite Christmas movie too)

 

2. *Funny Face* (a girl thing)

 

3. *The Band Wagon* (great backstory)

 

4. *Gold Diggers of 1933* (best numbers ever for the camera. Pettin' in the Park is great for a date movie alone!)

 

5. *42nd Street* (come on; Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell)

 

I tried to stick to movie musicals for if I included the Broadway adaptations, we'd be here forever. I LOVE all the suggestions given! I also enjoyed *Les Girls*. How can any straight man see the Ladies in Waiting number and not be enthused about this movie!

 

This is not in preference. I cannot decide which is 1st to me. I have not seen *1776*, and now I'm very curious.

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On Friday, March 20, 2009 at 8:11 PM, Singleton said:

I love this list!!

 

1. *White Christmas* (my favorite Christmas movie too)

 

2. *Funny Face* (a girl thing)

 

3. *The Band Wagon* (great backstory)

 

4. *Gold Diggers of 1933* (best numbers ever for the camera. Pettin' in the Park is great for a date movie alone!)

 

5. *42nd Street* (come on; Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell)

 

I tried to stick to movie musicals for if I included the Broadway adaptations, we'd be here forever. I LOVE all the suggestions given! I also enjoyed *Les Girls*. How can any straight man see the Ladies in Waiting number and not be enthused about this movie!

 

This is not in preference. I cannot decide which is 1st to me. I have not seen *1776*, and now I'm very curious.

My top 10 favorite Golden age musicals go as following:

Dames, especially Ruby Keeler's "I only have eyes for you"

42nd street,  especially Ruby's title song

Singing in the rain, especially Gene Kelly's title song

Me and my gal, especially Gene and Judy Garland's title song

Girl crazy, especially Judy's "Embracable you"

Gold diggers 35, especially both Dick Powell and Gloria Stewart's "The words are in my heart" and Glenda Ferrell's "Lullaby of Broadway"

Footlight parade, especially water number "By a waterfall" and James Cagney's "Shanghi Lil"

Gold diggers 33, especially "My forgotten man"

Meet me in St. Louis, especially Judy Garland's "Trolly song", title song, and "Have yourself a merry little Christmas"

Broadway melody 36, especially both Eleanor Powell's "You are my lucky star" and Francis Langford singing it

I know that the following aren't musical films but in Marx bros films "A day at the races", I love the number "On blue Venison waters" and in "A night at the opera", I love Allen Jones and Kitty Carlisle singing "Alone" 

There are still so many other Golden Age films and songs I love, that I really have like a top 100, and I love every one of them, but there just isn't the room here to write them all.

I will just close off by saying that they sure don't make em like they used to.

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6 hours ago, rayban said:

Unfortunately, movie musicals are no longer popular.

Fortunately genres have cycles and musicals regain popularity sometimes.

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11 hours ago, rayban said:

Unfortunately, movie musicals are no longer popular.

 

Last year "La La Land " was big hit and should have won the Oscar for best picture- and this year " The Greatest Showman" was an unexpected hit

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16 hours ago, rayban said:

I miss those MGM musicals from the 40's and the 50's.

Yes, the MGM 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s films are wonderful. And the 1930s Warner bros musicals are wonderful too.

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On Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 6:47 AM, rayban said:

Unfortunately, movie musicals are no longer popular.

 

That's true. Two main reasons is I believe that a) the younger generations today just don't have the same tastes, and b)studios just don't know how to make musicals and don't have that old style magic touch today, or even in the past 40 years, like they had  in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Actually, musicals were very good and had the great classic touch until the 1960s, The sound of music was a fabulous 1960s musical.

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Today, these film musicals that we so revere would be financially impossible in today's filmmaking world.

 

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On Friday, April 13, 2018 at 10:41 PM, rayban said:

Today, these film musicals that we so revere would be financially impossible in today's filmmaking world.

 

They don't even have the same kind of movie equipment today, with all of today's computer generated effects, so it wouldn't be possible for that reason too. And studios would never bother trying since too many people in today's modern age have totally different tastes in films. There are not enough of us old film lovers. I'm sure there are a lot of young people today who never even heard of Joan Blondell, Jean Harlow, Hugh Hubert, and many others from the 1930s.

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Think of MGM's "Ziegfeld Follies" - today, it would cost a fortune to get to the screen.

A studio like MGM had all these talented people on payroll.

Today, these people would have to be hired separately.

The cost would be prohibitive.

 

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4 hours ago, Allenex said:

They don't even have the same kind of movie equipment today, with all of today's computer generated effects, so it wouldn't be possible for that reason too. And studios would never bother trying since too many people in today's modern age have totally different tastes in films. There are not enough of us old film lovers. I'm sure there are a lot of young people today who never even heard of Joan Blondell, Jean Harlow, Hugh Hubert, and many others from the 1930s.

I would even go so far as to say they don't have the same kind of talent today. A lot of those great musical stars of the 30s, 40s & 50s honed their craft in vaudeville and in nightclubs and musical theaters across the country. So by the time they got to Hollywood and started making movies, they brought a lot of professionalism and expertise to the roles they were hired to do.

Last night I watched THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND on Starz. It's not a very well-known musical western. But Betty Grable has an outstanding number near the beginning where she starts on stage, goes into the crowd then up a long staircase. She sings a beautiful love song, shows off her trademark legs, performs the choreography to a tee, then when she reaches the top of the stairs she goes right into a gun battle because she's using the number to sneak up and catch her man red-handed with another woman. Like the amount of skill that went into the whole thing was just incredible and she does it perfectly. 

Today's performers rely on special effects so much they don't know how to do a long scene in one continuous take that requires a variety of skills.

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I would even go so far as to say they don't have the same kind of talent today. A lot of those great musical stars of the 30s, 40s & 50s honed their craft in vaudeville and in nightclubs and musical theaters across the country. So by the time they got to Hollywood and started making movies, they brought a lot of professionalism and expertise to the roles they were hired to do.

Last night I watched THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND on Starz. It's not a very well-known musical western. But Betty Grable has an outstanding number near the beginning where she starts on stage, goes into the crowd then up a long staircase. She sings a beautiful love song, shows off her trademark legs, performs the choreography to a tee, then when she reaches the top of the stairs she goes right into a gun battle because she's using the number to sneak up and catch her man red-handed with another woman. Like the amount of skill that went into the whole thing was just incredible and she does it perfectly. 

Today's performers rely on special effects so much they don't know how to do a long scene in one continuous take that requires a variety of skills.

Top Billed--

What you're saying is absolutely true. There was a professional and business hierarchy of musical comedy and variety talent  in the first half of the 20th century.

Vaudeville performers were absolutely confined to a hierarchy according to where they were in the business. You started at the bottom and if you got to the top, which was The Palace, you HAD to be good. In Vaudeville every performer received reviews from the management and those reviews were passed on Down the Line

Black performers were regulated to a segregated Vaudeville that was, of course, more difficult for the performers who who were part of it.

Few black performers ever made it to the white Vaudeville circuits. Bojangles was one who did.Then you could say few black performers ever became performers on Broadway and of course Bojangles was one who did. Then you could say few black performers every became movie stars in Hollywood at the top of the bill, but Bojangles was one who did.

 Using Bojangles as an example, that is exactly how it worked. Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, Gene Kelly, Ruby Keeler we're all headlining on Broadway when they were called to Hollywood.

And then you can fast-forward to Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Ozzie and Harriet, and George Burns and Gracie Allen-- all Hollywood brand names who had popular radio shows and transferred that radio stardom to classic television stardom.

It wasn't by chance that these performers we're at the top of their game because the business end of it operated on a hierarchy in those days.

I think Barbra Streisand must be one of the last  examples of how this worked out in my time. I watched her go from New York nightclubs, to be a Broadway and Tony winner,  to be a television musical-variety special star and Emmy winner,  to be a movie star with an Oscar. And in the midst of all that she had a number of top selling  albums and was a Grammy award winner!

Barbra may have had everybody beat because she did it all within 5 years, from 1963 to 1968!

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1 hour ago, Princess of Tap said:

 

Top Billed--

What you're saying is absolutely true. There was a professional and business hierarchy of musical comedy and variety talent  in the first half of the 20th century.

Vaudeville performers were absolutely confined to a hierarchy according to where they were in the business. You started at the bottom and if you got to the top, which was The Palace, you HAD to be good. In Vaudeville every performer received reviews from the management and those reviews were passed on Down the Line

Black performers were regulated to a segregated Vaudeville that was, of course, more difficult for the performers who who were part of it.

Few black performers ever made it to the white Vaudeville circuits. Bojangles was one who did.Then you could say few black performers ever became performers on Broadway and of course Bojangles was one who did. Then you could say few black performers every became movie stars in Hollywood at the top of the bill, but Bojangles was one who did.

 Using Bojangles as an example, that is exactly how it worked. Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, Gene Kelly, Ruby Keeler we're all headlining on Broadway when they were called to Hollywood.

And then you can fast-forward to Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Ozzie and Harriet, and George Burns and Gracie Allen-- all Hollywood brand names who had popular radio shows and transferred that radio stardom to classic television stardom.

It wasn't by chance that these performers we're at the top of their game because the business end of it operated on a hierarchy in those days.

I think Barbra Streisand must be one of the last  examples of how this worked out in my time. I watched her go from New York nightclubs, to be a Broadway and Tony winner,  to be a television musical-variety special star and Emmy winner,  to be a movie star with an Oscar. And in the midst of all that she had a number of top selling  albums and was a Grammy award winner!

Barbra may have had everybody beat because she did it all within 5 years, from 1963 to 1968!

Right. And she didn't need special effects or other tricks to help propel her to stardom. She was the real deal, like so many that came up the hard way a generation before her.

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32 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

 

Top Billed--

What you're saying is absolutely true. There was a professional and business hierarchy of musical comedy and variety talent  in the first half of the 20th century.

Vaudeville performers were absolutely confined to a hierarchy according to where they were in the business. You started at the bottom and if you got to the top, which was The Palace, you HAD to be good. In Vaudeville every performer received reviews from the management and those reviews were passed on Down the Line

Black performers were regulated to a segregated Vaudeville that was, of course, more difficult for the performers who who were part of it.

Few black performers ever made it to the white Vaudeville circuits. Bojangles was one who did.Then you could say few black performers ever became performers on Broadway and of course Bojangles was one who did. Then you could say few black performers every became movie stars in Hollywood at the top of the bill, but Bojangles was one who did.

 Using Bojangles as an example, that is exactly how it worked. Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, Gene Kelly, Ruby Keeler we're all headlining on Broadway when they were called to Hollywood.

And then you can fast-forward to Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Ozzie and Harriet, and George Burns and Gracie Allen-- all Hollywood brand names who had popular radio shows and transferred that radio stardom to classic television stardom.

It wasn't by chance that these performers we're at the top of their game because the business end of it operated on a hierarchy in those days.

I think Barbra Streisand must be one of the last  examples of how this worked out in my time. I watched her go from New York nightclubs, to be a Broadway and Tony winner,  to be a television musical-variety special star and Emmy winner,  to be a movie star with an Oscar. And in the midst of all that she had a number of top selling  albums and was a Grammy award winner!

Barbra may have had everybody beat because she did it all within 5 years, from 1963 to 1968!

There were not really too many black  Golden age Hollywood stars at all, Lena Horne was one of the few. In most 1930s films as I'm sure many of you have seen, black people were usually just brought into the films as maids or servants. Because of the times, blacks knew how it was and generally had lower expectations than they have today and were probably greatful to even be in those films. Once in a while, a large group of blacks were brought into to take over an entire film scene such as a singing scene in Marx brothers "Day at the races".

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3 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I would even go so far as to say they don't have the same kind of talent today. A lot of those great musical stars of the 30s, 40s & 50s honed their craft in vaudeville and in nightclubs and musical theaters across the country. So by the time they got to Hollywood and started making movies, they brought a lot of professionalism and expertise to the roles they were hired to do.

Last night I watched THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND on Starz. It's not a very well-known musical western. But Betty Grable has an outstanding number near the beginning where she starts on stage, goes into the crowd then up a long staircase. She sings a beautiful love song, shows off her trademark legs, performs the choreography to a tee, then when she reaches the top of the stairs she goes right into a gun battle because she's using the number to sneak up and catch her man red-handed with another woman. Like the amount of skill that went into the whole thing was just incredible and she does it perfectly. 

Today's performers rely on special effects so much they don't know how to do a long scene in one continuous take that requires a variety of skills.

Yes, there was definitely more talent in the Golden age. Look at all the dancing talent like Fred and Ginger, Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller, Gene Kelly, and the singing talent like Janette McDonald, Kathryn Grayson, Judy Garland, Nelson Eddie, Dick Powell, and Sinatra. And the amazing acting talent of Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Katherine Hepburn, James Cagney, and the amazing comedy talent of the Marx brothers and Laurel and Hardy. We just don't have such a large level and amount of that kind of greatness today.

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On Friday, March 20, 2009 at 8:11 PM, Singleton said:

I love this list!!

 

1. *White Christmas* (my favorite Christmas movie too)

 

2. *Funny Face* (a girl thing)

 

3. *The Band Wagon* (great backstory)

 

4. *Gold Diggers of 1933* (best numbers ever for the camera. Pettin' in the Park is great for a date movie alone!)

 

5. *42nd Street* (come on; Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell)

 

I tried to stick to movie musicals for if I included the Broadway adaptations, we'd be here forever. I LOVE all the suggestions given! I also enjoyed *Les Girls*. How can any straight man see the Ladies in Waiting number and not be enthused about this movie!

 

This is not in preference. I cannot decide which is 1st to me. I have not seen *1776*, and now I'm very curious.

What do you think of Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler's "I only have eyes for you"? It's one of my favorites

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"I Only Have Eyes For You" - Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler - it is one of the greatest musical production numbers ever - when Art Garfunker sang it again - hauntingly - many years later, he restored the beauty of the song - but, now, with DVD and the Busby Berkeley Collection, that glorious number lives on and on and on.

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I like the Flamingos' 1958 version of "I Only Have Eyes For You".

There have always been great musicals and bad musicals. There certainly was plenty of boring stuff alongside the masterpieces throughout the thirties and forties. The only problem after the fifties was that there were fewer musicals... and the bad ones often were expensive affairs getting a lot of publicity. Although I was a childhood fan of Doctor Doolittle and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, even I understood that neither would make Time Out's Top 100 lists... even if I still don't quite understand all of the hate they receive even today.

Basic problem: there was less money to spend on them and, when there was money, it was mostly spent on the scenery rather than the story and songs. I recall an interview Debbie Reynolds did for some 1970s retrospective, maybe it was to promote the second That's Entertainment? I can't remember exactly. Yet she said that by the time she made The Unsinkable Molly Brown, everything had to be done so quickly and on budget that there was little effort to make any numbers perfect like the good ol' days when Arthur Freed was in control. Mind you, Molly Brown was still a grade A production compared to the competition. I don't know how many takes Fred Astaire did for The Band Wagon a decade earlier with Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli saying "you're the boss", but you just know he was operating in a completely different climate by the time of Finian's Rainbow and it is no wonder he was so much happier voicing cartoons like Santa Claus Is Coming To Town after that point.

Yet the situation is blatantly obvious when you compare a 1940s "aquamusical" of Esther Williams with an Elvis Presley vehicle of the 1960s, since they often resemble each other in basic plots. Just that there was so much more... there... in the earlier production numbers. Certainly enough for Miss Piggy to lampoon in The Great Muppet Caper (one excellent but under-rated musical of a later generation). Comparing Esther with Elvis, just in terms of their films and NOT their talent (because Elvis deserves all of his popularity and, yes, he did make a few winners like Viva Las Vegas, also made at MGM like Jailhouse Rock), it is like comparing a Chuck Jones directed Roadrunner cartoon Gee Whizzz with Rudy Larriva's The Solid Tin Coyote a decade later. Both have the same you-know-what-to-expect quality about them, but there is huge difference in so many other departments. I am sure Esther had way too much dignity to sing "Yoga Is As Yoga Does".

There is an odd peculiar feel to the sixties musicals that always leaves an odd taste in my mouth, but also adds to their curious doomed-to-failure charm. They were obviously made by That Older Generation with no clue how to deal with the younger Rock & Roll generation. Even Barbra herself seems a bit out of place in the much cherished (and, therefore, not a failure) Funny Girl, despite her well-deserved Oscar performance. She is way TOO animated even by Fanny Brice standards, as if she feels like all of the weight of the production is put on her shoulders alone. I think she was more comfortable in the later romantic comedies and dramas of the seventies. The problem had to do with the struggle of matching the right role with the right personality. I think she was chosen for Hello Dolly! simply because she had talent, but not because she fit the character at all. I was equally disappointed with Natalie Wood in Gypsy, despite all of the energy she displays in her performance (and she tries awfully hard), although I thought she was great in West Side Story. Then again, the real Nat's personality was closer to Maria than Gypsy anyway. Even Carol in Bob, Ted, Carol & Alice is more like Maria and Nat than Gypsy. There just wasn't much pre-planning in character/actress analysis in these sixties elephants.

Much praise has been given to the rock musicals of the seventies, but many haven't aged well for me. Even the contemporary Fiddler On the Roof ages better despite its affection for "traditions! traditions! traditions!". I understand the cult appeal of Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it is among those films I am happy to have only seen once. Grease never impressed me apart from Eve Arden's hilarious role as the high school principal. I feel that the wrong people were making these. Those who wanted to make a musical weren't the ones making the musical. Mostly the seventies and eighties stuff, the awful Footloose included, are merely loud on the ears. At least with the Muppets, there was so much effort to make them more human (like the Disney studio making drawn images photographed with cells more human) and, thus, more affection towards the production.

I do need to re-watch Chicago again for a newer appraisal. It was a good musical, but also a loud and obnoxious one that seemed to try too hard to please the newer generation that must have constant bombardments of images at all times or else they get too bored. Yet I had a massive headache leaving the theater back in 2002. Dreamgirls was a bit better for me, even if it failed to win Best Picture.

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I must admit that I have very peculiar tastes. Take Julie Andrews, for example. Obviously her career stands by Mary Poppins, The Sound Of Music and Victor/Victoria. I agree that this trio deserve their love. There is also a natural progression from prim and proper anti-sex Poppins to "I'm sure you will make a fine nun" (until she has that certain glow after the honeymoon when talking to Leisl) to all of that delightful cross dressing later.

Unfortunately Thoroughly Modern Millie is ssssooooo out of place with all of the Chinese kidnappings. Even if it was a big hit in its day, while other later Andrews vehicles lost money. So much is just... wrong... with that one. I can't explain it all exactly. I am OK with the Chinese stereotyping in The Love Bug (as well as Julie looking "oriental" in Star!), but this one is just... well. OK. It at least had Carol Channing in it... and she is still hanging in there as we post today.

Yet I do really like Star! and Darling Lili even if they are overlong, since you see the Julie persona follow its natural course, now as an edgy stage performer famous for "affairs" progressing to a WW1 vamp-with-a-cause and wooing closeted Rock Hudson. I think the ONLY reason they bombed was because they were too long and, unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey, not as "groovy" to attend stoned out of your mind.

However, Star! really is a fascinating relic. Julie pretty much morphs into... Judy Garland! Too bad Judy was in such bad shape at this time (getting canned on Valley Of The Dolls) because I think she would have done just as good of a job as Julie, dressing in drag, top hat and demanding the stage audience "wuv" her at all costs.  Filmed in the slightly more innocent year of '67, Star! had its "coming out" party in the much more devilishly decadent year of '68 when sex was all over the screen practically overnight post Russ Meyer and Radley Metzger. Even the trailers for this mostly G-rated affair promise more than they deliver, the key line "Unfortunately, my darling, you can't take the whole audience to bed without being accused of immorality on, rather, a grand scale"... this by a flamboyant, but very hetero, Daniel Massey playing Noel Coward, no less.

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I think STAR! is Julie Andrews' best movie. The whole thing rests on her central performance. A lot of musicals get distracted by the subplots and the showy production numbers, but this is a character-driven piece and she is given expert direction by Robert Wise. Yes, it's an overly long film but I don't mind that.

I am considering doing a month on the Essentials thread called "Essential flops" and STAR! would probably fit right in with this theme.

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