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If you’re a regular reader you may have heard me mention that I have been in quite a lot of musicals in my time. I started dance classes when I was four and have pretty much been appearing on stage ever since. I have always loved watching movie musicals too – there’s something about a musical that just makes you feel so happy.
I thought I’d share some of my favourite movie musicals with you – most of these I first saw at home, and a lot of them when I was young back in the days when we had TVs half the size they are now. I’d love to see them on the big screen at the cinema though, or maybe even better, in the comfort of my own home on a 4K TV from Panasonic!
So here’s my list, in no particular order…
(I decided to leave out any animated films, so no Disney here I’m afraid)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
I can’t actually remember ever not having seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! I must have been really young when I first saw it, which is no surprise given it was one of my mum’s favourite films – she saw it something like seven or eight times at the cinema when it came out in 1954! I think we must have had a copy on video that we had recorded off the telly and I remember watching it loads when I was a kid. If you’ve not seen it you really should, it’s got some fabulous dancing and super-catchy tunes.
Slightly controversial here but I think I actually prefer Grease 2 to the original Grease film! It has a few of the same characters, a sort of similar story line, but it is just so cheesy. Plus it has a young Michelle Pfeiffer and the really rather sexy Maxwell Caulfield in it – the film almost ruined his career before it had started but he did go on to appear in Dynasty and its spin off The Colbys.
Johnny Depp singing. Do I need to say anymore? Sweeney Todd is a fabulous Stephen Sondheim musical. I love the lyrics and I’m a big fan of a sung through musical with no dialogue. The film version of Sweeney Todd also stars Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall and is the story of a barber who kills people and has them turned into pies. What’s not to like?
Singin’ the Rain
Surely there can’t be anyone out there who doesn’t love Singin’ in the Rain? It’s a movie musical classic and has so many fantastic songs and dances. It’s one of my ultimate feel good movies and will always put a smile on my face whenever I watch it. Although I think the iconic title song is brilliant I think my favourite song from this film has to be Moses supposes. Or Good Morning. Or All I do is dream of you. Or Make ’em laugh. Oh, I don’t know, they’re all brilliant, just watch the film already!
A Chorus Line
I knew one of the songs from A Chorus Line long before I ever saw the film. ‘One’ is the last song in the film and I love watching the stage fill with more and more dancers. It’s a very simple film really, with nearly all the action taking place on stage in an empty theatre as dancers auditioning to be in a chorus line (do you see what they did there) tell their stories. The only really well known actor in the film is Michael Douglas (although he doesn’t sing or dance) and I’ve just found out in researching for this post that it was directed by Richard Attenborough!
Hairspray is another fabulous feel good film. I’ve never seen the original film with Ricki Lake playing Tracey Turnblad but the 2007 musical version with John Travolta and Zac Efron is brilliant. The songs are so catchy and it has a great message too. And I defy you to listen to You can’t stop the beat and not want to dance!
Mary Poppins is another of those classics that I can’t remember not having seen. I must have watched it when I was very little and I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen it since. I was listening to an interview with Dick Van Dyke a while ago and he was explaining why his cockney accent was so awful – apparently the studio would only hire a vocal coach to work with him for one day, and the vocal coach was Irish!
I love the choreography of Bob Fosse and I was tempted to pick Chicago as one of my top movie musicals. But the film of Chicago doesn’t actually feature Fosse’s choreography and although I do like the film I much prefer the stage show. And so I picked Sweet Charity. I’ve actually been in this musical myself too. It’s not a very well known musical really but features the iconic song Big Spender. I think if I had to pick my favourite scene though it would be the dance sequence ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ – it’s just so weird and completely irrelevant to the plot!
I remember being so exited when I heard about Moulin Rouge – a new movie musical that wasn’t based on a stage show, written and directed by Baz Luhrman, and starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. It promised great things and as far as I’m concerned it delivered. I love the way pop songs are woven into the story and Ewan McGregor singing Come What May is just adorable.
This is another musical, like A Chorus Line, that I saw in the theatre and didn’t really enjoy but then loved the film. It’s another sung through musical and I think I know every single word – I love putting the soundtrack on in the car and singing along. I remember when the film version of Evita came out and no-one was really sure if Madonna would be able to pull it off. I think she does, and if you don’t then at least you can just enjoy Antonio Banderas instead.
So there you have it – my top ten movie musicals. I know I’ve missed loads of favourites out (The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Oliver, Annie, High School Muscial, Little Shop of Horrors, West Side Story, Les Misérables to name a few…) but I would have been here all day if I’d done my top 20!
Have I missed out any of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below – maybe you love a movie musical I haven’t even seen yet!
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