Movie Musicals are not to everyone’s taste, that much is certain. Myself and Welshy on the other hand love this genre. We would like to take this opportunity to share our thoughts on a few of our favourite Movie Musicals.
So, what constitutes a movie musical? At its core, it is a film where the characters sing songs that are interwoven into the story, sometimes accompanied by a big dance number, or sometimes it is simply a narrative device to driven the story forward. Bottom line…they are a load of fun (for the most part)
There are many different types of movie musical, but for the purpose of this piece, we are going to be looking mainly at Broadway adaptations.
So, sit back and enjoy 🙂
The Producers (Dir, Susan Stroman, 2005)
This is a film, based on a broadway show, based on a film about two guys trying to put on a broadway show.
show film opens with down on his luck theatrical producer Max Bialystock’s latest show closing on opening night. Following a visit from timid accountant Leo Bloom, Bialystock hatches a plan to put on the biggest flop in history and a ton of money in the process.
Dave says: I love this film, I came to this in a kind of round about way. Saw this first, then saw it on stage and then went back and watched the original Mel Brooks version. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are a brilliant double act (they played the roles on broadway), Will Ferrell is unleashed as the unstable Franz Liebkind.
It is full of memorable songs and frantic, slapstick comedy. The show is stolen for me by Gary Beach as the worlds worst director Roger Elizabeth De Bris.
Favourite Song: We Can Do It
It was a tough choice, there are so many great ones, but this is the one that cements the partnership and sets the film on its way.
Welshy says: Hilarious, inappropriate and clever. Mel Brooks out did himself.
Favourite Song: Betrayed
I love Max and this song though full of bitterness and vitriol, showcases his wit and knowledge of theatre.
Singin in The Rain (Dir, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952)
Singin in The Rain tells the story of three performers caught up in the transition from silent movies to talkies in 1920s Hollywood. Directed by and starring the great Gene Kelly, this is a light-hearted treat and is widely considered to be one of the greatest musicals of all time.
Welshy says: I used to watch this with my Grandparents. A musical I can watch again and again. I love the leads and the golden age Hollywood setting. Donald O’ Connor and Gene Kelly have great chemistry as old friends. Debbie Reynolds is great as the proud, beautiful love interest. Jean Hagen shines as shrill talentless Lina Lamont
Favourite Song: Good Morning
It’s bright and cheery and I use this song during circle time on a morning with my Reception class.
Guys and Dolls (Dir Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1955)
Set in New York in the 1940s, the story revolves around a group of gamblers and petty thieves, in particular Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) a gambler how is willing to raise the stakes, bet high and win big and Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra), a fast talking hustler who is under pressure from all sides to host the ultimate craps game.
In order to get the money to buy the space to host the game, Nathan bets Sky that he can’t romance Sergeant Sarah Brown, straight talking member of The Salvation Army. Nathan has romantic problems of his own, as he is deals with his long-term girl friend Adelaide, who is desperate for a marriage proposal.
Dave Says: My favourite musical, as Masterson, Marlon Brando is effortlessly cool and Nathan Detroit is my all time favourite movie musical character, it might have something to do with the fact that he is played by Sinatra, but I always have a soft spot for the put upon loser, how does everything he can to make a buck and more often than not, makes everything worse. Vivian Blaine is a treat as the highly strung Miss Adelaide.
Favourite Song: The Oldest Established (Permanent Floating Crap Game)
Sang by Nathan with Nicely Nicely and Benny Southstreet, it not only sets up the plot, but totally establishes us in the world of the 1940s gambler. Classic
The Sound of Music (Dir, Robert Wise, 1965)
This adaptation of the classic Rogers and Hammerstien play and is one of the most iconic movie musicals. It tells the story of Maria, a young woman studying to be a nun, who becomes governess to a retired naval officers 7 children. Bringing music, song and happiness to the family, they try to find a way to survive against the back drop of the Second World War.
Welshy Says: Another film I used to watch with my Grandparents. I have also seen the West end performance several times. I love the songs and when I got older really enjoyed the undercurrent of War and Nazism. I remember as boy hating Baroness Schrader and Rolf.
Favourite Song: Lonely goat-herd
It’s just such an unusual but catchy song. It’s also amazing when heard live.
Dave Says: I hang my head when I say that I have never actually seen this all the way through…
Favourite Song: Doe, A Deer
The reason for this is, as a card-carrying member of The Scotland Supporters Club or The Tartan Army as they are more commonly known, this can be heard ringing out around Hampden Park. Why? Well the rumour is that before a friendly in Austria in the late 80s/early 90s, and given The Tartan Army’s reputation for singing, a local newspaper said something along the lines of “With the Scotland fans, we are in for The Sound of Music tonight” The fans got wind of it and, well, now we sing Doe, A Deer.
Annie (Dir, John Huston, 1982)
Set during the great depression this is a heart warming tale of a little orphan girl who is adopted by America’s Richest Billionaire and has to deal with nefarious plots by her orphanage supervisor to ruin her life.
Dave Says: Now, this might not be a favourite of mine in any real sense, but the fact that my beautiful wife is a very proud ginger, Annie was one of her heroes growing up and this is one of her favourite films, it is only a matter of time before my daughter discovers it. It is fun, it is sweet and there are some genuine laugh out loud moments. There is also the wonderful Tim Curry as Rooster in a slightly more mainstream turn than his last venture into movie musicals…
Favourite Song: You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile
Catchy and sweet, has been butchered for the recent remake, but still a winner.
Oliver! (Dir, Carol Reed, 1968)
This is an excellent adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist. A young orphan escapes the workhouse and runs away to London to join a gang of thieves. He discovers however that a life of crime is not all it’s cracked up to be. The supporting cast is spectacular Ron Moody (Fagin), Oliver Reed (Bill Sykes), Jack Dawkins (Dodger) and Shani Wallace (Nancy) all outshine the lead.
Welshy Says: There are many reasons I love this film. Firstly it is a family favourite, every member of my family loves this film and has watched it a multitude of times. We looked up to the likes of Dodger, Fagin and Sykes. Secondly, I have also acted in a stage version, as the Artful Dodger, many years ago. It’s funny and quite dark in its undertones and provides a decent sense of Victorian London.
Favourite Song: I think I have to think it out again.
This is hilarious and provide some well-reasoned arguments why Fagin should not change his ways.
West Side Story (Dir, Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
This is a modern interpretation of William Shakespeare’s Romero and Juliet. Moving the action from Verona to Manhattan, West Side Story is set against backdrop of street gangs in the 1950s.
Tensions are rising between the white gang The Jets, led by Griff and the immigrant Puerto Rican gang The Sharks, led by Bernardo. To bring things to a head, they arrange a rumble to determine dominance over the neighbourhood.
Griff tries to enlist the help of his old friend Tony to join him, but he instead is busy falling in love with Bernardo’s younger sister Maria. The rest is, well, you remember the play from school. It is the same, but with more dancing.
Dave says: This was the first show I ever saw on stage professionally. I had never seen anything like it. I got me to search out the film and opened up not only a whole new genre to me, but a whole different medium, which I had never considered before and still criminally neglect to this day. The film is beautifully choreographed, with some truly unforgettable songs (America, Maria), and even though you know what is coming, it doesn’t make it any less tragic or heartbreaking when it happens.
Favourite Song: Gee, Officer Krupke
A fun song, to be sure, but is positioned shortly after a truly tragic moment. The comedy is wonderfully juxtaposed against the totally ineffectiveness of the police to stop what is happening on the streets.
Welshy Says: It took years before I began to enjoy this, I found it too long as a child. Once I got older and my taste developed I changed direction. It is a beautiful modernisation and for years I actually thought Natalie Woods was Puerto Rican. Its is sweet, funny and tragic. If anyone gets a chance to watch the new Broadway revival, take it, the Sharks sing everything in Spanish its awesome.
Favourite Song: Tonight (ensemble reprise)
The final build up of tension before our tragic resolution.
Mamma Mia! The Movie (Dir, Phillyda Lloyd, 2008)
Based on the music of Abba, the film tells the story of Donna Sheridan, as single mother who has raised her daughter on an idyllic Greek Island. The day of her daughter’s wedding arrives and so do 3 of Donna’s ex lovers.
What ensures is a comedy of errors are Donna’s daughter attempts to figure out which one is her real father.
Dave says: Ok, so bear with me on this one. Before I was a Snooty Usher, I had the privilege of working as a Marketing Rep and one of the films I got to work on was this one. It remains to this day, one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life. Yes, this might not be a cinematic masterpiece, but there is not denying that is it fun, and lots of it.
I am not great fan of Abba, in fact prior to this I might even have said I hated them, but the music is infectious and to this day I still sing away when a song comes on the radio or in a shop, which becomes problematic when the song is “Gimme a Man After Midnight”
Favourite Song: Lay All Your Love On Me
A great sequence, full of life and energy that pretty much sums up the film.
Dreamgirls (Dir, Bill Condon, 2006)
The story follows the history and evolution of American R&B, as A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s. They face their own personal struggles along the way. Including fame, jealousy, love, and family.
This is actually a film à clef, a real story masked by the fiction of the film. In Dreamgirls case, its the story of Diana Ross and the Supremes.
Welshy says: A spectacular film, so over the top and the Motown songs are really powerful. I also like the fact that it’s an historical look at pop music and what I imagine it is still like today. The Cast are all phenomenal: Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson both sparkled as Deena Jones and Effie White. With exceptional performances from Jamie Fox’s sleazy salesman turned manager Curtis Taylor, and Eddie Murphy’s Jackie ‘Thunder’ Earley, a lewd RB/Motown singer trying to be packaged as more pop friendly.
Favourite Song: It’s All Over
The moment where Effie gets thrown out for her Diva attitude I am never sure where I fall in the argument. I see both sides.
Bugsy Malone (Dir. Alan Parker 1976)
During Chicago’s Prohibition, gangsters Fat Sam and Dandy Dan battle over the bootleg sarsaparilla rackets. Bugsy Malone gets roped in and all he wants is the lounge singer Blousy Brown Featuring only child actors (with singing voices provided by adults), this is gangsters and molls lightened considerably for the children’s market.
Welshy Says: I love this film, it’s so funny and really lampoons the gangster genre in a way that had never been done or has been done again. In my opinion. Scott Baio is excellent as Italian Irish hood Bugsy Malone. I hated Blousy Brown, the love interest, I always wanted Bugsy to wind up with Tululah (Jodie Foster) the speakeasy’s star chanteuse.
Favourite Song: Bad Guys or Bugsy Malone.
Tough Choice both are very funny and capture the mood of the gangster genre genre even if they are children’s dubbed voices.
Dave Says: Sooooooo much fun. Name me one kid who watched this film and did not want to immediately engage in a splatter gun fight and I will show you a liar. I love the gangster genre, I love the movie musical, so this was just a treat. Havent seen it in years, something I will have to remedy
Favourite Song: Bad Guys
A joyfully hilarious send up of the gangster genre. A joy
Well, there you have it. Welshy and I have given you our thoughts on the movie musical. These are not necessarily our favourite films, but just musicals that hold some special memories for us.
We hope that this has brought back some great memories of films from your youth, or actually opened the door to a whole new genre, or even give you a bit of a laugh.
As always, we appreciate any feedback or comments, so please feel free to message us.
Thanks for reading x