Saturday, July 19, 2008


Top 10 musicals

I've already listed the top 10 westerns filmed (if I didn't see them they don't count). The top 10 science fiction movies. And the top 10 paranoid conspiracy films.

Here are the top ten musicals (movies only - I loved Evita on stage, but Madonna's movie was horrible). I don't like musicals really, so it was very hard for me to come up with ten. Most all of them are pretty dumb, but some do have entertainment value. Don't mind them as much as when they're done for kids.

1. West Side Story
2. Jesus Christ Superstar (70s version)
3. Oklahoma (for Rod Steiger alone)
4. Singin' in the Rain
5. Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory (70s version, I don't even know if the new one is a musical)
6. Little Shop of Horrors
7. Mary Poppins
8. Tommy (my prior comments about the Who notwithstanding)
9. Fiddler on the Roof
10. The South Pacific (I don't really like it, but I ran out and there were some decent moments)

My favorite moment in West Side Story:

Maria: Tony, you must be quiet or my parents shall awaken!

Tony and Maria in harmony at the top of their lungs: Tonight, tonight!! I found my love tonight...!!

Okay, I have to get back to work to clear my desk before vacation.

Addendum: Okay, I can't believe I left out the Wizard of Oz, which is the greatest musical of all time (yeah, I know the book was better). Geeze!

Which brings me to a question. Does anybody know the title of the first film musical? I have no idea.

Umbrellas of Cherbourg?
What? No Sound of Music?
Across the Universe!
You also missed Carousel and I can't stand Mary Poppins tho I'm a big fan of the books.
Haven't seen Umbrellas. It doesn't count.

Forgot about Across the Universe. It probably belongs in the top ten.

Sound of Music? My wife would put it there. I just have a hard time with a musical about the Nazi takeover of Europe.
Carousel would be in my top 20 ben.

And I know Mary Poppins wasn't true to the books, but man, what performances from Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and a slew of cameo appearances.
Okay, insert Across the Universe and nix South Pacific.
My Fair Lady, Camelot, and yeah, The Sound of Music for certain.
ben is right, Carousel has some wonderful songs, though it is very sad.
Watched the Phantom of the Opera tonight on tv (the newer version, not the classic b&w).
And just because you didn't see it doesn't mean Umbrellas of Cherbourg (sniff, another sad one) doesn't count.
We can't help it that you are a mere toddler, Eric.
Ah, and the Fantasticks. Longest running musical for a long while. Totally dorky. Loved it.
But wait, you can't nix South Pacific.
Even for Across the Universe, which I admit is cool.
Dr. Doolittle and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Dr. Doolittle?! That was a joke right?

Although the pink snail was cool.
according to wikipedia, The Broadway Melody (I think that's right) which won the Academy Award in 1929.
Why, I think that was the year of my second marriage, the one to the Duke.
Good times they were, back then.
Eric, the really big one you missed was Dancer In The Dark. Possibly one of the greatest musicals ever. Check it out.
(oh, Dancer in the Dark is awesome).

And the same year as the Boardway Melody, The Song of the Desert (or was it Desert Song? something like that, swooning maidens and handsome guys and sand) came out. And that had lots of color. Boy, were we jazzed.
My Fair Lady?

Oh, and if there was a list for 10 worst, I think Sweeney Todd, which unfortunately, I was forced to watch, would belong in it.
You are also missing The Great Dictator.
1. Grease
2. West Side Story
3. Carousel
4. Fiddler on the Roof
5. Wizard of Oz
6. Oklahoma
7. Sound of Music
8. Across the Universe
9. My Fair Lady
10. Mary Poppins
I thought the Great Dictator was a silent movie. (Don't yell at me!)

Um, among the worst are are Guys and Dolls, the one with Marilyn Monroe singing Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend, and that weird one based on the Dr. Seuss story of the 10 thousand fingers of Dr. What's his name.

And Paint your Wagon, but that's fun.
Grease didn't really impress me.

Add to the worst list Hair in which they converted the music to disco.
And probably in the best 10 list really should be Snow White, though I don't know if we should include animated musicals. Or I'd have to add The Yellow Submarine.
As long as you're mentioning Judy Garland... I'm a total sucker for "Meet Me in St. Louis." My favorite single performance in a musical is Paul Robeson's, singing "Ol' Man River" in "Show Boat," although Judy singing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" in "Meet Me..." usually brings me to tears.
A Christmas Carol. Nothing more hilarious than the image of depression starved Englishmen singing "thank you very much much" in the streets. As if.
Oh, and what about Oliver!? (I think the title has the exclamation point).
Please sir, can I have some more?
Madonna's "Evita" was fantastic.

On the flip side, "Rent" totally sucked.

The best part of Tommy was Ann Margret rolling around in beans.
And there was also The Man of La Mancha.
To dream the impossible dream, to love, pure and chaste, from afar...etc.
I seem to recall attending a Bobby Kennedy event back in the day where they cued that song up. (the pure and chaste bit didn't cut it maybe, but we were dazzled)
Yeah, I thought Madonna's Evita rocked. Who played Che in that film?
Antonio Banderas. But they missed the whole point and made Che a real person in the story. He wasn't politically active at Evita's time, but I guess they thought the audience would be too stupid to accept the stage play's Che role as a Jiminy Cricket figure who isn't physically there. And the alterations to the lyrics to convert the musical into a story with a linear plot just ruined the whole thing for me.

I liked Peter O'Toole as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, but Sophia Loren was less than inspiring as Aldonza/Dulcinea.

Oliver was good, but not in the top ten.
I've never seen Meet me in St. Louis. Old Man River probably belongs on my list.
I forgot Annie!
Porgy & Bess
Purists may scoff, but the Blues Brothers and the South Park movie both qualify as musicals and both peg '10' on the entertainment scale.

Others to consider:
Pink Floyd's The Wall
All That Jazz
Yellow Submarine
A Hard Day's Night
Young Frankenstein (just for the classic Puttin' On The Ritz number)
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
Spinal Tap
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Rocky Horror

There have to be other less-conventional musicals out there. Anyone?
You forgot Annie Get Your Gun!

Just as a reminder, Annie Get Your Gun includes these unforgettable songs:

Doin' What Comes Natur'lly --
You Can't Get a Man With a Gun --
There's No Business Like Show Business --
They Say It's Wonderful -- Moonshine Lullaby --
I'm An Indian, Too --
I Got the Sun in the Morning (and the Moon at Night) --
Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better) --

Many happy smiles have been brought to the faces of folks in the audience at showings of Annie Get Your Gun.

And anybody who stands for the right to grow pot in the Humboldt Hills ought to get a big kick out of Moonshine Lullaby!

Ethyl Merman was great, but I think Betty Hutton, the original lead, was even greater.
South Pacific should be in the top five. One song puts it there for me. "They've Got To Be Carefully Taught."
The Producers?
Blazing Saddles.

"I'm So Tired, Tired of Love Uninspired..."
Spinal Tap and Hard Days Night aren't musicals technically. A musical is where a character breaks out in song, not as a performance.
The Boyfriend?
Is it OK to post lyrics here from our favorite musicals?
Way Out West, starring Laurel and Hardy. Noted musical numbers:

"At the Ball, That's All"

"The Trail of the Lonesome Pine"

"I Want to be in Dixie"

"Bohemian Girl"

"Dance of the Cuckoos"


"Poet and Peasant Overture"

Chill Wills and the Avalon boys made their first foray into film in Way Out West!
Wasn't the actor who played Lenny Briscoe in Law and Order the main singerman in the Broadway production of The Fantastics?
"Anchors Away" with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. More currently "De-Lovely", the Cole Porter story.
First movie to have music was Al Jolson's the Jazz Singer. Lots of musical short features a new technology became available in the '20s, But the first musical as we recognize them was "Broadway Melody" in 1929, featuring George M. Cohan songs like "Give my Regards to Broadway."

You have no Busby Berklely musicals on this list. You can't begin to make a list of best musicals without at least seeing "Footlight Parade." (1932) Pre-Hayes Code raciness and a fierce, light-footed fast-talking Jimmy Cagney, probably one of Hollywood's best dancers, and some of the most surreal images of female sexuality ever created for film. Totally twisted film, I love it. Cagney and Ruby Keeler's big production number, Shanghai Lil, is in a class of its own.

"Gold Diggers of 1933" is another Busby film worth seeing because of its acknowledgement of the Depression and the abysmal treatment of WWI vets in a musical number "Remember the Forgotten Man."

I note the absence of Fred and Ginger in your list as well. For shame.

Not much homage to dancers in general in your list, except for Singin in the Rain and yes, Dick Van Dyke. Did you see him in Night in the Museum last year? He still has the moves, bless him!
The Music Man
songs :
Marian the Librarian, Trouble in River City, Till There Was You.
OMG! I have forgotten sbout so many of these musicals. Time for a revival!
"Gold Diggers of 1933" is one of my most favorite movies, and so is "Mary Poppins".

I like some of the recent musical movies like "Chicago", "Moulin Rouge", "Dreamgirls", and "Oh Brother, Where art Thou?"

I loved "Flashdance" in the 1980's.
Oh, I guess "Flashdance" wasn't a musical. It was a dance movie.
There have to be other less-conventional musicals out there. Anyone?

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is fabulous.

And speaking of fabulous, I just saw Mamma Mia last night. How can you not love a musical where every song is by ABBA?

Wait, don't answer that.
Hairspray, starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken, is the best musical I've seen in many years!
The 1976 musical,Alice in Wonderland, with Kristine De Belle is an all time family fave.
"Damn Yankees" with Gwen Verdon!
What about The Cradle Will Rock? I've never actually seen it, but I really liked the Tim Robbins film, which recounts the original production and all the drama surrounding it. I'm sure it would be in my top ten if I could see an actual performance.
Yes! Hedwig! Forgot about that one.
Hairspray, starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken

The 80s version was better.
I really think Porgy and Bess is the great american musical.
Anon 12:59:00 AM queries The Producers - the original version contains one great song and dance number, and its about producing a Broadway musical, and its my fave, but there's not much more singing in it is there?
Songs from The Producers:

"The Producers"
John Morris and M. Goode

Music by Norman Blagman
Lyrics by Herbert Hartig (as Herb Hartig)

Words and music by Mel Brooks

Words and music by Mel Brooks
To be honest, I don't care much for the musical aspects of The Producers. I far prefer Blazing Saddles. Say, has anybody tried making a musical version of The Dirty Dozen? Let's ask Mel Brooks to tackle it.
"Bound for Glory" is about Woody Guthrie. Not a musical, I guess, but it has a lot of great songs.
Porgy and Bess. Fantastiks. Kismet. Hedwig and The Angry Inch. Alice's Restaurant. Amadeus. Island in the Sun. The Harder They Come (may not count under some rules). But Moulin Rouge should be disqualified as a scene by scene rip-off of La Traviata which is an opera.
If you DQ "Moulin Rouge" for that reason, quite a few of the others would have to be dropped off the list, though, Margaret... like "West Side Story," which is a 60's New York version of "Romeo and Juliet."

Anon 1:26, you're thinking of Jerry Orbach, and yes, he had a long and illustrious Broadway career. And he played the candelabra in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"! (They made it look just like him, too!)
And while I'm thinking of things that would be disqualified under Margaret's rules (sorry to pick on you, Margaret!), how about "Carmen Jones," with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte? Man, I loved that movie when I was about 14.

No. The others you mentioned are loose adaptations. If you read the libretto for La Traviata nothing except the songs have been changed and no credit is given. I mean, the stage directions could move from one script to the other. West Side Story takes a story and revamps it, Carmen Jones also. La Traviata has the same characters, setting, coughing of blood, throwing of money. The music's just not as good.

Why are you picking on me (humor)?
John Williams and Andrew Lloyd Weber have been plundering 19th century operas and librettos for their material for decades. You'd be amazed at how much award winning contemporary music is pragiarized from out-of-copyright obscure sources.
Here's an interesting question for you musical people. Gershwin wrote Porgy and Bess as an opera though it was not treated as serious music for years. It was finally given the treatment it deserved and became a standard for many companies. What are the characteristics that separate a musical from an opera?
Operas, traditionally, are all music. Even short sentences are sung. Musicals are plays with songs in them.
I liked the Moulin Rouge, but I am a sappy romantic on my good days. Still, I'd disqualify it because the songs were not written for the film, but were gathered from a number of sources.

And speaking of La Traviata--anyone see the film of that, back...oh, I don't know, maybe 20 years ago?
Didn't see the movie, but would. Have a PBS copy of the La Scala company hopping around in the Little Trianon, quite lovely and romantic. I love this thread.
Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Johnny Depp is fabulous. Stephen Sondheim wrote the score and it was on the stage before it became a movie. I was reluctant to see it on the big screen, because of the blood. It is a grizzly tale, but the music is fabulous! And Johnny Depp can really sing. I highly recommend it.
What kind of self-absorbed troglodyte cays "if I didn't see them they don't count"? What kind of solipsistic egomaniac is Eric Vang Kirk?
The one musical I have seen many times is The Wizard of Oz. The songs in that film are so right on as to the situations. They never cease to bring a smile when I think of them.
I can't believe no one liked or mentioned "The King and I". I thought it was great and 50+ years later kids are still singing "Getting to Know You" and "I Whistle a Happy Tune".
Showboat, anyone?
Sweet Charity.
Showboat is actually two words. Show Boat.

Now I can rest easy!
Apparently, all the rest of you are also "taking it easy."

OK! That's enough! Now get back to Work! More Musicals! Pronto!

(Or have we named all the good ones already?)
Operas, traditionally, are all music. Even short sentences are sung. Musicals are plays with songs in them.

Which excludes JC Superstar, Godspell, Evita, and Tommy from any list of musicals.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Free Website Counter
Free Web Site Counter

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.
Click for