The Captain's Top Ten MusicalsFeb 20, 2004 (Updated Jul 22, 2008) Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line I'm not a particular fan of musicals (getting to like them more as I grow old...er), but these ones are good...
Im not exactly the worlds number one fan of musicals, but there are quite a few that Ive enjoyed. Here are my ten favourites:
At Number Ten
Madonna was born to play the part of Eva Peron, and with Antonio Bandaras as Chey Gevara (okay I know thats not going to be spelt right so dont feel the need to tell me!...) the story swings along quickly with some great songs. A pretty much unique film in terms of style, too.
Highlight: Madonnas rendition of the title song: Dont Cry for me, Argentina
At Number Nine
What this lacked in memorable songs it made up for with some awesome choreography and wonderful sets added to good performances by the wonderful Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Richard Gere (they are not wonderful at all in my books, but theyre good in this). It is also one of the best satires of the entertainment world ever made. (Perhaps not quite as good a satire as All About Eve, but still very good.)
Highlight: The Cell-room Tanga a song & dance scene where the female inmates describe the murders theyve committed and their motives / plea of innocence just amazing.
At Number Eight
Singing in the Rain
Gene Kelly & Co dont let the water falling down from heaven dampen their spirits (oh purleeeeeeeeeze - did I really write that!?!?) in this typically lavish production from MGM. Some good songs mixed in with a typically charming performance by Kelly (always my sisters favourite) make this one a real winner.
Highlight: Dum-de-dum-dum, dum-de-dum-de-dum-dum-dum, Im singing in the rain, just singing in the rain
At Number Seven
Alexanders Ragtime Band
Ack whatever happens dont let my dad see this hes a real Alice Faye fan and Im forever winding him up about it While most of her films were perfectly watchable without actually being memorable, this oldie stands out to me.
You know the expression greater than the sum of its parts? It applies perfectly to this film. Im not a particular fan of Faye or any of the other cast (while I have nothing against them), Im lukewarm about ragtime music, and the plot is the same as in 90% of Alice Fayes films (unknown girl meets famous boy, boy helps girl become famous, boy tragically dumps girl, girl becomes very famous, boy becomes unknown, boy comes back to girl, girl forgives boy, all live happily ever after). But the film as a whole has always stayed in my mind as one of the best musicals Ive ever seen.
Just dont tell my dad
Highlight: probably the title song and the exclamation by Alive Faye The dirty rat! He stole my music!
At Number Six
This probably has an advantage because I like both Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (both as Thespians, the second as one of the most beautiful women in the world as well dont think Ewan would be too happy if I gave him a similar accolade :-O ), and with Jim Broadbent in the supporting cast it had another massive advantage. I was very surprised to find that both leads seemed to have decent singing voices (okay so theyre not brilliant but what do you expect?!?) - and this, along with a decent plot and the surreal guidance of Ken Russell, this was a kooky outing that people will either love or hate. As you can see, I fall into the latter category.
Highlight: Nicole Kidman on a trapeze mmmm (er, just kidding, wifey )
At Number Five
A good overall cast, a good mix of great songs and humour (ignore the plot it is, fortunately, completely irrelevant) would probably have got this an honourable mention. But add Louis Armstrong and its propelled into the top ten.
Highlight: pretty much anything that involves Sachmo playing his trumpet, and the song What A Swell Party This Is including the classic lines: This French champagne, so good for the brain hey thats what I was going to say! do you know youre a brilliant fellow?.
At Number Four
Some of the best black jazz musicians and singers of all time get together for this loose biopic of Bill Williamson (Bill Bo Jangles Robinson on the stage), who plays himself in the lead part. The plot is just an excuse for a lot of song and dance routines, but since these are some of the best that have ever been (or, probably, ever will be) thats really no problem. I think this was the first film to ever feature an all black cast (quite a daring venture at the time). (Though nowadays even using the word black can be a risky business - be assured I mean no offence by it, but what other term am I to use? The darker shade of monochrome?)
Highlight: There are so many! But Fats Waller performance of Aint Misbehavin and an almost painful to watch dance routine by the Nicholas Brothers probably pip the others to the post.
At Number Three
I used to hate this film when I was a kid I think it was the fact that my niece played it 4 times a day for the entire summer holidays one year
But aside from the fact that there are some truly memorable songs in there, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are perfect in the lead roles, and some of the scenes are very funny (some intentionally so ), I feel that few other films have quite captured the spirit of a particular generation as well as Grease did. (Frankly it doesnt say much for that generation but I dont mind as its not my generation anyway ) And, frankly, its just great fun.
Highlight: The songs Tell Me More and Youre The One That I Want and the teachers reaction to the start / end of semester!
At Number Two
The Sound of Music
Anyone whos actually tried running down that particular hill in Salzberg will know that theres no way Maria (Julie Andrews) could possibly have run down it in the time she was supposed to have!! But that aside, this has a very strong plot, very memorable songs, and is set in the most beautiful country in the world (Austria, just in case for some unexplainable reason you werent sure!) what more could you want?
Oh well, just add in some sweet kids (normally I want to gag the children in movies), the political atmosphere at that time, sexual chemistry between Andrews and Christopher Plumber, a patriotic Austrian song (written by an American!), and what would now be considered a hugely non-PC (hurrah!) song You are 16 going on 17.
Highlight: Hmmm . I think the scene where Christopher Plumber rips the Nazi flag in half is a strong contender, though I do have a sneaky liking for the Lonely Goatherd song always makes me laugh.
And At Number One
Hairspray - the 2007 version (there is also a 1988 version). This deals with some serious issues along the way to being simply one of the most enjoyable films of all time. Great songs, great cast, creat music, great dancing, and very funny to boot - and John Travolta playing a fat mum? What's not to love? (Well, John Travolta playing a fat mum would normally worry me no end, but he's funnyin this!) Also starring Niki Blonsky, Michelle Pfeiffer (meow), Christopher Walken, Elijah Wood, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes (she is so cute in this movie), and James Marsdon (playing a far more interesting character than he did in X-Men or Superman...)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Marylyn Monroe and Jane Russell belt out some great numbers in this silly story that has a lot of humour.
42nd Street - The definitive Busby Berkeley film (could a top ten musicals list possibly exclude him completely), while Im not a great fan of his films as such, his skill and vision as a choreographer was way ahead of his time.
The Boyfirend - Starring Twiggy, this is another surreal Ken Russell experience. Not as accomplished as Moulin Rouge, but still fun.
As always, thanks for reading!
For more of my Top Ten goodness, see below.
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