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Old. New. Originals. Broadway musical adaptations. Everything is fair game. I was inspired to start this thread while browsing Broadway.com. http://www.broadway.com/buzz/176472/oh-what-a-so-so-weekend-jersey-boys-movie-not-a-chart-topper/

 

 

 

The Oscar-winning success of Rob Marshall’s 2002 adaptation of Chicago kicked off a movie musical revival, but no film has been able to match its box office take. Below is a list of the Broadway-to-Hollywood musicals that have been released since and their final box office takes, from best to The Producers.

1. Chicago - $170.6 million (2002)
2. Les Miserables - $148.8 million (2012)
3. Mamma Mia! - $144.1 million (2008)
4. Hairspray - $118.8 million (2007)
5. Dreamgirls - $103.3 million (2006)
6. Sweeney Todd - $52.8 million (2007)
7. The Phantom of the Opera - $51.2 million (2004)
8. Rock of Ages - $38.5 million (2012)
9. Rent - $29 million (2005)
10. Nine - $19.6 million (2009)
11. The Producers - $19.3 million (2005)

As you can see, we're not exactly in the heyday of the musical anymore, though I would argue that a lot of these adaptations didn't make a crazy amount of money because they weren't very good. Maybe if they tried hiring Broadway performers and not just actors who can kind of sort of sing. Though with the success of Les Miz (still can't bring myself to watch it) and Mamma Mia (still mad at myself for watching it on HBO) it doesn't seem like that'll change anytime soon. And I did like Phantom because Patrick Wilson and also because it was my first and only experience of Phantom and Rent for the same reason and also because they did cast a lot of the OBC and ain't nothing wrong with Jesse L. Martin and Idina Menzel. Nine wasn't atrocious but... yeah. Maybe start by trying to make the best musical possible and then you can complain about the box office. Though again, Mamma Mia. (And by the way, I enjoyed Mamma Mia on Broadway. But that movie... *shudders*)

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This is probably not what you want for this topic, but as far as musicals that can make me smile and I wanted to own: Royal Wedding, Night and Day, De-Lovely, Evil Under the Sun, It Started with Eve. Well, I guess they're really not actual musicals but music is a large part of them and I still enjoy them over and over and over. Even listing them made me smile.

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We can build this thread together and make it anything we want it to be. You'll forgive me for not having seen all the movie musicals ever made. I've only been alive for so long. I think my favorites are generally the newer ones because to me, their flaws feel more minor. I used to watch Chicago and Moulin Rouge a lot when they first came out. I think I watched Chicago on repeat like three times in the same day. It was bad. I had to stop when I could quote all the lines. Though to be fair, at the time I also only had one DVD. I love The King and I (yes, I know Deborah Kerr was dubbed but it was a good dub) and Grease as well. Little Shop of Horrors has to be one of the best movie musical adaptations. I don't know why it isn't rated higher on people's lists. Oh, and of course I love The Sound of Music.

 

Controversial opinions: I don't like West Side Story at all. The music is lovely (though some of the Sondheim lyrics are painfully basic) but I can't watch that movie. A large part of it is the dubbing but it's also the weird grease they rubbed on their faces and the gang dancing. I can't.

Singin' in the Rain is not so hot. The movie hangs on the romance and Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds don't have much chemistry. There are some great musical numbers, sure. But as a cohesive movie? Overrated.

An American in Paris? Also not so hot. Again, Gene Kelly has very little chemistry with Leslie Carron not to mention the creepy age difference the creepy plotline (with alternate love interests) and the endless last dance sequence.

Meet Me in St. Louis. Nope, not a good movie. It produced two great performances (The Trolley Song and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas) but I could throw out the rest of the movie. It tries to encompass too much time and ends up telling a very thin, disjointed story where you don't care about any of the characters or their conflicts. Also, my God is it slow in parts.

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I watched Les Miserables again, and overall, I still think they did a good job.  I guess I'm in the minority that liked the original song "Suddenly"...and I didn't think that Russell Crowe sounded too terrible.  But Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman knocked it out of the fucking park.

 

I also like the movie musicals Dreamgirls and Sweeney Todd.  I actually think the latter was the last good Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaboration as of yet.

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It's hard to go from Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris to Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. I still need more time before I'm ready to tackle Sweeney Todd.

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I love Singing in The Rain. I find it so fun and the cast is charming. I'm not as fond of An American in Paris. Although it has some good musical numbers. 

 

I saw Nine on tv not too long ago. It was a pretty bad and Daniel Day Lewis was miscast. Marion Cotillard gave a good performance though. 

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I saw Nine on tv not too long ago. It was a pretty bad and Daniel Day Lewis was miscast. Marion Cotillard gave a good performance though.

I've never seen Nine performed on stage. I've only listened to the cast recording. I think Nicole Kidman's performance felt very weak, especially compared to Laura Benanti. Penelope Cruz was no Jane Krakowski but I liked her performance. I thought Daniel Day Lewis brought good energy and 'ACTING'. I may have found it unintentionally funny. Some of the staging was weird and I didn't feel much for any of the characters. Kate Hudson wasn't good exactly but not a trainwreck either. I don't know. I've seen worse. 

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Controversial opinions: I don't like West Side Story at all. The music is lovely (though some of the Sondheim lyrics are painfully basic) but I can't watch that movie. A large part of it is the dubbing but it's also the weird grease they rubbed on their faces and the gang dancing. I can't.

 

 

I can't stand West Side Story either, though I do find the two bright spots to be Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn.  

 

I actually really disliked the adaptation of Chicago.  I thought most of the casting was spot on, but Richard Gere and Renee Zelleweger were painfully miscast - Renee just got outshone by Catherine Zeta Jones at every turn.  

 

Of the more recent musicals, I really loved Hairspray and Moulin Rouge.  I will watch those anytime I catch them on tv.  Of the older musicals, I could watch Singing in the Rain any day of the week, mainly because I could watch Gene Kelly dance for hours on end.  Grease is probably my second favorite musical, just because I have very fond memories of watching it on vhs when I was a kid.  

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West Side Story, is the perfect example of how Supporting players outshine the leads.

 

 

The poster who singled out Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn was spot on.

 

But I also liked George Chakiris as Maria's brother.

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Of the more recent musicals, I really loved Hairspray and Moulin Rouge.

 

 

How did I forget those two?  I love Moulin Rouge!  Ewan McGregor should totally do another musical!

 

And Hairspray is great.  John Travolta did great as Edna Turnblad.  And I really wish Nikki Blonsky had more success after this movie because she totally deserved it.

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I showed my boys "Singin' in the Rain" over Christmas, and they all loved the dancing. That was further confirmation I am raising them right! It is a favorite of mine because I love watching Gene dance. I don't think I have ever seen "American in Paris" in its entirety; I always seem to find it as the dance section starts. It sounds like I am not missing much.

I remember once saying, "I love watching Gene dance," and my mom replied, "I love watching him walk." He was amazing!

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Here's  how I watch West Side Story: Up until right before the 'rumble' -- sometimes skipping over Tony and Maria, sometimes dealing with them, depending on my mood. Skip the rumble where everyone dies, watch 'Cool' don't watch anything else. The gang dancing is ridiculous but I love it. I don't know why, I just do. But Romeo and Juliet is a story I loathe. I hated it in high school and it's never improved. And I freaking love Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet were teenaged wanks and I have no time for them.

 

I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I don't care how relentlessly un-PC it is. I don't care how many quilts those girls turn into dresses. Michael Kidd's choreography in that is great stuff that totally fits the setting. I love how the brothers interact with each other and their girls. When Caleb's all "To the ends of the Earth..." when he meets his girl and she basically has an orgasm right there, I giggle with delight. Tommy Rall is sex on fire in that movie (well, in any movie he's in, really.) I love it. Sure, Adam's a douche and maybe he and Millie make up a little TOO easy but he liked her sass from the start so I imagine their married life involved her throwing lots of things at his head and him sleeping in the barn a lot before he sucked it up and apologized.

 

The Blues Brothers is a musical. People do not dance, en masse, in the middle of the Chicago streets (and not during a parade, no Ferris Bueller, you are not a musical) as Ray Charles tears it up and not have that movie be a musical. Aretha Franklin does not bust into song telling her man to treat her right while three ladies at the counter step in as her backup singers without that being a musical. I mean, sure, it has more car chases than your usual musical... and Carrie Fisher running around with a flame-thrower and a machine gun... but that movie is a musical and it is awesome.

 

The Sound of Music may be expected but I don't care. I have loved this movie all of my life. I sang along to the records when I was 7. We watched it every... whatever holiday it came on TV. I've always loved it. Growing up, I developed something of a complicated relationship with the Baroness. I mean, she was obviously the villaness when I was young, although I only knew she was 'in the way' of the Captain and Maria... then I got a little older and was all 'What did she really do that was so bad? Maria sort of over-reacted, didn't she?' and then I got a little older still and was all 'Ooo... Baroness von Schrader... you a catty, devious bitch!' I don't hate her, though. Really, I though Georg was rather unfair to her. She lived in Vienna and clearly did not have children and he always went to visit her and then he brings her to his estate to meet the kids about five seconds before announcing that he's going to marry her? No wonder she wanted to send them all to boarding school! She had no idea what to do with them and she wasn't a governess!

 

Still, I often wonder what happened to her. And I also wonder if she was related to Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Both icy Austrian blondes... very smart and smooth... "This is how we say good-bye in Austria, Dr. Jones." "Oh Georg... you're far too independent. And I need someone who needs me desperately... or at least needs my money desperately." Well, in my head they're related. What?

 

Oh, there are so many others. I love musicals.

Edited by Dandesun
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A lot of my favourites have already been mentioned, but I really like the Astaire/Rogers musicals. I saw all of them and yes, quality varies, but the best such as Top Hat and Shall We Dance make up for it.

 

Love for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

 

It's been awhile since I've seen a good movie musical though.

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I, too, love the Fred/Ginger movies. I want to live in the world of Top Hat. 

 

Also... Victor/Victoria! I love that movie. So funny, self-aware and 'Le Jazz Hot' is the living end.

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The Sound of Music may be expected but I don't care. I have loved this movie all of my life.

 

 

I've seen it more times than I should ever be willing to admit.  And I still love it.

 

Two of my favorite movie musicals are Oliver! (minus Nancy's "As Long as He Needs Me", because girl, please!) and Annie.  

 

Yeah, I'll show myself the door now.

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Of the more recent musicals, I really loved Hairspray and Moulin Rouge.  I will watch those anytime I catch them on tv.

I couldn't watch that movie when it came out because I saw the cast and just thought "You're ruining it! Stop ruining everything!" What is this shiny, happy nonsense? But I think I might prefer Nikki Blonsky's version of I Can Hear the Bells to Marisa's. It's more straight sung than character singing and it's more pleasant to listen to. I may have to give the movie a shot but I feel like I'll still be annoyed at Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc.

 

Here's  how I watch West Side Story: Up until right before the 'rumble' -- sometimes skipping over Tony and Maria, sometimes dealing with them, depending on my mood. Skip the rumble where everyone dies, watch 'Cool' don't watch anything else. The gang dancing is ridiculous but I love it. I don't know why, I just do. But Romeo and Juliet is a story I loathe. I hated it in high school and it's never improved. And I freaking love Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet were teenaged wanks and I have no time for them.

I might take your advice one day and report back. I know they'd never do it because it's a "classic" but West Side Story is one of those movie musicals I wouldn't mind seeing remade... you know with ethnically/racially appropriate casting and people who can actually sing their parts. I actually really like Romeo and Juliet. I was just "meh" on it for a while but then I took a Shakespeare course in college where I read a good edition of the play. The trick is enjoying that they're teenaged wanks and not taking the romance at face value.

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The movie version of the Broadway musical Hairspray is pure bubblegum and it's fine for being that. It's all bubblegum camp.

 

The original John Waters movie is infinitely more provocative... as John Waters movies are. It's got edge to spare. When the latter version was on all the movie channels for a bit, I enjoyed watching it but with every viewing I missed the original more and more so I pulled that one out and just went 'yesssss.' All of the characters were gutsier in the original which is probably why it works so well.

 

Plus... come on! What a cast!! 

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I got a little confused there and thought you were talking about a John Waters version of West Side Story.  Which...now that I think about it might make me like WSS more.  (I'm not a fan.)

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I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I don't care how relentlessly un-PC it is. I don't care how many quilts those girls turn into dresses. Michael Kidd's choreography in that is great stuff that totally fits the setting. I love how the brothers interact with each other and their girls. When Caleb's all "To the ends of the Earth..." when he meets his girl and she basically has an orgasm right there, I giggle with delight. Tommy Rall is sex on fire in that movie (well, in any movie he's in, really.) I love it. Sure, Adam's a douche and maybe he and Millie make up a little TOO easy but he liked her sass from the start so I imagine their married life involved her throwing lots of things at his head and him sleeping in the barn a lot before he sucked it up and apologized.

I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I'm a feminist. I feel like people who get offended by the movie are willfully ignoring the actual musical. The whole thing is about teaching Adam a lesson. Also, the dancing is just fabulous.

 

I like Victor/Victoria but having rewatched the movie fairly recently, it hits a definite slow spot in the middle and it gets a little hard to get through that without fast forwarding. It has a brilliant cast though.

 

I adore Annie. I haven't watched it in years though and I mainly remember the first half of the movie. Again, amazing cast. Carol Burnett makes that movie.

 

 

The movie version of the Broadway musical is pure bubblegum and it's fine for being that. It's all bubblegum camp.

I saw the musical on Broadway... albeit awhile into the run after Marisa had already left. I think it had a bit more edge on stage. It felt more inflated, satirical while what I've seen of the movie feels like they're playing it straight. 

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I got a little confused there and thought you were talking about a John Waters version of West Side Story.  Which...now that I think about it might make me like WSS more.  (I'm not a fan.)

 

I clarified it.

 

Although, a John Waters version of West Side Story would be amazing.

 

 

I saw the musical on Broadway... albeit awhile into the run after Marisa had already left. I think it had a bit more edge on stage. It felt more inflated, satirical while what I've seen of the movie feels like they're playing it straight.

 

Broadway can get away with that. I know that the stage version of Kiss Me, Kate is a lot edgier and dirtier than the movie version but movie musicals in the 40s and 50s were rather... sexless in a lot of ways. I don't know if anyone reads TLo's website but they did a Musical Mondays feature for awhile and came up with the theory (during Easter Parade) that musicals were so repressed that they had to hide the sexuality in the outfits. The women wore 'vagina hats' and the men carried walking sticks.

 

I've never been able to watch Easter Parade or Gigi (which are both veritable fonts of vagina hats) without giggling since. (And yes, I love both of those, too.)

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Controversial opinions: I don't like West Side Story at all. The music is lovely (though some of the Sondheim lyrics are painfully basic) but I can't watch that movie. A large part of it is the dubbing but it's also the weird grease they rubbed on their faces and the gang dancing. I can't.

Singin' in the Rain is not so hot. The movie hangs on the romance and Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds don't have much chemistry. There are some great musical numbers, sure. But as a cohesive movie? Overrated.

An American in Paris? Also not so hot. Again, Gene Kelly has very little chemistry with Leslie Carron not to mention the creepy age difference the creepy plotline (with alternate love interests) and the endless last dance sequence.

Meet Me in St. Louis. Nope, not a good movie. It produced two great performances (The Trolley Song and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas) but I could throw out the rest of the movie. It tries to encompass too much time and ends up telling a very thin, disjointed story where you don't care about any of the characters or their conflicts. Also, my God is it slow in parts.

 

I have tried, but I just can't get into West Side Story. I like a lot of Sondheim, but it just doesn't capture me. I think what's mostly wrong with Singin' in the RainAn American in Paris, and Hello Dolly! is that I find Gene Kelly, as a director, to be extremely self indulgent. The second ballet with Cyd Charisse in Singin' in the Rain is so unnecessary and the first time I watched An American in Paris, I went to take a shower when the end dance sequence started and finished my shower, and the dance sequence had about 5 minutes to go. With Hello Dolly!, it's the waiter sequence, I skip it every time. And I am so with you on EVERYTHING about Meet Me in St. Louis, except I would add Under the Bamboo Tree, because I love that sequence, but Tootie was just unbearably unlikable.

 

I think The Bandwagon is my favorite musical (it's in my DVD player at the moment), even though I bagged on long dance sequences, the Girl Hunt Ballet seems better because there is a plot to it, at least.

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Growing up, I developed something of a complicated relationship with the Baroness. I mean, she was obviously the villaness when I was young, although I only knew she was 'in the way' of the Captain and Maria... then I got a little older and was all 'What did she really do that was so bad? Maria sort of over-reacted, didn't she?' and then I got a little older still and was all 'Ooo... Baroness von Schrader... you a catty, devious bitch!' I don't hate her, though. Really, I though Georg was rather unfair to her. She lived in Vienna and clearly did not have children and he always went to visit her and then he brings her to his estate to meet the kids about five seconds before announcing that he's going to marry her? No wonder she wanted to send them all to boarding school! She had no idea what to do with them and she wasn't a governess!

 

Yeah, it's all too easy to write off the Baroness as an ice-cold bitch who only wanted to make life miserable for Maria, but think about it from the Baroness's perspective:  She had been dating Georg for some time, she was definitely in love with him and was really hoping that he would eventually marry her, and now all of a sudden this young novice from the local convent breezes in and steals Georg's heart without even trying?  And on top of that, everyone raves about the young woman and the effect that she has on Georg, while the Baroness is apparently chopped liver all of a sudden?  Yeah, I'd be seeing just a bit of green myself and doing whatever I could to hold on to my man and my relationship, and my first step would be to scare the hell out of my rival so that she'd run screaming back to the convent.

 

Eleanor Parker sold the hell out of the character, especially after Maria has returned and she sees that she's only fighting the inevitable and accordingly breaks up with Georg first in order to save face.  You can see that it's really breaking her heart -- not because she lost, but because she never really had a chance to begin with once Maria entered the picture.

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I agree that the Romeo and Juliet characters in WSS are the weak links in the film. Rita Moreno and George Chakiris were the real stars, as was the dancing. I could watch 'America' on a loop for hours.

I grew up on a diet of Rodgers and Hammerstein movies, and to this day South Pacific is among my all-time favorite films. The music is transcendent.

Does Saturday Night Fever count as a musical, even without any singing? Loved that film.

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I think The Bandwagon is my favorite musical (it's in my DVD player at the moment), even though I bagged on long dance sequences, the Girl Hunt Ballet seems better because there is a plot to it, at least.

 

I do love that one. The Girl Hunt Ballet didn't go on for freaking ever and it also had Fred Astaire's ridiculous and fabulous pulpy narration. (I also love that Palmer Cortland from All My Children is the boyfriend to be got rid of in that flick.)

 

I do agree that the second ballet with Cyd Charisse in Singin' in the Rain is too much. It's also a wee bit cliche -- oh look, he imagines the hot to death mob moll dancing with him among the clouds! Uh... madonna/whore complex much? And, really, it feels like such a let down after that number between them when she's in emerald green in the smokey club. Don't try to follow that!!

 

I do love a really well executed 'Falling in Love' dance number. The Ländler in Sound of Music is a good one, it's got that chemistry between the leads where you know what's going on. Dancing in the Dark from The Bandwagon is lovely, too. I do have a firm fondness for The Happiest Millionaire but even though 'Are We Dancing' is supposed to be the falling in love piece... I actually think that the 'Detroit' montage is. Plus, I think a song about the fabled land of Detroit and the cars they build is funny.

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I know that the stage version of Kiss Me, Kate is a lot edgier and dirtier than the movie version but movie musicals in the 40s and 50s were rather... sexless in a lot of ways.

I still need to watch that movie. Kiss Me Kate and Show Boat are the two big Howard Keel movies on my list. I like him in Seven Brides but his acting is awful in Annie Get Your Gun (though that might be having to play off Betty Grable mugging like an idiot). It's not strictly a movie musical but have you seen the Kiss Me Kate with Rachel York and Brent Barrett? I love that one.

 

And oh my God, people who don't like West Side Story, where have you been all my life?

 

The second ballet with Cyd Charisse in Singin' in the Rain is so unnecessary and the first time I watched An American in Paris, I went to take a shower when the end dance sequence started and finished my shower, and the dance sequence had about 5 minutes to go.

I guess I probably shouldn't ask how you feel about Brigadoon. Again, terrible dubbing. No chemistry with his romantic lead. And you know, I don't like the choreography. It's a lot of running and lifts. 

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American in Paris: I am glad I am not the only person who didn't love this. Yes, there is some great music and dancing, but the dance sequences were loooong. There was virtually no plot and no chemistry between the leads. I much prefer Singin in the Rain which is my favourite Kelly movie. I'm an Astaire girl myself.

 

I love The Red Shoes. The ending! 

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I just finished Summer Stock. The second half drags a little as the musical they're putting on isn't great and almost all the songs aren't plot motivated (in contrast to the first half) but Gene has more chemistry with Judy than he had with any of his other leading ladies (that I've seen).

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I love musicals.  My favorites from the list above are    Dream Girls    and   Chicago   Rock of Ages  wasn't grea t, but I'll admit to it being a guilty  pleasure of mine--I thought Tom Cruise was great.

 

I prefer  West Side Story  over Oklahoma! any day and love Singin g in the Rain.  Before my son's voice changed, he could nail the accent on the Lena Lamont line "What's the matter with the way I talk? Am I dumb or sum'in?" and "And I can't stan 'im!" 

 

I enjoy the music of The Sound of Music, but now can only stand to watch the movie up until their wedding day.  Also?  If you want to talk about someone being a bitch, I grew up in Northern Vermont where they settled and my dad worked for the border patrol. Whenever she was coming back from Canada and they saw her car, they'd grown.  She didn't understand why she had to be questioned or have to declare anything she bought, etc, etc....Didn't they know who she was and what she'd went through to get to America?! 

 

I just saw Jersey Girls yesterday and I was very disappointed.  It could've been such a great movie, but it never quite found it's footing to the extent that when I was supposed to really feel for Frankie, I just didn't.  I had no emotional connection at all (except the enjoyment of the musical numbers).  He has such a life story, too! I really expected more from an award winning director doing a movie version of a Tony award winning musical.

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I shared this in the Unpopular Opinions thread, but since musicals now have their own, I'm compelled to reiterate that John C. Reilly's "Mr. Cellophane" was my favorite number in Chicago. It was heartbreaking and he has a great voice.

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As much as I love Pink Floyd's The Wallthat counts more as a rock opera than a musical, so I must go for Tommy. They even made that into a Broadway musical! Having seen it both on stage and the movie, I must go with the movie version. The completely fucked up the story with the stage version. Instead of Tommy walking in on Mrs. Walker and her boyfriend shooting his father, they had Mrs. Walker and Mr. Walker shoot the stepfather, and that's what turned Tommy blind, deaf, dumb and mute. That makes no sense to me. I'd think the death of your actual parent would be far more traumatic, especially after he just came home from war. As for the music, no actor/singer dead or alive can improve upon the performances of Roger Daltrey as Tommy, Tina Turner as the Acid Queen, and Elton John as the Pinball Wizard. (His pinball machine was a piano!) Hell, even Jack Nicholson did his damndest, despite the fact that they had to tune the song down a couple of steps to suit his range. I absolutely love that movie and all of the performances- even Keith Moon's disturbing, sing-songy, egg-in-the-beer Uncle Ernie. I think Tommy Walker had some of the worst parents in cinematic history, and I am completely comfortable in my homosexuality when I say that Roger Daltrey was one beautiful, sexy man.

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I also love Oklahoma and still hope for another film version or Broadway revival with Hugh. Jackman as lead.

Unpopular opinion, I'm not a big fan of Hugh Jackman as a musical leading man. I think he's a great romantic lead. I have seen Someone Like You more times than is healthy. I watched his Inside the Actors Studio. I think he seems like a great guy (aside from his love of Blurred Lines). But Australia made me question his acting ability. And I just hate the man's vowels. It's particularly bad on his recording of Beauty and the Beast where he plays Gaston and he's gotten better since then but his vowels still annoy me. I'm a theatre snob. I don't care how handsome or charming the man is, if he can't sing it the way he's supposed to sing it then that's that. 

 

I just saw Jersey Girls yesterday and I was very disappointed.  It could've been such a great movie, but it never quite found it's footing to the extent that when I was supposed to really feel for Frankie, I just didn't.  I had no emotional connection at all (except the enjoyment of the musical numbers).  He has such a life story, too! I really expected more from an award winning director doing a movie version of a Tony award winning musical.

Yeah, I haven't heard the best things. I was worried when I heard Clint Eastwood was attached and saw those gloomy looking trailers. It seemed like a sadder version of That Thing You Do but with mob connections and violence. I'm still going to see it because I missed JLY on Broadway and I love the OBC album but I might end up waiting for it to show up on Netflix.

 

Here's a question. How do you all define musicals? Are you musical purists where only Broadway adaptations or Broadway style musicals count (i.e. the music helps tell the story and the music is almost always composed specifically for the show/movie) or are you open to other definitions of movie musicals? For example, That Thing You Do and The Sapphires (and really most musical biopics) feature performers who periodically sing throughout the film but the music does not have the same storytelling functions of expressing what characters are thinking and feeling. What about musical revues in the style of Easter Parade where a simple plot has been developed to hang a bunch of pre-existing songs upon? Does a movie need a certain number of songs to qualify as a musical?

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It seemed like a sadder version of That Thing You Do but with mob connections and violence. I'm still going to see it because I missed JLY on Broadway and I love the OBC album but I might end up waiting for it to show up on Netflix.

I guess that's a good way to describe it.  It could've been very much like That Thing You Do, or it could've been a hard hitting drama (like Ray or Dream Girls or as the new James Brown one appears to be), but it just kind of waffled between the two and was never really good at either one.  I haven't seen the theater show, so I don't know how different it was from that.

 

 

Here's a question. How do you all define musicals? Are you musical purists where only Broadway adaptations or Broadway style musicals count (i.e. the music helps tell the story and the music is almost always composed specifically for the show/movie) or are you open to other definitions of movie musicals?

When I hear "musical" I always think of Broadway adaptations, but I'm open to other definitions. 

 

Grease is another one that I have mixed feelings about.  I love the music and loved it as a kid, but as an adult, the whole Sandy transformation bothers the hell out of me.  But, there are still parts of it that I think are fun. 

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I also love Oklahoma and still hope for another film version or Broadway revival with Hugh. Jackman as lead.

 

I saw him on Broadway back in 2002. He was fine, but the one who really stole my heart was Shuler Hensley, who played Jud Fry. He made me feel for Jud, and it helped that the show restored his solo "Lonely Room," which was cut from the movie because it made Jud too sympathetic. I wondered what was so bad about Jud anyway. He wants the same thing Curley wants--namely Laurey--but because he's blunt and aggressive about it instead of cocky and fake-indifferent, he's considered a villain. And I hate when Curley tells him to hang himself because that's the only way he'll ever get any love from anyone.

 

Anyhow, back to Jackman--I think he's too old for Curley now, but he'd be a good Phantom. I wondered if the movie Les Miserables would have been better if Jackman and Crowe could have switched roles (assuming they could handle the vocal demands of the songs). It seems to me that Crowe would have felt more of a connection with free-spirited Valjean than authoritarian Javert; and Jackman's sharp features make him look the way I picture Javert.

 

I haven't watched The Sound of Music straight through since I was a kid. I'm not sure I could watch it now without recalling Pauline Kael's snarky review, in which she wondered whether there was one Von Trapp kid who didn't want to perform glockenspiel routines for Dad's party, or who threw up if (s)he had to go on stage.

 

And I agree with the above assessment of John C. Reilly in Chicago. Queen Latifah as Mama Morton was also terrific. I loved the "Cabaret act" aspect of the songs.

 

I'm kind of "meh" on the older movie musicals. The obligatory love story always seems the least interesting aspect of them. One little known musical that's interesting for its cynicism, though, is It's Always Fair Weather, about three World War II buddies trying to re-connect after the war.

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Just a heads up, guys. I've also created a Theatre board for non-movie musicals. So if you'd like to discuss stage shows or just these musicals in general, that conversation should probably go over there. We can discuss every version of Gypsy (Rosalind Russell, Patti Lupone, Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters)! Or you know, not.

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The movie version of the Broadway musical Hairspray is pure bubblegum and it's fine for being that. It's all bubblegum camp.

The original John Waters movie is infinitely more provocative... as John Waters movies are. It's got edge to spare. When the latter version was on all the movie channels for a bit, I enjoyed watching it but with every viewing I missed the

original more and more so I pulled that one out

and just went 'yesssss.' All of the characters

were gutsier in the original which is probably

why it works so well.

Plus... come on! What a cast!!

I think the dancing is the best part of " Hairspray." I've only seen clips of the Broadway show, but it amazes me.

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I am most moved by South Pacific, but the greatest of all, to me is My Fair Lady.

 

Thinking of all the horrors of WWII and the awesome folks who have suffered/died while wearing the uniform really bubbles up when I watch this show.  Also, I am floored at the audacity of Carefully Taught.  The show and its creators have never received proper due for this song.

 

The brilliance of the lyrics and the book, along with the incredible staging and art direction put MFL at the pinnacle, in my opinion.  The length of the show is a bit much, but aside from reducing or eliminating Get Me to the Church On Time, I'll be dogged if I know where I would want to cut. 

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Guess this is an unpopular opinion, but I love West Side Story. Along with Oklahoma, it's my favorite musical. My dad hates it because he doesn't think people should be singing after their friends were just murdered...I guess he prefers musicals to be a light romp. Yet he likes Moulin Rouge. I just think the music, the acting (Russ Tamblyn and Rita Moreno are definitely the best) and especially the choreography are so well done. Just watching the entire Cool number still blows my mind. Also, I just love the production design.

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You mean people don't love West Side Story?? I get a little tired of the story sometimes, and if it's on I won't watch it from beginning to end, but how can you deny those songs? The opening number (yes, they are dancing and fighting at the SAME time), Officer Krupke, Mambo, Cool? Cool is one of my all time favorites, it's just exciting from beginning to end, plus as a side note, the guy who sings it is my favorite Jet.

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I mainly like the non-gang musical numbers in West Side Story... Tonight, A Boy Like That, America, I Feel Pretty, Somewhere, Maria, though I maintain that some of the lyrics are painfully stupid. I just don't like the movie. I'm waiting for them to stage a good Broadway production. Given the trend for revivals there will probably be a good one in my lifetime. I was thinking of seeing the Karen Olivo one where they translated some of the lyrics to Spanish but I didn't hear the best things about the leads so I skipped it.

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I'm just going to throw out some titles that haven't come up yet. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Evita, animated Disney musicals. Discuss.

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The last time I saw Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (which was recently), I had a new appreciation for it. Previously I'd seen it as a musical that Howard Hawks was ill-suited to direct. (Seeing it as a musical is natural, of course, since that's what it was on the stage.) This time I saw it not as a musical, but as a Howard Hawks comedy that had musical numbers in it. And it clicked.

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Even though I teach a college course about musicals, I've never felt a need to get picky about what defines one (keeping out the riffraff, as Basil Fawlty would say). I don't like some of the newer ones like Moulin Rouge, but that doesn't matter -- personal liking has never been part of the definition of a musical (or anything else). I do, however, think there needs to be some singing in a movie, and more than just one song (i.e., no Evil Under the Sun). I have no problem considering Nashville to be a musical, for instance.

 

I do like Singin' in the Rain enormously (the DVD box is a delight because it includes the first onscreen appearances of most of the songs it uses), it's just fun. I do agree that the dream dance with Cyd Charisse gets tiresome, and the notion that the whole long sequence is to be part of the Cavalier movie they're making... well, no comment needed. I also loathe the one new song written for the movie, "Moses Supposes," because I can't go with the idea that an elocutionist would endorse the word "toeses" (Comden and Green were very uneven lyricists). Adding to the charm of the movie, for me, is the knowledge that Debbie Reynolds couldn't do either the cultivated speaking or the "legit" singing required in the dubbing storyline, so she had to be dubbed (in the former case, by Jean Hagen herself).

 

I'm no fan of An American in Paris, though Gene Kelly's "I Got Rhythm" with the children is maybe my favorite five minutes of him on film. But I don't like the way Gershwin orchestral masterpiece has been restructured and rescored at the end. And -- while I acknowledge that one signs on for a certain amount of sexism in order to enjoy older movies, and I can do it in most cases -- I think the Nina Foch character gets treated abominably, vilified right and left for no real offense that I can detect.

 

The Band Wagon is up near the very top for me; I love it. (There's a certain anti-intellectual undertone -- "People who try to be theatrically ambitious and meaningful are phonies" -- but I can wave it aside.) The Schwartz-Dietz songs are wonderful, Cyd C is at her most appealing, and it's all colorful and fun. My only real downside is that Fred Astaire never really gets to do his own special thing. (The closest is "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" with Jack Buchanan.) It's all semi-balletic or semi-jazz, 50s style.

 

What is his special thing? It's there in most of the pictures with Ginger Rogers: treating American popular dance, whether tap or ballroom or whatever, as a pure means of expression in itself (almost like classical ballet) with no emoting or kissing or dramatic indicating overlaid. Dance itself, properly done, can express all these things, and this is why Ginger really was, in the end, the ideal partner for him: she understood it (or was coached to understand it) too. For me, Swing Time is their peak, and "Pick Yourself Up" and "Never Gonna Dance" as close to sublime as it gets.

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I'm going to have to watch The Band Wagon again.  I saw it once years ago and wasn't enthralled, but I must have been missing something.  I trust you all!  And I'm adding Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to my to-watch list.

 

Just because I don't believe I've seen it mentioned yet, I wanted to throw out my favorite movie musical - The Music Man.  I always watch it around the 4th of July, so I'm starting to get in the mood!

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I'll throw in some love for the old Busby Berkely musicals. Footlight Parade and Golddiggers of 1933 are two of my favorites. The way those numbers are shot is amazing even to this day I'm impressed with how he did it. Also, Joan Blondell is so charming in them.

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It's there in most of the pictures with Ginger Rogers: treating American popular dance, whether tap or ballroom or whatever, as a pure means of expression in itself (almost like classical ballet) with no emoting or kissing or dramatic indicating overlaid. Dance itself, properly done, can express all these things, and this is why Ginger really was, in the end, the ideal partner for him: she understood it (or was coached to understand it) too. For me, Swing Time is their peak, and "Pick Yourself Up" and "Never Gonna Dance" as close to sublime as it gets.

 

The thing is, though, that I've read that she was not considered his best partner from a technical standpoint (I think that distinction belongs to Cyd Charisse), and in fact had trouble keeping up with him in many of their numbers.  If that's true, then it was really the chemistry between them that carried the partnership more than her technical ability (or her ability to "get it.").  Of course, that's just my opinion.

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The thing is, though, that I've read that she was not considered his best partner from a technical standpoint (I think that distinction belongs to Cyd Charisse), and in fact had trouble keeping up with him in many of their numbers.  If that's true, then it was really the chemistry between them that carried the partnership more than her technical ability (or her ability to "get it.").  Of course, that's just my opinion.

 

It was clear when they started she lacked dance experience relative to him. She didn't tap well or at all, but she improved leaps and bounds as they worked together. I adore Astaire, but he was a perfectionist and very difficult to work with. He had grueling rehearsals for all his dance numbers. The famous quote is that he made all of his film partners cry at some point, but Rogers never cried. Their relationship was special for a number of reasons. They had a ton of chemistry, and a very complementary relationship on screen. I think she "got him" enough to work with him for over a decade and they became friends. She wrote in her autobiography how happy she was to reunite with him years later on screen.

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Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell (and on TV, Barrie Chase) were all more technically accomplished dancers. (And the "Begin the Beguine" with EP is one of my very favorite things -- I'm not dismissing the work they did with him.) My statement was intended against that background (people will sometimes prefer one of those other partners for that reason), and in a particular frame of reference that I hope I made clear: despite not starting with that level of accomplishment, Rogers' position as the most enduring of his screen partnerships is justified, not just commercially but aesthetically: their best dances are achievements of "composition" comparable with what Petipa or Balanchine created (in a totally different classical idiom), of a kind that he didn't even attempt with others onscreen. Partly, no doubt, because fashions changed and other things were valued more as the years passed, and he was too good a showman not to pay attention to that.

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I know it's a cliche, but I have to go with Katharine Hepburn - Fred gave Ginger class, and Ginger gave Fred sex.

 

I'm not discounting his other partners, but I do think that Ginger managed to convince the viewers that she was a tough broad but she was still intoxicated by the synergy that they had when they were dancing. Which is a really big deal, JMO...

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