The Greatest Musicals: My Top 10

The musical, while not really the most popular of genres, was in its heyday back in the 50s and 60s when lavishly staged musicals were directed and choreographed by some exceptionally talented filmmakers like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. However, like the Westerns, the age of the musical too had to end someday but this did not discourage a few filmmakers from still making them. Some of those, which were made in recent years, have won Academy Awards but none of them had the fire and heart of the musicals of Hollywood’s Golden Age. This is just my view, of course.

We are about to see another one come out soon – La La Land – which, unlike the tepid and disappointing ones that came out few years ago (I’m looking at you, Nine), have got everyone super excited and the reason for that is none other than director Damien Chazelle, who wowed everyone in 2014 with his electrifying debut film Whiplash (I even wrote a piece on why I was rooting for it to win Best Picture but sadly it didn’t.) Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the film is wowing critics all over the world.

While we wait for its release with bated breath, let’s temporarily satisfy that hunger by checking out some of the influential musicals of the past – my favorites – some of which may have influenced La La Land. Which are your favorites? I list my Top 10 below.

Singing in the Rain (1951)

Singing in the Rain

This festive and immensely enjoyable musical never let’s go of its cheerful spirit even for a minute. It’s a perfect antidote for the blues. Gene Kelly’s choreography and dance moves still remain unmatched.

Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

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This musical from Woody Allen brims with positive vibes and boasts an epic cast. Despite having people with ordinary singing voices, it somehow manages to be successful with its fresh and imaginative dance numbers (one of them featuring Edward Norton and another featuring Alan Alda) and incredibly funny lines. Another perfect antidote for the blues.

My Fair Lady (1964)

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Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. Need I say more?

Grease (1978)

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The highlights are the theme song by Bee Gees, the sizzling chemistry of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, the 50s setting and the colorful and energetic dance numbers. Travolta has a nice voice and performs one of my favorite songs, called “Sandy”.

All That Jazz (1979)

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My detailed review can be read here.

Guys and Dolls (1955)

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My detailed review can be read here.

 

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

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This colorful and mesmerizing French romance film was Jacques Demy’s homage to the Hollywood musical. It stars Catherine Deneuve and  Nino Castelnuovo as two star-crossed lovers in 1950s’ France.

West Side Story (1961)

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One of the best musicals of the 60s, West Side Story is a modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet set in 1950s’ New York.

An American in Paris (1951)

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Once again, Gene Kelly. And from the trailers of La La Land, I can see that it had a strong influence on the film.

The Band Wagon (1953)

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Directed by Vincente Minnelli, it stars Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse and the central dance sequence, “Girl Hunt Ballet”, is my favorite. It served as an inspiration for Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. One of Astaire’s best works.

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