The 100 Greatest Movie Musicals of All Time
Steve Gifford & Chris Peterson
Time consuming? Sure. In Depth? You bet. A lot of fun? Of course.
Something we've wanted to do for a while is break down our 100 Top movie musicals of all time. The best of the best, all the way down to #1.
Now seeing how there have been hundreds of movie musicals throughout the years, don't expect to see you Paint Your Wagon or 2015's Annie, those wouldn't crack our Top 300.
So without further ado, here our list for the 100 Greatest Movie Musicals of All Time
It wasn't great, or even very good, though it did have its moments. There's a lovely song called "Stranger In Paradise", but that's about it. It was interesting to see that Vic Damone had actually done something.
99. Babes on Broadway
Great fun, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland are so much fun to watch. The highlight is Mickey Rooney imitating Carmen Miranda! It is hysterically funny and a must see. Great musical numbers and of course Judy Garland's magnificent voice would enhance any film. Great score, well written. It's a little overlong but I was never bored.
98. Bathing Beauty
MGM spared no expense for Esther Williams' first starring role but forgot about a plot.
97. Poor Little Rich Girl
Shirley Temple is at her best, some good musical numbers and the wonderful Alice Faye. Very cute and heartwarming. Grand entertainment 1930's style.
96. Holiday Inn
I prefer this to Crosby's other holiday hit White Christmas. More like a variety show than a movie, but the overall plot pulls together the numbers nicely. The main theme is also pleasant and uplifting, with a great number for each holiday.
95. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is unmistakably a Tim Burton film. That is an extremely loaded statement, if you ask me. Burton comes with many strengths and weaknesses and they are on rampant display in this goth musical. First, his desire to constantly cast Johnny Depp (his admitted muse) and Helena Bonham Carter (his wife) over and over again really gets in the way here. While Depp nor Carter are bad here, they are just miscast. They are obviously doing what they can with the material but their singing voices are clearly not up to par and they generally look uncomfortable with the staging needed for the music. Burton's eye for elaborate set design does remain intact; he creates a twisty, moody London. "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" has its charms of production design and gothic splendor, but rocky casting and musical performances took me right out of the story.
94. On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
Yves Montond and Barbra's alter ego have NO chemistry, which is easily blamed on the fact that they never once share the screen not to mention the musical numbers are bland. Every time the narrative starts to drag (which is often) Minnelli throws in a tacky gimmick to zest things up. Still, the concept was interesting enough to warrant a remake.
93. The Prince of Egypt
Schwartz is a unappreciated talent, and has written a bunch of hit Broadway shows (Godspell, Wicked) and animated movie tunes that will be long remembered both for earworm catchy melodies and deft lyrics. That said, as evidenced by the Whitney/Mariah duet of 'When You Believe' the songs have the dated melisma style of nineties Disney style pop (a la Mencken) and their production style is already starting to sound dated. I should also mention I appreciate the original Hebrew, right out of the bible, retained in the English version, especially during the song of the sea at the film's climax, they are an fitting and reverent way to give honor to this deeply spiritual moment.
92. Moon Over Miami
Sure, this movie is forgettable, but it's so feel-good and entertaining that everything wrong with it is forgiven. We're watching this for an escape from reality, and that's exactly what it does. None of the songs are that memorable, but luckily the dance numbers are, as is the nice looking Technicolor scenery. Overall, "Moon Over Miami" isn't that special and can never be as good as let's say, "Singin' in the Rain". But it does exactly what it's supposed to and shows Grable at her prime: something that everybody will like.
91. Viva Las Vegas
A wildly-entertaining little flick featuring some amazing high-energy song and dance numbers by legends Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret. The story is weak and predictable, the pace is fast and rushed but the mood of this film is the reason to watch it. It will put you in such a hyper-active, dance your socks off, rompy mood that you'll want to watch it over and over again! The colorful pastiche that it creates with its visuals is also a defining statement this movie makes. This is Hollywood shtick of the '60s at its best. It's deliciously tacky but ultimately a fun piece of escapist cinema. A great little gem.
Although the story is still entertaining and has some good slapstick moments, Julie Andrews is, oddly enough, very awkward on stage in a role that she perfected on screen. The supporting characters are capable - Gregory Jbara is entertaining as the bodyguard, Rachel York is hilarious as the young American woman, and Tony Roberts as Toddy is warm and charming. The story is stretched slightly beyond its limits to become a 2 1/2 hour stage musical. One of the few occasions where I would suggest seeing the film version rather than the filmed stage version.
89. State Fair (1945)
This is a very sweet musical. The acting is very pleasant and well cast. Charles Winninger and Fay Bainter are particularly good. Very enjoyable and charming, good songs, great production as well.
88. The Who's Tommy
This is one of the oddest musicals of all, but it's also pretty cool, and has a lot of good music from the Who. Plus, there are a lot of stars in it.
87. Bugsy Malone
Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone is well-acted, smartly realized, and mostly enjoyable, presenting some really catchy musical moments from its talented all-child cast.
86. Pennies From Heaven
Fascinating, gutsy, dark musical that combines a gritty story with difficult characters, and spectacular musical numbers. Not easy material to accept, but challenging, with superb cinematography by Gordon Willis.
85. Les Miserables
It's worthwhile and interesting to see the approach that was taken to put this beloved musical on film, there's a lot of talent here. Les Miserables can be effective if you put your helmet on to prevent the whole thing beating you over the head with its bombastic style and take it for the overly rich, often nausea inducing French pastry that it is.
84. Pal Joey
A sharply written piece in which Frank Sinatra shines, though it's difficult to keep your eyes off screen legend Rita Hayworth and the stunning Kim Novak. Admittedly, the film isn't a complete success (the pacing isn't always as slick as the dialogue), but the performances are solid and there's a few memorable musical numbers too.
83. New York, New York
All in all, this is a pretty good movie. It is flawed yes, but in the context of when it came out and what the intentions were, it's wrong to ignore this. Come to it with an open mind, and give it a chance.
82. Into The Woods
The pacing and tone are all over the place, but stand-out performances from members of the cast, a gorgeous visual style and a number of heartfelt moments make 'Into the Woods' an enjoyable musical, even if it doesn't work entirely as a whole.
81. A Night at the Opera
A lot of funny scenes, but also too many that dragged on forever. Not anywhere near as good as the Marx Brothers' earlier film Duck Soup, but still worth watching.
80. The Muppet Christmas Carol
It's heartwarming, funny, occasionally irreverent, and it stays true to the spirit of the book. Great songs and an unforgettable warmth. Only a few other versions are as complete and as powerful as this one.
79. Thoroughly Modern Millie
Though it may not be at all modern, Thoroughly Modern Millie is a wonderful romp that still holds plenty of charms for the modern viewer, making it well worthy of a revisit or even a first viewing for those looking for a fun but silly throwback to a typically sixties musical.
78. Easter Parade
It's a shame that he and Judy Garland only worked this one time, because the two are very charming together. The dance numbers are what you would expect from Fred Astaire and once again, Ann Miller steals the show. A delight to watch with some great tunes from Irving Berlin.
The script is a little too biblically literal for the visual concept, but other than that it's a great film. Wonderful songs, brilliant cinematography, and a solid revival for old-school comedy (Vaudeville, pantomime, circus clowns, etc.) an entertaining musical, but it's certainly bizarre.
76. The Lion King
A well-made film with beautiful animation and a great soundtrack. Many of the themes are for a mature audience which isn't necessarily surprising for a Disney feature. It offers a powerful story that can be enjoyed by kids and adults. The Lion King is a film that defined my childhood and is one I still enjoy.
75. Kiss Me Kate
Sprightly colorful thoroughly wonderful musical. Keel is perfect in the male lead and Kathryn Grayson in what along with Magnolia in Show Boat is her best role is terrifically loose and animated, a break from her normal persona, a shame than that this was almost the end of her film career. All the supporting players deliver the goods and while almost every song or dance routine is a winner "From This Moment On" stands out as an exceptional number. A winner, see it!
74. Annie Get Your Gun
Pretty decent movie overall. Doesn't quite carry the same charm as the play, but Betty Hutton plays a fantastic Annie and the rest of the cast is just as entertaining. Irving Berlin's songs will always be classic, and the costumes are the definite technical standout. a lot of the effects and cinematography have not aged well at all, but as far as MGM musicals go, this one certainly deserves a watch.
73. The Wiz
Although The Wiz presents some memorable and good songs, you can't help but feel as if you've been robbed. It runs too long, hardly follows source material, and comes off as idiotic and lazy at most. Not a good adaptation.
72. Summer Stock
A silly, predictable trifle, but for Garland and Kelly it's worth a viewing.
Parker gives the film a sense of epic scope that's rare for a modern musical, complete with large sets and thousands of extras. With the exception of Madonna's lackluster performance and singing, this is probably the best adaption of the stage musical we are likely to get . . . it's also one of the best live action film musicals of its era.
For a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, this is the darkest of the bunch. Ironically, the movie has one of the best scores and some great songs. It's not the most fun musical to watch despite the happy dance numbers and clam bake.
69. The Unsinkable Molly Brown
I don't know if this is a exemplary musical, but it's worth watching alone for the gusty, energetic, no-holds performance of Debbie Reynolds. Certainly a pleasurable diversion as musicals go...
68. Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
Walt Disney's first animation is an enchanting and delightful adaptation of Grimm’s' fairy tale. Carefully drawn, with a great attention to details, it not only opened the door for this art in cinema but every modern animation owes a lot to this important masterpiece.
67. Carmen Jones
The music can be obnoxious at times, because it's from the original Carmen opera yet the lyrics' subjects are about dancing, fighting, and cards which at times feel conflicting. The cast is brilliant, including the swishy hipped Dorothy Dandridge as Carmen Jones herself. The best performance was Harry Belafonte, who at first seems so likable and prideful, but unravels under Carmen's gaze and eventually cracks. This film has since been added to the National Film Registry and has made a sure impression on popular culture. Really an enjoyable gem of a film.
It is said that both Gene Kelly and Vincent Minnelli were disappointed that MGM finances prevented them from filming Brigadoon abroad in more "natural settings." However, the beautiful studio sets to my mind work fine for the whimsical fantasy being told. It is true that the basic idea of the story is a bit far-fetched, but then that's what fairy tales are all about. If one goes with the plot's broad premise, one can sit back and enjoy a charming Lerner-Loewe score, lovely studio settings and backdrops, pleasant choreography, and fine dancing, highlighted by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse's memorable "Heather on the Hill."
65. On Moonlight Bay
This is a very sweet musical, with the wonderfully wholesome Doris day. Some very pleasant songs and musical bits. Good production. It's not really my kind of movie, but it's so well done and the cast is terrific. Fine support from Rosemary DeCamp, Ellen Corby and Mary Wickes.
64. The Pajama Game
The Pajama Game is one of the most under-rated musicals out there, and this film version with Doris Day is phenomenal, despite leaving out a few good songs. The music is memorable, the performances are great (especially vocally), and while a lot is left on the cutting room floor, it leads to a more streamlined experience, a rarity in the genre.
Much like the terrific "Tangled" from 2010, "Frozen" recalls the best of Disney's "princess" oriented movies... namely "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid." But "Frozen" doesn't just rely on nostalgia to be great.
A terrific score and some of Disney's best songs in decades only raise the bar for what we should expect from Disney here on out... in a beautiful animated musical that just about everyone should enjoy.
A movie for its time. With a quirky cast that performs and entertains well together it is hard not to laugh while watching this film. The musical numbers and dance routines define what younger generations see as they look back on the 70's and it is suitable that this movie comes in 1979 marking a close to the decade all neatly tied into a two hour segment. It is clear how this movie has impacted so many other musicals with the careful lyric usage and rhythm to help progress the story through emotions which could in no other way be shown without telling, but using these through song allows a complete visual of a characters inner feeling, turmoil, and view of the world around them.
Rosalind Russell is a force to be reckoned with as Mama Rose in this biographical musical about the humble beginnings of her daughter, 'Gypsy Rose Lee'. Natalie Wood shines in an appealing performance as the title character, a nice counterbalance to Russell's strident display as the stage mother from hell. An eight-minute monologue at the end drags on the film's 144min running time, but overall an entertaining, lavish movie adaptation of the 1959 Stephen Sondheim / Jules Styne musical.
60. Annie (1982)
Annie is the epitome of a family film in every way. From its very catchy musical numbers to its strong heart shown by its talented cast, this film will make your heart sing even if you are in a bad mood. This film has some obvious faults, as it does not need to be two hours long and some plot devices seem to be thrown in to push the story along, but all-in-all, you'll have a blast watching it.
59. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
A very funny and entertaining musical in gorgeous Technicolor, with excellent dialogue, an animal magnetism exuded by Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, and nice musical numbers like "Bye, Bye Baby" and Monroe's glamorous rendition of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend".
58. Hello Dolly!
A weak story and a twenty-something Barbra Streisand playing a middle-aged matchmaker are forgiven by quirky characters and great choreography by Michael Kidd. The singing is top notch and everyone seems to be having a blast. Other than that, it's one of those musicals that can be watched, but it is not required
Highly enjoyable, light-hearted romp which, unlike many remakes, justifies its existence to a very large extent. Its main performances are enjoyable, its songs are well-written and nicely executed, the visuals are bright and perky, and despite its occasional bagginess it holds together really quite nicely.
56. Bye Bye Birdie
Bright campy musical set in 1958 inspired by the phenomenon of popular singer Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the army. This enchanting adaptation of the 1960 Broadway hit takes a regrettably jaded view of rock and roll music. Luckily, the brilliant cast elevates this daffy comedy into the sublime:
While it is overly simplistic both emotionally and plot wise -- even for a Disney movie -- Aladdin rises on the strength of its music, as well as its supporting cast (significantly Robin Williams) who make up for the main character's blandness and add a live-wire energy that remains unparalleled in animation.
54. Funny Face
A delicious Cinderella story, funny and delightful, with beautiful shots of Paris and nice musical numbers performed by Hepburn, Astaire and Thompson, who all shine in their parts.
53. Bells Are Ringing
Judy Holliday is an absolute delight in her final film as a telephone answering service operator who becomes romantically involved with one of her clients. Stylish musical based on the 1956 Broadway hit of the same name is heartwarming and sweet from start to finish. An undervalued gem.
52. The Muppet Movie
Bubbling with life and great musical numbers, this tells the backstory of how all the Muppets came to befriend each other. Featuring cameo performances from some of the biggest stars of the 70's (Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Mel Brooks and countless others), it has a lot to boast about in the "human half" of the cast.
Jim Henson made a stroke of genius when he created this colorful gang of fun-loving characters. And the fact they're still around, more than 30 years later, goes to show how timeless they truly are.
51. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
This film isn't just some crazy glam rock tribute, in fact it's a musical with serious emotional substance. Probably one of the few times where the significant changes to the source material contributed to the success of the film adaptation.
Oklahoma! is a fun, but very cheesy musical. While the script is weak and some of the musical numbers are also somewhat weak, this film still has plenty of humor, most of the tunes are great, and the acting is solid all around. It's not the greatest musical ever made by a long shot, but it sure is a fun one to watch.
49. The Last Five Years
The Last Five Years is an ingenious satirical musical that blends the new to the oldies in a witty and poignant manner. But it becomes so dark and convoluted that it is hard to find any purpose in it, perhaps due to its cynical nature. Regardless, it is a uniquely whimsical and beautifully relentless tale. Its opposite-occurring plots as the film progresses makes it an especially interesting watch.
You'll either love this movie or hate it. Yeah, it's your middle school textbook version of what happened and it doesn't delve into too much complexity of the historical times but it's pretty good at getting the facts down, William Daniels is GREAT at pulling off the passionate but unlikeable John Adams and the songs are flat out amazing. "Mama, Look Sharp" is one of the most haunting songs about the horror of war and the duets between John and Abigail are really sweet and highlight what an absolutely interesting relationship of intellectual equals the two really had.
Not strictly historically accurate, but fun, with good music, good acting, and plenty of humor.
A little music film that moves emotional mountains. Once is diamond in the ruff. Amateurishly filmed, it looks as if it was shot by someone with a handheld camera (I guess anyone can make a movie these days) a painfully obvious small to no existent budget, with actors that seems as though they were taken from the streets of Dublin, and an even smaller production quality, Once is not slick, not spectacular and definitely not your average Hollywood music film and yet it is a truly moving film.
46. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Bright, splashy film musical about an ambitious young window washer who rises through the ranks of a large corporation following the advice of a self-help book. Textbook example of how to do everything right in translating a musical from stage to film. Features a wonderful Frank Loesser score including the songs, "I Believe In You" and "The Brotherhood of Man". Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee reprise their original Broadway roles. Film debut of Michele Lee.
In spite of its painful pacing and being too "Disney", Newsies, carried by its excellent production value, fun musical sequences and charismatic lead performance by Christian Bale, remains a dazzling-looking and rather charming little number.
44. White Christmas
White Christmas is a perennial favorite of the holidays. Of course the title for the movie is from the enduring hit, the best-selling single of all time. Originally written for the 1942 musical Holiday Inn, White Christmas was a belated follow up to that hit movie. This is another excuse to weave a lot of Irving Berlin songs into a simplistic plot. "Blue Skies", "Snow", "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me." They're all here. The song "Sisters" is particularly entertaining - in 2 different versions sung by both sexes. Bright colorful production is beautifully filmed in the widescreen format VistaVision. There's a sugar-coated artificiality to the proceedings, but that's what makes the old fashioned display so heartwarming. There's a reason why this has endured for 6 decades.
Wildly entertaining, contains vivid musical sequences, and has all the repressed teenage emotion and show business catastrophe involved in a performing arts high school, or even Hollywood in general. The title song was a winner, and the breakthrough actors, who dealt with such issues as poverty, ethnic prejudice, and homosexuality, are sadly less known then they should be. A teen survival tale like none other.
42. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
If you want a fantasy film that can capture your imagination, then this is the one to watch. The film has strong performances from everyone involved, and is a fun film to be enjoyed by anyone that loves this genre. Gene Wilder, like I said steals the show and he makes this film a truly memorable picture. The film boasts a strong sense of visuals, which are impressive for its time, and it also adds so much to the film's atmosphere. If you want a standout fantasy picture, then this is a perfect film to watch. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a cinematic classic, and one that is near perfect.
41. South Pacific
Even aficionados of mid-Century musicals may well have forgotten the many high quality R&H numbers that fell from this production, including 'Bali Ha'i,' 'Some Enchanted Evening,' and 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,' Such numbers readily qualify the film for a revisiting.
Director Logan controversially imposed heavily colored lens filters whenever there was presence of strong human emotion. Logan eventually disowned the technique as a lapse in judgment. A second-tier mid-Century musical that nevertheless is still well respected, as it contains a goodly number of great Rodgers & Hammerstein numbers that will be re-remembered fondly by many viewers.
40. Damn Yankees
This is a true document of the original Broadway musical hit with almost all of the original cast (except for Tab Hunter). Gwen Verdon steals the film recreating her Tony award winning performance as Lola.
39. Fiddler on the Roof
There are few films that treat the subject of Judaism with respect and this is one of those films that does. The music, the set props, all capture the beauty of this heavily abused and neglected and tortured religion, and finally there is a film that gives dignity. It does what it does and what it does, it does well.
38. The Little Mermaid
With its simple but charming story, timeless musical numbers and endearing characters, this film marked the beginning of the second golden era in Disney's animation. It could use more dynamism at times, but despite that it still deserves a place among the company's masterpieces
37. Babes in Arms
Great old fashioned fun, this is the original "let's put on a show" movie, and any film with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney has to be great. Good songs, light and very entertaining. The scenes of Rooney imitating Clark Gable and other stars is priceless.
Dreamgirls is the kind of big budget, flashy, brassy, Hollywood musical that hasn't been made for a while. The production value and art direction dazzles as does the show stopping numbers by the fabulous Jenifer Hudson who steals the show. The music makes you want to dance in your seat especially the song "I'm Telling You" and the amazing "Listen", to name but two of the many fantastic songs. Eddie Murphy's performance is enjoyable but not worthy of an Oscar. Dreamgirls illuminates the glitz and glamour of an era and is the first film I have ever seen where the entire cast is African American. A great Musical and great entertainment.
35. Little Shop of Horrors
This rehash of the 1960 cult classic and the Broadway musical delivers on the horror and musical numbers as well as spontaneous comedy, genius visual effects, and a pair of brilliant cameos.
34. Anchors Aweigh
This was a pretty fun musical. Though not entirely without its flaws. It's quite clear that Frank was still in his infancy as an all-around performer and it shows in the dancing and acting. There's a neat sequence of him and Kelly dancing together and one can tell that the choreography was toned down for Frank but even still he clearly struggles to keep up with Kelly. Though he more than makes up for it with his solo songs which are like butter in your ears they melt so prettily. They really played to both actor's strengths and all the solo dancing scenes of Kelly are particularly shiny, especially a fun dance scene with a little girl and the infamous scene with Jerry Mouse.
33. High Society
A remake of 1940's "The Philadelphia Story", High Society could have collapsed under the weight of the flawlessness set by its source, but by changing it into a musical romantic comedy, with an entirely new set of charming stars, it stands completely on its own. It changes skepticism into adoration.
32. The Broadway Melody
The second Best Picture Oscar winner and the very first that used the then-new advent of sound was "The Broadway Melody", a totally under-rated and under-appreciated musical that started a genre which would be dominant well into the late-1960s.
31. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
One of the strangest phenomena in movie history, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and what viewers get out of it are almost completely dependent on the context in which they see the film rather than the film itself. Why this movie in particular became the cultural oddity it did is a fascinating mystery, but perhaps it fits that a movie that at its core is seemingly meaningless and weird, but actually full of messages, would turn out to be something more than it started out as. As it stands, "Rocky Horror" succeeds as a film because of its charming lack of inhibitions, Tim Curry's captivating performance, and the insane, mesmerizing collision between hidden ambition, low-budget production value, and randomness.
A very lighthearted musical take on the lifestyle of high society Parisians, with great production values, enduring performances by the leads (especially that of Louis Jordan), and unforgettable, smile-inspiring songs. Though it's a grand musical for all ages, this colorful film also tackles the womanizing ways of Parisian elites in the heydays of the city of love, and how this all changes when unexpected, unanticipated love enters the scene.
29. Moulin Rouge!
Moulin Rouge is one of the most well-crafted, outstandingly performed, and most extravagant films of its time. The first half is more of a comedic, weird and trippy film with music. Once the romance portion begins, the film turns into a very opera-like musical. This works well and is one of the most many wonderful parts of the film. Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman give Oscar-worthy performances to their characters. Don't expect the movie to have catchy, original, songs. The movie's soundtrack is composed of covers of 80's and 90's pop and rock with the music rearranged. For example, Madonna's classic song, "Material Girl" is sung by the nightclub courtesans. Very good cover indeed. The makeup, costume and production design are phenomenal as well.
Many say you have to be artsy to enjoy this movie. This is not true. But even if you're not a fan of musicals, but looking for a good immersive film, this is it right here!
28. Yankee Doodle Dandy
While it was intended for a propaganda vehicle during wartime, this film transcends its campy and sentimental trappings because of the electric performance of James Cagney. As a biography of a great entertainer, it also succeeds, and covers a lot of ground through George M. Cohan's long career. If you're a student of history, or just love film and theater, you'll appreciate the nods to Vaudeville, the comedy, and song-and-dance acts. It's like a time capsule, and a great chapter in the history of entertainment.
The film's all Cagney, though. His incredible on-screen performance is just brilliant. While he's better known for his tough guy roles, this is probably one of his best performances, and one he considered his best as well, and for which he won Best Actor.
27. The Band Wagon
The last of the great MGM musicals, Band Wagon, is a meta mix of styles from old to new; traditional to modern; revue to plot & character. By far the best sequence is the noir parody, Girl Hunt: A Murder Mystery in Jazz. Michael Kidd's choreography is brilliant as the action enfolds with jazz hand fighting and Fred Astaire delivers some great corny lines. "She came at me in sections. More curves than a scenic railway." The 'she' is Cyd Charisse who adds a whole spate of glamour (and a fine set of pins) to the proceedings. A true classic musical.
Grease is smart enough to know what kind of movie it is. It's just fun-loving, winking nostalgia. The final number has all of the characters, even the ones who never got along, declare that they will be together forever. The audience knows that they won't, because life doesn't work like that, and the movie knows that we know, so spelling it out would be pointless.
25. On The Town
It's pretty hard not getting caught up in the naive fun of On the Town. The songs aren't particularly memorable beyond the catchy opening number but this movie really shines with its dancing in no doubt thanks to Gene Kelly's co-direction.
24. Funny Girl
Bright musical biography of Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice. Barbra Streisand, reprising her Broadway role is nothing less than astonishing in her film debut. As a biography, its authenticity is questionable, but as an introduction to the talent that is Barbra Streisand, it's stunning.
23. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Okay, hear us out on this one. This is the best animated movie musical of all time that wasn't produced by Disney. It may not teach a moral in a very proper way, but it has wonderful songs, a touching story, and the animation that makes it a true South Park film. If you are an adult, and you don't mind swearing every now and then, I would recommend giving this film a try. You will not be disappointed.
22. A Star is Born
Despite the editing quirks, offbeat montages, and diluting length, Judy Garland shines like never before. She not only redeems "A Star is Born" from any flaws, some which may have resulted from the reconstruction of the film, but also adds an unforgettable charismatic charm to the picture, giving it life and exceptionality.
21. Show Boat (1936)
Much better than the 1951 re-make, though that is also a commendable film. It's always great to see Allan Jones outside of the context of the Marx Brothers, and Paul Robeson carries the film with a chilling performance of "Old Man River." An incredible example of ensemble acting and performance, one of the highest-caliber musicals ever produced, on stage and screen.
20. The Music Man
They simply don't make films with this kind of energy any more, which is a good and bad thing. The Music Man, if written today, would more fully explore the ethical questions associated with protagonist Harold Hill's profession, which is appropriate, but Hill's charm in the person of Robert Preston is infectious and fun and makes all ethical quandaries seem like departures from the fun. All of the musical numbers are scat-style super, and the production design shows off the choreography and high-scale - a scale so high that we wonder where all these people come from.
Overall, The Music Man defies logic and modern story-telling, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its charm.
19. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Darn, it's a sexist old musical but the energy and the choreography are so good. Fun for the family (with some talk that is NEEDED with your kids to explain how things have changed).
18. All That Jazz
Imagine a vain dancer admiring himself while moving between two mirrors and you've an idea of this work, only that dancer is Bob Fosse, a reality show all by his lonesome, in love with hating himself for loving himself too much, endless reflections stretching to an infinity. Wildly creative and passionate about dance, this is must see for every admirer of musical comedy.
17. 42nd Street
Spicy for the Depression era 30's, this gorgeously made musical is like none other ever performed. Use of forward thinking cinematography, an uncensored storyline, and musical numbers that inspire choreographers to this day, made this a very unique musical among the stereotyped genre. An amazing performance by the docile and demure Ruby Keeler, whose singing is so-so, but dancing is off the charts amazing. A web of romantic entanglements and decidedly backwards Broadway politics leads to comedy. Love, and pure entertainment.
16. Beauty & the Beast
While The Little Mermaid, kicked off the Disney Renaissance, Beauty & the Beast was its pinnacle. By far the best animated musical this studio has ever made, Beauty and the Beast is easily one of the most noteworthy animated films of all-time. Considering that it was the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, there's something to be said for a film like this. In fact when it came out, many Broadway critics stated that it was the best musical to come out that year. Why else do you think Disney put it on the fast track to be adapted for the stage? Do I agree with this high praise? Of course I do.
15. Meet Me in St. Louis
Underneath "Meet Me in St. Louis" lies some of the best cinematic cheese you shall ever encounter. This classic musical is cheesy, sappy, and often times corny. Perhaps that's the point of aging, and what makes it still work now is the fact that it's still charming. If a film is charming once, I do not believe it will ever lose its appeal. It also doesn't hurt that Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", is one of the most touchingly beautiful film scenes ever.
14. Top Hat
The best of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, it's a light romantic comedy to be sure, but between all the nonsense there's some amazing dance numbers. There's something so familiar to the Astaire/Rogers aesthetic that it may as well be ingrained in our collective subconscious. It is elegance and class personified, a depression-escaping fantasy to be sure, but it is beauty and art, both basic and complex. That these two still resonate so deeply within our hearts and minds, nearly eighty years later, is a testament to just how great they really were.
The movie that kicked off the rebirth of movie musicals in the 21st Century. Worthy of the Best Picture Oscar it received? No. Not even close. But is it good? You can bet your life on it. Chicago is darkly humorous, beautifully shot and choreographed, and filled to the gills with catchy/awesome songs from the legendary team of Kander and Ebb. It's everything you want in a movie musical.
12. The King & I
Simply put, a perfect adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical. The sets are stunning, the costumes are superb, Deborah Kerr is glorious and Yul Brynner is iconic. The entire film was shot in an extreme widescreen CinemaScope format. The actors practically leap off the screen in one memorable dance sequence. Bold, colorful, breathtaking and unforgettable. A cinematic achievement that deserves to take its place among the greatest musicals ever produced.
The climax is rather dark and a bit disturbing, but that is what made the story work. It looks like a light-hearted muiscal from the outside, but it soon becomes a story about survival, charity, and family. A nice little surprise and worthy of its numerous Oscars.
10. The Wizard of Oz
If you're shocked about how low we're ranking this. Consider this, other than "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", which sounds like divine intervention for the 1930's, is there any other truly good song in the entire movie? Not really. Also, any ground that it broke, it did more for film-making rather than musical adaptation. The truth is, this is a better example of human ingenuity than it is a musical. But to deny this movie's greatness and impact on American pop culture would be egregious.
But beneath the spectacle, there are the themes that will stand the test of time. The Wizard of Oz is about is not about brains, hearts, and courage, the movie is about you don't have to be smart to do great things, and you don't need a heart to be kind, and you don't need courage to be brave, and most importantly, home is where the people who love you are, and if you need them, you look no farther than your own backyard.
9. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Surprised? Well if you've seen it, you wouldn't be. Rising from the banal to a shattering finale The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the finest musicals ever made. Michel Legrand's score, the work of the art directors and a stunning Catherine Deneuve all under the inspired direction of Jacques Demy achieve something pretty wonderful: a film musical that rejects Hollywood romanticism and embraces the overwhelming influence of fate in our lives. It's probably not going to please those who hate musicals as this is wall-to-wall singing. It's not exactly an opera either as the actors (dubbed) sing their dialogue in everyday language. I guess it's a hybrid but whatever it is, it works.
8. Guys & Dolls
Such a charming, funny film with fantastic performances from the entire cast. It's a very well-directed film. Mankiewicz makes brilliant use of color and stylistically films the picture's numerous catchy songs. Brando, despite a questionable singing voice, flexes his considerable acting muscles once again with a performance that is as charismatic as it is convincing.
7. An American in Paris
An American in Paris is the romantic-comedy blockbuster done right. Filled with fantastical set and costume design, splendid cinematography, catchy George Gershwin tunes and a fabulously-choreographed finale, it's such so enjoyable and lighthearted that you can't help but fall in love with it.
When it comes down to it, An American in Paris is wonderful, whimsical escapism. You could have all the problems in the world, but you just sit down and turn this on, and for nearly two hours, they'd just disappear.
6. My Fair Lady
Ah the good old days, when musicals could be fun and inventive not to mention downright hilarious, despite lasting 3 hours. My Fair Lady is a definition of classic cinema. It's big, lavish, populated by several great stars, and most importantly, is simply unforgettable. The music is wonderful, the production values faultless, and the story endlessly entertaining while also surprisingly deep and meaningful, too. The movie may be enjoyed as a thinking man's musical or as a whimsically light good time at the movies. Is it the best of its kind? No, but place My Fair Lady right up there with the best of the best.
5. Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins is Disney's greatest live action film. Brilliantly acted with plenty of memorable songs, this is a great film to watch with the entire family. This film has charm, heart and plenty of family friendly moments. This was Disney in their prime, at the peak of their creative energy and it shows.
Filled with an inexorably irresistible sense of magic, throbbing with life and shot to absolute perfection, Mary Poppins is a timeless classic, giving us some of cinema's absolute best songs and a career-defining turn from Julie Andrews.
A masterpiece. Cabaret is one of the most brilliant movie musicals ever made and certainly the definitive version of Sally Bowles, the original character in Christopher Isherwood's 1939 book about the life in pre-World War II Berlin. The late great Bob Fosse's unique and inspired film version of the legendary Broadway musical hit, won him an Academy Award for his masterfully direction which is flawless, and Liza Minnelli playing Sally Bowles, a flamboyant American singer and dancer, who's life is fueled by drink and one night stands, delivers the performance of her career which won her a Academy Award for Best Actress for her unforgettable turn.
Bob Fosse's exquisitely choreographed musical stage numbers are fabulously kinky and bathed in eroticism and gleeful decadence. The film's handling of the political material during Hitler's rise to power is done with great style and integrity, thanks to Jay Presson Allen's splendid screenplay, there is remarkable cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth, and a wonderful and haunting score by John Kander. A thought-provoking cinematic work of pure genius.
3. West Side Story
A powerful musical set between the reality and the fantasy. The music is amazing and the choreographies are dazzling and revolutionary, the way the dancers take possession of the scenes make of the movie a unique experience in entertainment. The story of intolerance and love might be a cliché, evidently taken from the immortal Shakespeare story of "Romeo and Juliet". Yet, this movie seems to be as poignant in our time as "Romeo and Juliet" was at its time. The use of that dense color that can be almost felt makes the film very realistic as well as the magic in it. Sometimes the actors look tired and sweaty, the emotions are truly expressed through music and the intolerance story is so well portrayed that you can deny the reality of the film.
The colors, designs and some transitions contribute to the magic the creators try to achieve and transmit. "West Side Story" is one of the highest musical spectacles brought to the screen, full of music and humanism in which the beat and the dancing along with the romance lead to a redemption barely seen because of the drama and the strength of one of the greatest achievements in film industry.
2. The Sound of Music
There are few films that can bring generations together to watch it, The Sound of Music, is one of those films. When you watch it, no matter how old you are, it's like a visual photo album. You not only remember each scene, but you know where you were when you first saw those scenes.
Watching it recently, I am struck by its epic sweep, stunningly beautiful photography and lighting, those somehow unforgettable songs, and its intense, sometimes pensive loveliness and sweetness of tone, something that has become increasingly rare in modern cinema.
True, the film is perhaps a bit too sugary at times, but, in view of its overwhelming positive attributes, not enough to really matter.
1. Singin' in the Rain
Marvelous, wonderful, and awe-inspiring, this film does absolutely everything right. The characters are some of the most memorable in film history and the musical numbers will have you standing up, tapping your feet, and singing along to the amazing lyrics. The story revolves around a popular Hollywood actor who is falling in love with an up-and-coming star, during the era when sound was being introduced into film, and might I say, it is shown with brilliance and hilarity. The script for this film had me smiling the whole way through and the multiple camera angles that it pulls off is very surprising for its time, and makes me appreciate it that much more! Singing in the Rain is a timeless classic that has now become one of my favorite films of all time.
What's even more remarkable is the cast itself. Donald O'Connor is also never better than he is in this film. Debbie Reynolds show us why her future looked so bright and Cyd Charisse....I mean Cyd Charisse!
All this and more is why Singin' in the Rain isn't just the greatest movie musicals of all time, it's one of the great movies of all time.