When Lady Gaga stole the show at the Oscars with her Sound Of Music medley, it got us in a musical mood. Time then for a look at a few of our favourite things, our five favourite musical movies of all time.
1. Singin' In The Rain (1952)
There are so many great musical moments in this film. Ultimately it's a song and dance movie. Perhaps it's the greatest song and dance movie of all time. It's the movie for which dancer Gene Kelly is best known, both as director and choreographer with Stanley Donen, and for his lead role. Yes, Kelly stars in his famous dance sequence of the movie title, but perhaps the ultimate number in this musical comedy is "Make Em Laugh" which was written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown especially for Donald O'Connor, and is one of only two songs written especially for the film. The whole routine is O'Connor at his slapstick best, climaxing with his run up the wall and somersault. The Singin' In The Rain star trio is completed by a young Debbie Reynolds, and the three of them shine together in "Good Morning". Interestingly, the silent to "talkies" script for Singin' In The Rain was written around the musical numbers. Perhaps that's why this movie is pure - song and dance - entertainment. Singin' In The Rain is also the ground-breaking musical movie that introduced athletic movement in dance, and changed dance style forever.
2. West Side Story (1961)
"New York, Jan 6. 1949 Jerry R. called today with a noble idea: a modern version of Romeo and Juliet... And it all fits, the Montagues and Capulets will be rival street gangs... " The project was shelved for several years and it wasn't until '57 that the musical opened on Broadway. With the brilliance of music by Leonard Bernstein, potent innocence through monosyllabic lyrics by then newcomer Stephen Sondheim, the energetic dance moves of choreographer Jerome Robbins and the street cred from 'daddio' and 'cool' new language of the day, the West Side Story film with 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, holds the record for the most wins by a movie musical. The dance sequences by Robbins not only hold their place in musical film history but went on to inspire later dance moves by artists such as Michael Jackson.
3. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
A young Frances Ethel Gumm, her ruby red slippers and the yellow brick road, an emerald city, a Tin Man, a Cowardly Lion and a Scarecrow, witches and a wizard, toxic makeup and over 3,000 costumes. Today, The Wizard of Oz (from the children's novel written by L. Frank Baum) is known and beloved by all. The Wizard Of Oz was where the musical magic all began, from the black and white of Kansas to the colourful "Over the Rainbow". With music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg "Over The Rainbow" won an Academy Award, was ranked the greatest movie song of all time by The American Film Institute and also became the best known tune from a huge life long repertoire for the talented Judy Garland.
4. Cabaret (1972)
"Start by admitting, From cradle to tomb, It isn't that long a stay, Life is a cabaret, old chum!, It's only a cabaret, old chum! And I love a cabaret!" belts out a beauty-spotted Liza Minnelli as singer Sally Bowles at the Kit Kat Klub. Although the title song is the best known, the other Minnelli musical highlight of the film is no doubt with MC Joel Grey in "Money, Money". With earlier Bob Fosse film Sweet Charity, Cabaret shifted the movie musical tone from Hollywood happy to a darker underground scene and a new style of raunchy choreography. Cabaret also won Bob Fosse the Academy Award for Best Director, Best Actress for Liza Minnelli, Best Supporting Actor for Joel Grey, as well as five more Oscars. The strength of Minnelli is contrasted with marvellous performances by love interests Michael York and Helmut Griem.
5. Sound Of Music (1965)
On the 50th anniversary of this film, it was truly delightful to see Julie Andrews moved by the "beautiful" Lady Gaga "The Sound of Music", "My Favourite Things", "Edelweiss" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" montage at the 2015 Oscars. There are so many more wonderful well known songs in this beautiful musical film. Who of us doesn't want to sing along when we hear "Do-Re-Mi", "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and "The Lonely Goatherd"? While the Sound Of Music won five Academy Awards including Best Picture it is also much loved for its spectacular Austrian scenery as well as the heart-warming story of the Von Trapp Family singers.
For those that love musicals there are so many more that fill our heart with joy. Musical movies have happy endings (well mostly) and they make us want to sing and dance. They are the ultimate escape from the humdrum of everyday reality. Five just doesn't seem enough. So here's fifty more must see musical movies, just to get you started...
42nd Street; All That Jazz; Animal Crackers; Annie Get Your Gun; Anything Goes; Babes In Toyland; The Band Wagon; The Barkleys of Broadway; The Blues Brothers; Brigadoon; Calamity Jane; Camelot; Carousel; A Chorus Line; Chicago; The Court Jester; The Desert Song; Dirty Dancing; Dreamgirls; Easter Parade; Fame; The Five Pennies; Flashdance; Footloose; The Gang's All Here; Godspell; Grease; Guys and Dolls; Hairspray; A Hard Days Night; Hello, Dolly!; Jesus Christ Superstar; Kismet; Kiss Me Kate; Les Misérables; Mamma Mia!; Mary Poppins; Moulin Rouge!; My Fair Lady; Oklahoma; On The Town; Paint Your Wagon; The Pajama Game; The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers; South Pacific; A Star Is Born; The Student Prince; Sweet Charity; Yankee Doodle Dandy.
And even then, we had to leave out many more favourites. What's yours?