Greatest Movie Musicals
Jacob Hall: 1776
The musical 1776 is not very dynamic but it is considered one of the best pieces of historical entertainment of all time. The movie version of the original show first staged on Broadway in 1969 is awesome. The story is set in America just before signing of the Declaration of Independence. Even though some characters portrayed in the musical have been exaggerated or tweaked from their real-life counterparts, the movie still captures the essence: the country was founded by proud and smart men who were far from being flawless. Even though they had to compromise they still remained deeply committed to the cause.
The musical features many songs that emphasize the intensity of the person’s feelings, enabling the audience to better understand what drives these people and why they feel so. In the song “Molasses to Rum”, the politician from the South stresses the importance of the slave trade for the colony. The horrifying song proves the fact that the founding fathers were all human beings, not saints. Even such key characters as John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson finally give up under pressure. The musical shows how this important document was drafted, compromised, torn apart, and re-written. It does have drawbacks and permits slavery, the evil that will continue to disrupt the nation and will lead to the most tragic event in the American history in the long run. But there’s no more time and the document is adopted as it is.
The songs in the musical range from cheerful and funny to moving and even tragic. They help better understand the characters who are singing. People in the musical start singing when their passions rise, and the show skillfully infuses patriotism with cynicism. People can be proud of their country and admire its history while also admitting how wrong it can be. 1776 shows this, and it has wonderful songs.
Jack Giroux: All That Jazz
All That Jazz is a semi-autobiographical musical by Bob Fosse. It was a smashing success and still captures the audience with nice plot and perfect acting and singing of the characters. The movie hypnotizes with the charisma of Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider). The magnetism of this hard working artist who can woo any woman on Earth is impossible to deny. The actor fills the movie with life and remains a talented showman even in a hospital when he is confined to bed. Gideon delivers a spectacular finale, singing beautifully about life and death. His singing is followed and contrasted by one cold final shot.
Bill Condon: Cabaret
Cabaret directed by Bob Fosse is really special as it features not only great songs but also dramatic scenes. It is a breathtaking concept musical, taken from the stage and skillfully put on the screen. Like many musicals Cabaret keeps a story going through performances, dance and singing.
Peter Sciretta: Moana
When it comes to the best animated movie musical Moana is definitely a great film that deserves mentioning. The songs and music in Moana do not distract from the plot and the soundtrack is hard to forget once you’ve heard it at least once. The characters in the film are interesting and the Pacific island world is portrayed vividly and very beautifully. In addition, the Blu-ray release of Moana has a great behind the scenes documentary that shows how the film’s music was created. It’s very exciting to watch this process now when the songs have become hits.
Ethan Anderton: Moulin Rouge
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge is a cabaret remix of popular songs. It offers incredible entertainment and enjoyment due to the brilliant acting and singing of Ewan McGregor known for his remarkable voice and Nicole Kidman, a talented actress and just a beauty. The musical is centered around these two that make a romantic couple. “Come What May” is an amazing love song, and Ewan McGregor’s singing in “Your Song” even excels Elton John’s original. Plus you will enjoy “The Pitch (Spectacular Spectacular)” as well as The Duke’s snake-like cover of "Like a Virgin".
The movie has a unique atmosphere that adds glamour and charm to the Bohemian society the story describes. An unusual element of the musical is that the play within the movie coincides with the story we’re watching unfold. It should be noted that the movie takes place on a stage and little touches like that make this musical really special.
Chris Stipp: Mary Poppins
This is an excellent musical that offers tons of fun for the entire family. It is also one of the best musicals that perfectly combine animation and entertainment. Mary Poppins features many songs: some of them are silly while others are serious and uplifting. Songs like “Feed the Birds” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” are very emotional and speak right to the heart. And even though the movie has celebrated its 50th anniversary it never ceases to evoke admiration for its nice animation and live-action. The dancing and the choreography are just perfect, adding a nostalgic charm to the movie many people love watching again and again.