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Features |  05 Jan 2016 16:44 |  By RnMTeam

Musical movies that you shouldn't miss

MUMBAI: Music has not only been the soul of storytelling, but also the key substance to connect a play or film with the audience. There have been Broadway shows which have been adapted into movies, and movies which have been adapted into Broadway shows. The first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, ‘The Jazz Singer’ (1927) featuring six songs performed by Al Jolson, introduced the sound era to motion pictures. Over the years, there have been many movies which have been applauded and praised by audience and critics.

There have been movies which have defined musical experience in theatres, some of which have been path breakers, and trend makers. Now that it is a new year, we list down a few musical movies that one could start it with:

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

This movie stands out from the rest of the musicals, as it was original. Most musicals are adaptations or based on Broadway plays, but this story was scripted especially for the film, and was later adapted for Broadway. Even though this was an original movie, it is unclear exactly when the title song was written; it has been claimed that the song was performed as early as 1927.

The story of the movie offers a lighthearted depiction of Hollywood in the late '20s, with the three stars portraying performers caught up in the transition from silent films to ‘talkies’. The story revolves around a group of actors who must learn to speak properly, and when the studio decides to convert the film into a musical, they also must learn to sing. But the lead actress struggles to get the hang of it, so they hire a different girl to dub her parts, who later falls in love with the lead actor played by Gene Kelly.

Singin’ in the Rain has been ranked as the fifth greatest American motion picture of all time by the American Film Institute (AFI) in its updated list of the greatest American films in 2007.

My Fair Lady (1964)

This movie has been appreciated not only by the audience, but critics as well.  It was a classic Audrey Hepburn film. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins, played by Rex Harrison, a phoneticist, so that she may pass as a lady. Higgins experiment with Eliza turns successful and eventually ends in passing her as a Duchess.

The film enjoyed financial success, critical success and pleased audiences around the world. It bagged eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director, and Lead Actor. The movie is a must watch for its overall work in casting, songs and story line and, if nothing else, watch it for Audrey Hepburn.

The Sound of Music (1965)

This movie surpassed the total financial gross of ‘Gone WithThe Wind’ and broke the record it held for 26 long years since 1939. ‘Adjusted for inflation, the film earned $2.366 billion at 2014 prices-the fifth highest grossing film of all time. 

It tells a fictional tale of the Von Trapp family and their eventual escape from Nazi-occupied Austria. The film is about a young Austrian woman studying to become a nun in Salzburg in 1938, who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to be governess to his seven children. After bringing love and music into the lives of the family through kindness and patience, she marries the officer and together with the children they find a way to survive the loss of their homeland through courage and faith.  Even with an initial dry response from the audience, the movie won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

The movie made the cut because of its sweeping, widescreen visuals, crisp direction and sterling performances by lead actors Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and, of course, the little Von Trapp kids.

Cabaret (1972)

The film is loosely based on the 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret by Kander and Ebb, The film belongs to Liza Minnelli with her unforgettable opening song, Mein Herr, and her best career-defining performance as the nightclub singer Sally Bowles.

This serious drama, set during the rise of Nazism in Berlin, was Bob Fosse’s second of five films that he directed, won numerous accolades and was a financial and an artistic hit. The movie was on the theme of corruption, sexual ambiguity, and false dreams, and has been viewed in retrospect as the only truly great musical of the 1970s.

The movie picked Oscars for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor and 5 more. The songs were written by Kander and Ebb, and were used with music that was catchy and seductive.

Grease (1978)

This movie’s soundtrack album ended in 1978 as the second-best selling album of the year in the United States. It depicts a story about Sandy and the leader of a greaser gang known as the T-Birds, Danny. The duo fall in love over the summer vacation, and then unexpectedly discover that they’re now in the same high school.

It is one of the few movies that enjoyed box office and critical success. Grease continues to survive the test of time because of the charismatic performances by John Travolta just coming off from his Saturday Night Fever fame and budding star Olivia Newton-John.

The movie catered two number one hits - ‘Grease’ and ‘You Are The One That I Want’. It has been one of the few sweet and entertaining movies which have to be sampled across generations.

The Blues Brothers (1980)

The 1980’s musical crime comedy movie features one of the greatest car chase scenes in the history of movies, with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd playing brothers Jake and Elwood Blues.

The movie has been directed by John Landis. It centres around newly reunited brothers Jake and Elwood Blues who are determined to get their band back together to save from foreclosure the Catholic orphanage in which they grew up.

The movie has the Belushi and Aykroyd’s trademark deadpan humour, slapstick goodness, and stylized musical numbers. The Blues Brothers boasts appearances by music legends Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Gary U.S. Bonds, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker.

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