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Top 25 Musicals

The American Film Institute (AFI) has released their list of the top 25 musicals. I used to love musicals, but I think I over watched them and have needed a break from them the past several years. I have to agree with both EEK and Laura that this AFI list is, well, pardon the pun, off a beat.

Let’s take a look at their list. In general, I haven’t seen many of these in years, but SINGIN’, WIZARD, and SOUND have always been favorites. They selected:

Film My Comment, if any
1. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN 1952 MGM SINGIN’ always cracks me up: the plot is that they completely botch their first attempt at a talkie…so they fix it by making a much more difficult musical!!!! Favorite line, Lina’s squeal: I can’t stan’ it!
2. WEST SIDE STORY 1961 United Artists I have to agree with EEK, this is a little dated.
3. WIZARD OF OZ, THE 1939 MGM This is a fun movie to read about. So many things happened! Changing directors, almost killing Buddy Ebsen, badly burning Margaret Hamilton and Margaret’s stand-in, etc. Poor Buddy, the studio almost kills him with the Tin Man’s make up, he ends up in the hospital, and they re-cast the role so he’s out! As much as I love Shirley Temple, I’m so glad they failed to get her for Dorothy!
4. SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 1965 Twentieth Century-Fox It’s sad to think that the von Trapp family got little to NO money from this version of the movie because Maria had sold the rights years before for very little money. I think Maria did get some money for the Broadway musical, but not a lot and only because Mary Martin insisted the producers pay Maria something. Favorite line, the nuns after disabling the Nazi’s cars: Forgive me Reverend Mother, for I have sinned.
5. CABARET 1972 Allied Artists I agree with Laura, too many 1960 and following musicals on the list. Most of them won’t stand the test of time.
6. MARY POPPINS 1964 Disney I haven’t seen this since my niece was 16 months old and calling Mary Poppins…"Mimi." (Don’t ask, we don’t know why.)
7. STAR IS BORN, A 1954 Warner Bros. At least they picked the Garland version.
8. MY FAIR LADY 1964 Warner Bros. Cary Grant refused to be in this movie. James Cagney refused to be in this movie. I wonder what the movie would have been like if Audrey Hepburn had also refused <I believe she’s always blamed the studio for forcing her and that might be true…she wasn’t as big a star then as Grant or Cagney and might not have been able to say no>. I’m not sure MARY POPPINS deserved Oscars and a higher ranking on this list over LADY.
9. AMERICAN IN PARIS, AN 1951 MGM Oh dear, oh dear. I have to admit and I’m sure I’ll hear about it…I’ve never seen this movie all the way through! (ducking) I just get sick of Gene Kelly’s bravado and stop watching.
10. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS 1944 MGM Judy’s 3rd in the top ten. Only Julie had a chance of beating her, but see number 8.
11. KING AND I, THE 1956 Twentieth Century-Fox I went to the same school as Margaret Landon who wrote the book this movie is based on. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
12. CHICAGO 2002 Miramax See number 5.
13. 42ND STREET 1933 Warner Bros.  
14. ALL THAT JAZZ 1979 Twentieth Century-Fox See number 5.
15. TOP HAT 1935 RKO This is way, way, way too low and it’s the only listing for Fred and Ginger! Big oversight! SWING TIME should be on the list also. I quoted my favorite TOP HAT line here.
16. FUNNY GIRL 1968 Columbia See number 5.
17. BAND WAGON, THE 1953 MGM  
18. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY 1942 Warner Bros. If only Cagney could have made more like this. ;-)
19. ON THE TOWN 1949 MGM The best of this formula series for Gene and Frank. (See TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME, ANCHORS AWEIGH, etc. for the others with the same formula.)
20. GREASE 1978 Paramount  
21. SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS 1954 MGM This used to be one of my favorites, but I’ve seen it too many times. It is credited with giving movie musicals several more strong years.
22. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 1991 Disney  
23. GUYS AND DOLLS 1955 MGM Don’t understand this choice!
24. SHOW BOAT 1936 Universal I bet most people didn’t even know this Irene Dunne version exists! I’m sure most people think this is referring to the Kathryn Grayson/Howard Keel/Ava Gardner version. I love the song BILL from SHOW BOAT.
25. MOULIN ROUGE! 2001 Twentieth Century Fox See number 5.

Overlooked: SWING TIME, OKLAHOMA!, EASTER PARADE, HOLIDAY INN, WHITE CHRISTMAS, a Judy and Mickey movie–maybe, THE JOLSON STORY, KISS ME KATE, a Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy musical, etc. The ballot is shown here.

I think it’s funny that I haven’t commented on the "musicality" of most of these movies…but I wasn’t in the mood. Besides, the trivia is more interesting. ;-)

3 comments to Top 25 Musicals

  • I guess I should have listed favorite songs, not favorite lines. Well…if I have time later.

  • Valerie

    I agree — how dare they not include “White Christmas”?! They probably left it out because - heaven forbid - it had the un-PC word “Christmas” in it. Who knows.

  • I actually like the musical “Holiday Inn,” which introduced the song “White Christmas,” better than the movie “White Christmas,” but both are good.

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