With the release of Dreamgirls on DVD – my favorite movie of last year – I am reminded of the fact that, for the most part, I hate musicals. No, really. Can’t stand them. Most of the musicals everyone loves, I can’t stand. But there are a few exceptions. Movies like Dreamgirls that stand out as extremely original films that break the pattern and mold of the other films of their time. So here’s a short list of some great musicals out there for those of you who might also hate musicals. Or even those of you that love them.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Simply put, my favorite musical of all time. It’s got tunes so good that you already know them, even if you’ve never seen it. It’s got comedy so ribald, racy and side-splittingly hilarious, that it holds up even today. And most importantly, it’s got Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers and the final on-screen performance of Buster Keaton. This film takes three of the classic Greek comedies, from way back in the golden age of performance (we’re talking B.C., folks) and weaves them together into one truly amazing comic farce. As the song goes: "Something for everyone, a comedy tonight." If you don’t know this film by heart, you owe yourself a look.
Cabin in the Sky. The classic 1943 film about a man who dies but is given a chance to come back and live again – only to become the plaything in a fight between angels and the devil. This sweet, melodic, and comical film entertains through and through and is my second-favorite film of the era (the first being Casablanca) overall.
Chicago. Written by the director of Dreamgirls, Bill Condon, this 2002 Rob Marshall musical is one of the best of its kind. Sexy, funny, but most of all, absolutely mesmerizing in art and stage direction, this film just wraps you up in the beautifully surreal nature of it and doesn’t let go. Until Dreamgirls was released, I held this to be the very best of the modern musicals. Now I consider it a solid second.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Okay. So this one isn’t actually very good. But I LOVE it for all its terribleness. I wrote about this one in depth here a few months back.
C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me
Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD five times a week.