Saturday, September 14, 2013

Movie Lists - Musicals

The Samuels Library staff loves musicals.  It’s true—on any given day you might hear a reference librarian break into song, see a circulation aide start dancing down the aisle while shelving books, or witness the entire children’s department spontaneously launch into an impromptu performance of The Sound of Music.  Luckily for you, we also have a great collection of musicals you can check out on DVD, including the following:     

42nd Street (1933)
42nd Street is one of the best backstage musicals, a popular form of the genre that features a behind-the-scenes look at a Broadway revue. The story of a production company struggling to put on a great performance is compelling, but the dazzling musical numbers directed by Busby Berkley steal the show.

Top Hat (1935)
Never has there been a more charming screen couple than the dancing duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. His class and her allure are a perfect match in movies like Top Hat, a delightful comedy about mistaken identity. Contains songs by Irving Berlin, including his classic “Cheek to Cheek.”   

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Proving he could do more than just play gangster tough guys, Jimmy Cagney gives a charismatic, Best Actor-winning performance as vaudeville showman and composer George M. Cohan. You’ll feel your heart swelling with patriotic pride when Cagney sings “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Over There.”

Singin’ In the Rain (1952)
One of the most beloved movies of all time, Singin’ In the Rain contains memorable songs and some of the most spectacular dance sequences ever. It’s also one of the best movies about movies, telling the story of silent movie star Don Lockwood’s (Gene Kelly) attempt to make the transition to sound films.

Oklahoma! (1955)
“Ooooo-klahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain!”  Chances are you know this famous Rodgers and Hammerstein lyric even if you don’t know much about musicals. There’s also a good chance you’ll love this splendid movie about two cowboys attempting to woo two fair Oklahoman ladies. 

Gigi (1958)
Two years after hitting it big on Broadway with My Fair Lady, the songwriting team of Lerner and Loewe delivered another classic, this time for the big screen. A witty tale of romance between a wealthy Parisian playboy and an innocent young courtesan, Gigi won 9 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.    

West Side Story (1961)
Star-crossed lovers Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) are doomed by different ethnic backgrounds in this clever update of Romeo and Juliet. The score by Elmer Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim ranges from funny (“Gee, Officer Krupke”) to achingly beautiful (“Somewhere”). 

Mary Poppins (1964)
Composers of many of the classic Disney tunes, the Sherman Brothers are often overlooked in discussions of great American songwriters. The songs for Mary Poppins rank with their best, and Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke give thrilling performances in a film that will wow viewers of all ages.    

Cabaret (1972)
Cabaret, with its realistic settings and characters, is a fine example of how the musical had matured by the 1970s. Set in Germany in the 1930s, the film follows the free-spirited Sally Bowles (Liza Minelli), a performer at the Kit Kat Club, against a backdrop of national tension created by the growing Nazi Party.    

Grease (1978)
Guys with leather jackets and greased back hair and girls in poodle skirts and saddle shoes—it’s everybody’s favorite musical celebration of the 1950s, Grease. Smash radio hits “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want” prove to be just as good as they were in 1978. 

Yentl (1983)
Barbra Streisand directed, co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in this musical about a Jewish girl who dresses like a boy in order to study the Talmud. The film was a passion project for Streisand, who labored for over a decade to get this adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer story onto the big screen.       

Newsies (1992)
A young Christian Bale (of Batman fame) stars in this delightful latter-day Disney film about a
newspaper strike at the turn of the 20th century. The score was co-written by composer Alan Menken, who is most famous for his musical contributions to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.

Chicago (2002)
Two murderesses (played by Rene Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones) become media sensations in the Roaring Twenties thanks to their slick lawyer (Richard Gere).  When Chicago won Best Picture in 2003, it was the first time a musical had brought home the coveted award since Oliver! in 1969. 

Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler star in the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s beloved musical. Living in an underground lair beneath the Opéra Populaire in Paris, the disfigured Phantom (Butler) obsesses over the lovely Christine (Rossum), a talented singer for the opera. 
Mamma Mia! (2008)
It’s a musical based on the songs of the group ABBA—need I say more?  Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is getting married on the lovely Greek island of Kalokairi, and she has secretly invited three of her mother’s (Meryl Streep) old flames in hopes of discovering her real father.

Les Misérables (2012)
A large ensemble cast, including Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, brings Victor Hugo’s epic French novel to life in this acclaimed adaptation. In an innovative move by director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), all of the vocals for the songs were recorded live on set to give them a more natural feel. 

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