Les Miserables (currently showing in theaters) has laid claim to be the “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time”. I had the opportunity to see it recently. It certainly is one of the BIGGEST (in scope, in score, in emotion)…but GREATEST?? Well, hold on there…
When I think of a great movie musical it’s not necessarily about BOMBAST. Les Mis might be the greatest theatrical musical of all time, but it loses something in the translation to screen. It’s not a failure by any means, but it seems a rush to judgement to put it at the top. For one thing, there was the decision to cast actors who sing, not musical performers from the stage. While not quite as unfortunate a decision as casting a too young and untrained Jake Lloyd as the youthful Darth Vader…”that was tense!”…it somehow harmed my overall enjoyment of the picture.
Here are what I would consider the GREATS…
10) Jesus Christ Superstar…the music, oh man! It hasn’t aged very well, but it still ranks near the top.
9) The Sound of Music…maudlin, yes. But impossible not to get caught up in it.
8) Oliver!…won many awards including Best Picture. Classic story never disappoints, music impeccable and memorable.
7) Mary Poppins…Walt Disney’s finest hour. Watch it again as an adult and you’ll see what I mean.
6) Singin’ In The Rain…the best of the old style movie musicals. Never gets old.
5) The Rocky Horror Picture Show…must see list for anyone. Subversive yet, oddly, mainstream entertainment.
4) The Music Man…or the Robert Preston show. In many ways the perfect musical.
2) Fiddler On The Roof…just an all out pleasing and moving motion picture experience. I highly recommend it.
1) Grease…never before (and maybe never again) will a musical phenomenon happen like it. Best transfer from stage to screen ever…in my opinion. M