The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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domino harvey
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The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:33 am

Lists are due December 19
50 feature films, no more, no less, in order of preference
PM your selections to me, domino harvey

To qualify for the Musicals List Project, the title in question must be a feature-length narrative film. For all other qualms, go the "Vote For It" route-- if someone else votes for it, then yep, it's a musical! This does not mean, however, that votes for things like Merrie Melodies shorts, music videos, or Stop Making Sense will be counted, even if more than one of you can't read directions. Only feature-length titles will be counted. If you think that's horribly unfair, well, welcome to the Internet. If you simply must contest or argue against this rule, please at least read the four pages of debate first.

TV series are ineligible. TV movies and miniseries (using the American definition) are.

ADDENDUM:
domino harvey wrote:I feel like we need to embrace the spirit of the list more with the next round. To give a personal example, when teaching musicals last year, I finished the unit with Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce, which of course is a Broadway musical adaptation with all the music numbers excised. We examined how it remained a musical in all ways, stylistically, narratively, &c but one, and it to my eyes is a musical. But at the same time, I can't in good conscience make the argument here that it's a musical and should be eligible, regardless of my personal affinity for the film. Yeah, you could try to shoehorn in Mulholland Dr or something because there's a singing scene, but why are you? That seems to be almost willfully missing the point of a musical list. I still more or less abide by the Vote For It rule, but I wonder if we can't all just agree to take a few personal hits from our contestable favorites at the service of a more stable list-making and discussion process?

Past Forum Discussion
Al Jolson
Alice Faye
the Alternate Oscars
the American Film Musical (<-- version 1.0 of this List Project)
An American in Paris / Gigi
Astaire and Rogers
Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson
the Band Wagon
the Broadway Melody of...
Busby Berkeley Collections
Classic Musicals Collection
Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory
Doris Day
Easter Parade
Elvis: the Hollywood Collection
Flower Drum Song
the Gang's All Here
the Harvey Girls
Meet Me in St Louis
Musicals of the 70s, 80s, and 90s
the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals
Show Boat
Singin' in the Rain
Summer Stock
Vincente Minnelli
the Ziegfeld Cycle

External Links
Coming Soon

Recommended Texts
the American Film Musical Rick Altman
the Hollywood Musical Jane Feuer
100 Film Musicals (BFI Screen Guide) Jim Hillier and Doug Pye
the Sound of Musicals (BFI) Steve Cohan, ed.
(More to come...)

Member Spotlights
Reefer Madness: the Movie Musical (Andy Fickman 2005) R1 DVD Showtime / RB German Blu-ray (domino harvey)
Two Weeks With Love (Roy Rowland 1950) R1 DVD Warners (Matt)

Additional sources provided by: antnield, swo17

This is a work in progress. If you have links or resources to add, please PM me!
Last edited by domino harvey on Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:05 pm, edited 13 times in total.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#2 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:51 am

My own provisional top ten:

the Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli 1953)
My Sister Eileen (Richard Quine 1955)
Lili (Charles Walters 1953)
On the Town (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly 1949)
Daddy Long Legs (Jean Negulesco 1955)
Calamity Jane (David Butler 1953)
Good News (Charles Walters 1947)
Singin in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly 1952)
Kiss Me Kate (George Sidney 1953)
Li'l Abner (Melvin Frank 1959)


And just out of the ten, my Spotlight/Swapsie, the only good musical made since the sixties: Reefer Madness: the Movie Musical (Andy Fickman 2005)

Not that I can compete with Cold Bishop, but since I've seen more of the available pool for this genre than the other previous lists, I do look forward to going back and re-watching many of my favorites for the purpose of writing seriously about them in this thread. This is my favorite genre because it is cinema at its fullest, and I can't wait for where this thread goes.

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Murdoch
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#3 Post by Murdoch » Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:02 am

Good News and Kiss Me Kate will make my list, I ordered the Spanish DVD of Lili and am waiting on that to arrive.

And then there's Nashville, Little Shop of Horrors, A nous la liberte, all the Lubitsch stuff, all Demy's films. I didn't think I'd have enough but I'm already halfway there!
Last edited by Murdoch on Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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knives
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#4 Post by knives » Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:12 am

I'm terribly ignorant of the genre, but there is one other good musical made since the '60s and that would be The Wayward Cloud. That said I welcome heartily this project so as to better open me to a genre I'm totally ignorant about (basically have seen the above a few Disney's and Fiddler).

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Murdoch
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#5 Post by Murdoch » Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:33 am

And I forgot to mention Ken Russell's Tommy, which will certainly make my list if only for Anne Margaret flailing in a room flooding with beans(?)

Also the music's pretty good, too.

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#6 Post by swo17 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:41 am

Part of what makes something a musical to me is that the protagonists exit reality for a moment to perform the musical numbers for us, the audience. So I'm having difficulty determining whether films about performers in which we see them perform in a grounded reality really qualify. For example, if Nashville counts, surely cases could also be made for This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman. But none of those really feel like musicals to me. Busby Berkeley films could also fall into this category, but the difference for me here is that even though the numbers are ostensibly being performed on a stage for an onscreen audience in the reality of the films, the choreography is presented in a way that transcends reality. Of course, by this same definition, the centerpiece of The Red Shoes certainly seems like it comes from a musical, but I don't know that I'd call that film one either.

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Brian C
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#7 Post by Brian C » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:04 pm

swo17 wrote:Part of what makes something a musical to me is that the protagonists exit reality for a moment to perform the musical numbers for us, the audience. So I'm having difficulty determining whether films about performers in which we see them perform in a grounded reality really qualify. For example, if Nashville counts, surely cases could also be made for This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman. But none of those really feel like musicals to me. Busby Berkeley films could also fall into this category, but the difference for me here is that even though the numbers are ostensibly being performed on a stage in the reality of the films, the choreography is presented in a way that transcends reality. Of course, by this same definition, the centerpiece of The Red Shoes certainly seems like it comes from a musical, but I don't know that I'd call that film one either.
I can't quite articulate my dismissal (as musicals) of those films either, but it seems like the distinction comes down to form vs. content. Does The Red Shoes, for example, take on the form of a musical? I don't really see how it does. The narrative isn't built around the musical numbers, except in ways that are incidental to its content. For the sake of absurdity, say Victoria and Julian had been novelists collaborating on a book, and the central sequence had been a fantasy taken from the initial public reading, then it wouldn't have had music at all but the narrative structure could survive intact. I realize I'm overly simplifying and in the process doing a grave disservice to the film's artfulness, but the bottom line is that it just seems different in type than, say, Singin' in the Rain, in which the content is clearly subservient to the form.

This distinction becomes even more clear then with the named mockumentaries - Best in Show has no musical content but is basically identical in form to This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman. You have to broaden the definition of "musical" to "any movie with singing" to include those, but obviously that's not what a musical is, at least as far as the term is commonly understood.

The harder questions for me would be something like Once - or Nashville, I guess, which I haven't seen - where the distinction between form and content is much less clear.

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Murdoch
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#8 Post by Murdoch » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:07 pm

My definition's just people sing a lot.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#9 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:08 pm

Don't make me tap the sign

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#10 Post by knives » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:23 pm

Under the Roofs of Paris, yea or nae?

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#11 Post by swo17 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:32 pm

domino harvey wrote:the only good musical made since the sixties: Reefer Madness: the Movie Musical (Andy Fickman 2005)
Not even Dancer in the Dark?

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#12 Post by Murdoch » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:40 pm

Little Shop of Horrors and Dr. Horrible disprove that [-(

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#13 Post by LQ » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:46 pm

I'm in knives' boat, pretty unfamiliar with the genre, so I might get in on this at the ground floor. At the very least, in doing so I could assure Murdoch that there will be at least two votes for Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Of course, The Wicker Man needs to be added to this après-60s shortlist too.
Last edited by LQ on Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#14 Post by Murdoch » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:47 pm

\:D/

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#15 Post by knives » Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:55 pm

Will be going for Dr. Horrible at least for now too. Who knew Whedon had complexity?

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#16 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:02 pm

I'm not very knowledgeable about musicals, but I thought this AVClub article, a 'Primer' on MGM musicals was a really useful resource.

Is there a name for the type of musicals that came out in the 70s, Fosse and New York, New York and what have you? Revisionist musicals, maybe? I love some of the classical ones, but the 70s ones are generally more my thing.

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#17 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:18 pm

While there are loads of great classic musicals (I'm planning to rewatch The Barkleys of Broadway to check whether it would still stand as my favourite Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire film and finally get around to seeing what James Cagney was like in Yankee Doodle Dandy!), the 1970s has a number of excellent muscials - albeit more in the rock opera mould.

The above mentioned anti- (or antidote to) Jesus Christ Superstar Tommy is perhaps the standout but De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise (fusing Phantom of the Opera and Faust together with showbiz satire) and of course The Rocky Horror Picture Show deserve mention too.

Plus Jubilee! :D

And don't forget Cabaret, All That Jazz, New York, New York, Oh! What A Lovely War, etc

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#18 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:25 pm

Just curious, but how many here are planning to go anywhere near Bollywood for this project?

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#19 Post by knives » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:29 pm

Is the Blu for Phantom region free? Also Dom, is this the musical version of My Sister Eileen? Picked up The Band Wagon, the second Esther Williams set, and the TCM Broadway set (with Kiss Me Kate) both of which are over 50% off right now.

I'll watch Bollywood only be recommendation though I might search out Lagaan independently. For those who have seen it would you describe Huillet and Straub's Moses and Aaron as a musical. I see it listed as such around the place, but that sounds very odd. If it is do you know a good place to get it?

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domino harvey
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#20 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:39 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:Just curious, but how many here are planning to go anywhere near Bollywood for this project?
One of our frequent helpers has privately expressed interest in contributing some Bollywood-based texts and discussion, so some will

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domino harvey
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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#21 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:41 pm

Knives: No! The musical is the one directed by Richard Quine with Jack Lemmon and Janet Leigh, Sony/Columbia put it out in an affordable DVD by itself, it's not part of any set

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#22 Post by knives » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:47 pm

Okay, thanks. That solo DVD is 50% off also for those who want in on the action. I hope the big Busby Berkelely set goes under $40 soon.

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#23 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:56 pm

I might look into Bollywood but it is a huge undertaking to say the least, just in terms of quantity! I quite like the nutty Rangeela (Full of Colour) and the train sequence from Dil Se... gives Dancer In The Dark a run for its money, though those two films are obviously aiming for quite different tones!

It is probably also worth checking out the films that Lata Mangeshkar provided vocals for such as Mughal-E-Azam, the 50s Devdas, Kohinoor or Chandni.

This isn't strictly a musical but, since I can't think of another sci-fi love triangle film where the final battle involves the heroine performing a syrupy ballad at full pelt towards the enemy, I would like to recommend the anime Macross: Do You Remember Love, especially its (spoiler) final sequence. Destroyed by proto-culture, indeed!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:44 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#24 Post by scotty2 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:59 pm

Revisit childhood. Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and (shudders) Dr. Doolittle. Do animated films with lots of music count? Pinocchio? Fantasia surely must. Don't forget The Wizard of Oz.

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Re: The Musicals List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Proj

#25 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:08 pm

I believe that Fantasia doesn't count, as it's not a narrative- I think in the Lists discussion, Domino defined it as a revue. It seems like animated features definitely count in general, though, which is good- I think Yellow Submarine is sure to wind up on my list (and possibly the South Park movie, which is far better than the show that spawned it usually is.)

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