The Film musical - Emporia State University

Spring 2013
Compiled by Jim Bartruff
Broadway goes to the movies
• Background
• Movie Musical Oscars
• 1964 – My Fair Lady
• 1965 – Sound of Music
• 1953 – Kiss Me Kate
• 1955 – Guys and Dolls
• 1972 - Cabaret
• 2002 - Chicago
• 1961 – West Side Story
• 1962 – The Music Man
• 2013 – Les Miz
• A final word
As a distinct genre, the film musical refers to movies that include
singing and/or dancing as an important element and also involves
the performance of song and/or dance by the main characters.
Movies that include an occasional musical interlude, such as Dooley
Wilson's famous rendition of "As Time Goes By" in Casablanca
(1942), generally are not considered film musicals. By this definition
neither would American Graffiti (1973), which, while featuring a
continuous soundtrack of rock oldies coming from car radios in the
nostalgic world of the story, has no performances by its ensemble
[Barry Keith Grant, FILM MUSICALS]
The movie musical exploits more fully than any other genre the two basic
elements of the film medium—movement and sound. In melodrama,
although the characters' intense emotions are expressed through stylistic
means (mise-en-scène, lighting, music), their feelings are often repressed;
by contrast, in film musicals characters are uninhibited and outwardly
express emotion through song and dance. Gene Kelly's (1912–1996)
famous refrain in Singin' in the Rain (1952), "Gotta dance," refers not only
to his own inclination in that specific film but to the genre as a whole.
Classical musicals depict a utopian integration of mental and physical life, of
mind and body, where intangible feeling is given form as concrete yet
gracious physical action. Whether the characters in musicals are feeling up
or down, whether they are alone or in public, they are always able to fulfill
their desire or to feel better by dancing or singing. In his influential
discussion of entertainment, Richard Dyer cites the film musical specifically
for its utopian sensibility, which he defines as its ability to present complex
and unpleasant feelings in simple, direct, and vivid ways (Altman, 1981).
With the exception of some comedies, the musical is the only genre that
violates the otherwise rigid tenets of classic narrative cinema. Just as
Groucho Marx addresses some of his wisecracks directly to the camera, so
characters sing and dance to the camera, for the benefit of the film viewer,
rather than any ostensible audience within the film's story. As well, often the
music accompanying singing stars conventionally comes from "no where"—
outside the world of the film—another violation of the rules of realism that
govern almost all other genres. The scene in Singin' in the Rain where
Kelly adjusts the lighting and switches on a romantic wind machine on an
empty soundstage to set the mood before proclaiming his love for Debbie
Reynolds in the song "You Were Meant for Me," acknowledges the
conventions of artificiality that characterize performance in musical films.
Rise of the film musical
The early influences
In the United States the film musical, with its combination of song and
dance numbers woven into a narrative context, evolved from the nonnarrative entertainment forms of minstrelsy, vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley,
British music hall, and musical theater. Many of the composers of musicals
wrote popular tunes for sheet music published by the numerous music
companies located on the block of 29th Street between Broadway and Fifth
Avenue in New York City, commonly known as Tin Pan Alley. Minstrel
shows, the most popular form of music and comedy in the nineteenth
century, featured white actors performing in blackface. Minstrelsy, which
lasted well into the twentieth century, was built on comic racial
stereotypes, and its influence may be seen directly in early film musicals
starring Al Jolson (1886–1950) and Eddie Cantor (1892–1964).
The film musical has always borrowed from musical
theater. Many film adaptations drew on theatrical
musicals, or contain songs borrowed from them, and
many performers, choreographers, composers, lyricists,
and directors moved from musical theater to film
musicals. Jerome Kern (1885–1945) and Oscar
Hammerstein II's (1895–1960) Show Boat was adapted
for the screen no less than three times—in 1929, 1936,
and 1951.
When synchronized sound was introduced in 1927, the
musical immediately became one of the most popular film
genres. Opening in October 1927, The Jazz Singer, often
cited as the first feature-length sound film and the first film
musical, was a sensational hit. The movie, which featured
established Broadway star Al Jolson, was in fact mostly a
silent film with seven musical sequences added, including
such signature Jolson tunes as "Mammy" and "Waiting for
the Robert E. Lee." The story of a young Jewish man who
abandons his future as a cantor and, against his father's
wishes, becomes a popular singer was the stuff of
melodrama; it was the talking and singing that audiences
In the 1930s numerous Broadway composers, including
Irving Berlin (1888–1989), Cole Porter (1891–1964),
Richard Rodgers (1902–1979), Lorenz Hart (1895–1943),
and George (1898–1937) and Ira Gershwin (1896–1983),
happily came to work in Hollywood on the many musicals
suddenly being churned out by the studios. Hollywood
pundits observed that Greta Garbo and Rin Tin Tin were
the only stars who were not taking singing lessons. The
rush of the studios to convert to sound and to produce
musicals to exploit the new technology is treated
humorously in the plot of Singin' in the Rain
In 2002, the Academy awarded the Best Picture to a
musical for the first time in 34 years. Based on the
Broadway musical about two murderous women who
clamor for sensationalized infamy, Chicago managed to
beat out heavy dramatic favorites like The Pianist and
Gangs of New York. Rob Marshall directed an all-star
ensemble cast that included Richard Gere, Renée
Zellweger, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who won for her
performance as the fame-hungry showgirl Velma Kelly.
Chicago reinvigorated the musical in Hollywood by
showing how Bob Fosse-style musical and dance
numbers are enjoyable and relevant in the 21st Century.
Here is what Kenrick has to say
about the Movie Musical.
History of Film Musicals
CHICAGO - 2002
The Oscar for best picture was awarded to a movie
musical for the first time in 34 years when Rob
Marshall’s CHICAGO won the Oscar.
OLIVER - 1968
By 1968, musicals had dominated the Academy Awards, grabbing half of the Best Picture
awards the past ten years. Oliver!, the musical adaptation of Charles Dickens's Victorian Age
novel, Oliver Twist, punctuated that dominance in the 41st Academy Awards. Oliver! won a
total of six Oscars that year, including a win for Englishman Carol Reed for Best Director, and
acting nominations for Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger and Ron Moody as the villainous Fagin.
Oliver! would be the last musical to win the Academy's top award for over thirty years.
Not only is The Sound of Music one of the greatest film musicals of all time, many say it is one of the greatest films of
all time. The American Film Institue ranked The Sound of Music the fourth greatest musical of all time and it made their
list of 100 greatest movies each time it was updated. Written by the legendary pair of Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II for the original Broadway musical, instantly recognizable songs like "My Favorite Things" and "Do-ReMi" have taken on an identity outside of the musical. Director Robert Wise won his second Oscar directing amazing
talent like Julie Andrews who played Maria, the lovable governess of the Von Trapp family, and Christopher Plummer
the strict patriarch Captain Georg Von Trapp. The movie was also a commercial success; it currently sits on the fifth
spot of the highest grossing movies of all time.
Based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady depicts the wager made by misogynistic elocution
professor Henry Higgins that he can remold Audrey Hepburn's lower class Eliza Doolittle into a member of English high
society. The movie claimed several top awards that year. Director George Cukor won the Oscar for Best Director, Rex
Harrison won Best Actor for his portrayal of Higgins, and André Previn scored another win for his work on film's music.
The music and lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe will keep you hooked for many days, or at the very least
repeating "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain."
"Maria." "America." "I Feel Pretty." "Somewhere." "Tonight." These memorable songs belong to West Side Story,
the modern retelling of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins
and starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as star-crossed lovers Maria and Tony, West Side Story not only
had several of the best musical numbers ever, but also displayed several of the most electrifying dance numbers
ever seen on film. It's no wonder people are still singing and dancing to this Broadway adaptation, which was
ranked by the American Film Institute as the second best musical of all time.
GIGI - 1958
Vincente Minnelli won the Best Director award that eluded him in An American in Paris for his masterful
effort directing Gigi. As the musical adaptation of French author Colette's novella, Gigi set a record, albeit
short-lived, for the most Oscars. It swept all nine awards it was nominated for, which included a win for
André Previn's magnificent score and a Best Original Song award for the movie's title song "Gigi," which
was composed by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.
Starring Gene Kelly, arguably Hollywood's greatest singer and dancer, An American in Paris is a
romantic film musical inspired by composer George Gershwin's orchestral piece of the same name.
Helmed by Vincente Minnelli, who earned a nomination, and featuring such classic songs as "'S
Wonderful," "Our Love Is Here to Stay," and "I Got Rhythm," An American in Paris is often regarded as
on of the best musicals of all time.
At the 17th Academy Awards, Going My Way walked away the night's big winner, nabbing Oscars for Best
Writing, Best Story, a Supporting Actor win for Barry Fitzgerald, and a Best Director win for Leo McCarey.
However, the legendary singer and actor Bing Crosby may have been the movie's biggest winner. Starring
as the pious Father Chuck O'Malley, Crosby won Best Actor and solidified his reputation as a huge box
office star. Also, his performance of the movie's key song "Swinging on a Star" helped it win the Academy
Award for Best Song, and undoubtedly made the song popular for many years after.
The second musical to win Best Picture was The Great Ziegfeld, a biopic of one of Broadway's most
successful impressarios, Florenz "Flo" Ziegfeld, Jr.. Starring William Powell as the titular character, the
film tells the story of Ziegfeld's rise to fame and his fall to economic ruin due to onset of the Great
Depression. The Great Ziegfeld successfully captured the lavish production of Ziegfeld's greatest work,
his tribute to the American woman, The Ziegfeld Follies. The film's marquee moment was the elaborate
sequence for "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," which was rumored to have cost more to film than one of
Ziegfeld's shows.
The second film to win Best Picture in Academy history was also the first winner to feature sound. Directed
by Harry Beaumont, The Broadway Melody tells the story of a romantic triangle between two sisters,
played by Anita Page and Bessie Love, and a Broadway star played by Charles King. The classic George
M. Cohan song "Give My Regards to Broadway" was used for the first time in a movie. The Broadway Melody
also popularized the song "You Were Meant for Me," which has been covered by numerous artists including
Jackie Gleason, Gene Kelly, and Sting.
Notable film musicals
The following were nominated but did not win
1939 The Wizard of Oz
1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy
1950 Annie Get Your Gun
1952 Singin’ in the Rain
1953 Kiss Me Kate
1955 Guys and Dolls
1956 The King and I
1958 South Pacific
1959 Porgy and Bess
1962 The Music Man
1964 Mary Poppins
1967 Camelot
1968 Funny Girl
1971 Fiddler on the Roof
1972 Cabaret
1989 The Little Mermaid
1994 The Lion King
2001 Moulin Rouge
2006 Dreamgirls
2013 Les Miserables
Kiss Me Kate
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (109 min)
Written by Dorothy Kingsley (screenplay); Sam and Bella
Spewack (play); Based upon THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
by William Shakespeare
Composer Cole Porter and director Fred Graham (who is also to star as
Petruchio) talk legendary actress Lilli Vanessi to play the female lead in
Porter's new stage production "Kiss Me, Kate.” Talking Lilli into doing so
is quite a feat since Fred is her ex-husband with whom she parted on not
so good terms a year earlier, and that Fred has cast Lois Lane, his new
girlfriend, in the role of Katherine's sister, Bianca. Lois, however, is only
using Fred as she is secretly seeing Bill Calhoun, cast as Lucentio, one of
Bianca's suitors. Thrown into the mix are Lilli's on-again/off again cattle
baron fiancé, and two gangsters who've come to the theater to collect on a
gambling debt and won't leave the stage in order to protect their boss' new
Kathryn Grayson
Howard Keel
Ann Miller
Keenan Wynn
Bobby Van
Tommy Rall
James Whitmore
Bob Fosse
Lilli Vanessi 'Katharina'
Fred Graham 'Petruchio'
Lois Lane 'Bianca'
Bill Calhoun 'Lucentio'
Kiss Me, Kate was first released at the time that the movie screens were
exploding into large formats to get people away from their T.V. sets and back
into the theaters, and 3-D films came out of hiding and the only musical film
to be shot in the 3-D format was Kiss Me, Kate.
Ann Miller performs “Too Darn Hot”
When adapted for the film, the musical’s intermission number was moved to the
beginning of the film and played as a specialty number for Ann Miller. This type
of interpolation is common when adapting a stage musical for film.
A flawed film adaptation of the great stage musical featured Marlon Brando as Sky
Masterson and Frank Sinatra as Nathan Detroit. Jean Simmons was featured as Sarah
and the only stage performer to make it to the film was Miss Adelaide played by Vivian
A new number was added for the Hot Box Girls
Photo taken from the MTI website is from the Frank
Loesser collection.
Guys and Dolls (1955, 152 minutes)
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Written by Damon Runyon (story), Abe Burrows (book)
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser
Marlon Brando
Jean Simmons
Frank Sinatra
Vivian Blaine
Robert Keith
Stubby Kaye
B.S. Pulley
Johnny Silver
Sheldon Leonard
Regis Toomey
Kathryn Givney
Sky Masterson
Sergeant Sarah Brown
Nathan Detroit
Miss Adelaide
Lieutenant Brannigan
Nicely Nicely Johnson
Big Jule (as B.S. Pully)
Benny Southstreet
Harry the Horse
Arvide Abernathy
General Cartwright
Trivia: Several of the songs from the Broadway show but not featured in this
movie were incorporated into the background music. Among them "A Bushel
and a Peck", "My Time of Day" and "I've Never Been In Love Before".
Nominated for 4 Oscars.
WEST SIDE STORY (1961) (152 minutes running time)
"BEST PICTURE!" Winner of 10 Academy Awards!
Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins
Natalie Wood
Richard Beymer
Russ Tamblyn
Rita Moreno
George Chakiris
Simon Oakland
Ned Glass
William Bramley
Lieutenant Schrank
Officer Krupke
TRIVIA: Was the first film to win a Best Director Oscar for two
directors (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins). This would not happen
again until 46 years later, when Joel Coen and Ethan Coen shared
the award for No Country for Old Men (2007).
Produced by The Mirisch Corporation, Beta Productions, Seven Arts
Productions and distributed by United Artists (1961).
Source: Internet Movie Database
The Music Man (1962)
Runtime (151 min)
Directed by Morton DaCosta
Written by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey
Screenplay by Marion Hargrove (screenplay)
Confidence man Harold Hill arrives at staid River City intending to
cheat the community with his standard scam of offering to equip and
train a boy's marching band, then skip town with the money since he
has no music skill anyway. Things go awry when he falls for a librarian
he tries to divert from exposing him while he inadvertently enriches the
town with a love of music.
Robert Preston .... Harold Hill
Shirley Jones .... Marian Paroo
Buddy Hackett .... Marcellus Washburn
Hermione Gingold .... Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn
Paul Ford .... Mayor George Shinn
Pert Kelton .... Mrs. Paroo
Timmy Everett .... Tommy Djilas
Susan Luckey .... Zaneeta Shinn
Ron Howard .... Winthrop Paroo
Harry Hickox .... Charlie Cowell
My Fair Lady (1964) Runtime: 170 min
George Cukor
Writing credits
George Bernard Shaw (play Pygmalion)
Alan Jay Lerner (musical play)
Alan Jay Lerner (Screenplay)
Frederick Loewe (Music)
Gloriously witty adaptation of the Broadway musical
about Professor Henry Higgins, who takes a bet from
Colonel Pickering that he can transform unrefined,
dirty Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a lady, and
fool everyone into thinking she really is one, too! He
does, and thus young aristocrat Freddy Eynsford-Hill
falls madly in love with her. But when Higgins takes all
the credit and forgets to acknowledge her efforts, Eliza
angrily leaves him for Freddy, and suddenly Higgins
realizes he's grown accustomed to her face and can't
really live without it.
Audrey Hepburn
Rex Harrison
Stanley Holloway
Wilfrid Hyde-White
Gladys Cooper
Jeremy Brett
Theodore Bikel
Mona Washbourne
.... Eliza Doolittle
.... Professor Henry Higgins
.... Alfred P. Doolittle
.... Colonel Hugh Pickering
.... Mrs. Higgins
.... Freddy Eynsford-Hill
.... Zoltan Karpathy
.... Mrs. Pearce
The Sound of Music (1965) (174 minutes)
Director: Robert Wise
Writers: Howard Lindsay (book) & Russel Crouse
Music by Richard Rodgers; Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Screenplay by Ernest Lehman; From a novel by Maria Von Trapp
Plot Outline: Captain Baron von Trapp is a widowed ex-naval officer with
seven children who serve only to remind him of his deceased wife. The Von
Trapp home is thus turned into a gloomy place of order and discipline, until the
arrival of a new governess: Fraulein Marie who is from a nearby Salzburg
abbey. Marie shows the Von Trapp how to sing. Captain von Trapp's heart
opens up to feelings he had forgotten and he and Marie fall in love. Marie and
Georg von Trapp are married, only to have their world brought down around
them by the 1938 Anschluss of Austria, where Nazi Germany takes control of
the country and demands that Captain von Trapp assume a position in the
German Navy.
Awards: 5 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing,
Best Music (Adaptation), Best Sound. Other Nominations included Best
Actress in a Leading Role (Julie Andrews), Best Actress in a Supporting Role
(Peggy Wood), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume
Julie Andrews
Christopher Plummer
Charmian Carr
Nicholas Hammond
Heather Menzies
Duane Chase
Angela Cartwright
Debbie Turner
Kym Karath
Peggy Wood
Anna Lee
Portia Nelson
Marni Nixon
Richard Haydn
Eleanor Parker
Ben Wright
Daniel Truhitte
Captain Georg von Trapp
Liesl von Trapp
Friedrich von Trapp
Louisa von Trapp
Kurt von Trapp
Brigitta von Trapp
Marta von Trapp
Gretl von Trapp
Mother Abbess
Sister Margaretta
Sister Berthe
Sister Sophia
Max Detweiler
Baroness Elsa Schraeder
Herr Zeller
Cabaret (1972)
A female girlie club entertainer in Weimar Republic era Berlin romances two
men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them.
Director: Bob Fosse
Joe Masteroff (book) John Van Druten (play)
John Kander (Music) Fred Ebb (lyrics)
Won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture.
Liza Minnelli
Michael York
Joel Grey
Marisa Berenson
Elisabeth Neumann-Viertel
Helen Vita
Sally Bowles
Brian Roberts
Master of Ceremonies
Natalia Landauer
Fräulein Schneider
Fräulein Kost
In the original Broadway version, the main characters are an
American writer and English singer. In the film version, they
are an English writer and an American singer.
Chicago (2002)
Writing credits
Runtime: 113 min
Rob Marshall
Play by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Musical by Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Screenplay by Bill Condon
Murderesses Velma Kelly (a chanteuse and tease who killed her
husband and sister after finding them in bed together)and Roxie
Hart (Who killed her boyfriend when she discovered he wasn't
going to make her a star) find themselves on death row together
and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in
1920s Chicago.
Renée Zellweger .... Roxie Hart
Clive Saunders .... Stage Manager
Catherine Zeta-Jones .... Velma Kelly
Richard Gere .... Billy Flynn
Queen Latifah .... Matron 'Mama' Morton
John C. Reilly .... Amos Hart
Jayne Eastwood .... Mrs. Borusewicz
Lucy Liu .... Kitty Baxter
Bruce Beaton .... Police photographer
Taye Diggs .... The Bandleader
Colm Feore .... Asst. Dist. Atty. Martin Harrison
Dominic West .... Fred Casely
Rob Marshall had previously been hired by the producers to direct
the TV version of Annie (1999) (TV); he had not wanted to direct
that earlier film, preferring only to do choreography, but was
persuaded to do both. After that proved successful, he continued
into the directing job for Chicago.
Chicago was awarded 6 Academy
Awards including Best Supporting
Actress (Zeta-Jones), Best Art Direction,
Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best
Sound and Best Picture.
Les Miserables – 2012
Directed by Tom Hooper
Screenplay by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Tom Hooper
From the stage musical by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schoenberg
English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Produced by Cameron Mackintosh
Winner of 3 Academy
Awards including Best
Supporting Actress
(Anne Hathaway)
Principal Cast
Hugh Jackman (Valjean); Anne Hathaway (Fantine); Russell Crowe
(Javert); Colm Wilkinson (Bishop); Amanda Seyfried (Cosette); Sacha
Baron Cohen (Thenardier); Eddie Redmayne (Marius); Aaron Tveit
(Enjolras); Samantha Barks (Eponine); Helena Bonham Carter (Mme

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