movie musicals TH 497: MUS THTR HISTORYSpring 2013 Compiled by Jim Bartruff
MOVIE MUSICALS Broadway goes to the movies
MOVIE MUSICALS Background 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 cast. [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 non-narrative 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 remembered.
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
FILM MUSICALS & OSCAR 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.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC - 1965 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-Re-Mi" 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.
MY FAIR LADY - 1964 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."
WEST SIDE STORY - 1961 "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.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS - 1951 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.
GOING MY WAY - 1944 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 GREAT ZIEGFELD - 1936 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 BROADWAY MELODY - 1929 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 • The Wizard of Oz • 1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy1950 Annie Get Your Gun1952 Singin’ in the Rain1953 Kiss Me Kate1955 Guys and Dolls1956 The King and I1958 South Pacific1959 Porgy and Bess The Music Man 1964 Mary Poppins1967 Camelot1968 Funny Girl 1971 Fiddler on the Roof1972 Cabaret1989 The Little Mermaid1994 The Lion King 2001 Moulin Rouge 2006 Dreamgirls2013 Les Miserables
Kiss Me Kate 1953
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 investment.
Cast Kathryn Grayson Lilli Vanessi 'Katharina' Howard Keel Fred Graham 'Petruchio' Ann Miller Lois Lane 'Bianca' Keenan Wynn Lippy Bobby Van 'Gremio' Tommy Rall Bill Calhoun 'Lucentio' James Whitmore Slug Bob Fosse 'Hortensio’ 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.
GUYS AND DOLLS - 1955 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 Blaine.
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 Cast: Marlon Brando ... Sky Masterson Jean Simmons ... Sergeant Sarah Brown Frank Sinatra ... Nathan Detroit Vivian Blaine ... Miss Adelaide Robert Keith ... Lieutenant Brannigan Stubby Kaye ... Nicely Nicely Johnson B.S. Pulley ... Big Jule (as B.S. Pully) Johnny Silver ... Benny Southstreet Sheldon Leonard ... Harry the Horse Regis Toomey ... Arvide Abernathy Kathryn Givney ... 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
CAST: Natalie Wood Maria Richard Beymer Tony Russ Tamblyn Riff Rita Moreno Anita George Chakiris Bernardo Simon Oakland Lieutenant Schrank Ned Glass Doc William Bramley 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 Coenshared the award for No Country for Old Men (2007). Produced by The Mirisch Corporation, Beta Productions, Seven Arts Productionsand distributed by United Artists (1961).Source: Internet Movie Database
The Music Man (1962) Runtime (151 min) Directed by Morton DaCostaWritten 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 Director 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.
Cast: Audrey Hepburn .... Eliza Doolittle Rex Harrison .... Professor Henry Higgins Stanley Holloway .... Alfred P. Doolittle WilfridHyde-White .... Colonel Hugh Pickering Gladys Cooper .... Mrs. Higgins Jeremy Brett .... Freddy Eynsford-Hill Theodore Bikel .... ZoltanKarpathy Mona Washbourne .... 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 Design
Cast Julie Andrews Maria • Christopher Plummer Captain Georg von Trapp • Charmian Carr Liesl von Trapp • Nicholas Hammond Friedrich von Trapp • Heather Menzies Louisa von Trapp • Duane Chase Kurt von Trapp • Angela Cartwright Brigitta von Trapp • Debbie Turner Marta von Trapp • Kym KarathGretlvon Trapp • Peggy Wood Mother Abbess • Anna Lee Sister Margaretta • Portia Nelson Sister Berthe • Marni Nixon Sister Sophia • Richard Haydn Max Detweiler • Eleanor Parker Baroness Elsa Schraeder • Ben Wright Herr Zeller • Daniel Truhitte Rolfe
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 Writers: Joe Masteroff (book) John Van Druten (play)John Kander (Music) Fred Ebb (lyrics) Awards: Won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture.
CastLiza Minnelli Sally BowlesMichael York Brian RobertsJoel Grey Master of CeremoniesMarisa Berenson Natalia LandauerElisabeth Neumann-ViertelFräulein SchneiderHelen Vita FräuleinKost 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) Runtime: 113 min Director Rob Marshall Writing credits 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.