Hollywood Musicals

Musicals are a form of theatre per se that combine songs, spoken dialogues, acting and dance together. They bring out a range of emotions within the characters and the story in a way that an ordinary way of speaking dialogues doesn’t. The emotional content in a musical, whether it is love, sadness, humour or anger, is strong and unwavering. They have a brilliant capability of taking viewers to a plane of imagination which they never knew existed. They inspire an entire genre of movies too – the musicals!


Here are ten Hollywood musicals that have played with this genre to an extent that they will be remembered in years to come.

1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, this musical wasn’t a big hit when it first released. However, it was proclaimed as ‘legendary’ by many film critics. The film offers a lighter view towards Hollywood and how it transformed itself from being involved in just silent films to being in ‘talkies’ later. Songs such as ‘You Are My Lucky Star’ are remembered even today.

2.  Daddy Long Legs (1955)

With Fred Astaire as the protagonist, hardly anything can go wrong! This classic set a lot of trends for musicals in years to come. Set in the fictional town of Walston, it is about a rich man anonymously funding an 18 year-old orphan’s education. He is nicknamed ‘Daddy Long Legs’ because of the shadow of his legs that someone sees while he’s leaving the orphanage. The ‘Sluefoot’ sequence is not worth being missed. Astaire and Caron have a brilliant dance sequence where Astaire even does a zany solo. YouTube for the win!

3. Mary Poppins (1964)

Mary Poppins is a created much similar to Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Polyanna. She yearns to set things right and with the help of her magical abilities. The movie is infused with a vibrant storyline, songs and such live-action sequences that Mary Poppins has almost become a prototype for the super nanny! Sadly, a lot of Bollywood movies have been inspired by this one and have not delivered the same effect. Thoda Pyaar, Thoda Magic anyone?

4. My Fair Lady (1964)

Released in the same year as Mary Poppins, this adaptation of the book Pygmalion, this one is about the character Henry Higgins who states that he can transform the unrefined Eliza Doolittle into a lady. He succeeds but bathes in his own glory and forgets Eliza’s contribution to her own change. Well, this one sure has become a classic now. No need to say anymore!

5. The Sound of Music (1965)

This film works wonders because of one main reason – Julie Andrews. The songs are even sung today and this film is nothing short of a cult classic. It combines elements of love, attraction, growing up and facing struggle in such a simple and minimalistic manner. Whether it be ‘Raindrops on Roses’ or ‘Do, a Deer’, nothing can beat the music of this film.

6.  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this film was as much of a delight as the book itself. This film wasn’t a big hit but has now received cult status due to its many television adaptations and home video sales. The music is all the more fun with the graphically described factory and the adorable Oompa Loompas. ‘The Wondrous Boat Ride’ and ‘Oompa Loompa’ are two songs that bring out its rich flavour.

7. The Rocky Picture Horror Show (1975)

One of the first movies to talk about transsexuals in such broad light, this one is surely a film to remember. Frank-N-Furter is a transvestite who throws a party for everyone from “Plant Transsexual” where he reveals his master creation, Rocky Horror who is actually a young man. You really don’t miss the Time Warp sequence in this film!

8. Annie (1982)

This movie is based on the stage adaptation of the musical, Annie which is further inspired by the Little Orphan Annie comic strips. Annie lives in an orphanage and makes desperate attempts to escape her downtrodden life. Songs like ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” and “Maybe” have become examples in their own right.

9. Chicago (2002)

This film has been adapted by the stage musical of the same name. It talks about celebrities, corruption, scandals and the jazz-age of Chicago. With excellent performances by Catherine Zeta Jone, Renee Zellweger and Queen Latifah, this movie intertwines the lives of many unusual characters into one. ‘Funny Honey’ by Roxie and ‘Razzle Dazzle’ by Billy, Company are numbers you shouldn’t miss.

10. Mamma Mia (2008)

This one is a romantic comedy-turned-musical starring Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried as the two main protagonists. With a very interesting cast and beautiful locations (Greece), this film showcases the songs of ABBA. With a very old-school feel to it, the movie brings a vibrant energy that you would have seen only in a few others contemporary musicals.

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About Lipi Mehta

I am a student of the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (UG). Apart from acting like I am busy at college day, I actually manage to do some work as the Editor of www.dfuse.in, a youth-oriented e-magazine. I enjoy reading though I wish I wasn't so addicted to my laptop!

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