Wednesday, March 16, 2011


     There was a time in my life, not that long ago in geological time, when I would have said I didn’t care for musicals, that I couldn’t watch a movie where someone just up and started singing out of the blue. I’ve changed my attitude about that.

     Part of the reason is that during the heyday of the musical, 1930-1970, there were so many bad ones made. Films with maybe one good song and a bunch of really bad songwriting. But if pressed on the issue, I’d have had to concede that some of my favorite films were musicals: The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Cabaret and Funny Girl.

     You’ll note that two of those films “cheat” at being musicals. In Cabaret, and for the most part in Funny Girl, people don’t just up and start singing, they’re singers on stage.

     So why are Cabaret and Chicago musicals (they definitely are) and not That Thing You Do or The Buddy Holly Story? I think the answer is that the songs relate to and advance the plot.

    Which, along with the quality of the songwriting, is what separates good musicals from bad ones, The Music Man from those Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald atrocities.

     So while I can’t watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, An American in Paris or West Side Story, all considered to be excellent musicals, because they are just too corny, I think that Mary Poppins and Funny Girl are wonderful entertainment.

     I now wouldn’t say I don’t like musicals generally, because the new generation of musicals is mostly so good. Chicago, All That Jazz, Moulin Rouge and Mama Mia are all excellent.

     (Also you might observe that I think sexy women in garter belts and stockings are a definite plus.)

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