Posted on Friday, March 17th, 2017 by Jacob Hall
(Welcome to /Responses, the companion piece to our /Answers series and a space where /Film readers can chime in and offer their two cents on a particular question.)
Earlier this week, the /Film team celebrated the arrival of Beauty and the Beast by writing about our all-time favorite movie musicals. We then opened the floor to our readers: what is your favorite movie musical? And you let us know!
We have collected our favorite answers (edited for length and clarity) below. Next week’s question: which book (novel or non-fiction) do you want to see adapted into a movie? Who would star in it and who would direct it? Send your (at least one paragraph, please) answer to firstname.lastname@example.org!
All That Jazz
It’s about a choreographer who is as egotistic as they come, but that’s because…he’s simply the best. He is and he knows it, and Roy Scheider personifies this in every single damn frame. I grew up knowing Scheider as the noble Chief Brody from Jaws and he couldn’t be further from that characterization here. Pills, booze, women… Scheider’s Joe Gideon is a who guy lives in excess and he pushes his passion for his art to a point where he has to decide between the two loves of his life – his family or his craft? It’s the kind of movie where after it ends (in the most jaw dropping smash cut I’ve seen), I’m still breathing heavily. This all might sound like hyperbole, but the film brings that out of me. It’s full of numerous fun, catchy and eye-popping sequences but nothing, and I mean nothing, no really – nothing – beats the last hallucinatory musical scene with Ben Vereen. Only a musical genius like Fosse could pull it off. -Andrew DiDonato
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
When I think of musicals, I instantly think of the undeniably charming Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s an enjoyable genre mash-up of musical and adventure that makes it stand apart from other films in its genre. The first half of the film appears to be a standard musical about a family building a beautiful motorcar out of a pile of scrap. But soon after the film’s intermission, it turns into an adventure about a magical flying car. There’s a delightful blend of co-writer Roald Dahl’s whimsical fun and original novelist Ian Fleming’s touch of adventure and quirky gadgets. The title song is easily one of the catchiest songs I have ever heard with its mix of vocals and unusual car noises. The “Toot Sweet” and “Me Ol’ Bambo” song and dance numbers are wonderfully choreographed and creatively use props of candy and bamboo poles to enhance the humor and fun. When the credits roll, you will believe a car can fly and you won’t get “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” out of your head for a long time. -Ethan Burch
Dancer in the Dark
Musicals are one of the biggest hurdles that I have when it comes to movies. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s the suspension of disbelief, because it’s hard to believe that people just start to sing during a conversation for no apparent reason. But there is the rare exception where I can overcome this hurdle. That movie is Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Maybe it’s the subject matter. Maybe it’s the style of music. Maybe it’s what singing and dancing means for the main charater. I’m really not sure, but I know that this movie transcends what musicals usually are. It would probably be unfair to say that it is by far the best musical out there, because it is its own thing and unlike any other. But for me, it is just that: the best musical. By far. The stand out song is obviously “I’ve Seen It All” which is just phenomenal. -Stefan Lensa
Though not a full-blown movie musical, Enchanted is one of Disney’s best films of the 21st century and contains one of the company’s best musical scenes. As Giselle (Amy Adams) bumbles around New York City on the arm of Robert (Patrick Dempsey), he continuously questions her logic as she leans into the tropes of many of Disney’s early princess incarnations. Early on, Giselle’s aloof nature is met with disdain as New Yorkers continually disregard her fairly tale attitude, but when she breaks into song in Central Park, the park’s other denizens join in with her as she explains to Robert the ways in which he should demonstrate his love. “That’s How You Know” is the perfect encapsulation of how the film recognizes how silly fairy tales are, but chooses to ignore the ridiculousness, because who cares? They’re fun and they make us happy. -Hawkins DuBois
It’s got to be Moulin Rouge. I love musicals and it’s hard to pass up on the classics of the ’40s and ’50s, but Moulin Rouge really uses the medium of film best. Baz Luhrmann makes the camera part of the musical numbers. You aren’t just in a theater watching a musical on stage, you are on the stage! Its use of old musical songs as well as popular music mash-ups modernized musicals and brought them to a whole new generation. Luhrmann uses the filmmaking tool box to create an abstract mixed media collage that is both overwhelming but also impossible to look away from. At the end of the day there’s really nothing quite like it and therefore the show must certainly go on. -Todd Ruhnau