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Catch some showtunes without breaking the bank

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The hills are alive with "The Sound of Music," starring Julie Andrews.

The hills are alive with "The Sound of Music," starring Julie Andrews.

The Tony’s have you yearning for a trip to New York to see the latest Broadway fare, but your bank account is crying out in pain at the thought. For those of us who can’t front the bill for Broadway tickets, the movie musical is the next best thing.

Now I know what you’re thinking:
Movies just aren’t the same as Broadway! Did you see “Rent?” Ugh.
And that new “Phantom of the Opera.” That girl was no Sarah Brightman.
And don’t even get me started on that “Hairspray” girl’s assault on that “Top Model” contestant.

But have you ever seen a musical that wasn’t produced in the new millennium? Head on over to your local video store (or Netflix) and give some old classics a try. Here are ten movie musicals predating 1980 that you shouldn’t miss out on this summer.

In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

It’s “You’ve Got Mail” minus AOL and the 1990s leading man and lady. “In the Good Old Summertime” is the second adaptation of the Hungarian play “Parfumerie” (the second being Jimmy Stewart’s “Shop Around the Corner” and the third being “You’ve Got Mail”). A headstrong young woman and her stubborn coworker at a Chicago music shop hate each other by day, but write to each other lovingly by night. Starring Judy Garland, Van Johnson and Buster Keaton.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
A quintessential Gene Kelly film (that’s been parodied over and over) about a movie studio’s transition from silent-films to “talkies” and the troubles they have with a diva with a wince-inducing voice. Featuring the best tap-dancing you will ever see and classic tunes like “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “Good Morning,” “Singin’ in the Rain” does not disappoint. Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
An often forgotten gem, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” tells the tale of seven redheaded backwoodsmen and their oldest brother’s search for a proper wife. It’s another great example of amazing choreography, especially in the barn raising sequence. Starring Howard Keel, Jane Powell and Russ Tamblyn in one of his earlier roles before taking on Riff in “West Side Story.”

White Christmas (1954)
Embrace Christmas in July with this delightful film about a pair of showbiz partners who find themselves saving a Vermont inn in danger of closing after a snow-less winter tourism season. You may recognize a few of Irving Berlin’s classic tunes including “White Christmas” and “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.” Starring Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.

West Side Story (1961)
While you may not be able to catch the revival in New York, you can still catch the Oscar-winning film. With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, this adaptation of the classic Romeo and Juliet story won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, in 1962. The story of two opposing gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, and the forbidden love between Puerto Rican Maria and American Tony features astounding choreography by the critically acclaimed Jerome Robbins. Starring Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn.

My Fair Lady (1964)
It’s George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” put to music. The story of a London phonetics professor and his mission to pass off a Cockney flower girl (originally portrayed by Julie Andrews on stage) as a well-spoken duchess won 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor. Starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

The Sound of Music (1965)
It’s the movie musical. The classic Sound of Music is a cultural icon: suddenly Gwen Stefani’s music and this public stunt will all make sense. The story of a nun-turned-nanny and the family she takes care of in pre-World War II Austria won Best Picture in 1966. The film features well-known songs such as “Do-Re-Mi” and “Sixteen Going On Seventeen.” Starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Hello, Dolly! (1969)
Most recently referenced in Disney/Pixar’s “WALL-E,” “Hello, Dolly!” tells the story of an outgoing matchmaker and her adventures in New York. Starring Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau with a cameo by Louis Armstrong.

1776 (1972)
Who wouldn’t want to watch the founding fathers sing and dance? Mr. Feeny (or at least the actor who plays Mr. Feeny in “Boy Meets World”) brings history to life with this musical about the penning of the Declaration of Independence. It’s probably the cheesiest thing you’ll ever see, but yet it’s oddly charming. Starring Blythe Danner, William Daniels and John Cullum.

Grease (1978)

It’s the word, and if you’ve seen any movie musicals, this is probably it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it again. The campy, jiving portrayal of an American high school in the 1950’s never gets old. Starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton John and Stockard Channing.


Written by Lindsay Stadter

June 10, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Films, Musicals

Tagged with , , ,