When most people think of movie musicals, films like “Singin’ in the Rain”, “Sound of Music”, “The Red Shoes”, “On the Town”, “White Christmas”, “Ziegfeld Follies”, “Top Hat”, “Funny Face” and “Funny Girl” immediately come to mind. Such films are included in this book, as are many of the works of major stars, including Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Betty Grable, Shirley Temple, Julie Andrews, Elvis Presley, Lucille Ball, Alice Faye, Jeanette MacDonald, Maurice Chevalier, Nelson Eddy, Doris Day, Dick Powell, Betty Hutton, Eleanor Powell, and Al Jolson. But attention is also drawn to less lavishly produced but very pleasant musical offerings from both major and minor studios (including perhaps the finest “B” musical ever made). In all, 125 pictures are reviewed and detailed with full cast and technical credits, plus songs and musical numbers, awards,... More > release dates and other essential background information.< Less
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By Tami Brady
Aug 16, 2010
This is the sixteenth volume in a series of books under the general heading of “Hollywood Classics”. I previously did a review for Reid’s A Guide To The Best In Cinema Thrills This one looks at the ‘great, good and glamorous’ Hollywood movie musicals. Over 140 musicals are covered, with listings of cast and crew, songs, and other credits; a synopsis, interesting notes, a viewer’s guide to audience appropriateness, the author’s personal comments on the movie, and other views by previous reviewers. From 1930’s Check And Double-Check to 1973’s animated Robin Hood, there’s a movie here for almost every taste and age. Reid is very frank in his comments about the movies. If he likes it, he says so: “A brilliant script by Ben Hecht. A Western, would you believe? But what an inventive Western it is! Full of highly original incidents, plenty of action and color. The cast is magnificent. And it’s all so masterfully directed by Jack Conway, one of my personal favorites”. (Song Of The Plain) By... More > the same token, if he doesn’t like it, he tells you that, also: “I know that Ed Wood is universally famed as the world’s worst director, but I disagree. I’d like to nominate George P Quigley. On the evidence of this movie, Mr Quigley easily outdistances Mr Wood.” (Murder With Music) You’ll have to read this fascinating book to find out why the author feels this way. And, if you haven’t treated yourself to a good musical video or DVD lately, you’ll find an excellent selection of suggestions here.< Less
"Musicals To Make the Heart Sing!" Back in the days when cinemas were not ugly concrete boxes but true picture palaces, musicals were the most popular movie category of all. A raucous, colorful crowd-pleaser like "Annie Get Your Gun" would fill every seat in the house. Guaranteed! In fact, musicals were such a popular genre that some titles went the rounds repeatedly. I don’t know how many times "Ziegfeld Follies" was re-released, but it seemed to be playing my neighborhood theater almost continuously. Another movie that kept on coming back “by popular demand” was (this may surprise you!) "Somebody Loves Me". Another was "Road to Rio". A fifth: "Night and Day". A sixth: "Maytime". A seventh: "Blue Skies". These were certainly the most popular musicals circulating in my youth, although a second echelon of favorites also played numerous repeat engagements: "My Friend Irma", "Funny Face",... More > "On Moonlight Bay", "It's a Great Feeling", "The Red Shoes", "Dixie", "Athena", "White Christmas", "Limelight", "Lullaby of Broadway", "Excuse My Dust", "Pagan Love Song", "Road to Morocco", "Duffy's Tavern", "I Love Melvin", "Hips, Hips, Hooray", "Because You’re Mine", "The Firefly", "My Wild Irish Rose" and my personal nomination for the Best Musical of All Time: "Rose of Washington Square". Around the university circuit, undergraduates demanded constant repeats of "One Hour With You", "Top Hat", "I'm No Angel", "Love Me Tonight", "Flying Down to Rio", "Singin' in the Rain" and "On the Town". True, there were also musicals that overjoyed the critics but left John Q. Public unmoved, like "Kiss Me Kate" (I was alone in the theater with the usherettes when I saw this wonderful show at its first release showcase), "The Shocking Miss Pilgrim", "Where Do We Go from Here?" and "Invitation to the Dance" (another movie where I sat alone in a palatial city cinema). Then there were the pictures that played huge city seasons but failed to raise a spark in the neighborhoods: "Funny Girl", "Moulin Rouge", "The Sound of Music", "Thoroughly Modern Millie". And finally the movies that everyone hated: "The Vagabond King", "People Are Funny", and surprisingly "Ziegfeld Girl", a very expensive offering with a star-studded cast that did well in its big city engagements but failed dismally everywhere else. So what about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers? A couple of their movies were still circulating on 16mm in my youth, and all their films including "Follow the Fleet" and "Shall We Dance" were super-popular on TV. In fact, RKO was among the first of the Hollywood studios to sell its library to television. All the above movies represent just a few of the titles detailed in this book. There wasn't room for all my favorites, so I brought out another book, entitled (you guessed it!) "More Movie Musicals".< Less