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The 25 Best Musical Films


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...according to Entertainment Weekly...

25. Once (2006)

24. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

23. The Music Man (1962)

22. Gigi (1958)

21. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

20. Funny Girl (1968)

19. The Sound of Music (1965)

18. The Busby Berkeley Disc (2006 compilation)

17. Chicago (2002)

16. A Star Is Born (1954)

15. Hairspray (2007)

14. Grease (1978)

13. On the Town (1949)

12. Swing Time (1936)

11. An American in Paris (1951)

10. Love Me Tonight (1932)

You won't believe how frisky the pre-Production-Code banter is between Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald in this delightful fable about a tailor who falls in love with a haughty princess. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote the songs, and director Rouben Mamoulian finds ingenious ways to use them — especially in a segment that follows ''Isn't It Romantic?'' as it's passed along from a taxicab to a train to a marching regiment of soldiers, the orchestration shifting with each dissolve.

9. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Even if you hate people breaking into song, you've got to admire how gracefully director Vincente Minnelli handles the trick in this nostalgic portrait of a turn-of-the-century family. ''The Boy Next Door,'' delivered by Judy Garland on a sunny porch in midsummer, feels completely natural, as does her rendition of the downbeat ''Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'' in a darkened bedroom late on Christmas Eve. Pure high-fructose eye and ear candy, with a bittersweet kick.

8. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

The penis-joke title is one of the tamer gags in Matt Stone and Trey Parker's totally obscene, utterly inspired musical take on their Comedy Central TV show about the world's trashiest-talking grade-schoolers. (By one online count, the F-word is uttered here 146 times.) It's better than any episode, thanks to outrageously dirty ditties by Parker and Marc Shaiman like ''Uncle F---a,'' ''Kyle's Mom's a Bitch,'' and the Oscar-nominated ''Blame Canada.''

7. A Hard Day's Night (1964)

A black-and-white farce spun out of a pop band's latest album? It shouldn't have worked. But screenwriter Alun Owen turns the Beatles into the most anarchic comedy quartet this side of the Marx Brothers, and director Richard Lester wraps it all in shaky, hand-held shots that perfectly match the brash humor. As ''the boys'' scramble from gig to gig, they roll out more great tunes than most modern popsters do in their entire careers. Behold their fecundity and marvel.

6. The Band Wagon (1953)

In which screenwriters Comden and Greene (see Singin' in the Rain) and director Vincente Minnelli send up the New York theater world. Meet Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan), a pompous windbag of a director-producer-actor who convinces a washed-up movie hoofer (Fred Astaire) to star in a musical Broadway version of Faust. It bombs, then becomes an old-school revue. Peak scene: Astaire glides through Central Park with Cyd Charisse to the strains of ''Dancing in the Dark.'' Patently fake set, sublimely convincing star chemistry.

5. Mary Poppins (1964)

Okay, so Dick Van Dyke mangles his cockney accent. He's still magic as Bert, a chimney sweep in 1910 London infatuated with nanny Poppins (Julie Andrews, in her Oscar-winning movie debut). What makes the treacly lilt of tunes like ''Jolly Holiday'' and ''Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'' work so well? The sexy subtext of Bert and Mary's romantic fling. And dig the swipes at English imperialism, as in a fantastical cartoon scene where Bert and Mary rescue a bedraggled Irish fox from stuffy British hunters. Cheeky!

4. Cabaret (1972)

A truly adult movie musical — yet rated PG! — charting the ''divine decadence'' of 1930s Berlin as the Nazis come to power. A kinky M.C. (Joel Grey) is your host, along with delusional fag-hag chanteuse Sally Bowles (winningly played by future tabloid staple Liza Minnelli). Bob Fosse's direction copped him an Oscar, and the smash-and-grab editing helped usher in modern music videos. The songs, by John Kander and Fred Ebb, never wear out their Wilkommens.

3. Singin' in the Rain (1952)

A happy mix of pitch-perfect elements, attached to a sendup of early talking pictures: Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed; a zinger-laden script by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; peerless high comedy from Jean Hagen as a silent-screen star cursed with a hard-as-nails voice; abundant charm from Debbie Reynolds as a feisty ingénue; agreeable hamming by Gene Kelly as a vain actor; and sidekick Donald O'Connor doing extreme backflips. Nimbly codirected by Kelly and Stanley Donen.

2. West Side Story (1961)

Natalie Wood doesn't make the most believable Puerto Rican Juliet to Richard Beymer's pretty-American-boy Romeo. But choreographer and codirector Jerome Robbins injects the opening gang-warfare finger-snapping ballet and other big numbers with so much energy, it carries the whole thing along. Genius scene: The edgy, angsty, jazzy setpiece ''Cool,'' which feels like a nihilistic '50s teen-rebel movie on drugs. Kudos to composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim for the most sophisticated score ever to go mainstream

1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Who'd pine for drab, dusty Kansas after visiting fab, glamorous Emerald City? Homebody Dorothy Gale, that's who — and it's a testament to Judy Garland's hyper-emotional acting that you believe the kid really does want out. Entire books have extolled Oz's splendors, but here we'll just cite the eternally charming songs of Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg (anchored by the bathetic, Oscar-winning ''Over the Rainbow'') and the endlessly rich background score by Herbert Stothart (another Oscar).

Discuss.

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When I think of the movie Grease I think of my nephews wedding reception a few years ago and being slightly,well more than slightly, inebriated. The DJ put on the song "Greased Lightin'" and the wife of a friend and myself began doing the hand/arm motions that Danny and the T-Birds did in the garage while working on Kenickie's car while that song was playing. It wasn't long after Mrs. Blue told me to get in the car. Our car. Not Greased Lightin'. :P

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Here is the Top 25 from the American Film Institute:

AFI's GREATEST MOVIE MUSICALS

FILM TITLE YEAR STUDIO

1 SINGIN' IN THE RAIN 1952 MGM

2 WEST SIDE STORY 1961 United Artists

3 WIZARD OF OZ, THE 1939 MGM

4 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 1965 Twentieth Century-Fox

5 CABARET 1972 Allied Artists

6 MARY POPPINS 1964 Disney

7 STAR IS BORN, A 1954 Warner Bros.

8 MY FAIR LADY 1964 Warner Bros.

9 AMERICAN IN PARIS, AN 1951 MGM

10 MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS 1944 MGM

11 KING AND I, THE 1956 Twentieth Century-Fox

12 CHICAGO 2002 Miramax

13 42ND STREET 1933 Warner Bros.

14 ALL THAT JAZZ 1979 Twentieth Century-Fox

15 TOP HAT 1935 RKO

16 FUNNY GIRL 1968 Columbia

17 BAND WAGON, THE 1953 MGM

18 YANKEE DOODLE DANDY 1942 Warner Bros.

19 ON THE TOWN 1949 MGM

20 GREASE 1978 Paramount

21 SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS 1954 MGM

22 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 1991 Disney

23 GUYS AND DOLLS 1955 MGM

24 SHOW BOAT 1936 Universal

25 MOULIN ROUGE! 2001 Twentieth Century Fox

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here's the definition from "The Free Dictionary.com"

Noun 1. rock opera - albums of rock music that aspired to the status of art; first appeared in the 1960s

concept album - an album whose recordings are unified by some theme (instrumental or lyrical or narrative or compositional)

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