To put it lightly, I’m a bastard for a musical. In fact, whittling this list down to ten may just be the most difficult task I will ever undertake for this blog. There is something about expressing one’s emotions in song that I cannot get enough of. Need directions to the shops? Sing it. Facing inner turmoil over a closely guarded secret? Sing it. Been shot dead? For the love of god, SING IT.
1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Not only my favourite musical of all time, quite simply my favourite film of all time. If you haven’t seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show then not only have you not lived, I’m afraid we cannot be friends. Tim Curry as Frank ‘n’ Furter will forever be responsible for my penchant for effeminate looking men, and if absolutely stonking rock and roll numbers aren’t enough to float your boat, the film is responsible for one of the best cinematic drinking games ever… BIGGINS! SHOT!
2. Grease (1978)
Doesn’t it feel as though we were all born knowing every single word to every single song in Grease? All the good girls wanted to be Sandy, all the bad girls wanted to be Rizzo, all the good boys wanted to be Danny and all the bad boys wanted to be Kenickie. I am firmly team Rizzo, for your information.
3. Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)
What? Nope. Nothing strange here. Absolutely nothing odd about the adorable Rick Moranis cultivating a sassy talking plant from outer space that likes nothing more than to feast on human flesh. Including an exquisite cameo from Steve Martin as a satanic dentist, Little Shop’s true excellence is in it’s sensational soundtrack that takes inspiration from all genres from Motown to doo-wop.
4. Chicago (2002)
The phenomenal success of Chicago was arguably responsible for making it okay to embrace movie musicals again (Dreamgirls, Hairspray, RENT, etc.). So slick, so sexy, so cool. Catherine Zeta Jones steals the show and was thoroughly deserving of her Oscar. Special mention for Richard Gere who portrays the epitome of a silver fox in lawyer Billy Flynn. The songs will be stuck in your head for days, and you won’t even be mad.
5. The Sound Of Music (1965)
The perennial Christmas favourite, it doesn’t feel right to be watching this without a tummy full of turkey and a slightly ripped paper hat on. Between this and Mary Poppins it is safe to say that Julie Andrews has the title of dream grandmother sown up across at least five generations. Oddly this clip is the only one available on YouTube, but it manages to stir the nostalgia nonetheless!
6. Cabaret (1972)
Probably the darkest film on the list, a slightly different, more realistic take on the Nazi regime than The Sound Of Music! Liza Minnelli in full force as cabaret queen Sally Bowles, an exceptional Oscar winning performance, the apple clearly did not fall far from the tree in that family.
7. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
Speak of the devil… Liza’s ‘mommy’ has a permanent place in mine and many other’s hearts as plain little Dorothy Gale in The Wizard Of Oz. Many times replicated but never rivalled, Judy Garland gives a magical performance in a thoroughly magical film. Made even more interesting by the hundreds of conspiracy theories surrounding it! (http://www.examiner.com/review/behind-the-story-of-the-film-the-wizard-of-oz-urban-legends-and-rumors)
8. Grease 2 (1982)
Stop it. Stop that right now, I can see you frowning in disapproval. Grease 2 just happens to be one of the greatest movie musicals of all time and I will arm wrestle with anybody who disagrees. Michelle Pfeiffer as Stephanie Zinone is cooler than Rizzo and hooker Sandy put together and the song Cool Rider is my life mantra.
9. Bugsy Malone (1976)
It’s only when you re-watch Bugsy Malone as an adult that you realise just how creepy the concept of an all child cast gangster musical with cream pie weapon substitutes and adult dubbing really is, but hey ho, we love it so. An interesting year for the young Jodie Foster with Bugsy and the decidedly less cheery Taxi Driver being released just months apart, I certainly know which character I’d rather be!
10. Oliver! (1968)
I can’t think of much else to say about Oliver! other than that it is, well and truly, a ‘proper musical’. Cheeky urchins, boo worthy villains, and the most famous tart with a heart of them all, poor old Nancy. It’ll have you singing, laughing and ultimately crying. A winning combination in my mind.