Friday, July 18, 2008

Top Ten Hollywood Musical Movies

When I think of musical movies I cannot not think of Hollywood movies but Bollywood movies. Music is one of the must have elements of Bollywood movies. Each movie contains at least four/five songs. This is why, the normal length of all the Indian movies is more than two hours compared to one and half hour Hollywood movies. However, Hollywood also has musical movies and some of its all time best movies are actually musical movies. Here is a list of top ten musical movies of Hollywood.

Annie: This 1982 movie was inspired by the popular 1977 stage musical of the same name. I remember watching this in ‘Movie of the Week’ in Bangladesh television in 1993. I still remember the song “Tomorrow,” which is one of my favorites. Later, I also saw a Hollywood movie, King Uncle in 1993 which was inspired by Annie. Shah Rukh Khan, the current top actor of Bollywood, worked in this movie. The story of Annie revolves around an eleven year old orphan girl named, Annie, who leaves in an orphanage run by Miss Hannigan, an alcoholic orphanage matron, who hates children. One day, Annie escapes from the orphanage and ends up in the house of a billionaire businessman, Oliver Warbucks. The movie, like the stage play, became a commercial success but many critics did not like the movie.

High School Musical: This is another great musical and the most successful the Disney Channel Original Movies ever produced. Released in January 20, 2006, High School Musical was also Disney Channel’s most watched movie of all time. On its premiere in the USA, 7.7 million viewers watched the musical. In the UK, the movie was watched by 789,000 viewers including 1.2 million in the first week, making it the second most watched Disney Channel program of 2006. The soundtrack of the movie was the best-selling album in the USA in 2006. The story of the movie revolves around Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez who, despite their peer pressure, follow their heart and take up the lead role in high school musical.

Grease: Before making a movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, Grease was one the longest running broadway musical shows in history, exploring issues like new culture of rock n roll, individualism, sexual freedom, adolescent sex etc. The movie was released in June of 1978. Directed by Randal Kleiser, filmed at Venice High School in Venice, California, tells the love story of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John). Danny is a working class boy with great charm and Sandy Olsson is a traditional girl. They first meet during holiday and fall in love. Danny is the symbol of 60’s rebellious USA and Sandy is the 50’s. The clash between the two cultures and how their love evolves is the story of the movie. It established John Travolta as one of the top actors of Hollywood.

Chicago: Still, when I think of Chicago, two things come to my instantly, Richard Gere’s great tap dance sequence and the final scene where Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger take up a Thomson machine gun prop and shoots at the background and it lights up. It was a great movie to watch. Chicago is definitely one of the top musical movies and the second ever musical movie to win Oscars in six categories. Inspired by a broadway production which was created in 1975, the movie tries to give an overall picture of Chicago in the 1920s. The story revolves around two ladies: Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger), a naïve party girl/flapper, who dreams to become a celebrity, and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a well established singer and dancer. Both the ladies went to jail on the charge of murder. The movie shows, how they manipulate the media and get out of the jail and become famous.

The Sound of Music: Another great movie and the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about this movie is that beautiful song, “Sixteen going on Seventeen.” It is really a beautiful movie, the one which you can really enjoy with your family. The movie was based on a broadway musical which was inspired by the memoir of Maria von Trapp, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.” The original broadway musical was produced in 1959 which became enormously popular. Numerous productions and revivals of the show were made in different countries. The film version was directed by Robert Wise and Julie Andrews played in the lead role. Not only the movie made Julie Andrews an all time famous actress, but also became the top grossing movie in the United States collecting $158 million replacing former number one Gone with the Wind and Star Wars. Even the soundtrack album of the movie sold over 11 million copies.

Marry Poppins: This is one of my all time favorites and another major movie of Julie Andrews. If you have not seen it, then you will never understand the magic of movies and magic of Hollywood. It takes you to a beautiful wonderland and brings out your inner-child. This is my 100% honest feeling about the movie. Marry Poppins tells the story of this unhappy family who finally finds happiness with the help and magical power of a nanny played by Julie Andrews. Even Walt Disney himself considered Marry Poppins as one of his best ever creations. Planning and composing the songs of the movie took two years. One of the most prominent features of the movie is interaction of animations with actual human beings (the best example is the live-animation movie Space Jam). For the shooting of the animated scenes, Julie Andrews had to wear yards of wires that were hidden under her costume.

The Wizard of Oz: Released in 1939, although The Wizard of Oz was a big budget film, it did not enjoy much commercial success. However, it got many positive reviews. Based on L. Frank Baum’s famous children’s novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the movie was directed by Victor Fleming starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, and Frank Morgan. The songs of the movie became very popular. The song “Over the Rainbow” received Oscar in the category of Best song of the Year. The movie also received several Oscar nominations. Initially, it may not have been a commercial success but frequent screening on television made it one of the most beloved movies of all time and many critics and polls considered it as one of the best movies ever made. The song “Over the Rainbow,” sung by Judy Garland, has been voted as one of the greatest movie songs of all time by the American Film Institute.

White Christmas: This musical movie tells the story of Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, two former soldiers of the United States Army in World War II, who have become famous as performing artists in the USA. The two fall in loves with sisters who are also involved in performing. Bob and Phil follow the girls to a lodge in Vermont and finds out that it belongs to their old commander, General Waverly, who is about to get bankrupt. Released in 1954, directed by Michael Curtiz, White Christmas, was the first movie to be filmed in the VistaVision process which ensured the movie’s long shelf life. The movie was showed in TV and released in DVD. It was the top grossing movie of 1954.

Across the Universe: This 2007 musical movie was directed by Julie Taymor and produced by Revolution Studios. Released in 2007, the script of the movie was based on an original story. The story of the movie takes place in the United States of America. Jude (Jim Sturgess) is a young shipyard worker, who enlists in the merchant marine and travels to USA against his girl friend’s wish. He wants to meet his father, Wes Robert, who was an American G.I. The rest of the story takes place over there as Jude falls in love with another girl, Lucy. Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson, and T.V. Carpio, Dana Fuchs, and Martin Luther McCoy, Accorss the Universe was nominated for both Golden Globe and Academy Award. The title of the movie was taken from one of the famous songs of the Beatles, “Across the Universe.” Bono, Eddie Izzard, Joe Cocker and Salma Hayek made cameo appearances in the movie.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: The original musical was produced in 1979. It was based on the book of Hugh Wheeler. The musical opened at the Uris Theatre and ran for 557 performances. The second movie version of the musical was made in 2007. However, many people believe that the movie is not a musical. The story takes place in the Victorian Era England. Benjamin Barker was falsely charged by corrupt judge, Turpin, who lusts after his wife, Lucy. After spending fifteen years in Australia, Barker escapes from there and returns to London and takes up the name Sweeney to take revenge. Jhonny Depp, played the character of Sweeney. He is the kind of actor, who does not do films judging its commercial importance rather his own interest and no doubt, he did justice to the character. The movie was an average commercial success. Because of its dark story, studios did not show much interest in the begining. However, it received many positive reviews and won two Golden Globe Awards and received three Oscar nominations.

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