My Favorite Musical Movies: to be seen again & again
My Fair Lady (1964)— This American musical film was adapted from Lerner & Loewe stage musical based on the 1913 stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Directed by George Cukor, music & lyrics by Fredrick Loewe & Alan Jay Lerner, costume by Cecil Beaton. Won 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. NY Times had a full-page ad in 1963 on Quarterly Newsletters on My Fair Lady's production, which I received. Bought Cecil Beaton's Fair Lady (1964) to learn more on his costume design for Audrey Hepburn in this film. Favorite musical numbers from film: "I Could Have Danced All Night", "Just You Wait", "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face". Favorite scene in movie: Eliza at the Ascot Race shouting "Come on Dover! Move your bloomin' arse!" (YouTube). Bought a still photo of this scene for $1 at a 42nd Street NYC movie photo store.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 96%, Audience: 90%
Sound of Music (1965)— Robert Wise produced & directed this musical movie. It starred Julie Andrews & Christopher Plummer. The nusic is by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Ernest Lehman wrote the screenplay. By November 1966, The Sound of Music had become the highest-grossing film of all-time— surpassing Gone with the Wind. It received five Academy Awards, including Best Picture & Best Director. My favorite songs from this film are "The Sound of Music", "My Favorite Things", "Edelweiss", and "Climb Every Mountain". Wrote a poem (2014) "Robert Wise Honors Marni Nixon in The Sound of Music"— “It is a nice gesture for Robert Wise / to cast Marni Nixon as Sister Sophia / in The Sound
of Music
for the Greek word / sophia means 'wisdom' embodied by Wise.”
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 86%, Audience: 91%
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)— When James Cagney appeared on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, they always screen scenes from his gangster movies. Especially the breakfast scene in Public Enemy where he shoves a grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face. Cagney would say, "I'm no gangster. I'm really a song-and-dance man." After seeing Yankee Doodle Dandy, I heartily agree. Whenever I see this film at Stanford Theatre, I'll skip, hop, and jump, dancing down University Avenue to the Palo Alto Train Depot to catch Bus #22 home. Favorite scenes from the movie— "The Yankee Doodle Boy". "Give My Regards To Broadway", "Mary's a Grand Old Name" (by Joan Leslie & Irene Manning). Skipping down White House stairs after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented him with Medal of Freedom. "Over There" finale to film. Loved Joan Leslie playing Mary Cohan in this film. She died at 90.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 92%, Audience: 83%
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)— Audited Professor Scott Bukatman's Stanford class "Studies in Authorship: Films of Vincente Minnelli" (Spring Quarter 2006). The film starts with Summer 1903, relating a year in the life of the Smith family in St. Louis, leading up to the opening of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair) in the spring of 1904. Favorite songs: "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis", "Skip to My Lou", "Under the Bamboo Tree", "You and I", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Bukatman argued that Minnelli should be regarded as an auteur like Hitchcock, John Ford, and Frederico Fellini. He showed scenes where Minelli continues the "Meet Me in St. Louis" song at the film's opening. He framed Judy Garland in the window scene and before the mirror as if sketching a beautiful portrait. The dance scene "Skip to My Lou" was choreographed in such a tight space— great film artistry.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 100%, Audience: 87%
The Band Wagon (1953)— Saw this film on April 6, 2006 as part of Professor Scott Bukatman's Stanford class on "Films of Vincente Minnelli". He told us that the film will not be shown on campus, but at the Stanford Theatre on University Avenue in Palo Alto. Saw this film on the weekend in time for class discussions on Tuesday. The film's story is about an aging musical star (Fred Astaire) who hopes a Broadway show will restart his career. However, the play's director (Jack Buchanan) wants to make it a pretentious retelling of the Faust legend and brings in a prima ballerina (Cyd Charisse) who clashes with the star. Hilarious scene of Faust production with dense smoke and stage collapsing. Clumsy in ballet, Fred Astaire revolts shouting
"I declare my independence— 1776!" Favorite film scenes: "Shine on Your Shoes", "Dancing in the Dark", "New Sun in the Sky", and especially "Girl Hunt Ballet".
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 100%, Audience: 82%
Singin' in the Rain (1952)— This film was directed & choreographed by Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, starring Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds.
It depicts the late 1920s Hollywood, with three performers struggling during the transition from silent films to "talkies". Jean Hagen who spoke with a squeaky voice was nominated for Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. Kelly, O'Connor, and Reynolds didn't get any nominations for their roles in this film. The film was only a modest hit when first released, but has since been accorded legendary status by contemporary critics, and is regarded as the best film musical ever made. Favorite scenes: Donald O'Connor dancing in "Make 'Em Laugh" Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain", "You Were Meant for Me", "You Are My Lucky Star", Cyd Charisse in "Broadway Melody". Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 100%, Audience: 95%
The King and I (1956)— This film is based on the Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King and I. The play was based on Anna and the King of Siam novel by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs by Anna Leonowens. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, it won five, including
Best Actor for Yul Brynner. Strong-willed, widowed schoolteacher Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr) arrives in Bangkok from Wales with her young son Louis to tutor the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. Favorite scenes: "I Whistle a Happy Tune", The March of the Siamese Children, "Getting to Know You", "Hello, Young Lovers", "Something Wonderful" "Shall We Dance?".
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 96%, Audience: 83%
Mary Poppins (1964)— This musical fantasy film was directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Walt Disney, with songs written and composed by the Sherman Brothers. Film was based on P. L. Travers's book series Mary Poppins. It starred Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews. It received 13 Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture— a record for any other film released by Walt Disney Studios— and won five; Best Actress for Andrews, Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Song for "Chim Chim Cher-ee". It's interesting that Julie Andrews played in My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison on stage (1956-1963), longest-running musical at the time, but was ignored for film version. However they appeared as winners for Best Acting at the 1964 Academy Awards. Favorite songs: "A Spoonful of Sugar", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", "Chim Chim Cher-ee". Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 100%, Audience: 86%
Pinocchio (1940)— Saw this Disney animation musical fantasy film as a boy in Shanghai around 1948. It was based on the Italian children's novel Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. Film's plot involves an old wood-carver Geppetto who carves a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. The puppet is brought to life by a blue fairy, who informs him that he can become a real boy if he proves himself to be "brave, truthful, and unselfish". She assigns Jiminy Cricket to be his conscience. However on his way to school, Pinocchio is led astray to Stromboli's puppet show, and later by Lampwick to Pleasure Island. Favorite songs: "When You Wish Upon A Star", "I've Got No Strings", "Give a Little Whistle". Best scene: Monstro the Whale.
Metaphor: We're made of wood (ego-self) unless we aspire to be real (Cosmic-Self).
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: 100%, Audience: 72%
Sunny Side Up (1929)— Saw this film at Stanford Theatre on December 18, 2015 as part of 100th anniversary of Fox Film Corp. On the cover of their brochure was a photo of Janet Gaynor in Sunny Side Up. She was the first winner of Best Actress Academy Award in 1927/1928 for 7th Heaven and Sunrise. This musical comedy is about a young society man (Charles Farrell) who meets a flapper from New York tenement district. Highpoint is the "Turn On the Heat" music and dance sequence which ranks as one of the most bizarre and entertaining delights of the pre-code era. Favorite scene is Gaynor performing a charming singing & dancing version of the song "(Keep Your) Sunny Side Up" for a crowd of her neighbors, complete with top hat and cane. Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: Critics: None available, Audience: 50%

© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (12-9-2018)