Movie Class 101 – Week 003 – From Broadway to the Big Screen

April 26, 2012

Week Three: From Broadway to the Big Screen

You may have noticed that the movie industry likes to get it’s stories from other places.  Novels, plays, musicals… although now Broadway Musicals are being made from movies so I guess turn about it fair play.

It was a bit of a jumble from time to time.  Stars from Broadway thought they should have the opportunity to continue their starring roles on the silver screen but movie moguls wanted to hedge their bets with stars… even if they couldn’t sing.  Which is why Julie Andrew wasn’t allowed to reprise her role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  Audrey Hepburn took the role but the singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon (who dubbed the singing in The King and I and West Side Story as well).  Rex Harrison got to keep his role but not Julie.

Musicals started to fall out of favor in the 1960s even when some musicals made bank at the box office the cost of the flops (Camelot,Hello Dolly!, Sweet Charity, Doctor Dolittle, Man of La Mancha, and Mame) caused studios to rethink how many musicals they were willing to make.

The 1970s through 90s saw a smattering of musicals.  Some successful (Annie and Little Shop of Horrors) and some not so successful (The Wiz).

And now we are in a new age of musicals with Chicago, Dreamgirls, Mamma Mia!, etc.

But let’s go back to the good old days when Broadway Musicals were made into bright, showy, spellbinding movies.

And now for this week’s film list.

1. Damn Yankees (1958)
2. Oliver (1968)
3. Annie (1982)
4. A Chorus Line (1985)

Bonus films
5. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
6. Cabaret (1972)
7. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)

Discussion Questions –

1 – Do you think musicals are good escapist fun or totally out of touch?
2 – Does it matter if the actor is singing their own songs or not?
3 – Do you prefer musical numbers that move the plot forward or show-stoppers that have nothing to do with the plot and are just song and dance-tastic?

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