This is a tough list to compile because there have been so many amazing musicals put to film. Despite that, we tried! Here are the top 10 film musicals – be sure to tell us your favorites in the comments.
10. Cabaret (1972)
It is the city of Berlin in 1930, a time when political unrest racks the country, the economy has been destroyed, and millions of unemployed roam the streets. Enter into this chaos an American cabaret dancer, working at the downtown “Kit-Kat club” where anything goes on the stage. Into this young dancer’s life come several characters such as a rich German politician, a young Jewish man struggling with his identity, an Englishman teacher from London, and of course the all-knowing, all-seeing Master of Ceremonies.
9. The Lion King (1994)
A young lion prince is born in Africa, thus making his uncle Scar the second in line to the throne. Scar plots with the hyenas to kill King Mufasa and Prince Simba, thus making himself King. The King is killed and Simba is led to believe by Scar that it was his fault, and so flees the kingdom in shame. After years of exile he is persuaded to return home to overthrow the usurper and claim the kingdom as his own thus completing the “Circle of Life”.
8. My Fair Lady (1964)
Gloriously witty adaptation of the Broadway musical about Professor Henry Higgins, who takes a bet from Colonel Pickering that he can transform unrefined, dirty Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a lady, and fool everyone into thinking she really is one, too! He does, and thus young aristocrat Freddy Eynsford-Hill falls madly in love with her. But when Higgins takes all the credit and forgets to acknowledge her efforts, Eliza angrily leaves him for Freddy, and suddenly Higgins realizes he’s grown accustomed to her face and can’t really live without it.
7. West Side Story (1961)
Westside story is the award winning adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliette. The feuding families become two warring New York City gangs- the white Jets led by Riff and the Puerto Rican Sharks, led by Brenardo. Their hatred escalates to a point where neither can coexist with any form of understanding. But when Riff’s best friend (and former Jet) Tony and Bernardo’s younger sister Maria meet at a dance, no one can do anything to stop their love. Maria and Tony begin meeting in secret, planning to run away. Then the Sharks and Jets plan a rumble under the highway – whoever wins gains control of the streets. Maria sends Tony to stop it, hoping it can end the violence. It goes terribly wrong, and before the lovers know what’s happened, tragedy strikes and doesn’t stop until the climatic and heartbreaking ending.
6. The Sound of Music (1965)
Maria had longed to be a nun since she was a young girl, yet when she became old enough discovered that it wasn’t at all what she thought. Often in trouble and doing the wrong things, Maria is sent to the house of a retired naval captain, named Captain Von Trapp, to care for his children. Von Trapp was widowed several years before and was left to care for seven ‘rowdy’ children. The children have run off countless governesses. Maria soon learns that all these children need is a little love to change their attitudes. Maria teaches the children to sing, and through her, music is brought back into the hearts and home of the Von Trapp family. Unknowingly, Maria and Captain Von Trapp are falling helplessly in love, except there are two problems, the Captain is engaged, and Maria is a postulant!
5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
After Janet accepts Brad’s marriage proposal, the happy couple drives away from Denton, Ohio, only to get lost in the rain. They stumble upon the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite who is holding the annual convention of visitors from the planet Transsexual. Frank-N-Furter unveils his creation, a young man named Rocky Horror, who fears the doctor and rejects his sexual advances. When Frank-N-Furter announces that he is returning to the galaxy Transylvania, Riff Raff the butler and Magenta the maid declare that they have plans of their own.
4. Mary Poppins (1964)
The movie combines a diverting story, songs, colour and sequences of live action blended with the movements of animated figures. Mary Poppins is a kind of Super-nanny who flies in with her umbrella in response to the request of the Banks children and proceeds to put things right with the aid of her rather extraordinary magical powers before flying off again.
3. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
When a nasty neighbour tries to have her dog put to sleep, Dorothy takes her dog Toto, to run away. A cyclone appears and carries her to the magical land of Oz. Wishing to return she begins to travel to the Emerald City where a great wizard lives. On her way she meets a Scarecrow who needs a brain, a Tin Man who wants a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who desperately needs courage. They all hope the Wizard of Oz will help them, before the Wicked Witch of the West catches up with them.
2. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
In 1927, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a famous on-screen romantic pair. Lina, however, mistakes the on-screen romance for real love. Don has worked hard to get where he is today, with his former partner Cosmo. When Don and Lina’s latest film is transformed into a musical, Don has the perfect voice for the songs. But Lina – well, even with the best efforts of a diction coach, they still decide to dub over her voice. Kathy Selden is brought in, an aspiring actress, and while she is working on the movie, Don falls in love with her. Will Kathy continue to “aspire”, or will she get the break she deserves?
1. Grease (1978)
Sandy Olsen is a goody two shoes from Australia; Danny Zuko is the head T-Bird from Rydell High. However when the two meet up during the summer, they fall in love. But when the summer ends, the two think they’ll never see each other again. However they’re both wrong, Sandy and her parents have moved to America and she is now attending Danny’s school. When the two discover that they attend the same school, there is a lot of debate over whether they can still be together since it’s uncool for Danny to be in love with a goody goody like Sandy. However the two, against all odds, manage to stay together. Then graduation comes and Sandy is about to change in a way no one expected.
Bonus: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
How could we do a list like this and leave out the oompah-loompahs? The song starts around 2:40.
Notable Omissions: Chicago