I went with some family members Friday night to a high school production of “The Music Man”. This is my favorite musical, and it got me to thinking about all of my favorites. So, this afternoon, I baked chocolate chip brownies and watched three of my favorite movie musicals: “The Music Man”, “Singing in the Rain”, and “Cover Girl.”
As I said, “The Music Man” (1962) is my favorite musical. I can’t remember when I first saw it, but I was hooked from the start. The film is set in a small town in Iowa in July 1912. Robert Preston plays “Professor” Harold Hill, a con man posing as a bandleader/travelling salesman who sells band instruments, uniforms and the “Think System”, his “method” of learning music. Shirley Jones plays Marian Paroo, the town spinster librarian/piano teacher who is justifiably suspicious of Hill, but gradually finds herself falling in love with him.
Nominated for five Academy Awards, this movie is great fun, the Meredith Willson score is catchy and memorable, and Jones and Preston are perfect in their roles. Watch also for Ronny Howard (director Ron Howard) as Marian Paroo’s younger brother, Winthrop. He was ADORABLE, and in my opinion, stole every scene he was in.
Watch also for the Oscar nominated costuming by Dorothy Jeakins. I love good costuming; it greatly enhances my enjoyment of a movie, in particular, musicals. The costumes here live up to the nomination. Watch for the costumes worn by the town biddies when they sing “Pickalittle (Talk a Little)”. Like the gossipy hens that they are, the women are dressed in browns and rusts, with prodigious use of feathers, and hen-like patterns. Brilliant!!
Another favorite musical is “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952). If you haven’t seen this movie, you MUST see it now. Trust me. This send-up of early Hollywood is hilarious. Gene Kelly is at his amazing best, as are Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. But my favorite performance of the entire movie is that of Jean Hagen, who plays Lina Lamont. She is incredibly funny. Hagen well deserved the Oscar nomination she received for this performance.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is considered one of the best musicals ever made, and was among the first 25 films chosen for the newly established National Film Registry for films that are deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the US Library of Congress in 1989.
I also watched “Cover Girl” (1944) today. My mom introduced me to this movie many, many years ago. She distinctly remembered seeing it at the movie theater in Detroit when it was released. This is probably not a particularly well-known movie by most folks today, but it was quite popular during the war years. Starring Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly, it tells the story of a chorus girl who is given a chance of stardom when she becomes a magazine cover girl. I am a BIG Gene Kelly fan; I love his athletic dancing and this movie doesn’t disappoint. The dance numbers are superb, the costumes are lavish, and Rita Hayworth was so beautiful. I cry every time I watch it, even though I know that it does end happily.
Tell me about your favorite movie musicals.