The film musical

Here you’ll find links to some of my film reviews of musicals on the screen. It’s my favourite genre so keep checking back!

My “I L<3ve Musicals!” list on Letterboxd

Go to the 1930s | Go to the 1940s | Go to the 1950s | Go to the 1960s | Go to the 1970s | Go to the 1980s | Go to the 1990s | Go to the 2000s | Go to the 2010s

1920s

The Jazz Singer is the one movie musical everyone recalls, although in the latter years of the twenties there were a significant number of titles exploiting the new craze for what was originally termed “soundies”.

The first screen operetta was made by Warner Bros, The Desert Song.

Reviews:

  • Applause (1929)
  • The Big Revue (1929)
  • Broadway (1929)
  • The Broadway Melody (1929)
  • Broadway Scandals (1929)
  • The Cocoanuts (1929)
  • The Desert Song (1929)
  • Glorifying the American Girl (1929)
  • Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929)
  • Happy Days (1929)
  • The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)
  • The Jazz Singer (1927)
  • The Love Parade (1929)
  • A Plantation Act (1926)
  • Red Hot Rhythm (1929)
  • Rio Rita (1929)
  • Sally (1929)
  • Show Boat (1929)
  • Show of Shows (1929)
  • Splinters (1929)
  • Sunnyside Up (1929)
  • Syncopation (1929)

1930s

All the big studios plus Poverty Row jumped on the bandwagon, and musical films started to flourish in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and around the globe. The first boom of musical films was from 1930 to 1932, with some colour sequences, and saturated the market.  The genre was here to stay.

Big names from this era in the USA include the director Busby Berkeley, and performers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler.  In Great Britain Jessie Matthews, George Formby, Gracie Fields, the Lupino family, and Evelyn Laye were big box-office draws.

Reviews:

  • 23 1/2 Hours Leave (1937)
  • The 3Penny Opera (1931)
  • 365 Nights in Hollywood (1934)
  • 42nd Street (1933)
  • Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938)
  • Animal Crackers (1930)
  • Aunt Sally (1934)
  • The Blue Angel (1930)
  • Broadway Gondolier (1935)
  • Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
  • Cab Calloway’s Hi de Ho (1934)
  • Cab Calloway’s Jitterbug Party (1935)
  • Carefree (1938)
  • The Cat and the Fiddle (1934)
  • Caught Plastered (1931)
  • Check and Double Check (1930)
  • Cockeyed Cavaliers (1934)
  • The Cookie Carnival (1935)
  • Cracked Nuts (1931)
  • Crazy House (1930)
  • The Cuckoos (1930)
  • Dames (1934)
  • A Damsel in Distress (1937)
  • Dancing Lady (1933)
  • The Devil’s Cabaret (1930)
  • Diplomaniacs (1933)
  • Dixiana (1930)
  • The Dogway Melody (1930)
  • Elstree Calling (1930)
  • The Florodora Girl (1930)
  • Flying Down to Rio (1933)
  • Folies Bergere de Paris (1935)
  • Follow the Fleet (1936)
  • The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  • Girl Crazy (1932)
  • Go Into Your Dance (1935)
  • Going Gay (1933)
  • Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
  • Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  • Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936)
  • The Good Companions (1933)
  • Good News (1930)
  • The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
  • Gulliver’s Travels (1939)
  • Gypsy Night (1935)
  • Half Shot at Sunrise (1930)
  • Harmony Heaven (1930)
  • Heart’s Desire (1935)
  • High Flyers (1937)
  • High, Wide, and Handsome (1937)
  • Hips, Hips, Hooray! (1934)
  • Hollywood Party (1934) & The Hot-Choc-Late Soldiers
  • King of Jazz (1930)
  • La Cucharaca (1934)
  • Land Without Music (1936)
  • Lawless Range (1935)
  • Lily of Killarney (1934)
  • Looking on the Bright Side (1932)
  • The Lottery Bride (1930)
  • Mad About Music (1938)
  • Madam Satan (1930)
  • Maytime (1937)
  • Melody Cruise (1933)
  • The Merry Widow (1934)
  • The Mikado (1939)
  • Moonlight Murder (1936)
  • Morocco (1930)
  • Murder at the Vanities (1934)
  • New Moon (1930)
  • No Lady (1931)
  • On Again – Off Again (1937)
  • One Hour With You (1932)
  • One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937)
  • Pagliacci (1936)
  • Paramount on Parade (1930)
  • Peach-O-Reno (1931)
  • Pirate Party on Catalina Isle (1935)
  • The Rainmakers (1935)
  • Riders of the Rockies (1937)
  • Roberta (1935)
  • Rosalie (1937)
  • Rose of Washington Square (1939)
  • Rufus Jones for President (1933)
  • Sadie McKee (1934)
  • Sally in Our Alley (1931)
  • Seasoned Greetings (1933)
  • Shall We Dance (1937)
  • Shipmates o’ Mine (1936)
  • Show Boat (1936)
  • Sing and Like It (1934)
  • Sing As We Go (1934)
  • Sing As You Swing (1938)
  • Sleepless Nights (1932)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  • So This is Africa (1933)
  • Soup to Nuts (1930)
  • Southern Roses (1936)
  • Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove (1934)
  • Starlit Days at the Lido (1935)
  • Stars on Parade (1936)
  • The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)
  • The Student’s Romance (1935)
  • Suzy (1936)
  • Sweethearts (1938)
  • Swing Time (1936)
  • Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life (1935)
  • The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)
  • There Goes The Bride (1932)
  • Things Are Looking Up (1935)
  • The Three Musketeers (1939)
  • Top Hat (1935)
  • Waltzes from Vienna (1934)
  • Way Out West (1937)
  • Whoopee! (1930)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • You Made Me Love You (1933)

1940s

Musicals became bigger, brighter and bolder.  The Freed Unit at MGM had a strong claim on being the home of movie musicals.

Reviews:

  • The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr Toad (1949)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1949)
  • All Girl Revue (1940)
  • Anchors Aweigh (1945)
  • The Balloon Goes Up (1942)
  • Bambi (1942)
  • The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
  • The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (1949)
  • Bees in Paradise (1944)
  • Bitter Sweet (1940)
  • Bless ’em All (1949)
  • Blue Skies (1946)
  • The Boys from Syracuse (1940)
  • Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
  • Buck Privates (1941)
  • Cabin in the Sky (1943)
  • Calendar Girl (1947)
  • Carnegie Hall (1947)
  • Casey at the Bat (1946)
  • The Chocolate Soldier (1941)
  • Cover Girl (1944)
  • Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)
  • Delightfully Dangerous (1945)
  • Demobbed (1944)
  • Dumbo (1941)
  • Easter Parade (1948)
  • Fantasia (1940)
  • Fiesta (1947)
  • For Me and My Gal (1942)
  • Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
  • Good News (1947)
  • The Great Mr Handel (1942)
  • The Harvey Girls (1946)
  • Here Come the Co-eds (1945)
  • Honeymoon (1947)
  • I Married an Angel (1942)
  • I’ll Walk Beside You (1943)
  • It All Came True (1940)
  • It Happened in Brooklyn (1947)
  • Jam Session (1942)
  • The Kid from Brooklyn (1946)
  • The Kissing Bandit (1948)
  • Lady on a Train (1945)
  • Las Vegas Nights (1941)
  • Living in a Big Way (1947)
  • Make Mine Music (1946)
  • Maytime in Mayfair (1949)
  • Meet Me in St Louis (1944)
  • Meet the People (1944)
  • Melody Club (1949)
  • Melody Time (1948)
  • Minstrel Man (1944)
  • Miss London Ltd (1943)
  • Movieland Magic (1946)
  • Mr Bug Goes to Town (1941)
  • A Musical Masquerade (1946)
  • My Pal Trigger (1946)
  • New Moon (1940)
  • On the Town (1949)
  • One Touch of Venus (1948)
  • Orchestra Wives (1942)
  • Phantom of the Opera (1943)
  • Pinocchio (1940)
  • The Pirate (1948)
  • Playmates (1941)
  • Private Buckaroo (1942)
  • The Proud Valley (1940)
  • The Red Shoes (1948)
  • Rio Rita (1942)
  • Romance on the High Seas (1948)
  • Second Chorus (1940)
  • The Sky’s The Limit (1943)
  • Smilin’ Through (1941)
  • A Song is Born (1948)
  • Song of the South (1946)
  • Stage Door Canteen (1943)
  • State Fair (1945)
  • Stormy Weather (1943)
  • Sun Valley Serenade (1941)
  • Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)
  • Theatre Royal (1943)
  • They Got Me Covered (1943)
  • The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
  • This Time for Keeps (1947)
  • The Three Caballeros (1944)
  • Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
  • Tin Pan Alley (1940)
  • To Have and Have Not (1944)
  • Too Many Girls (1940)
  • Under Your Hat (1940)
  • Up in the Air (1940)
  • Variety Jubilee (1943)
  • Week-End at the Waldorf (1945)
  • Wonder Man (1945)
  • Words and Music (1948)
  • Yolanda and the Thief (1945)
  • You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
  • You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)
  • Ziegfeld Follies (1945)
  • Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
  • Zis Boom Bah (1941)

1950s

The golden age of movie musicals. Adaptations also start to appear on television, and some original content is written for the small screen.

Reviews:

  • … e Napoli Canta (1953)
  • 3 Ring Circus (1954)
  • The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T (1953)
  • 6.5 Special (1958)
  • After the Ball (1957)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  • An Alligator Named Daisy (1955)
  • An American in Paris (1951)
  • Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
  • Anything Goes (1956)
  • The Band Wagon (1953)
  • Basin Street Revue (1956)
  • The Beggar’s Opera (1953)
  • The Belle of New York (1952)
  • The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956)
  • Brigadoon (1954)
  • Bundle of Joy (1956)
  • Calamity Jane (1953)
  • Call Me Mister (1951)
  • Carousel (1956)
  • Cinderella (1957)
  • Cinderella (1950)
  • The Court Jester (1955)
  • Daddy Long Legs (1955)
  • The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady (1950)
  • The Desert Song (1955)
  • The Desert Song (1953)
  • Double Dynamite (1951)
  • The First Traveling Saleslady (1956)
  • Funny Face (1957)
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
  • Gigi (1958)
  • The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
  • The Glass Slipper (1955)
  • The Glenn Miller Story (1954)
  • The Good Companions (1957)
  • The Great Caruso (1951)
  • Guys and Dolls (1955)
  • High Society (1956)
  • Honeymoon / Luna de miel (1959)
  • I Love Melvin (1953)
  • Idle/Idol on Parade (1959)
  • Invitation to the Dance (1956)
  • It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)
  • Jailhouse Rock (1957)
  • The Jazz Singer (1959)
  • The Jazz Singer (1952)
  • The Joker is Wild (1957)
  • The King and I (1956)
  • King Creole (1958)
  • Kismet (1955)
  • Kiss Me Kate (1953)
  • Lady and the Tramp (1955)
  • Les Girls (1957)
  • Let’s Dance (1950)
  • Lilacs in the Spring (1954)
  • Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
  • Lullaby of Broadway (1951)
  • My Friend Irma Goes West (1950)
  • My Sister Eileen (1955)
  • Oh … Rosalinda! (1956)
  • Oklahoma! (1955)
  • Once Upon a Honeymoon (1956)
  • One Froggy Evening (1955)
  • The Opposite Sex (1956)
  • Painting the Clouds With Sunshine (1951)
  • Pal Joey (1957)
  • Rock Around the Clock (1956)
  • Rock You Sinners (1957)
  • Royal Wedding (1951)
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
  • She’s Back on Broadway (1953)
  • Show Boat (1951)
  • Silk Stockings (1957)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  • Singing Guns (1950)
  • Soho Conspiracy (1950)
  • Some Like it Hot (1959)
  • South Pacific (1958)
  • A Star is Born (1954)
  • The Student Prince (1954)
  • Summer Stock (1950)
  • The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)
  • Tea for Two (1950)
  • Three Little Words (1950)
  • Tom Thumb (1958)
  • Torch Song (1953)
  • Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)
  • We Are The Lambeth Boys (1959)
  • What’s Opera, Doc? (1957)

1960s

Traditional adaptations of stage musicals rubbed shoulders with the rock ‘n’ roll exploitation movie, and the beach party franchises. However, the lengthy, big-budget musical began to lose popularity.

1970s

Classic Bollywood films gain supremacy in India.

The birth of the rock opera and the cult musical changed the landscape.

1980s

Teen musicals proliferated, and by the end of the decade the animated musical had reached a resurgence with The Little Mermaid.

1990s

The animated musical grew beyond Disney, and a number of much-loved stage productions were captured in live or studio versions for future audiences.

2000s

The musical became darker, and the decade saw the rise of the so-called “jukebox” musical such as Mamma Mia and Rock of Ages.

2010s

The rise in musical biopics continues, and the genre as a whole remains healthy and popular.


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