Mini-Film Festival: Must-See Musicals

Grease (1978)

My Rating: ***

When my nephew was about five years old, the family gathered around the TV to watch “Grease.” For the adults, it was out 7,000th time seeing the classic. But it was my nephew’s first day at Rydell High – and he dropped out after 10 minutes. The little angel said that the boys on the motorcycles were “being naughty,” and he shouldn’t be watching this movie with bad people in it. My nephew then sequestered himself to his room, leaving several bewildered adults in his wake. This cute story has nothing to do with the movie (you’ve seen it a dozen times by now anyway). It’s just a chance for me to embarrass the now 20 year old. You’ll always be my puddin’ pop, Boo!

Hello Dolly (1969)

My rating: ****

From what I hear, this movie was not well received when it was released. Bu as far as I’m concerned, “Hello Dolly” is exactly what a musical should be. Great costumes. Great songs. Grand dance numbers. Strong direction by Gene Kelly. And some genuinely funny performances from Barbra Streisand, Walter Matheau and Michael Crawford. Hey, that lonely garbage-collecting robot knew a god movie when he saw one.

High Society (1956)

My Rating: ***

This 1956 musical version of “The Philadelphia Story” was the last movie Grace Kelly made before becoming a real-life princess. It tells the nearly farcical story of a Rhode Island debutante on the eve of her second wedding. Bing Crosby plays her jazzman first husband. Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm are two good-natured tabloid reporters sent to cover the affair. Tunes provided by Sinatra, Crosby and Louis Armstrong. A real hep musical with a swingin’ soundtrack.

My Fair Lady (1964)

My Rating: **

Over the years I’ve seen this movie about five times, I even own a copy of it. And you know what? I still don’t like it. I don’t think it’s a bad movie. In fact, the photography and costumes truly make this a “classic.” And the songs are unforgettable. It’s that darn Prof. Higgins. The guy is an arrogant, sexist colossal jerk — and not in that “he may seem gruff, but he really has a heart of gold” way either. But the worst part is: Eliza goes back to him! Not to ruin the ending for the three people who haven’t seen the musical, but if you want to leave the movie with respect for any of the characters, my advice is to skip the last 10 minutes. The first 160 minutes of the film gets four stars. The last few minutes get an nasty “X.”