THE BEST STAGE-TO-SCREEN MUSICAL ADAPTATIONS
There are fewer good ones than you'd think. Here are my 10 favorites.
- •1776I adore every moment of this movie. And it sticks quite close to the play! I'm not a purist per se, but why mess with perfection? While not my favorite musical movie period (that'll be for a different list), this one is hands down the best stage-to-screen adaptation.
- •The Rocky Horror Picture ShowThis is not a bad movie. This is not a so-bad-it's-good movie. This is a GREAT movie. It knows what it's doing from the opening frame to the very end. I love this movie so much, it's gotten to where I don't enjoy the midnight screenings because it feels like people are there for the wrong reasons. C'mon ya hipsters - let go of that irony and give yourself over to absolute pleasure.
- •The Sound of MusicYes, The Sound of Music. It's pure, unbridled saccharine historical whitewashing, and it's terrific - better than the stage show, even! It's pure cornball, and by gum, it works.
- •Little Shop of Horrors (Director's Cut)The restoration of this film's original ending is one of the great cinematic gifts of the Blu-ray era. Sure, the theatrical "happily ever after" ending is fine, but the darker, original ending both better fits the tone of the piece and features some INCREDIBLE puppetry from Lyle Conway.
- •My Fair LadyOf all the big, overstuffed, obviously-a-soundstage roadshow musicals of the '60s, this one is easily the best. I'm not wild about actors not doing their own singing (see West Side Story later in this list), but it works here as good as it ever has. Plus, it's just a great show.
- •Hedwig and the Angry InchThis shouldn't work as a movie. Yes, the songs are fantastic, but the stage show is a performance piece, not a narrative. But damn it, JCM makes it work.
- •West Side StoryLoses points for casting (both in singing ability and in inappropriate whiteness), but it's still a pretty killer experience.
- •Gentlemen Prefer BlondesI'm not super familiar with the source material here, but as a movie, it is a delight.
- •Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetA movie based on a masterpiece can be merely very good and not a failure. You (we) Sondheim fans are so difficult to please, you (we) know that?? Into the Woods was good too! But I'm going to give the edge to Sweeney here. This is a very different take on the material, yes, but it works. The near-whisper singing works on screen, and it sets a wonderful mood that remains consistent throughout. I like this one a lot.
- •GodspellYour mileage may vary here, but I'm giving #10 to Godspell. Because it's pretty good and I didn't want to end the list at nine.