I have a soft spot for movie musicals (MMs). My husband does not. The other night, while watching a documentary, The People vs. George Lucas (TPVGL), I learned that my husband's only exposure to MMs was through clips and dance sequences referenced by film critics or filmmakers. He has been in the room, tapping on his laptop, while I've watched MMs at home (Chicago, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog, Tangled). For the record, he refused to be in the room for Moulin Rouge(!).
In TPVGL there was a clip from a Star Wars fan film spoofing George Lucas remastering Singin' in the Rain (watch the entire fan film below). My reaction was, "Uh! I haven't seen Singin' in the Rain in a while. Let's watch it!" My husband's was, "Uh, I see clips like this and I never want to watch that movie." I asked him to remind me if he had ever seen it. He said, "No. I've seen clips. I hate musicals, remember?" Then I asked him, "Have you ever actually watched one?" He said, "No, not really."
Years ago, when he told me, "I hate musicals," I assumed, incorrectly, that he had seen some. In fact, he had not. This whole time he hated something he has been completely ignorant of!
We made a deal. We would watch Singin' in the Rain (SITR), which I, and many others (I looked it up), consider to be the best MM. If he hated it, I would not ask him to watch another MM.
While waiting for SITR to spin up, I asked him to explain why he hates MMs. He told me that he doesn't like the idea of people randomly breaking into song. It breaks up the narrative flow and tone of the film. He also thought the idea of jamming key plot elements into thirty seconds of dialogue between musical numbers suggested that storytelling did not matter.
As modern filmgoers, we have been conditioned to watch films with interludes that consist of fast-paced, tightly edited fight scenes or car chases. I would argue that those editing and pacing choices are just as disruptive to a film's narrative flow as a song and dance number.
While we were watching SITR, my husband asked if we could talk. I said, sure. That turned out to be useful. We both pointed out interesting shots, dance sequences, funny lines, good background art, and other things. There were a few times when I looked nervously at him, wondering if he was thinking the same thing as I was--that a particular musical number was dragging. He seemed fully engrossed. At the end he declared, "That was really good." And the next day he said, "If you pick out some more musicals, I'll watch them with you..."
Here are some of my favorite MMs. We will try to watch as many of them as we can over the next few weeks:
All that Jazz (1979)
West Side Story (1961)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
An American in Paris (1951)
Top Hat (1935)
Marry Poppins (1964) or The Sound of Music (1965) (I don't think he could do both)
Important note: I recognize that the films above may not be the best MMs, but they are among my favorites. Also, knowing my husband, I know he may have trouble watching some of them. I'm guessing Mary Poppins and Top Hat. He would definitely have trouble watching other favorites of mine like Carousel, Oklahoma!, The Wizard of Oz, and A Star is Born, which is why they are omitted above.
If you have favorite MMs that you would like to share, please let us know in a comment!
Here is the full fan film that is mostly responsible for our MMs journey.