When sound film became popular in the late 1920s, movie musicals began. The genre has had highs and lows in popularity but musicals - both original and adaptations - are still being made. The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St Louis are two other top recommendations but many will have already seen those (and if not, they're highly recommended).
Both a classic musical and a classic comedy about Hollywood, this tells the story of silent film stars Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly, who co-directed with Stanley Donen) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) have their careers threatened with the coming of sound. He adjusts but she does not, because her voice is harsh and nasal. Don has met and is falling in love with aspiring performer Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) and it's decided she will dub Lina's vocals. But jealous Lina makes trouble. This is one of the peaks of the M-G-M musical.
Quote: "Dignity. Always dignity."
Trivia: When Kathy is dubbing Lina speaking, it is actually Hagen's real voice that's heard.
If you like this, try: The Band Wagon, An American in Paris, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
This adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's stage hit became one of the all-time top-grossers. Based on a true story, it's about novitiate Maria (Julie Andrews), sent by her convent to be governess to the seven children of widowed Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). Her presence charms the mischievous kids and stirs feelings in the Captain but there are complications. Its success led to a spate of big-budget musicals, many of which flopped.
Quote: "You brought music back into the house."
Trivia: Plummer apparently referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus. His singing was dubbed.
If you like this, try: My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, Oliver!
This Broadway-musical adaptation - a late 1970s film adapted from an early 1970s musical about the late 1950s - has retained its popularity. Australian expat Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) finds herself at the same American high school as Danny (John Travolta), with whom she had a summer romance. He has to maintain his cool reputation, which strains things. Let's hope young viewers don't pay too much attention to the lyrics and storyline.
Quote: "Tell me about it, stud."
Trivia: There are several old-time supporting cast members including Sid Caesar, Edd Byrnes, Eve Arden and Frankie Avalon.
If you like this, try: Dear Evan Hansen, West Side Story, Dirty Dancing.
The Lion King was part of the Disney Renaissance that began with The Little Mermaid (1989). It's the highest-grossing hand-drawn animated film. The story is a jungle animal version of Hamlet (and has similarities to Kimba the White Lion). Lion cub Simba flees after his wicked uncle Scar, wanting to become king, makes him believe he's killed his father. But he eventually returns to reclaim his birthright.
Quote: "Being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble."
Trivia: The CGI remake in 2019 grossed even more but the original is superior.
If you like this, try: Pinocchio, Bambi, Beauty and the Beast.
Baz Luhrmann's flamboyant style, with lavish costumes and production design by his wife Catherine Martin, is on full display in this hit jukebox movie musical. The inspirations include La Boheme. Parisian writer Christian (Ewan McGregor) and his bohemian friends visit the title cabaret to try to get a show produced. Christian falls in love with its star, the courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman). The songs range from Nature Boy to Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Quote: "Come what may, I will love you until my dying day."
Trivia: Come What May, originally written for Romeo + Juliet, is the only fully original song.
If you like this, try: Strictly Ballroom (not strictly a musical), La La Land, Rocketman.
The 1975 Kander and Ebb musical became ever more relevant as time passed. This film about (literally) killer showgirls Roxie (Renee Zellweger) and Velma (Catherine Zetas Jones) vying for public attention and the services of ace lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) in the 1920s became the first musical to win the best picture Oscar since Oliver! (1968).
Quote: "In this town, murder's a form of entertainment."
Trivia: Chicago was based on a 1926 play by former crime reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins inspired by two real cases.
If you like this, try: Cabaret, Sweeney Todd, All That Jazz.
From last time: thanks to the correspondents who reminded me of other twist movies such as The Crying Game, Witness for the Prosecution, Midnight Lace and The Bedford Incident. Please keep writing - it's always good to hear from fellow film buffs.