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AFI Likes “Singin’ in the Rain”
Those list-loving folks at the American Film Institute are hap-hap-happy again.
Singin’ in the Rain, the 1952 MGM tuner codirected by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly and starring Kelly alongside Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, tops the list of 25 greatest movie musicals unveiled by the AFI Sunday.
Although it wasn’t recognized as such at the time–it failed to snag an Oscar nomination for Best Picture or even the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy– Singin’ in the Rain has become one of Hollywood’s most adored films. The behind-the-scenes story of the transition from silent pictures to talkies edged out the more-decorated West Side Story, which received the Oscar for Best Picture in 1961.
Rounding out the top 10: The Wizard of Oz (1939); The Sound of Music (1965); Cabaret (1972); Mary Poppins (1964); A Star Is Born (1954); My Fair Lady (1964); An American in Paris (1951); and Meet Me in St. Louis (1944).
Judy Garland was the most represented female star on the list, landing a trio of musicals in the top 10 (The Wizard of Oz, A Star Is Born and Meet Me in St. Louis) to edge out Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins).
Kelly had three films make the cut (Singin’, An American in Paris and On The Town), while hoofing rival Fred Astaire scored with Top Hat (1935) at 15 and The Band Wagon (1953) at 17. His Top Hat costar and frequent leading lady Ginger Rogers also had two films on the list–she was among the ensemble in 1933’s 42nd Street, which ranked at 13.
The movie musical has regularly been pronounced dead since its heyday in the ’50s and ’60s, but a half-dozen of AFI’s Top 25 were released after 1970.
Bob Fosse was responsible for three of them: Cabaret, 2002’s Oscar-winning Chicago (based on the Fosse-choreographed stage musical) and 1979’s All That Jazz.
Meanwhile, 1978’s Grease was the word at 20, while Beauty and the Beast was the only ‘toon to make the rundown. The Disney classic, which was later adapted into a hit Broadway show, is the only animated feature to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award; it ranked 22nd on the AFI list.
Finally, Baz Luhrmann’s epic 2001 tragicomedy Moulin Rouge! came in at 25. For better or worse, the musical, showcasing the vocal talents of Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, sparked a renewed interest in the musical genre, paving the way for the big-screen versions of Chicago, The Producers, Rent and the forthcoming Hairspray and Sweeney Todd, among others.
The latest AFI list was winnowed down by a jury of 500 directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, composers, critics and historians solicited by the prestigious nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating and preserving cinema. Voters were asked to submit their choices from a ballot of 250 nominated films and were allowed to write in any movies they felt had been slighted.
The honorees were revealed in a special presentation Sunday night at the Hollywood Bowl, during which director John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra performed excerpts of the winning musicals accompanied by projections of scenes of some of those films’ most iconic moments.
The Greatest Movie Musicals list is considered a sidebar to AFI’s 100 Years. . . series. Launched eight years ago, it has included such programs as AFI’s 100 Stars, 100 Laughs, 100 Thrills, 100 Passions, and 100 Songs among others.
Here’s the complete list of the AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals:
1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952), MGM
2. West Side Story (1961), United Artists
3. The Wizard of Oz (1939), MGM
4. The Sound of Music (1965), 20th Century Fox
5. Cabaret (1972) Allied Artists
6. Mary Poppins (1964), Disney
7. A Star Is Born (1954), Warner Bros.
8. My Fair Lady (1964), Warner Bros.
9. An American In Paris (1951), MGM
10. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), MGM
11. The King and I (1956), 20th Century Fox
12. Chicago (2002), Miramax
13. 42nd Street (1933), Warner Bros.
14. All That Jazz (2002), Miramax
15. Top Hat (1935), RKO
16. Funny Girl (1968), Columbia
17. The Band Wagon (1953), MGM
18. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Warner Bros.
19. On the Town (1949), MiraMGM
20. Grease (1978), Paramount
21. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), MGM
22. Beauty and the Beast (1991), Disney
23. Guys and Dolls (1955), MGM
24. Show Boat (1936), Universal
25. Moulin Rouge! (2001), 20th Century Fox