The Reel Dad revisits musical viewing from home
Some days I just need a musical.
My sons, when they were young, would occasionally accuse me of making musicals required family viewing. And that was true, as I recall, especially when we all wanted to feel better.
Now, with extra time at home, I am taking a fresh look at classic Hollywood musicals.
Here are seven of my favorites.
The Sound of Music (1965)
When we think of family, we recall warm moments of caring and connection, and experience the strength that others provide. And we know, deep in our hearts, that we can overcome any obstacle when the people around us provide unconditional love and support. Of the many stories this movie tells, it’s ultimately the story of a family who love, sing and support. Julie Andrews soars in this perfect film for a family to share. Available on Amazon and Disney+.
Beauty and the Beast (1987)
Like the best of musicals, this Disney classic takes off when characters sing to express what dialogue cannot articulate. When my son Jonathan and I first saw the film with a Broadway-savvy crowd in 1987 in New York City, the audience applauded after every number. Any time I see this film today, I find myself singing along as I imagine I am once again in a big theater filled with an enthusiastic audience. And the animated version is the classic. Available on Amazon. The animated 1991 version is available on Disney+.
The Music Man (1962)
Few events that we experience can get us talking about community with as much enthusiasm as a parade down Main Street or a musical comedy where people spontaneously sing and dance. “The Music Man” offers both. This film version of the Broadway hit teaches us that anyone can enjoy a musical when there’s a reason to sing. The humor and humanity of this Meredith Willson musical delivers amazing joy. And you’ll be tapping your toes in no time. Available on Amazon.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Do you ever wonder how movies began to talk? Back in the 1920s, stars who looked good enough to be silent film legends often had voices that didn’t match their physical presence. This classic musical takes us back to this crazy time when stars would do just about anything to protect their careers from the sounds of their voices. Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds define musical joy, and Donald O’Connor delivers the most humorous song ever to appear in a movie. Available on Amazon.
Mary Poppins (1964)
I recently introduced this classic to my three-year-old niece. While she was immediately captivated by the magic and music, this delicate film reminded me how families can be as fragile as the most delicate of porcelain in the loveliest of living rooms. As well intentioned as parents may be, we forget how something as simple as taking the time to fly a kite can create just the kind of magic that can make a difference to children. Julie Andrews won a well-deserved Oscar. Available on Amazon and Disney+.
Hello, Dolly! (1969)
I keep this song-and-dance extravaganza on my iPad for any time of any day when I simply need to feel better. No expense is spared to recreate New York City in the 1890s where Barbra Streisand dominates the skyline with her enthusiasm for life. Although critics in 1969 called this adaptation of the Broadway musical too fluffy, that can be just what I need. And when Streisand joins Louis Armstrong for the title tune, the impact is magical. Available on Amazon and Hulu.
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
Family takes center stage in this touching adaptation of the Broadway musical about a family struggling to sustain their connections and freedom as life in Russia changes in the early 1900s. While the film celebrates the magic of song and dance, it never lets the entertainment overwhelm the message. And it reminds us that, at the heart of so many days filled with meaning is a family filled with love. Available on Amazon.
Yes, Hollywood loves musicals.
And, when I need to feel better about the world, nothing works faster.
Enjoy the movies and stay safe.