Thursday, September 07, 2006

american film idiocy

The American Film Institute, is at it again, having conjured up another one of its inanely gratuitious, highly arbitrary film lists. This one is devoted obsensibly to "The Greatest Movie Musicals" of all time, although "Most Popular" would be a more apt and honest description of the list. The fact that the list consists of only 25 titles, instead of AFI's usual 100, tellingly says something about what AFI really thinks of the musical film genre.
Not surprisingly, the usual suspects abound. Is it any surprise that "Singin' in the Rain" tops the list? No. And, of course, such faves as "The Sound of Music," "West Side Story" and "Cabaret" have been dragged out for the occasion, too. Am I the only musical fan who finds that these three titles have grown increasingly unwatchable with age, particularly WSS?

Number 25 is actually -- drum roll, please! -- "Moulin Rouge" (and NOT the John Huston version). Look, I like "Moulin Rouge," thoroughly enjoyed it, but it's more of an anti-musical than a musical, if you get my drift.

And "All That Jazz" (number 14) isn't a musical either.

Too many wonderful musicals have been overlooked. I won't name them all, but frankly, I don't know how one can put together a list like this and manage to skip Warner Bros.' grand 1962 film version of "The Music Man," arguably the most perfect movie musical, better than even -- dare I say it? -- "Singin' in the Rain." Blasphemy? Probably, but I think theater hand Morton DaCosta set the standard with "The Music Man." Apologies to Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.

Anyway, as with all of AFI's announced lists, expect the inevitable TV special to be fashioned around the picks, as well as a lot of aggressive DVD tie-ins.

(Artwork: top: Robert Preston and Shirley Jones march on the dustjacket cover of Warner Home Video's VHS edition of the film; bottom: Preston leads the kids in "The Music Man," )

* * *

Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com


Anonymous said...

You've been located! Joe, it was with sincere regret when we read you were leaving the Bee. Since moving to Sacramento in 1996 from the film-rich environment of the South SF Bay, we have depended on your critiques to guide us in our film selection. You almost never disappointed, and we found your write-ups accurate and very informative. We particularly enjoy art films, which are few and far between in this area, but you never missed in your evaluation, so that we were willing to make the long trek from El Dorado Hills to the Tower or Crest to see a film that you rated ****. It'snice to know that we will no longer miss your perspicacity and astuteness. Your blog is great!

Anonymous said...

What a discovery! We relied on your movie reviews heavily for years. Usually agrred. You've got great human insight and an enormous vocabulary. Glad you are continuing to write!!!