Great Classic Movie Musicals of the '50s

Posted on 19 Dec 00:00

When it comes to musicals, that is one area which Hollywood has always excelled in. Over time, musicals have evolved into something more of a finished product, refined to ultimate greatness. However, the 1950s was the time or phase in which the musicals kicked off.

For this reason, we would be celebrating some of the great classic musicals which stole the spotlight during the 1950s and transformed the industry into what we know today. Here are the best of the very best;

  1. Oklahoma! (1955)

Oklahoma is one of the very best when it comes to musicals that were done in the 1950s. Directed by Fred Zimmerman, it was clear that this musical would take the world by storm. Agnes de Mille did the choreography, and it was written by Richard Rodgers and the very great Oscar Hammerstein, their very first musical.

This musical is based on the 1931 play which is commonly known as the Lynn Riggs Play and is set in the countryside in the year 1906. This musical earned many awards such as the Pulitzer award which it was awarded in 1944. Other awards would also include the Special Tony award given to the movie in 1993 and another Tony award this time for the best revival of a musical handed to it in 2019. 

  1. Kismet (1955)

Kismet is a musical which features love and a bit of smartness on the part of the characters. The combination of an interesting poet and family issues made the Kismet stand out during its time as what it was- a brilliant musical. The director of the musical was Vincente Minnelli, and the choreography was done by Jake Cole.

One of the leading actors for this musical was Howard Keel, The Poet, and Ann Blyth as his daughter who was in love with a young Caliph, played by Vic Damone. The film won the Tony award for the best musical, and it can be said that they very well deserve this award. It was first produced in 1955 by Broadway.

  1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Music, romance, and comedy all mixed in one is what Singin' in the Rain offers. This musical was made in 1953. The setting is in the 1920s, and it is in satire form of Hollywood during that period. It was an absolute hit. This musical was directed by Gene Kelly, and it was choreographed by Stanley Donen.

The main characters were also played by the director Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds. These actors won a host of awards from this musical as O’Connor went on to win the best actor award handed in the Golden Globe. The musical was said to have been added to the top 50 movies you have to watch by age 14. This was done by the British Film Institute.

  1. The King and I (1956)

'The King and I' was one of the first musical hits of the 20th century. It was  directed by Walter Lang.  Rodgers and Hammerstein beautifully composed the wonderful music for this film which is based on the novel by Margaret Landon, Anna and the King of Siam.  It would go on to be one of the best musicals Hollywood had ever seen during its era.

The rate at which this musical was viewed and valued can be seen in the number of nominations and awards which it won. It was nominated for about nine awards in the Academy awards. It won five of them which included the best actor, best music and sound recording. It went on to win the Golden Globe award for the best motion picture in the musical or comedy section. Too many awards to list them all. With a budget of $4.55 million, it went to make profits of more than $15 million in the box office.

  1. An American in Paris (1951)

It was made in 1951. This classic proved to be the inspiration for a later Broadway musical of the same name produced in 2014. The 1951 film was directed by Vincente Minnelli. The leading characters in this character were played by popular actors and actresses of that time, namely Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, and Nina Foch. The choreography for this musical was also done by Gene Kelly.

Success would be an understatement when talking about the impact which this musical had in Hollywood. It was nominated eight times for an Academy Award and managed to win six of those awards. 

  1. South Pacific (1958)

The lavish romantic musical, South Pacific, was produced in 1958, and directed by Joshua Logan. The story line is strongly based on 'The Tales of the South Pacific' by James A. Michener. The main characters were played by Rossano Brazzi ( Emile de Becque) and Mitzi Gaynor ( Ensign Nellie Forbush)

The musical garnered much success as it was nominated in three categories for the Academy Award. It won one of the nominations, the category of Sound. 

  1. Silk Stockings (1957)

Silk Stockings was first produced as a play in 1955, and released as a musical movie in 1957, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, and feature movie stars Fred Astaire (Steve Canfield), Cyd Charisse ( Ninotchka Yoschenko), Peter Lorre (Brankov) and others.

One of the biggest headlines during the production of the 1955 Broadway musical was the replacement of stars George Kaufman and his wife. They were replaced with Abe Burrows. However, other sources have asserted that one of the reasons why Kaufman left the show entirely is because the replacement made him angry. Kaufman who was then directing the musical left leaving the opening for Cy Feuer who completed the musical in record time. The music and lyrics were all handled by Cole Porter.

Conclusion

These are some of the best musicals which you could have seen in the 1950s. Fortunately for us, a lot of these musicals are being redirected. This means we get to watch the very best of the 1950s in high definition and much better light. That is something that we should cherish and appreciate. Nothing gets better than musicals. 

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