Long before Hollywood, the center of mass entertainment was New York City on the Great White Way- Broadway. With that said, it has been the case for 80 odd years that the movie industry has made films based on that fabled street. The culmination of all this has produced some of the best loved pictures and some forgettable flops. Here now, I present my favorite Broadway-themed movies.
7. The Broadway Melody 1929.
This movie was the second winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture and the first “talkie” to win the honor. The premise is simple- stage hopefuls go through the backstage drama and angst of a Broadway musical. Although praised upon its release, the film is seen today as terribly trite and cliche- ridden. I will have to agree. Nonetheless although it may be worth viewing only as a landmark film in cinema, it does have its moments of humor.
6. Footlight Parade 1933
This classic film stars James Cagney as a Broadway producer who puts on more and more lavish musicals, becoming so involved with his work that he doesn’t notice his secretary has fallen in love with him. The film is a truly worthwhile classic (as opposed to the previous title), for not only are the numbers really spectacular but you get to catch the rare sight of Cagney showing off his amazing footwork.
5. Easter Parade 1948
Who doesn’t love Fred Astaire and Judy Garland? This film a classic treat for not only the holidays, but any day of the year.
4. The Country Girl 1954
As opposed to the other pictures on the list, this movie stands in sharp contrast. Not a musical, this stark drama is based on the Clifford Odets’ play about a washed up actor who is given a second chance, with his wife there for the strength he needs to be great again. The movie stars Big Crosby (in the greatest performance I’ve seen him give), Grace Kelly, and William Holden. With that kind of cast you can’t be disappointed, and you’re not. A wonderful glimpse into the rehearsal process of a Broadway play.
3. The Producers 1968
The title itself sets it up for Broadway. We all know the story, especially since the real Broadway adaptation took the theatre world by storm, but it’s so loved for a reason. Mel Brooks is comedic genius and really put New York theatre in a light it had never been in before- insanity- and he forever changed both Hollywood and Broadway in doing so.
2. The Great Ziegfeld 1936
Based on one of the greatest Broadway producers of all time, Florenz Ziegfeld, it stars the impeccable William Powell as the titular character. The film is longer than you would expect but there is never a dull moment with the humor and depth Powell gives to Ziegfeld.
1. Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942
If Florenz Ziegfeld is the second greatest ever producer of Broadway musicals, George M. Cohan is the undisputed number one. Like the previous film, this biopic also shows the life and times of a producer from Broadway’s early vaudeville days to its golden age in the 1920s. Of course I don’t need to tell you to go see it, it stars James Cagney in his Oscar winning role dancing and singing his heart out, and is indeed one of the greatest movies of all time.
Other movies there are renowned classics that deal with Broadway that I’ve seen are All About Eve, Funny Girl, and Kiss Me Kate.
So there you have it, my favorite movies based on my favorite place in the world- Broadway.