Whether you’ve already seen this year’s biggest Oscar hopeful (it ran away with the Golden Globes so it’s a shoo-in) or going to it is on your To Do list, here are seven other musicals to check out in preparation of seeing the film, or to allow you to relive the movie’s stunning visuals.
We’ve selected seven enduring classics that are well-worth a revisit, or you may just be lucky enough to be seeing them for the first time!
1. An American in Paris
La La Land borrowed heavily from An American in Paris, referencing moments such as the riverside dance scene and the spectacular ballet sequence finale. It’s one of Gene Kelly’s most popular films and actually totally beat Singin’ in the Rain (another Gene Kelly musical released the same year) at the Oscars.
Directed by Vincente Minelli (Meet Me in St Louis), An American in Paris relates the story of three friends living in Paris, two of which fall in love with the same woman, who is played by incredible dancer Leslie Caron.
2. On the Town
Prepare for a lot of Gene Kelly in this countdown – in this film, he’s joined by legendary singer Frank Sinatra. The two play sailors who, along with their companion (Jules Munshin), have just 24 hours to spend in New York before their shore leave, and they intend to have the time of their lives.
Viewers may recall Bart Simpson and Milhouse’s rendition of ‘Springfield, Springfield’, which was a satire of the musical’s main song ‘New York, New York.’
3. A Star is Born
La La Land may not be so much inspired by the film’s visuals as it is by its story. Just as the Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling starrer sees the actors respectively play a struggling actress and jazz musician, so does A Star is Born see Judy Garland and James Mason play a singer and actor, respectively. In both films, the couple’s varying degrees of success put major strain on their relationship:
4. The Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals – Swing Time, Top Hat, Shall We Dance?
Ok, so we’ve suggested three musicals here but it is because they’re part of a trio which have been historically categorised as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ best films. As the oldest films in this list, they are black and white rather than the more popularly used technicolour, but this does not make them any less beautiful or less inspirational to the movie musical cycle.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the original #relationshipgoals and damn could they pull off a mean dance duet:
5. West Side Story
Released in 1961, West Side Story won ten Oscars and is one of the most technically accomplished movie musicals of all time. Its costume design, set design, and cinematography were harmonious and stunning, and it set the benchmark for musicals that followed.
As beautiful as West Side Story is to look at, it’s also got a gorgeous soundtrack, with its timeless signature songs including ‘America’, ‘I Feel Pretty’ and ‘Somewhere’:
6. Moulin Rouge!
La La Land could easily spark off a new round of movie musicals that last saw a regeneration following Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! in 2001. Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge! is about a writer who falls in love with a courtesan who has been promised to a duke.
Moulin Rouge! is a bit loud (in terms of both production design and its musical compositions) for the new film La La Land to owe it too much – the film more obviously references the musicals of old from the 30s and 50s-60s cycle. But there is a dance in the night sky at one point which could be in part inspired by the scene where Ewan McGregor sings ‘Your Song’ (which itself includes a nod to Singin in the Rain):
7. Singin in the Rain
And of course we didn’t forget Singin in the Rain! The musical starring, and co-directed by, Gene Kelly and the late, great Debbie Reynolds features unforgettable songs including ‘Singin in the Rain’, ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ and ‘Good Morning’. Swinging on a lamp pole will now be forever associated with the film.
La La Land borrows from both this classic’s visuals and story. In fact, their similarities can be seen in this fan-cut version of the trailer that mashes clips from Singin in the Rain with the audio from La La Land’s trailer: