“Dance and Sing Get Up and Do Your Thing” – AFI’s Top 5 Musicals

It seems every time someone asks the question “What’s your favorite? (fill in the blank) that’s what happens to me…BLANK.  So, I decided to prep for the next occasion.  Here’s the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 5 Musicals of All time!  West Side Story and Cabaret have already made the list on my Songbird Oscar Winners post.  I think I got this!

Can you name yours?  Let’s share.

2 WEST SIDE STORY 1961 United Artists
4 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 1965 Twentieth Century-Fox
5 CABARET 1972 Allied Artists


Some of my favorite quotes from the films!

Singing in the rain poster

Lina:  [with a voice to peel paint]  And I cayn’t stand’im.    Holy crap! This line makes the movie for me!!




West Side Poster


Bernardo:  ” I’d like to go back to San Juan.”

Anita:  “I know a boat you can get on!”


Ha!  You do you, cause I’m gonna do me!



Wizard of Oz

Cowardly Lion:  ” Alright  I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do.”

Tin WoodsmanScarecrow:  “What’s that?”

Cowardly Lion:  “Talk me out of it!”


Oh Lion – you just gotta love him!




Sound of Music


Maria:  “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”


Without a doubt!  Amen!



Cabaret poster


Sally:  ” I’m going to be a great film star! That is, if booze and sex don’t get me first.”


Quote is dead on.  What’s up Ms Liza?





Nicholas Brothers – Flash! (So You Think You Can Dance?)

The Nicholas Brothers were a famous African American team of dancing brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000). Their highly acrobatic technique (“flash dancing“), demonstrated such a high level of artistry and daring innovations that they were considered by many to be the greatest tap dancers of their day.

Growing up with musician parents (mother played piano and father drums) who had their own band, the brothers were surrounded by some of the best Vaudeville acts of the time and became stars of the jazz circuit during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance . Fayard and Harold went on to have successful careers performing on stage, film, and television well into the 1990s.


Their signature move was to leapfrog down a long, broad flight of stairs, while completing each step with a split. This move was performed to perfection in the finale of the movie, Stormy Weather . In my humble opinion, the “Jumpin’ Jive” dance number in Stormy Weather was the greatest movie musical sequence of all time!

Nicholas Brothers - Jump!

Nicholas Brothers – Jump!

Another signature move was to arise from a split without using the hands. Gregory Hines (with brother Maurice – tap dancing brother team Hines, Hines and Dad) declared that if their biography were ever filmed, their dance numbers would have to be computer generated because no one now could emulate them. Ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov once called them the most amazing dancers he had ever seen in his life.


The Nicholas Brothers influenced every dancer that came after. Including Michael Jackson. Here they are together on the Jackson’s TV Show.

20 Feet From Stardom (2013)

2014 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary Feature,  20 Feet From Stardom is directed by Morgan Neville and inspired by producer Gil Friesen’s quest to reveal the untold stories of the phenomenal voices behind some of the greatest artists in American music.

The film takes a backstage look at the lives and experiences of backup singers Darlene Love ( Rock & Roll Hall of Fame) , Judith Hill (The Voice), Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega and Jo Lawry among others.




The Ladies Speak:  Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Judith Hill


Lisa Fischer, Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones

Cabin in the Sky (1943)

Produced in 1943 at MGM by Arthur Freed and directed by Vincent Minnelli, “Cabin in the Sky” is the 1st all Black film produced by a major studio in Hollywood. “Happiness is a Thing called Joe” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and sung by film’s star, Ethel Waters.

This musical take on Faust pits Little Joe (Eddie “Rochester” Anderson) against Luther Jr. (Lucifer’s baby boy). Enter temptress Georgia Brown (Lena Horne). Does Little Joe’s wife, Petunia (Ethel Waters) even stand a chance or will Joe be condemned to Hell? Of course I won’t give it away.  Want you to enjoy the full ride.


Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Busby Berkeley (“Shine” sequence, uncredited)
Produced by Arthur Freed
Albert Lewis
Written by Marc Connelly(uncredited)
Lynn Root (play)
Joseph Schrank
Based on Cabin in the Sky (play)
Starring Ethel Waters
Eddie “Rochester” Anderson
Lena Horne
Louis Armstrong
Music by Harold Arlen
Vernon Duke
George Bassman
Roger Edens
Cinematography Sidney Wagner
Editing by Harold F. Kress
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • April 9, 1943
Running time 98 minutes