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Art & Culture

HOME Will Be Screening Classic Musicals This Christmas

By Laura O'Neill October 29, 2019

A season of classic musicals will be delighting filmgoers at HOME this Christmas.

From Gene Kelly’s famously twirling umbrella to a Sing-a-Long Calamity Jane, it’s a festive treat for cinephiles.

The season was announced with a little help from the BFI and a Singin’ in the Rain flashmob which took place outside HOME this weekend in suitably rainy weather.

As part of the BFI’s Musicals: The Greatest Show on Screen and HOME’s year-long Celebrating Women in Global Cinema, there’ll be a particular focus on Betty Comden, the Oscar-nominated lyricist, librettist, screenwriter and actor who as one half of the musical comedy duo Comden and Green wrote some of the greatest musicals ever to grace the screen.

Comden classics screening include Singin’ in the Rain, On The Town, The Barkleys of Broadway, It’s Always Fair Weather, The Band Wagon and Bells Are Ringing.

There’ll also be a number of lesser-known gems, including three looking at how film-makers used musicals to engage with the social issues of the 1930s – most importantly, and urgently, the economic depression that blighted many people’s lives and forced people to make difficult decisions to survive.

Titled The Backstage Musical: celebrating popular culture in times of struggle, the mini strand will feature three films choreographed by Busby Berkeley – 42nd StreetFootlight Parade and Gold Diggers of 1933.

The foot-tapping fun doesn’t stop there, however. There’ll also be a screening of Bob Fosse’s iconic Cabaret, starring Liza Minelli, a whip-crack-away sing-along Calamity Jane and George Cukor’s intense cinematic masterpiece A Star is Born.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is the dazzling musical which launched Catherine Deneuve to stardom, as an umbrella-shop owner’s delicate daughter, glowing with first love for a handsome garage mechanic who is shipped off to fight in Algeria.

Also screening will be its followup, Les Demoiselles of Rochefort in which real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac play twins looking for love and excitement in their hometown.

And from India, Pakeezah is one of the most extraordinary musical melodramas ever made, much beloved by audiences for Meena Kumari’s breathtakingly tragic turn as the doomed Sahibjaan, who is born in a graveyard to a dying mother who was once a famed courtesan.

There’ll be more hidden gems in the form of First a Girl, a 1935 adaptation of the German film Viktor and Viktoria which would later be turned into both Victor Victoria and Shakespeare in Love.

BFI Musicals! The greatest show on-screen will run at HOME from December 1 to December 30, with Bigger Than Life’s Les demoiselles de Rochefort on January 14 and Not Just Bollywood screening of Pakeezah on January 16.

Full listings information

First a Girl

Sun 1 Dec 2019, 13.00

Directed by Victor Saville

This little-known British adaption of the 1933 German film Viktor und Viktoria (later remade as Victor Victoria and similarly reworked in Shakespeare in Love) sees a shop girl pretending to be a boy in order to perform onstage as a female impersonator.

A Star is Born

Sun 8 Dec 2019, 17.00

Directed by George Cukor

George Cukor’s epic 1954 version of A Star is Born features an Oscar nominated Judy Garland and James Mason as the lovers on opposing ends of fame, and is widely considered one of the greatest musicals of all time.

Sing Along/ Calamity Jane

Sat 14 Dec 2019, 18.00

Directed by David Butler

Calamity Jane is one of Doris Day’s best-loved films and a cult classic for queer audiences. Based on the life of real Wild West heroine and gunslinger, this hugely entertaining film won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (‘Secret Love’).

Remember to bring your singing voice with you as this film is also offered as a singalong version, ensuring your audiences will have a night to remember. Whip-crack-away!

Cabaret

Sun 15 Dec 2019, 13.00

Directed by Bob Fosse

An iconic, incredibly stylish study of the hedonism and sexual ambiguity of pre-war Berlin, Cabaret was a huge, multi Oscar-winning hit for choreographer and director Bob Fosse in 1972 and made Liza Minnelli (who won Best Actress) a star.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

From Fri 20 Dec

Directed by Jacques Demy

Catherine Deneuve was launched to stardom by this dazzling musical heart-tugger from Jacques Demy. She plays an umbrella-shop owner’s delicate daughter, glowing with first love for a handsome garage mechanic. When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colours, and told entirely through lilting songs by the great composer Michel Legrand, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time. 4K restoration.

Cabin in the Sky

Sat 21 Dec 2019, 15.40

Directed by Vincente Minnelli

With its all-black cast, MGM’s 1943 musical Cabin in the Sky provided a rare and invaluable showcase for some of the era’s most legendary African American performers. This Faustian fantasy stars Ethel Waters, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson and Lena Horne in her first and only leading role in an MGM musical. Screening from a 35mm print.

Bigger than Life / Les demoiselles de Rochefort

Tue 14 Jan, 20.15

Directed by Jacques Demy

Jacques Demy’s joyous, pastel-hued follow-up to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg finds him working on an MGM scale as real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac play twins looking for love and excitement in their hometown. Michel Legrand provides the jazzy score, while Gene Kelly dazzles in a supporting role. Screening from a 35mm print.

Not Just Bollywood: Pakeezah

From Sun 16 Jan

Directed by Kamal Amrohi

One of the most extraordinary musical melodramas ever made, Pakeezah is much beloved by audiences for Meena Kumari’s breathtakingly tragic turn as the doomed Sahibjaan, who is born in a graveyard to a dying mother who was once a famed courtesan.

Betty Comden and the Hollywood Musical

As part of HOME’s celebration of women’s contribution to world cinema, we salute the work of twice Oscar-nominated writer Betty Comden. In collaboration with her writing partner Adolph Green, Comden was a leading figure on Broadway and a major contributor to some of Hollywood’s most loved musicals. This season offers the opportunity to come along and enjoy some of the most striking and innovative Hollywood musicals of the post-war era.

On the Town

Sun 22 Dec 2019, 15.30

Directed by Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen

“New York, New York, a wonderful town. The Bronx is up but the Battery’s down”. Written by Adolph Green and Betty Comden and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, On the Town, is undoubtedly one of the landmark Hollywood musicals of all time not least for its innovative location shooting.

The Barkleys of Broadway

Mon 23 Dec 2019, 15.50

Directed by Charles Walters

The film that saw Astaire and Rogers re-united on screen after 10 years apart. As with many of the scripts that involved Betty Comden, The Barkleys of Broadway brings together an unbridled celebration of American popular forms with a sharp critique of the potential snobbishness of European high-art.

It’s Always Fair Weather

Fri 27 Dec 2019, 18.10

Directed by Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen

Another classic from the imagination of Betty Comden and Adolph Green, It’s Always Fair Weather follows the adventures of three GIs after they leave the army in 1945. The film was envisaged as a sequel of sorts to On the Town and directed again by Kelly and Stanley Donen in their last collaboration for MGM.

Singin’ in the Rain

Sat 28 Dec 2019, 18.10

Directed by Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen

Typical of a Betty Comden and Adolph Green script, in Singin’ in the Rain the spontaneous nature of musical performance is hamstrung by technology, here the introduction of sound in the film industry. Singin’ in the Rain is one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time.

The Band Wagon

Sun 29 Dec 2019, 15.40

Directed by Vincente Minnelli

A major musical from the 1950s and a great example of Comden and Green’s interest in the contrast between popular forms such as the musical theatre and the pretentiousness of dramatic theatre. Fred Astaire plays a musical star who has to reconnect with the uninhibited nature of song and dance. That’s Entertainment indeed!

Bells are Ringing

Mon 30 Dec 2019, 17.50

Directed by Vincente Minnelli

Comden and Green contribute book and lyrics to this film adaptation of their 1956 Broadway hit. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, Judy Holliday reprises her Tony award winning role as Ella, a switchboard operator, in a plot that involves an array of amusingly confusing interactions between her and those who use her service Susanswerphone.

The Backstage Musical: celebrating popular culture in times of struggle

During the 1930s, in the days before the Hays Code, the musical genre in Hollywood offered a space for film-makers to engage with social issues of the day – most importantly, and urgently, the economic depression that blighted many people’s lives and forced people to make difficult decisions to survive. All three films feature the choreography of Busby Berkeley.

42nd Street

Sat 7 Dec 2019, 18.20

Directed by Lloyd Bacon

A landmark film directed by Lloyd Bacon with musical numbers by Busby Berkeley, 42nd Street is the archetypal back-stage musical. Contains the dangerously tuneful You are Getting to be a Habit with Me, Shuffle off to Buffalo and of course 42nd Street.

Footlight Parade

Mon 9 Dec 2019, 18.10

Directed by Lloyd Bacon

Lloyd Bacon and Busby Berkeley join forces once again to deliver this back-stage musical. James Cagney plays a Broadway director forced into making musical prologues to be performed before film screenings in what was his first full-blown dancing role.

Gold Diggers of 1933

Wed 11 Dec 2019, 18.10

Directed by Mervyn LeRoy

Busby Berkeley worked with director Mervyn LeRoy to create another classic Hollywood back-stage musical. Based on a successful Broadway show, Gold Diggers of 1933 follows the adventures of four aspiring female actors who will go to almost any ends to find fame or fortune.


Also published on Medium.