Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is almost here, and by all reports, the movie is fantastic. The buzz surrounding it even before the film was released was quite high, considering it was a remake of one of the most beloved and successful movie musicals of all time, and many critics are of the opinion that the new version absolutely lives up to all the hype. It’s a great movie, and we can be sure that come awards season, this new West Side Story will be recognized perhaps just as much as the original one was.
And if West Side Story does become as successful, if not more so than the original film production, then we can be sure of one thing: Hollywood is will repeat that formula. When something works in Hollywood, we know that even if nobody is quite sure why it worked, it will be tried again. That means we should get ready, because some more classic movie musicals are probably about to be remade.
This is not to say the movies on this list should be remade, but if Hollywood is going to start remaking classic movie musicals, whether we like it or not, they could do worse than considering these great films. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, these remakes could turn out just as good as the originals, if not better.
The Sound Of Music
There may be no more popular movie adaptation of a Broadway musical than The Sound of Music. This movie and Mary Poppins are what made Julie Andrews a movie star, and the most popular versions of the songs from this musical are from the film adaptation, not any of the Broadway productions. This may have started as a Broadway show, but for most people, The Sound of Music is a movie first.
The Sound of Music has been remade before on television and revived on Broadway, but we’ve never seen a full-on remake of it for the big screen. There’s somebody out there, some great director, who loves this movie and could do it justice.
My Fair Lady
The story of The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins is not complete without a discussion of the other great musical of the era, My Fair Lady. Julie Andrews starred in the film versions of those first two, but she originated the role of Eliza Doolittle on Broadway. Still Audrey Hepburn was great in the film version, even if she couldn’t sing.
This is one of the all time great musicals, if not the greatest movie musical ever. It seems like, if Hollywood is looking toward classic remakes, they have to consider this one.
Guys And Dolls
Most of the movies on this list won at least one Academy Award, and while Guys and Dolls did not, it was nominated for a few. The original film version included Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, which is an impressive pedigree... even if Brando, while a wonderful actor, didn’t have the best singing voice.
This one actually seems like it could be a contender for a remake in the near future as the idea has been around for a while and appears to have picked up steam recently. Vin Diesel has even made noises about wanting to star in a new adaptation of My Fair Lady, and he arguably sings better than Brando.
Singin’ In The Rain
It’s a movie that has one of the most iconic film scenes ever produced. The performance of the song “Singin' in the Rain” is a moment that you likely know by heart even if you’ve never actually seen the movie, and the musical is so good that most would argue that scene that everybody knows isn’t even the best part.
While Gene Kelly's aquatic dance number is part of the collective unconscious, it’s hard to tell how many modern movie fans have actually seen this one, but the name recognition is there. Those two things together could spell remake. And if Tom Holland can play Fred Astaire, certainly there's somebody out there who can take on somebody as iconic as Gene Kelly.
The Music Man
The film adaptation of The Music Man from the 1960s sees a lot of people from the original Broadway performance, like star Robert Preston, return for the screen version. Maybe that’s why the film adaptation is such a perfect encapsulation of the stage performance. But to be sure, this is a film adaptation of a popular musical, and nobody has tried to do this on the big screen since then. It’s hard to be a better Harold Hill than Robert Preston, on stage or screen.
But somebody is about to try. Hugh Jackman is about to take the Broadway stage in a revival of The Music Man. If we’re going to remake classic movie musicals, doing what the last version of this one did, and borrowing the stage cast for a fresh film adaptation, might not be the worst idea.
The Wizard Of Oz
The Wizard of Oz is both one of the all-time greatest stories ever written and one of the most popular musical film adaptations ever made. Remaking the film version of The Wizard of Oz probably feels like sacrilege to a lot of people. A lot of us grew up with this one. What could one possibly bring to the story that Judy Garland didn’t already bring back in 1939?
I don’t know the answer to that question, and I don’t know if anybody does, but that doesn’t mean somebody somewhere isn’t going to try. If the screen adaptation of Wicked ends up working and somebody wants to make a sequel to that, here it is.
There was a time when it seemed like remakes of these movies, including West Side Story, were never going to happen. This is actually a surprising thing to say considering that remakes of everything else in the world seem to be on the table. And yet, these classic movies became so iconic that even though they had built-in name recognition, it seemed there was no real interest in trying to make them again.
But if West Side Story truly is the success that it seems it might be, then Hollywood is certainly going to take the lesson from it (right or wrong) that even the most classic musicals can be remade and be successful. Is remaking any of these movies a good idea? Maybe not, but if Hollywood is going to start looking for musicals to remake anyway, starting with these ones is a logical choice.
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