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How to Start Watching Classic Hollywood Musicals

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This film has a lot of things to love, especially the incredible, athletic dancing. But if you’ve never seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, be aware that the plot is… problematic. The brothers abduct their sweethearts from town and hold them captive

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

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In Easter Parade, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland form a dynamic new partnership when he plucks her from obscurity to be his new partner after his old partner goes solo. Over the course of the film, not only does he realize that Hannah is perfect just as she is, but he’s also fallen in love with her.

Easter Parade (1948)

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Unlike many of the musicals from the era, the movie spans several seasons in the lives of a family. The Smiths are a well-to-do family living in St. Louis on the eve of the World Fair at the turn of the twentieth century. Esther, played by Judy Garland, is a teenager with dreams of marrying the boy next door.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

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Cabin in the Sky isn’t a perfect film by any means, but it’s one of the few films from the era that featured a Black cast. Ethel Waters, Lena Horn, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington all lend their talents to the movie, which tells the story of a gambler who dies from a gunshot but gets a second chance to save his soul.

Cabin in the Sky (1943)

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The movie stars Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei Lee and Jane Russell as Dorothy Shaw, a pair of showgirls on a voyage to Paris. Lorelei has fallen for a wealthy man and plans to marry him in Paris, but her fiance’s father has hired a private detective to prove that she is a gold digger.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

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Gigi tells the story of a young woman who has been brought up by a family of former courtesans in nineteenth-century Paris. Leslie Caron stars as Gigi, and Louis Jordan is the wealthy Gaston who realizes that the girl he watched grow up is now an adult–and the love of his life.

Gigi (1958)

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Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made a string of musicals in the 30s that were all essentially the same. This film and Top Hat are two of their best, but you can’t really go wrong with any of their collaborations. They could move effortlessly between energetic tap numbers to elegant, emotional dances, as you’ll see if you watch Swing Time.

Swing Time (1936)

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Gene Kelly is Tommy Albright, an American businessman who goes on vacation to the Highlands of Scotland with his friend (Van Johson). It’s supposed to be one last boy’s trip before Tommy gets married, but instead, he stumbles upon a village that is literally lost in time.

Brigadoon (1954)

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We can’t talk about Old Hollywood musicals without discussing Singin’ in the Rain. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and a teenage Debbie Reynolds star in this classic about a group of actors struggling to make the leap from silent films to “talkies” in the early twentieth century.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

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For More Old Hollywood Recommendations, Visit Us at PopTonic!

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