Adapting a musical, Broadway or otherwise, to film is a tricky business. Musicals have their own specific magic that can sometimes feel inextricably tied to the stage, and their inherent theatricality can, if not handled correctly, come off as unbearably camp on the big screen. On Friday, we got chills after watching the new international trailer for Les Misérables, and, especially after Anne Hathaway’s performance on SNL last night we are registering our feelings as squarely hopeful that the film will knock us out. Though Hollywood has had many failures in this area (Phantom of the Opera, Nine), some of their adaptations have been completely brilliant, in some cases even overtaking the original productions. After the jump, we’ve put together a list of some of the best ever stage-to-screen musicals — both to warm you up for Les Mis and just maybe to give a little inspiration to the producers and directors of the upcoming film remakes of Jersey Boys and Into the Woods. Make it work, you guys.
My Fair Lady
The original 1956 Broadway production of My Fair Lady, based of course on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, was an unprecedented hit, setting the then-record for the longest running musical in history, and heralded by The New York Times, albeit with the advantage of hindsight, as “the perfect expression of the perfect musical.” However, it was the 1964 film, starring the indomitable Audrey Hepburn, which cemented the story in the culture’s imagination, winning eight Academy Awards and being pretty much the most delightful thing ever. Not to alarm/over-excite you, but there may be even yet another remake in the works, starring Colin Firth and Carey Mulligan. So far, so good, but those are some big shoes to fill.