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Combining the spectacle of musical theater with the fluidity of motion pictures, movie musicals remain one of cinema’s most versatile genres. From the more traditional musicals of the mid-20th Century to more modern examples that utilize popular rock, reggae, and punk songs, Kanopy currently offers dozens of classics that you can stream for free using your Livingston Library card. Check out the recommended titles below, or browse Kanopy’s entire collection of movie musicals here. (Descriptions provided by Kanopy)

funny face

Funny Face (1957, directed by Stanley Donen)

Paris, the City of Light, shines even brighter when Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire team up, bringing their luminous starpower to this exquisite Oscar-nominated musical featuring songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Featuring iconic performances from two legends of the silver screen, this joyous, stylish film is sure to leave you singing and dancing. Nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards. Nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Oklahoma! (1955, directed by Fred Zinnemann)

In Oklahoma, several farmers, cowboys and a traveling salesman compete for the romantic favors of various local ladies. Nominated for four Academy Awards, and added to the National Film Registry in 2007.

West Side Story (1961, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins)

The greatest love story ever told…in the most acclaimed musical of all time! Winner of ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this electrifying musical sets the ageless tragedy of “Romeo and Juliet” against a backdrop of gang warfare in 1950s New York. Featuring an unforgettable score, exuberant choreography and powerful performances by Natalie Wood, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, West Side Story will forever resonate as a true cinematic masterpiece.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964, directed by Jacques Demy)

An angelically beautiful 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, played by Nino Castelnuovo. When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colors, and told entirely through the lilting songs of the great composer Michel Legrand, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time. Winner of the Palm d’Or at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967, directed by David Swift)

Written, produced and directed by David Swift and based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway smash, this classic musical is bristling with humor, romance, and song. The story charts the rise of an ambitious window washer (Robert Morse) who, with the help of a simple guidebook, gets the job, gets the girl (Michele Lee), gets the raise and gets the attention of the Big Boss (Rudy Vallee) himself – all by his second day at work. Now it’s only a matter of hours before he goes from zero to CEO!

Fiddler on the Roof (1971, directed by Norman Jewison)

From director Norman Jewison comes this lavishly produced screen adaptation of the musical stage sensation that tells the life-affirming story of Tevye (Topol), a poor milkman whose love, pride and faith help him face oppression in turn of the century czarist Russia. Faced with mounting financial strain and growing anti-Semitism, Tevye strives—like a FIDDLER ON THE ROOF—to maintain a balance despite the precarious nature of his situation. Nominated for 8 and winner of 3 Academy Awards!

harder they come

The Harder They Come (1972, directed by Perry Henzell)

With dreams of becoming a successful Reggae singer, a young Jamaican man (Jimmy Cliff)  finds corruption from his record producers and the drug pushers they’re connected to. Rather than fail his dreams Ivan lets nothing stand in his way, not even the law.

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979, directed by Allan Arkush and Joe Dante)

Vince Lombardi High School keeps losing principals to nervous breakdowns because of the students’ love of rock ‘n’ roll and their disregard of education. The putative leader of the students is Riff Randell, who loves the music of the Ramones. A new principal, the rock-music-hating Miss Evelyn Togar, is brought in and promises to put an end to the music craze. When Miss Togar and a group of parents attempt to burn a pile of rock records, the students take over the high school, joined by the Ramones, who are made honorary students. When the police are summoned and demand that the students evacuate the building, they do so, which leads to an explosive finale.

Hair (1979, directed by Milos Forman)

John Savage stars as country boy Claude Hooper Bukowski, a Vietnam draftee who embarks on an adventure of a lifetime when he meets a group of counterculture hippies: Berger (Treat Williams), Jeannie (Annie Golden), Hud (Dorsey Wright) and Woof (Don Dacus). Introduced to a world of free love and hallucinogens, Claude’s eyes are also opened to the darker side of class, race and big city life when he becomes infatuated with a beautiful debutante, Sheila (Beverly D’Angelo).

Earth Girls Are Easy (1989, directed by Julien Temple)

Melds the best of alien-invasion films and musicals to offer great fun. Three aliens (Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans and Jeff Goldblum) crash-land in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. A manicurist (Geena Davis) and her boss (the wacky Julie Brown) befriend the threesome, give them makeovers and show them the town.

Rent (2005, directed by Chris Columbus)

Based on Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme, Jonathan Larson’s revolutionary rock opera RENT tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent in the gritty background of New York’s East Village. “Measuring their lives in love,” these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic. One of the longest running shows on Broadway, RENT was the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Tony Awards and three Drama Desk awards.

Across the Universe (2007, directed by Julie Taymor)

A love story set against the backdrop of the 1960s, amid the turbulent years of anti-war protest, the struggle for free speech and civil rights, mind exploration and rock ‘n roll. At once gritty, whimsical and highly theatrical, the story moves from high schools and universities in Massachusetts, Princeton and Ohio to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Detroit riots, the killing fields of Vietnam and the dockyards of Liverpool. Combining live action with painted and three-dimensional animation, Across the Universe springs from the imagination of renowned director Julie Taymor and writers Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais, and features an array of Beatles songs that have come to define the period.

On-Gaku: Our Sound (2019, directed by Kenji Iwaisawa)

When you’re a bored teenager looking for thrills, sometimes the only thing you can turn to is rock ‘n roll. Having no skill, money, or even a full set of drums, a feared trio of high school delinquents nevertheless decide they are destined for musical glory in a quest to impress their only friend Aya, avoid a rival gang, and – most importantly – jam out. Animated almost entirely by director Kenji Iwaisawa, and featuring a lead performance by Japanese alt-rock legend Shintaro Sakamoto, On-Gaku: Our Sound presents a highly original take on the beloved slacker comedy: a lo-fi buddy film with a blaring musical finale that will leave you wanting an immediate encore.

Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions

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