Screen Chronology: 1970 to Today
Compiled by John Kenrick
- **** - Sensational
- *** - Good entertainment
- ** - Beats a finger in the eye
- * - You'd rather mow a lawn
- (NO stars) - Run for your life
- Aristocats, The *** - Diverting animated Disney tale of felines on the
loose in Paris. Maurice Chevalier sings the title track.
- Darling Lili ** - Henry Mancini provides Julie Andrews with several
fine songs, but a confusing plot involving espionage during World War I
eventually sabotages itself.
- On a Clear Day You Can See Forever ** - The story a reincarnated woman
with ESP doesn't work, but Barbara Streisand offers some fine vocal
- Pufnstuf (NO stars) - Based on the TV kiddie show, this
cheapie starred Oliver's screen Dodger, Jack Wild.
- Scrooge *** - Albert Finney stars in a highly entertaining musical
version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
- Song of Norway (NO stars) - After an eye-popping opening
montage, its all downhill in this dreadful musical bio of composer Edvard Grieg.
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks *** - Angela Lansbury sparkles as a student
witch defending Britain from the Nazi's during World War II. An underrated
Sherman Brothers score, and some fine animation make this a winner for
kinds and adults alike.
- Boy Friend, The ** - Ken Russell's uneven version of this 1920s stage
spoof has its admirers, but I am not one of them.
- Fiddler on the Roof *** - Topol stars in an overly long but
ultimately satisfying screen version of the stage hit.
- Journey Back to Oz ** - Liza Minnelli is the voice of Dorothy in this
meager animated sequel to The Wizard of Oz.
- Shinbone Alley (not seen)
- Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory *** - Eccentric and
often delightful tale of a poor boy who wins a tour of a magical candy factory.
- Cabaret **** - Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey star in Bob Fosse's dark and
wonderful version of Kander & Ebb's stage hit.
- Great Waltz, The (NO stars) - This moronic remake of the Johann
Strauss story redefines "disaster."
- Lady Sings the Blues ** - Rotten screenplay, but fans of Diana
Ross may enjoy her as jazz legend Billie Holiday.
- Man of La Mancha (NO stars) - Repulsive perversion of the stage
hit based on Cervantes' tale of Don Quixote. Everyone involved in this
should have been publicly flogged. Twice!
- Oh! Calcutta! (not seen)
- 1776 **** - Sensational screen version of the Broadway hit about
the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Most of the original stage
cast is on hand and in top form.
- Charlotte's Web **** - An animated gem based on the classic children's tale of
a spider out to
save a barnyard piglet. Debbie Reynolds voices the
title role, and the Sherman Brothers provide a fine score. Highlight:
Paul Lynde as a singing rat.
- Godspell ** - Victor Garber is Jesus in this so-so version of
Stephen Schwartz's stage hit, filmed in Manhattan.
- Jesus Christ Superstar * - Webber & Rice's rock opera in
an overblown, witless production.
- Lost Horizon * - One or two decent songs can't save this
infamous disaster based on the Frank Capra classic. Note: Look close and
you'll notice this recycles Camelot's outdoor castle set.
- Robin Hood **** - An underrated delight. Animated animals
enact the classic tale, with a
charming score by Roger Miller and a multi-starred cast of voices.
- Tom Sawyer ** - A score by
the Sherman Brothers and some charming performances, but this uneven
adaptation of Twain's classic novel ultimately fails to satisfy.
- Catch My Soul (NO stars) - Repulsive rock version of
- Huckleberry Finn * - Harvey Korman and David Wayne (as King & Duke) are
the only signs of life in this terrible sequel to the previous year's Tom Sawyer.
- Lost In the Stars ** - Uneasy adaptation of Kurt Weill's stage
musical about racism in South Africa.
- Mame ** - Non-singer Lucille Ball is miscast in the lead, but thanks to a stellar
supporting cast this one is not nearly as bad as some critics
- Phantom of the Paradise * - Silly attempt to re-invent Phantom
of the Opera in a rock setting. Paul Williams co-starred & wrote
- That's Entertainment! **** - This glorious compendium of MGM scenes
sparked renewed interest in classic film musicals. A treasure trove!
- At Long Last Love (NO stars) - A bunch of rich drunks meet and fall in
and out of love in the 1930s while mauling a parade of Cole Porter songs. One
of the worst musicals ever filmed.
- Funny Lady **** - Streisand stars as Fanny Brice in this delightful
sequel to Funny Girl, with sexy James Caan, vintage songs and some fine new tunes by
Kander & Ebb.
- Little Prince, The ** - Stellar cast and a Lerner & Loewe
score can't save this dreary adaptation of the popular children's tale.
- Nashville ** - Lives are affected by a presidential campaign.
Acclaimed by many, but I fail to see why.
- Old Curiosity Shop, The (aka "Mr. Quilp") *** - Anthony Newley
stars in this dark, underrated Dickens-inspired musical.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show, The **** - No other film can match the
campy "off the wall" fun in this cult classic. Let's do the
Time Warp again!
- Tommy *** - An all-star cast of rockers enliven this lavish version
of The Who's rock opera.
- A Star Is Born * - Barbra Streisand stars in this dreary
remake set in
the rock music world.
- Bugsy Malone ** - All-kid cast spoofs prohibition gangsters; a fun
idea that eventually chokes on its own cuteness.
- First Nudie Musical, The * - A studio tries to avoid bankruptcy by
filming a porn musical. Unremarkable musical numbers, mediocre story.
- Slipper and the Rose, The ** - Lavish retelling of Cinderella has some
okay Sherman Brothers songs, but is ultimately uninspired.
- That's Entertainment, Part II **** - New dance sequences by Gene Kelly and
Fred Astaire enliven this excellent sequel compilation.
- Little Night Music, A ** - Elizabeth Taylor stars, but this film
version of Sondheim's stage hit is clumsy and disappointing. Best
moments: Diana Rigg as the dragoon's long-suffering wife.
- New York, New York *** - Martin Scorsese's only musical is too
long, but some dazzling sequences make it worth sitting through, especially in
the expanded home video version. Liza Minnelli is a delight as an aspiring 1940s
singer. Highlight: Kander & Ebb's socko title tune.
- Pete's Dragon *** - A dragon saves an orphan from misfortune in this
entertaining blend of live action and Disney animation.
- Raggedy Ann and Andy (NO stars) - Terrible animated musical, based on
a Broadway flop.
- Saturday Night Fever *** - John Travolta as a blue collar kid
finding life and love in a disco.
- American Hot Wax (not seen)
- Buddy Holly Story, The *** - Gary Busey is great in this
enjoyable bio pic.
- FM (not seen)
- Grease **** - Excellent adaptation of the Broadway hit about 1950s high
school romance, with memorable performances by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
- I Wanna Hold Your Hand (not seen)
- Magic of Lassie, The (NO stars) - Woof.
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (NO stars) - Even classic
Beatles tunes can't save this mess.
- Thank God It's Friday (NO stars) - No wonder I love Mondays.
- Wiz, The ** - Overproduced soul version of The Wizard of Oz
stars Diana Ross as a middle-aged Dorothy. A few fun moments, but overall a
waste. Highlight: "No Bad News."
- All That Jazz ** - Bob Fosse's painfully frank attempt at
autobiography ranges from fascinating to tasteless.
- Hair *** - Fun version of the stage hit has wartime draftee
Treat Williams adopted by a tribe of hippies.
- Elvis (NO stars) - Elvis deified. Clumsy despite sexy Kurt
Russell in the title role.
- Rose, The *** - Bette Midler is brilliant in this tale of a
tortured Janis Joplin-esque rock star.
- Muppet Movie, The *** - Kermit & Miss Piggie lead the
Muppets across America in their first big screen triumph.
- Apple, The (NO stars) - Idiotic musical about a song writing contest.
- Blues Brothers ** - John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd bring their Saturday
Night Live bit to the screen in this noisy vehicle.
- Can't Stop the Music (NO stars) - All-star pop song fest, beyond awful.
Gives camp a bad name.
- Fame *** - Some dynamic numbers in a fictional look at life in NY's
High School of Performing Arts.
- Jazz Singer, The (NO stars) - Pop singer Neil Diamond hopelessly
miscast in this ghastly remake, with Sir Laurence Olivier as his cantor father? Oy!
- Popeye (NO stars) - Robin Williams is wasted in this inept adaptation
of the comic strip.
- Xanadu * - Incoherent spectacle stars Olivia Newton John and
(heaven help him!) Gene Kelly in his final musical screen appearance.
- Great Muppet Caper, The *** - The Muppets offer lots of laughs in this
merry spoof of jewel heists and classic musicals.
- Pennies from Heaven ** - Some lavish lip-synched musical sequences are
mired in this drab tale of unhappiness in the Great Depression.
Bernadette Peters and Steve Martin star.
- Annie ** - Disappointing version of the stage hit, starring a
- Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The ** - Some fun along the way in
this weak version of the Broadway hit. Best moments are courtesy of
Dolly Parton and Charles Durning.
- Grease 2 (NO stars) - As bad as a sequel can be, and that's pretty
- Pink Floyd - The Wall * - This musical exploration of a nervous
breakdown is (surprise, surprise) ultimately depressing. Based on the best-selling
rock album of the same name.
- Pirate Movie, The (NO stars) - Abominable deconstruction of
Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance.
- Victor/Victoria **** - Julie Andrews and Robert Preston star in this
brilliant Blake Edwards musical comedy about a soprano who masquerades as
a female impersonator to find stardom in 1930s Paris. The last great
original screen musical of the 20th Century.
- Pirates of Penzance, The *** - An enjoyable romp based on the 1981
Broadway revival of Gilbert & Sullivan's classic operetta. NOT to be
confused with the execrable Pirate Movie from the previous year.
- Staying Alive * - Heavy-duty dance sequences and sexy John Travolta
do little to justify this dreary sequel to Saturday Night Fever.
- Cotton Club, The * - Studio cuts made this Prohibition-era film
almost impossible to follow. Some fine musical performers can be spotted in bits along the way.
- Chorus Line, A * - This screen version of the long-running Broadway
hit is totally off the mark. Embarrassing.
- That's Dancing! *** - That's Entertainment sequel
focuses on Hollywood's greatest dancers. Some slow spots, but overall a fun time.
- Little Shop of Horrors **** - Superb adaptation of the hilarious
off-Broadway hit, with a man-eating plant threatening to take over the
world. The Ashman-Menken score rocks!
- All Dogs Go To Heaven * - Dreary animated goop about a dog returning
from the grave to redeem himself. Inspired several equally lousy sequels.
- Bert Rigby, Youre a Fool * - Robert Lindsay stars as a British
coal miner with show biz aspirations, but his charm cannot overcome an
otherwise lifeless film.
- Little Mermaid, The **** - Disney's spectacular adaptation of the
Andersen fairy tale initiated a new but all too brief golden age of animated musical film.
The Oscar-winning Ashman-Menken score is pure magic.
- Mack the Knife (NO stars) - A brain dead adaptation of Kurt Weill's
- For the Boys ** - Mediocre backstage plot almost saved by several
energetic Bette Midler numbers.
- Beauty and the Beast **** - Disney's inspired animated version of the
classic story, featuring an Oscar-winning Ashman-Menken score. One of the
greatest screen musicals of all time, superb in every department.
- Aladdin **** - Disney animation strikes again, with a dazzling
performance by Robin Williams and an Oscar-winning Ashman-Rice-Menken score.
- Muppet Christmas Carol, The *** - Michael Caine is Scrooge in this fun
Muppetized version of the Dickens classic.
- Newsies * - Newsboys go to war with powerful publisher Joe
Pulitzer. Promising idea eventually falls flat.
- Nightmare Before Christmas, The *** - Bizarre but often brilliant
stop-motion tale of Halloween Town's attempt to take over Christmas. Poor
songs, stunning visuals your call.
- Zero Patience (not seen)
- Lion King, The *** - Disney triumphed yet again with this tale of a
young lion growing up to reclaim his heritage. Tim Rice & Elton John
provided the score.
- That's Entertainment! III *** - Third attempt wears the formula a bit
thin, but there is still pleasure aplenty.
- Arabian Knight ** - Sometimes confusing animated Alladin-esque
- Pocahontas *** - Takes itself too seriously, but this lavish animated
rehash of American history has its moments.
- All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (NO stars) - Saccharine sequel to a
- Everyone Says I Love You *** - Poor singing but tons of humor in Woody
Allen's only musical.
- Evita *** - Madonna is no actress, but she does decently as the woman
who dominated Argentina. Antonio Banderas is a sexy film-stealer as Che.
- Hunchback of Notre Dame, The **** - Underrated Disney masterpiece with
superb Stephen Schwartz score, based on the classic Victor Hugo novel.
- James and the Giant Peach *** - Surprisingly diverting animated
tale of a boy who voyages through space on a mammoth floating peach.
- Muppet Treasure Island *** - Forgettable score does not prevent this
from being a fun time for the kiddies.
- Anastasia ** - An excellent Ahrens-Flaherty score stuck in a so-so
film fantasy about the surviving daughter of a murdered Russian monarch.
- Hercules *** - Lots of comedy but little magic in this Disney animated
feature most of the score is downright weak.
- Mulan ** - Political correctness makes for so-so entertainment in this
animated tale of a Chinese girl who goes to war disguised as a man.
- Prince of Egypt ** - Handsome animation is not enough to keep this
retelling of the Moses story from dragging.
- South Park: The Movie **** - Profane and hilarious, the
foul-mouthed shenanigans of some small town school boys
lead America into a war with Canada. Spoofs everything from show biz to international
politics with wicked accuracy.
- Tarzan (Disney) ** - Lovely animation and a lousy score in this
new version of the classic tale of a man raised by apes.
- Fantasticks, The (NO stars) - Disgraceful, incoherent mis-adaptation of the long
running Off-Broadway hit. Don't.
- Loves Labours Lost * - Kenneth Branagh tries to spice up one of
Shakespeare's lesser comedies with classic 1930s songs. Handsomely
produced and well-intended, but embarrassing.
- Topsy Turvy **** - Mike Leigh's ingenious look at the birth of Gilbert
& Sullivan's Mikado is historically accurate and truly
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch *** - John Cameron Mitchell stars in his
daring stage hit about a transsexual rock singer. Hard rock score, hard
hitting film not every musical-lover's thing, but heaven for some.
- Moulin Rouge ** - Lavish, imaginative, but ultimately frustrating tale
of romance in old-time Paris. Too hyper for my taste!
- Chicago **** - Ron Marshall's sensational adaptation of the Kander
& Ebb stage hit, with murderous flappers seeking fame in the 1920s.
- 8 Mile * - Eminem stars as white boy trying to break into the
all-black rap business. If you're into this sound you may like this one, but
it is definitely not this reviewer's cup of tea.
- Camp **** - A delightful look at a heady clash of lust and ambition at
a performing arts summer camp for teens. Don't let the jarring opening sequence
fool you -- this one is a winner. Highlight: "It's Turkey Lurkey
Time" from Promises, Promises.
- Bride and Prejudice * - India's Bollywood take on the Jane
Austen classic; loud, brash and dull.
- It's DeLovely (NO STARS) - It's DeGarbage. Grand talents
Kevin Kline and
Alan Corduner are left to drown in this insult to the legacy
of Cole Porter, who's songs are relentlessly crucified. Hollywood must have made this
one in hopes that it would bury musical films forever.
- The Phantom of the Opera * - What was pretentious on stage is all the more so on screen.
Miscast stars, some delicious supporting performances, but overall
bloated and dull.
- The Producers ** - Clumsy adaptation of the Broadway hit still has its moments, but
lacks excitement or cohesion. Highlight: the giddy "Keep It
- Rent * - Unsuccessful attempt to recapture the excitement of
1996; the material seems as time worn as the cast.
- West Bank Story ** - Middle East musical has great premise
ruined by sophomoric execution.
- Mrs. Henderson Presents *** - Delightful fun, with Judi Dench
as a wealthy widow producing a nudie show in World War II London.
Witty, touching screenplay, with endearing, campy stagings of period
- Across the Universe ** - Old Beatles songs recycled with
bizarre visuals to tell a tedious non-love story.
- Dreamgirls **** - Stylish and highly entertaining adaptation
of the stage hit.
- Hairspray **** - Surprisingly well-handled adaptation of stage
hit keeps much of the fun intact with a stellar cast, whacky humor and great score.
- Naked Boys Singing ** - Minor stage revue filmed in
performance -- some low-budget laughs, but not all its cracked up to
The Other Film Chronologies: