List: Great Film Adaptations of Broadway Musicals

Throughout the month of June, Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the upcoming Tony Awards (Sun. June 12) by spotlighting stage to screen adaptations two nights a week. Wednesday evenings-Thursday mornings they will show adaptations of plays, and Thursday evenings-Friday mornings they will show adaptations of musicals.

Here is a list of the musical adaptations I consider the best (I will do the same with film versions of plays next week). In order to be considered for this list, a film must be a version of a musical that has appeared on Broadway. If the movie airs on TCM this month, I will note that in the description so you catch it on TV. With each description, I also include a link to a video with what I consider to be the best song in each movie.


10.     Oliver! (1968)


Lionel Bart’s musical adaptation of Dickens’ Oliver Twist has been on Broadway three times: 1963-64, 1965, & 1984. Carol Reed directed the 1968 movie version starring Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Jack Wild, Oliver Reed, and Shani Wallace.

Best song: “Consider Yourself

TCM: Friday, June 17 (6:15PM EST)


9.       Guys and Dolls (1955)


Frank Loesser’s musical, based on Damon Runyan story, has been on Broadway six times: 1950-53, 1955, 1965, 1976-77, 1992-95, & 2009. Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed the 1955 movie version starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons, and Vivian Blaine. This week, it was announced that a remake is in the works.

Best song: “Adelaide’s Lament

TCM: Friday, June 10 (3:00AM EST)


8.       The Phantom of the Opera (2004)


Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, based on the Gaston Leroux novel, opened on Broadway in 1988; it still runs today and is the longest-running show in Broadway history. Joel Schumacher directed the 2004 movie version starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver, and Miranda Richardson.

Best song: “All I Ask of You


7.       Fiddler on the Roof (1971)


Joseph Stein wrote the screenplay for this adaptation of his own stage musical based on several stories by Sholom Aleichem. The show has been on Broadway six times: 1964-72, 1976-77, 1981, 1990-91, 2004-2006, and a current production that began its run in December 2015. Norman Jewish directed the movie version starring Tool, Norma Crane, and Leonard Frey.

Best song: “If I Were a Rich Man


6.       Chicago (2002)


Bob Fosse, Fred Ebb, and John Kander wrote the stage musical based on based on a non-musical play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. The show has been on Broadway twice: 1975-77 and a current production that began running in 1996. Rob Marshall directed the movie version starring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah, Richard Gere, and John C. Riley.

Best song: “Mr. Cellophane” (Warning: This video contains tame sexual dialogue and one curse word).


5.       Show Boat (1936)


The Oscar Hammerstein/Jerome Kern musical has been on broadway seven times: 1927-29, 1932, 1946-47, 1948, 1954, 1983, and 1994-97. James Whale directed the movie version starring Irene Dunn, Alan Jones, Charles Winninger, Paul Robson, and Helen Morgan.

TCM: Tonight at 8:00PM EST

Best song “Ol’ Man River

4.       Cabaret (1972)


Joe Masteroff, Fred Ebb, and John Kander wrote the stage musical based on based on a non-musical play by John Van Druten. The show has been on Broadway four times: 1966-69, 1987-88, 1998-2004, and 2014-15. Bob Fosse directed the movie version starring Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, Michael York, Helmut Griem, and Marisa Berenson.

Best song: “Willkommen” (Warning: As the title suggests, the film is set in a highly sexualized atmosphere, yet it is handled without showing any sex or nudity; the film is rated PG but is nonetheless quite sexual in its context, and this clip is no exception.)

TCM: Thursday, June 30 (8:00PM EST)


3.       On the Town (1949)


The Betty Comden/Alfred Green/Leonard Bernstein musical has been on Broadway four times: 1944-46, 1971-71, 1989-89, and 2014-15. Stanley Donen directed the movie version starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen, and Alice Pearce.

Best song: “You Can Count on Me” (Warning: If you haven’t already seen this movie, this video will probably seem extremely bizarre and pointless outside the context of the full movie but in context it’s hilarious).

TCM: Friday June 3 (7:15AM EST)


2.       Carmen Jones (1954)


The Rogers and Hammerstein musical is based on the Geoges Bizet opera Carmen and adapts the lyrics into English and the story into 1940s Chicago. The show has been on broadway three times: 1943-45, later in 1945, and 1946.The movie version was directed by Otto Preminger and stars Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, and Pearl Bailey.

Best song: “Dat’s Love


1.        Les Misérables (2012)


Alain Boubil’s musical, based on Victor Hugo’s novel, has been on Broadway three times: 1987-2003, 2006-08, and a current production that began running in 2014. Tom Hooper directed the film with all the singing performed in front of the camera instead of in a sound booth. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, and Amanda Seyfried.

Best song: “Do You Hear the People Sing?” (Warning: This video involves some violent content at the end, after the song is complete.)


2 thoughts on “List: Great Film Adaptations of Broadway Musicals”

    1. “Paint Your Wagon” is a guilty-pleasure for me. Lee Marvin’s horrible “singing,” if you can even call it singing is absolutely delightful.


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