After seeing SF Playhouse’s wonderful version of “Camelot,” it made me think of how awful the movie was and that made me hate the musical. Don’t hate the show. Hate the movie!
With that in mind, here’s a list of bad musicals. And bad doesn’t mean fun and campy – like a “Xanadu,” “Glitter,” “Staying Alive,” “Sgt. Pepper” or “Can’t Stop the Music.” They are gems compared to poorly cast, boring and inspid productions that either have actors that can’t sing or singers who can’t act. I tried to go back only 40 years to come up with the musical to avoid.
My friend Aldo will kill me for putting this on the list. But whether a movie or live, I just am not a fan of the overly sweet “Annie.” Love the cast in other things but seeing FDR sing-a-long with “Tomorrow” while eating cotton candy makes me barf.
I love the 1959 non-musical version, “Auntie Mame.” It’s a classic. Even the songs in the musical version are wonderful. And yes, I love Lucy. But she was way too old – look at this picture – did they use a paper towel filter? Aside from that, like Lucy Ricardo, Lucille Ball CANNOT sing!
8. At Long Last Love
Peter Bogdanovich ending his movie winning streak with this film, after the success of “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Paper Moon.” Cole Porter songs never sounded worse in the hands of Burt Reynolds and (even though they can sing) Madeline Kahn and Cybill Shepherd. “Baby, if I’m the bottom…” is right.
7. Jesus Christ Superstar
The Broadway musical was a #1 album for a long time – even before the play opened. It has some amazing songs and is one of the best from Andrew Lloyd Webber. Oscar winning director Norman Jewison really went down the wrong path with the movie version. He tried to make a statement on war, but it still looks like 1973, right down to JC’s disciples looking like an early Chippendales group.
Another great director Robert Altman crashed and burned with this. The only trouble with “Popeye” is all the songs by Harry Nilsson are awful and well cast (acting and looks wise) Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall cannot sing.
5. Lost Horizon
What do the people in this picture have reason to celebrate? A cast of three Oscar winners and three other nominees cannot even come close to the original NON-musical version of this classic. While they were dubbed for the most part, Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s songs were so bad that this might be the reason Dionne Warwick stopped recording their songs.
Franco Nero is very sexy and looks great here. Fortunately, he was dubbed. But Richard Harris wasn’t and even worse neither was Vanessa Redgrave. They didn’t even consider Julie Andrews from the Broadway version. It has one of the best songs from any Broadway show – “If Ever I Would Leave You” – and apparently, they got their answer. I’d leave you if I had to watch this again.
3. Paint Your Wagon
I know I’ve always wanted to get all of the CDs from these great singers: Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg. They certainly can carry a musical….NOT!
2. From Justin to Kelly
I know I said I would not include muscials with non-actors but this movie needs to represent all of those awful films like “Sgt. Pepper.” This has a few pleasant songs but is so bad that even the audience didn’t go – and it was made the year after Kelly won “American Idol,” when the show was at its peak. This movie is also in the top 20 worst movies of all time.
1. A Little Night Music
Wow. How can you ruin this? Stephen Sondheim songs based upon a classic Ingmar Bergman movie, brought to the big screen by Broadway legend Hal Prince, after it won tons of Broadway Tony Awards. Answer: hire two time Oscar winner Elizabeth Taylor to play the lead. Her voice was dubbed for several songs but she sings “Send in the Clowns,” with her nails-on-a-chalkboard voice. She even looks bored in the picture. Apparently, Angela Lansbury who was considered for the role wasn’t a box office draw.