Film Noir Musicals
May 25, 2008 8:49 PM   Subscribe

Recommend to me film noir musicals, either performed on stage or screen. Stuff that almost falls within the genre is good as well. Murder, gumshoes, gangsters, speakeasys, the 30s, 40s, or 50s...
posted by Unsomnambulist to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Guys and Dolls
Bugsy Malone
posted by Coaticass at 9:20 PM on May 25, 2008

The Cotton Club, sorta.
This number in The Band Wagon
Film noir-ish with musical numbers:
The Godfather Part III (opera)
The Black Dahlia (weird lesbian stage show)

Also, there's a couple of musical numbers in Johnny Dangerously, including this song from Weird Al.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:39 PM on May 25, 2008

Pennies From Heaven.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:41 PM on May 25, 2008

Some wonderful examples from BBC television: The Singing Detective -this is the original TV series (not the movie version which was a flop). Blackpool has a more modern setting but is certainly noir-ish.

Kung Fu Hustle has musical comedy elements- especially some of the fight scenes which border on dance a la Busby Berkeley (there's no singing though). It's set among crime gangs in a 1930's Shanghai slum and is very entertaining, although not really a musical.
posted by Coaticass at 9:51 PM on May 25, 2008

Zoot Suit isn't noir, but is right in the strike zone of your time period.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:10 PM on May 25, 2008

The 1989 Broadway musical "City of Angels" is about a mousy writer named Stine, whose Raymond Chandler-esque books about his well-loved gumshoe character Stone are being turned into a Hollywood movie. The musical ping-pongs between the writer's story and his character's story; the former is a comedy and the latter is a noir, and certain scenes from "the real world" and "the story world" appear on stage at the same time, to highlight similarities (or sometimes differences) to ironic effect.

Certain roles in the musical are double cast so that, for example, the gumshoe's put-upon Gal Friday and the "real life" Hollywood actress who plays her in the movie are played by the same (Broadway) actress, who sings a song whose meaning changes based on which character is doing the singing.

Also, there's a new noir-ish murder mystery musical touring now called "Curtains", starring David Hyde Pierce. Haven't seen it, though.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:57 PM on May 25, 2008

Oooh, one more -- well, sort of. In the film "Singing in the Rain", there's a big musical number towards the end called "Broadway Melody", which features a famous all-dancing/no-talking/no-singing section starring Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, and Cyd Charisse's amazing legs. She plays a gangster's moll. "Singing in the Rain" was filmed in the 1950's and supposedly takes place in 1929, but the number looks as though it came out of the 1930's or 40's.

Also, my husband recommends the film "Bullets Over Broadway" as a noir about making a Broadway musical.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:04 PM on May 25, 2008

Night of the Hunter isn't a really a musical, I guess, but nearly every character gets a song.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:27 PM on May 25, 2008

A few examples of noir-ish musical theatre (Brecht and/or Weill?) and opera (Menotti- The Medium) come to mind, but perhaps that's not what you meant by almost falls within the genre.
posted by Coaticass at 12:05 AM on May 26, 2008

Some Like It Hot? It's a comedy, but the setting is noir-ish, and there are several musical numbers.
posted by iviken at 12:13 AM on May 26, 2008

Not quite right, but try Victor Victoria. Close to Some Like It Hot in concept, it's one of my favourite musical-ish movies and the best Julie Andrews ever. EVER!
posted by ninazer0 at 1:29 AM on May 26, 2008

Not a musical, but Sylvester Stallone's (!) farce "Oscar" is actually pretty funny.
posted by EarBucket at 7:03 AM on May 26, 2008

One of my favorite Balanchine ballet's "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" fits the bill. It is usually done as a repertory piece, since it was originally part of the Broadway show "On Your Toes."
posted by wildeepdotorg at 1:26 PM on May 26, 2008

In A Pig's Valise by Eric Overmyer.
posted by brookeb at 1:59 PM on May 26, 2008

Mod note: few comments removed - approximate answers are fine really
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:08 PM on May 26, 2008

Sunset Boulevard got made into a musical. I don't know the show though, I'm not sure if I can really recommend; but it's a famous film noir adapted for Broadway, so I'd guess it would fit your criteria.
posted by SoftRain at 4:08 PM on May 26, 2008

Oh, and Scorcese's New York, New York is set in the right era and wikipedia calls it a "noir musical," but it's a bit of a stretch. It does really self-consciously imitate classical Hollywood though, and it feels more "noir" to me than Cabaret, even though Cabaret is a way better movie.

Stuff like Chicago and Cabaret and even Pennies From Heaven (which is amazing though) strike me as set too early to be really noir; film noir is usually defined pretty strictly as '40s-'50s, if you want to be purist about it. (No worries if you don't -- I'm just kind of a nerd about this stuff and '30s gangster stuff is awesome, but not really the same as film noir proper, which didn't get started in earnest until after WWII; if you're just looking for awesome period musicals with speakeasies and stuff, and not doing a research project, don't mind me!)
posted by SoftRain at 4:24 PM on May 26, 2008

It's not specifically in the timeline you're referencing, but in so many ways "Streets of Fire" nails all the noir cliches. It's sort of 50's, sort of 80's, and features the beautiful Diane Lane lipsyncing awesomely bombastic Jim Steinman songs in fantastically staged numbers that make the movie. Mix in Amy Madigan, Rick Moranis and the stone-faced Michael Pare; add a dash of little early-career Willem Dafoe and enjoy!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:19 PM on May 26, 2008

Can't believe nobody's mentioned 42nd Street.

And Streets of Fire? Perhaps... but a little too colorful to be noir, in my book.
posted by Rash at 3:56 PM on May 27, 2008

I know, Rash, but... it has lots of cool explosions.

And ends with a freaking SLEGDEHAMMER FIGHT!

Maybe not noir, but definitely badass.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:35 AM on May 28, 2008

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