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18 Camp Classic Musicals That Make Us Sing

18 Camp Classic Musicals That Make Us Sing


Nothing inspires gay fans more than camp classics, and no movie genre is more campy than musicals.

18-camp-classic-musicals-that-make-us-singx968_0We've shared our camp classics bad girls edition with you, and our camp classic comedies as well. But we've saved the best - and the weirdest - for last. Here are the musical films that - for better or for worse - make us sing.

The Boy Friend (1971)
Director Ken Russell (The Devils and Tommy) turns his acid trip sensibility to a spoof of 1920s backstage movie musicals in this adaptation of the show that marked Julie Andrews's 1954 Broadway debut. Supermodel Twiggy is no Julie Andrews, but the frothy romp features the talents of dreamy Christopher Gable and Hello, Dolly!'s long-legged hoofer Tommy Tune.

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Twelve years before Andrew Lloyd Webber musicalized The Phantom of the Opera, this trippy camp classic from director Brian De Palma gave the ageless tale a rock and roll update, featuring Paul Williams as an evil rock tycoon and William Finley as the disfigured Phantom.

The Gang's All Here (1943)
This candy-colored extravaganza from director Busby Berkeley stars Alice Faye and bandleader Benny Goodman. But the real star is Brazilian bombshell Carmen Miranda, who inspired every female hot tamale comedian from Charo to Sofia Vergara. Here's one of her most iconic numbers -- with banana fetish symbolism that would give Sigmund Freud pause.

Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (2005)
Writers Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney converted the 1936 cautionary film about the dangers of demon weed into a campy musical, which Showtime filmed, starring Kristen Bell, siblings Neve and Christian Campbell, Steven Weber, and bisexual icon Alan Cumming.

Some movie musicals of the late 1970s were apparently conceived and created by people who were doing a lot of cocaine. Here are three of the most dubious examples:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
Everyone who was having a moment in 1978, including Peter Frampton, the Bee Gees, Alice Cooper, Steve Martin, and George Burns, was crammed into this misguided and aggressively awful mash-up of Beatles tunes. If you consume enough drugs, you might actually enjoy it.

Can't Stop the Music (1980)
The Village People, that great novelty act of the 1970s, officially outstayed their welcome in this god-awful extravaganza that featured sexpot Valerie Perrine, Police Academy's Steve Guttenberg, and the screwball comedy skills of Bruce Jenner.

Xanadu (1980)
Olivia Newton-John, screen legend Gene Kelly, and someone named Michael Beck star in this WTF tale of a Greek goddess, a struggling artist, and disco roller-skating to the strains of the Electric Light Orchestra. This unholy mess became a cult classic and inspired a 2007 Broadway musical starring Kerry Butler and Cheyenne Jackson.

Mamma Mia! (2008)
Meryl Streep may be the greatest actress of our time, but bless her heart, she's no musical comedy star. This ABBA musical features the fresh-faced Amanda Seyfried inviting three men, each of whom might be her dad, to her wedding. Puppy-dog eyed Dominic Cooper as her fiance and Christine Baranski as Streep's sexy pal shine brightly, but the film mostly feels like a middle-aged pajama party. As Streep leads the Greek women through the village in "Dancing Queen," you half expect an announcer to intone, "Ask your doctor about Boniva."

42nd Street (1933)
This mother of all 1930s backstage musicals, which lifted American audiences out of the Great Depression, includes epic musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley. It stars Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler -- as the sweet young understudy who's told, "You're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!"

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Marilyn Monroe cements her status as an American film treasure in this delicious film version of the stage play, as gold digger Lorelei Lee -- alongside her sassy sister, played by the buxom Jane Russell. Monroe's rendition of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and Russell's failed attempt to catch the eye of muscular athletes in "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love?" are enough to set gay hearts racing.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
A 1960 low-budget horror film provided inspiration for this musical romp by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (who would go on to write the tunes for Disney's TheLittle Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin) about a carnivorous plant, a sadistic dentist, life on Skid Row, and "Suddenly Seymour."

Victor Victoria (1982)
Julie Andrews sparkles as a down-and-out singer masquerading as a drag queen in her husband Blake Edwards's update of this sex farce based on the 1933 German film Viktor and Viktoria and the delightful 1935 British film First a Girl.

Grease (1978)
Although Grease was much better onstage, a 30-something-year-old cast never looked better as high-schoolers than in this campy homage to 1950s greasers, pink ladies, and summer loving. Olivia Newton-John is adorable, and the 1978 John Travolta was a fine piece of man meat.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Who knew that Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor could sing? Director Baz Luhrmann did. In this absinthe-soaked fantasia of an innocent young man drawn into the intoxicating life of theater, love, and la vie boheme, Luhrmann single-handedly revived the movie musical.

Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
Forget Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews was never more funny, sweet, and saucy than in this tale of a young woman looking for love in the Roaring Twenties. Mary Tyler Moore is delicious as a sweet young heiress, James Fox and John Gavin are Millie's delectable beaus, and Broadway legend Carol Channing totally earned her Oscar nod as the madcap Muzzie. "Raaazzberries!"

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Could this be considered a musical when the performers lip-synch all the tunes? Why the hell not? Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, and Guy Pearce rock this Aussie epic as a transgender woman and two drag queens on an outback quest. You've never seen it? Really?

Hairspray (2007)
John Waters's low-budget film inspired the Broadway musical, and it spawned this big- budget film featuring John Travolta's drag turn as the overweight but sexy Edna Turnblad. Nikki Blonsky owns the film as the indefatigable fat girl whose dancing skills and passion for racial equality transform the town and earn her the love of Zac Efron's Linc (we should all be so lucky).

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Every LGBT movie fan owes a great deal to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which was responsible for more queer kids coming out than any other film. Tim Curry's "sweet transvestite" Dr. Frank N. Furter launched a thousand Halloween costumes. Don't dream it -- be it!

Which camp classic musicals are your favorites? Which ones would you add to this list? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Look for the above films at

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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