Movie Musical Success: What Are the Key Factors?

Have you ever wondered why one movie musical receives critical acclaim and maybe even an Academy Award and another ดูหนัง based on an equally good Broadway musical ends up on a studio shelf, rarely seen after its initial release? There are several key factors that lead to a quality movie musical.

These factors include a strong story line and well-written screenplay, quality music, great casting, and effective direction. Great choreography is often a plus but a movie musical, unlike a Broadway musical, can be a quality movie without elaborate dances. In this article, I compare two movie musicals based on successful Lerner and Loewe Broadway musicals — “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot” — and I discuss why “My Fair Lady” was an acclaimed, award-winning movie that is still viewed and loved by millions of people and why “Camelot” has become a mostly forgotten film. 

Both plays were successes on Broadway, although “My Fair Lady” did receive more praises than “Camelot” and it ran for a significantly longer time. Nevertheless, “Camelot” had a healthy initial Broadway run and both plays have had three short-run revivals on Broadway. Also, both plays earned Tony awards for their male leads and Tony nominations for Julie Andrews, the leading female star in both plays. Yet, the movies based on the plays had vastly different outcomes, with “My Fair Lady” garnering eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, and Camelot earning only three minor awards.

So, where did “Camelot,” the movie, go wrong? Plot and ScreenplayBoth plays and movies were based on good works of literature — “My Fair Lady” on the play “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw, and “Camelot” on the book “The Once and Future King” by T. H. White. The screenplays were both authored by an experienced and award-winning author, Alan Jay Lerner, who also wrote the lyrics for the songs in both works. Therefore, the story lines and screenplays do not seem to be where the differences lie. In fact, the plot of “Camelot,” with its historic setting, romantic entanglements and scenes of chivalry and war, made it a better vehicle for film than “My Fair Lady” with its dialog-filled, actionless scenes. 

Quality MusicThe scores from “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot,” both written by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, are wonderful, with a good blend of beautiful melodies and sometimes poignant and other times humorous lyrics. Both shows had one major hit romantic ballad — “On the Street Where You Live” for “My Fair Lady” and “If Ever I Would Leave You” for “Camelot” — and both songs were dubbed in the movies by professional singers. The songs for the male lead are more melodious in “Camelot” and, at least in the movie version, the male lead, Richard Harris, had a better singing voice than Rex Harrison had in “My Fair Lady.” With basically equivalent scores, it seems that it is not the music that distinguishes the two works. 

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