Drama and Theatre discussion

Best MOVIE about THEATER you've ever seen . . .

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments What's the best (most enjoyable) movie about the theater that you've ever seen?

My favorite movie of all time is All About Eve. I love it for it's wit, it's humor, it's performances, and the backstage machinations which go on in the theater. A great star vehicle for Davis, Baxter, Ritter, Sanders and the rest of a wonderful cast. But it's not my favoite movie about theater.

Career (I forget the name of the author) is also a wonderful play and an excellent movie (for theater buffs, that is). About a young man who goes to New York to become an actor and what happens to him over the years while he pursues his dream. Movie starred Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine and Tony Franciosa.

My very favorite movie about the workings of the theater is The Dresser, a wonderful backstage look at a touring theater group in England during World War II. Based on a script by Ronald Harwood (I think that's the correct name), Albert Finney plays an aging actor during his last tour and Tom Courtenay is The Dresser, Mr. Finney's long-suffering and loving mainstay. A terrific movie, based on a terrific play. If you haven't seen this one, I envy you - I'd like to be seeing it for the first time.

There are probably many others which I have not seen or forgotten. What are your thoughts?


message 2: by Joseph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Joseph | 12 comments I agree, The Dresser is a great film!

message 3: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Jessica Great reminder that I haven't seen The Dresser in years.

If I may venture past movies into TV, the Canadian series Slings & Arrows (available on DVD) is one of the most insightful, realistic, and funny portrayals of life in the theater I have ever seen.

Shakespeare in Love had some wonderful inside theater stuff, and Stage Beauty gave an interesting look at a particular time in the theater in a related way.

One of the most beautiful films about the theater I have ever seen is Ariane Mnouchkine's Moliere. At one time I had a bad tape of it, and wish I still had it.

There is a movie I'm having trouble remembering the details of, maybe someone can help. It concerned a theater company in England touring the country during WWII (or perhaps just after, during rationing) with a young woman joining the company. IIRC, she was in love with a gay director or actor. Any ideas?

message 4: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Jessica Oh, and the movie I'm trying to think of is not The Dresser, though the settings are related.

message 5: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Jessica Sorry, sorry, don't mean to hog this topic! But how could I forget the brilliant, hilarious The Tall Guy. The rehearsals for the Elephant Man musical crack me up, no matter how many times I watch it.

message 6: by Joseph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Joseph | 12 comments I totally forgot about the Tall Guy. Very, very funny. And I think Billy Crudup is remarkable in Stage Beauty.

I'll have to check ou Slings and Arrows. I think I heard an NPR story about that show.

message 7: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Hi Joseph and Jessica -

You guys are way ahead of me. I've heard of Slings and Arrows, but have never seen it. I'll have to keep an eye out for it. I love movies about working in the theater.

And The Tall Man - I don't think I've ever heard of it. British? Who's in it.

Same with Stage Beauty - never heard of it, but will now look for it.

Remember something called The McGuffin (or The Real McGuffin?) - by the same guy who did This is Spinal Tap, I think.

And years ago, on PBS I think, I saw a movie about an amateur group in a small town putting on a production of Streetcar Named Desire. A young man working in a hardware store got the lead (Stanley) - I forgot the name of the actor, but he's now playing opposite John Travolta in Hairspray. A good look at amateur theatrics, if I remember correctly.

But still, The Dresser is my favorite - Tom Courtenay is just wonderful (and I think it's Eileen Atkins as the stage manager). I don't have a copy and haven't seen it in years - we can't order from Amazon over here so this stuff is all in my head - but I'll get a copy one of these days.

Elephant Man - The Musical??? That is funny just in itself. I wonder whatever happened to Philip Anglim, the young man who played the lead on Broadway - I haven't heard much from him since he was in . . . Jesus, my mind is going . . . Colleen McCullough's epic.

I don't know how so many multiples of this thread got on here - I've tried to delete all but one but have had no luck so far.


message 8: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments And the one with Judi Dench about a theater and how she kept it open during WWII - what was the name of that (I've never seen it)?

And didn't Hugh Grant make a movie about a theater group some years ago?

I wish I had copies of all of these.

And I still can't think of the title of McCullough's book - one of my very favorites which I have read and re-read many times.

Don't ever get old!!


message 9: by Tenaciousleigh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Tenaciousleigh | 7 comments Ralph-

Waiting for Guffman directed by Christoper Guest and starring Kather O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Parker Posy etc. I love this movie!


message 10: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Jessica Oh man, how did I forget Waiting for Guffman. Genius, GENIUS!

message 11: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments What did I call it - The McGuffin??? Well, I was close. And I couldn't think of Christopher Guest - all I could think of was "Jamie Lee Curtis' husband." Funny movie, huh?

And the McCullough book/TV mini-series was, of course, The Thorn Birds - one of my all-time favorite books and an excellent mini-series.

And the guy who played Stanley in Streetcar in that other one I saw was Christopher Walken - I think he played a young man who worked in a hardware store who was (reluctantly) cast in an amateur production of Streetcar Named Desire. Another good look at the workings of a local theater group.

These came to me last night as I was trying to fall asleep. That happens often, then when I get to my keyboard, my mind goes blank.

Tenacious - what's happening with you and the Fringe?


message 12: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:58AM) (new)

Amy | 32 comments Hi All:

I am also fond of Shakespeare in Love. A (very old) film I like is Kiss Me, Kate, which is a Cole Porter musical whose characters are also in a touring company performing The Taming of the Shrew. (I've played Kate and/or Bianca in three produtions of Shrew, and was a chorus person for Kiss Me, Kate -- a very long time ago).

I think one of my favorite "backstage" movies is An Awfully Big Adventure, which may be the title Jessica was trying to place. Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman are the best-known of the leads in it.

This is a fun topic -- so much to choose from.


message 13: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:58AM) (new)

Jessica Amy, bless you, that is, in fact, the film.

message 14: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:58AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Amy, I think that's the one I was trying to think of with Hugh Grant - An Awfully Big Adventure. Isn't that about an amateur theater group, with Hugh Grant playing against type (a not-so-nice-guy)?

And you're right, I'd forgotten about Kiss Me, Kate. I always enjoy that opening number, Another Openin', Another Show.

I suppose that in the musical category, there are many - I remember seeing Lauren Bacall in Applause years ago (a rip-off on All About Eve, but still an enjoyable musical).


message 15: by Marc (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:01PM) (new)

Marc (marcbeaudin) | 21 comments "Waiting for Guffman." Absolutely.
"The Cradle Will Rock." One of the best.
"Shakespeare in Love." Love every moment of it.
but my total absolute favorite must be "A Mid-Winter's Tale." Find it. Watch it. You won't be sorry.

message 16: by Letitia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Letitia | 24 comments Many favorites have already been mentioned. Waiting for Guffman is such sheer genius...Also love The Dresser.

The one that comes to mind first for me as a favorite is Finding Neverland. I realize that theatre was not its theme in the strictest sense, yet the majority of the movie is chronicling J.M. Barry's discovery of his timeless play. Stage Beauty is phenomenal! Highly recommended if you have not yet seen it. On a lighter note the Noises Off production with Michael Caine is absolutely hysterical.

message 17: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

Jessica Of course, Noises Off is probably the funniest play ever!

message 18: by Joseph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:04PM) (new)

Joseph | 12 comments The Cradle Will Rock, yes! Brilliant! Definitely one of the best. Well written, superbly performed, an an incredibly important period of American Theatre history. I can't believe I forgot about that. Thanks Marc.

message 19: by John (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

John I'm going to throw in Al Pacino's documentary "Looking for Richard" - we viewed it in lit class while we were studying Richard III.

message 20: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

Jessica How on earth have we neglected the grandaddy of them all THE PRODUCERS???

message 21: by KC (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new)

KC | 4 comments One of the very best IMHO is BEING JULIA. Aside from Benning's flawless portrayal, it's has just the right tone about it. The book by Maugham isn't bad either.

There was a brilliant documentary about the Comédie-Française a few years ago - La Comédie-Française ou L'amour joué made by Fredrick Wiseman. I remember seeing it on PBS.

I'll second the recommendation of Slings and Arrows. I own all three seasons. Truly delightful. What Aaron Sorkin wanted Studio 60 to be.

message 22: by Rosemary (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:55PM) (new)

Rosemary Ralph, someone lent me a video that fits the Stanley/Streetcar story on PBS. The one I saw was called "Who Am I This Time" and I think the actors were Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon. The Judi Dench film was called "Mrs. ---- Presents" (I think, and I'm blanking on the last name--help, it's been a long day).

I've enjoyed so many of the films you all have mentioned. Does anyone remember "Those Lips, Those Eyes" with Frank Langella playing the lead in a summer stock production of "The Vagabond King"? (I've loved "The Vagabond King" ever since I saw it in summer stock at about the age of six.)

message 23: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments That's the one, Rosemary. "Who Am I This Time," with Christopher Walken (playing Stanley!) as a not-too-bright member of an amateur theater group doing "Streetcar Named Desire." Excellent comedy depicting the shenanigans of small-town theater groups everywhere. Thanks - I never would have thought of the title.

I don't think I've ever heard of "Those Lips, Those Eyes," but will now look for it. I've enjoyed just about everything I've ever seen Langella in (and I hear he is doing the movie of "Frost/Nixon" - that should be a treat).


message 24: by Pandora (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:06PM) (new)

Pandora | 2 comments "Who Am I This Time" sounds really interesting. I will have to watch that one. And I love Christopher Walken. Thanks for the recommendation. :-)

message 25: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) While I wouldn't say it's the "best" movie about theatre, a very entertaining film called Pittsburgh is about Jeff Goldblum playing Harold Hill in a regional production of The Music Man because the woman he loves is playing Marian. It's hilarious, because the actors play themselves, and because Jeff Goldblum as Harold Hill is just odd.

message 26: by Sara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:03PM) (new)

Sara | 1 comments I watched Shakespeare Behind Bars two weeks ago. The best thing I've seen in a long time. I'm still thinking about it. Which class do you use it in?

message 27: by Daniel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:03PM) (new)

Daniel (danm) | 12 comments I think I've seen all the movies mentioned in this list so far, but my absolute favorite is one that hasn't been mentioned yet... ALL THAT JAZZ.

message 28: by Marc (new)

Marc (marcbeaudin) | 21 comments Elizabeth & Sarah--

Such a small world! A friend of mine who teaches literature in a nearby prison just lent "Shakespeare Behind Bars" to me because you wants me to consider directing a Shakespeare play there in the near future. The movie is breathtaking! Intimidating though -- it would be a hell of a precedent to measure up to.

If I do it, the question is: which play?

message 29: by Marc (new)

Marc (marcbeaudin) | 21 comments Oh yeah, and John--
"Looking for Richard" Brilliant!!

message 30: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 110 comments I agree Looking for Richard, Cradle Will Rock and Mrs. Henderson Presents were really good. Stage Beauty had an interesting premise, though one theatre historian I heard said it was rather inaccurate. Similar plot of a castrati in Italian opera found in Farinelli which I enjoy for the moments of singing on-stage and seeing the 18th century set pieces.

Freaks the old b/w film is an excellent view of the circus/carnival/freak shows of the turn-of-the-century. Really sad, though, too.

For nostalgia, I enjoy For Me and My Galabout vaudeville and Yankee Doodle Dandy (which definitely cleans up the life of George M. Cohan but it's a fun film) about vaudeville, though just as easily I suppose I could nominate The Seven Foys, The Al Jolson Story, or even Harriet and Walter Go to New York!

Must keep thinking...we could make a running list...

message 31: by Nessie (new)

Nessie | 42 comments I was just scrolling through all the films listed over the month and was surprised to see that "De-Lovely" was not on the list. Maybe because it is more about a man than theatre in general, but a marvelous "theatrical" film non-the-less.

How could you go wrong with Kevin Kline . . . .

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Not for everyone, but Synecdoche New York slays me every time. It's loosely about theater, gets very much into the realm of philosophy and life and death though.

back to top