20 Musicals From The 1920s [Movies & Theater]

The 1920s were a time of significant change, with the introduction of new music, fashion, and culture. The decade also saw the emergence of “talkies” or motion pictures with sound. As this new medium became increasingly popular, filmmakers started incorporating music into their stories.

As we go through the article, we’ll look at some of the most iconic musicals from the 20s and see what they’re all about. We’ve split our list into movie musicals and theater musicals.

Musical Movies of the 1920s

Here are the best musical movies of the 1920s.

1. Applause (1929)

Directed by Rouben Mamoulian, the film features Fuller Mellish Jr, Jack Cameron, Joan Peers, and Helen Morgan. It follows the story of a chorus girl, Kitty Darling (Helen Morgan), who works her way up to be a star and has difficulty finding a work-life balance.

She has to choose between her daughter and her ambitions. Kitty’s involvement with the daughter’s father, a rich playboy who offers her an opportunity at stardom, adds to the complication. The sound film became remarkable for its creative sound utilization, including a live orchestra and incorporation of sound effects.

2. Battle of Paris (1929)

Georgie, a street performer and musician in Paris, partners with Zizi, a pickpocket, and she bumps into Tony, a young artist from America, before a police raid ensues. When she returns his wallet the following day, Tony convinces Georgia to model for him, and they end up falling for each other.

Tony joins the military when war breaks out while she remains behind looking after his apartment. When working as a nurse in a major Paris hospital, Georgie befriends three underworld “musketeers.”

On his leave, Tony doesn’t show up to meet her, but she finds him Suzanne, a barmaid. With the musketeers’ backing, she monopolizes their attention using her musical prowess.

3. Broadway Babies (1929)

With Mervyn LeRoy as the director, the sound film features Charles Delaney and Alice White as stars. It follows the story of a chorus girl who is eyeing becoming her stage manager’s wife. However, she ends up marrying a bootlegger after being duped into thinking he has feelings for another lady.

The film features three famous numbers, “Jig, Jig, Jigaloo,”  “Wishing and Waiting for Love,” and “Broadway Baby Dolls.”

4. Close Harmony (1929)

Edward Sutherland and John Cromwell directed the American Pre-Code comedy-drama musical movie. Marjorie, a young female artist, performs on stage when she meets Al West, a warehouse employee who has assembled an unconventional jazz band.

She appreciates him and his work and uses her position to secure him a spot in one of her theater company’s production schedules.

5. Hallelujah (1929)

After meeting a seductress woman, a peasant farmer leaves farm work behind and devotes his life to preaching. King Vidor and stars Nina Mae McKinney and Daniel L. Haynes directed the classic musical.

Following the story of Haynes as the struggling farmer and his involvement with a beautiful woman (McKinney), it was among the first films from bigger studios to feature an all-black cast.

Since it was for general audience consumption, MGM saw it as a high-risk endeavor requiring King Vidor to produce it with his money. Vidor affirmed he wanted to “show the Southern Negro as he is” and tried to provide a less stereotypical portrayal of African-Americans in his work.

6. Happy Days (1929)

The musical movie, shot using the Fox Grandeur 70 mm technology, is famous for being the first full-length motion picture ever screened in widescreen everywhere around the globe.

Despite her feelings for the owner’s grandson, Margie, a showboat singer, leaves to search for greener pastures in New York. She finds success, but after learning that the showboat is in severe financial hardships, she organizes a reunion show with all the boat’s past stars to save it.

7. Innocents of Paris (1929)

Richard Wallace directed the film, and it was the first musical production by Paramount Pictures. It’s adapted from the play “Flea Market.” Maurice, a respectful trashman who sells some of his wares in the street market, rescues a drowning boy. Although the boy’s aunt Louise appreciates and wins Maurice’s heart, his grandfather doesn’t like him.

The jovial trash man has a golden opportunity to launch his singing and acting career in a major Broadway production, but Louise doesn’t support the idea. He’s left to decide on what to take and what to leave.

8. The Jazz Singer (1927)

Note: This show has scenes some viewers may find offensive, but it has been kept in for a complete look at musical movies of the decade. Music Industry How To does not condone the content of this musical.

This film is one of the earliest feature-length “talkies” or sound films featuring Al Jolson.

Al Jolson plays a Jewish Cantor’s son who wishes to launch a career as a jazz singer despite his father’s disapproval. It featured many popular musical numbers, including Jolson singing “Mammy” and “Blue Skies.” Its success led to the development of more sound films.

9. A Plantation Act (1926)

Note: This show has scenes some viewers may find offensive, but it has been kept in for a complete look at musical movies of the decade. Music Industry How To does not condone the content of this musical.

A plantation act was Al Jolson’s first sound film appearance. Directed in a plantation setting, Jolson performs three of his most popular songs; “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along),” “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody,” and “April Showers.”

Moreover, there are even three curtain calls at the end, portraying him like he was performing on a live stage, giving the movie a more realistic musical perception.

10. The Singing Fool (1928)

Note: This show has scenes some viewers may find offensive, but it has been kept in for a complete look at musical movies of the decade. Music Industry How To does not condone the content of this musical.

Starring Al Jolson, the movie is about a man who leaves his family to pursue a career in the show business. Despite being away from home, he never forgets his wife and son. He continues to write them heartfelt letters, singing songs of love.

The movie features Jolson singing two famous songs of the 20s, “Sonny Boy” and “I’m Sitting on Top of the World.”

Musicals in Theater During the 1920s

Below are some of the best musicals in the theater during the 1920s.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *