1. "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971, directed by Norman Jewison)
If it's a heightened experience through song, of character, comedy and drama we're looking for, then we can do no better than "Fiddler on the Roof." Just as in the phenomenally successful stage version, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein's adaption of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye stories is perhaps the perfect American musical in the modern Rodgers and Hammerstein "integrated book/score" mold where the songs advance the plot and illuminate character. This tale of family and community in times of social change and societal upheaval touched a chord literally everywhere on Earth and its instantly hummable, stirring score of rich melodies and perfect lyrics entered global consciousness, never to depart. The film version is extremely faithful to the original piece, with only the most minor changes necessary to make the piece work in the new medium, sacrificing some of the presentational staginess that worked so well on Broadway and elsewhere with an impressive cinematic naturalism and epic scope, thanks in part to shooting on beautiful and entirely realistic location.
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