The American Film Institute recently published a list of the 100 greatest American films "of all time." Seven of them are adaptations of stage plays; many more were strongly influenced by the stage.
Films adapted directly from stage plays:
0. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
41. West Side Story
45. A Streetcar Named Desire
51. The Philadelphia Story
55. The Sound of Music
91. My Fair Lady
The number-one film on the list, Citizen Kane, employed the ensemble of actors originally assembled by director Orson Welles for his Mercury Theatre, which operated on Broadway in the 1930s.
Number 6, The Wizard of Oz has a score by Broadway songwriters Harold Arlen and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr were veteran stage personalities, and returned to the stage for most of the balance of their careers. Number 8, On the Waterfront, employed prominent former stage actors, notably Marlon Brando, with stage director Elia Kazan [CHECK] and a score by Leonard Bernstein.
Number 10, Singin' in the Rain, was written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and starred Gene Kelly, who originated the role of Joey in Pal Joey.
Similarly, number 68, An American in Paris, showcased Kelly and the songs of George and Ira Gershwin, many of which originated in their Broadway musicals.
Number 16, All About Eve, was a creature of Hollywood, but told the backstage story of a Broadway diva and the rising starlet determined to take her place. The title character gets her comeuppance, however, winding up under the thumb of a ruthless theatre critic.
Number 85, the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup was sharpened, like many of the Marxes early films, in a touring stage production.
Lastly, number 100, Yankee Doodle Dandy, was the film bio of George M. Cohan, whose statue today looks down on the folks standing on the TKTS line in Times Square. The film charts his stage career and showcases many of Cohan's stage hits, most notably the anthem "Give My Regards to Broadway."
-- By Robert Viagas