Billy Crudup and Claire Danes in Stage Beauty (2004)
There have been some wonderful movies that feature theater – here are my favorites, in no particular order.
To Be or Not to Be (1942) – this was actually made during the war, so it wasn’t a period film at the time.
To Be or Not to Be (1983) – Mel Brooks takes it further – my favorite depiction of an ad lib that saves the day ever.
Shakespeare in Love (1998) – Multiple Oscar winning picture that explains the magical nature of theater.
Stage Beauty (2004) – Just watch Billy Crudup teach her how to act for real.
Babes on Broadway (1941) – “Let’s put on a show” – backstage musicals – a whole genre all by itself, and pretty implausible but delightful. See also:
42nd Street (1933) – “You’re going out there a youngster, you’ve got to come back a star.”
A Chorus Line (1985)
All About Eve (1955) – “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – Hix nix stix pix, but Cagney won an Oscar.
The Seven Little Foys (1955) – the Foys created and still own the patent on the “Peter Pan Rig” but that isn’t in this movie. But James Cagney reprises his George M. Cohan – and that’s cute.
Star! (1968) – it’s a nutty biopic but it has its grand moments, and of course Julie Andrews can sing.
The Band Wagon (1953) – as far as theater goes, it’s pretty nonsensical, but it is fun to see all the backstage stuff going wrong.
And two movies I haven’t seen but I suspect should be on the is list: