Holiday musicals: Who do you want to see?

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I may finally be too old for

a stocking, but there’s one holiday tradition I continue to love,

and that’s the airing of classic musicals on television. For a long

time now, I’ve been of the opinion that lesbians need to reclaim musicals

from gay men — not least because there is such a plethora of gorgeous,

talented women in film musical history.

While a list of all my favorite female

performances would probably take all day, here in chronological order

are ten that I’m hoping to see over the vacation:

1. Ginger Rogers in

Shall We Dance (1937)

I love all the Ginger Rogers/Fred

Astaire collaborations, so it’s hard to select just one.

But Shall We Dance has one

of my favorite Ginger Rogers moments, as the camera dwells in close-up

on her listening face as Fred Astaire sings “They Can’t Take That

Away From Me.” While the song is beautiful, it’s Ginger’s subtly

despairing response that really strikes at the heart. (She would go

on to win an Oscar for Best Actress, for the non-musical film Kitty

Foyle
, in 1940).

2. Rosemary Clooney in

White Christmas (1954)

This very, very silly seasonal musical

is mostly notable for the gay undertones brought by Danny Kaye’s performance

(no, really — watch it again).

But as one of the two female leads,

Clooney (pictured right) manages to bring a mellow, faintly melancholy

note to her performance that makes it feel like she belongs in another

— and better — film. (Maybe one that doesn’t pair her with the literally

twice-her-age Bing Crosby.)

3. Shirley Jones in

Oklahoma! (1955)

One of my first signs that I was

not destined to grow up strictly straight should have been my utter

adoration of pretty soprano Shirley Jones as Laurey Williams:

I wanted to be her best friend, Ado

Annie — except in my case, it would have been Shirley I couldn’t say

no to, not the men.

4. Audrey Hepburn in

Funny Face (1957)

I prefer Audrey Hepburn at the start

of this film, before her high-fashion makeover:

Hollywood may have thought she looked

dowdy, but personally I’d love to meet a Parisian bookshop owner who

reads philosophy and dresses all in black.

5. Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno in

West Side Story (1961)

When you’re telling a story about

love at first sight, it does help a bit if your heroine is beautiful.

And Natalie Wood is beautiful. Very,

very beautiful.

If the character of Maria is too

insipid for your taste, though, then there’s always Rita Moreno as

Anita to liven things up:

Moreno won an Oscar for Best Supporting

Actress for her performance — and has since gone on to win an Emmy,

a Grammy, and a Tony, becoming one of only nine people in the world

to have won all four awards.

6. Lea Salonga in

Les Misérables — The Dream Cast in Concert (1995)

I’ve blogged

before about my fondness for the lovely Lea:

Her angry, lonely Éponine is my

favorite thing about Les Mis.

7. Anna Kendrick in

Camp (2003)

Kendrick is probably the least famous

actress on this list. But for anyone who saw her performance as the

intense, rather lesbianish Fritzi in this summer camp drama, she will

have made quite an impression.

After her ambiguously gay advances

on fellow drama student Jill are spurned, Fritzi goes on the

offensive — poisoning Jill’s food so that she will be unable to perform “Ladies

Who Lunch” in the concert that night.

Here’s the unforgettable moment

when Fritzi steps in to take over:

 

 

8. Emmy Rossum in

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

The friend I saw Phantom

with told me that it wasn’t a very good film. This may or may not

have been true — I was too knocked out by Rossum’s flawless beauty

and soaring soprano to notice.

9. Rosario Dawson in

Rent (2005)

There’s clearly something wrong

with me, since I managed to fall for the one major female character in

Rent who isn’t a lesbian.

But as dancer Mimi Marquez, Dawson

had enough verve and testosterone to put Angelina Jolie to shame.

10. Beyoncé Knowles and Jennifer

Hudson in Dreamgirls (2006)

Let’s be honest: 2006 was the year

of Jennifer Hudson:

But although her role was less showstopping,

Beyoncé came into her own in the second half of the film, as the increasingly

confident and independent Deena Jones.

That’s my list. Who are you looking

forward to seeing?

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