Rarely seen as a high point in the genre’s history, the late-1960s nevertheless produced some odd and innovative film musicals. Anthony Newley’s X-rated Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?, Bob Fosse’s big-budget adaptation of Sweet Charity, and Richard Attenborough’s symbolic treatise Oh! What a Lovely War all demonstrate what can happen to the musical in the hands of first-time directors armed with art cinema techniques. Stylistically daring and narratively unusual, this trio of musicals from the final year of the decade neatly encapsulates the genre at a specific historical moment. (AM)

  • Fri., Jan. 29 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

In his directorial debut, Fosse brings Neil Simon’s Broadway musical version of Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria to the big screen with stylistic exuberance. MacLaine, as lovelorn taxi dancer Charity Hope Valentine, is delightful, while Rivera, Davis, and Ricardo Montalban provide excellent supporting performances. With songs by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, and extensive showcases of Fosse’s own unique choreography, Sweet Charity is an uplifting musical sure to leave you feeling like a brass band. (AM)

  • Fri., Feb. 5 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Approaching middle age, famous performer Heironymus Merkin reflects—by way of a film-within-a-film—on his career and his sexual conquests. Written, produced, composed, directed by, and starring Newley, this bawdy, musical take on Fellini’s 8 1/2 is part art film, part Broadway show, and part soft-core porn. Featuring the supporting talents of Berle and Newley’s then-wife Collins, along with George Jessel and Playboy's 1969 Playmate of the Year Connie Kreski, Heironymus Merkin is a rare musical oddity not to be missed. (AM)

  • Fri., Feb. 12 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Cheerful Brighton Pier provides the metaphorical backdrop for this anti-war musical, which follows the archetypal Smith family through the events of World War I. Using dozens of popular songs of the day, the musical alternates between stylized symbolism and bleak reality in order to satirize and critique the “game of war.” Featuring a who’s who of great British actors—including also Ralph Richardson, Maggie Smith and Dirk Bogarde—this star-studded adaptation marks the directorial debut of actor Attenborough. (AM)