You all know about the Christmas musicals: Meet Me in St. Louis, White Christmas, etc. That's where you go if you want your holiday fix tinged with song (or, in the case of Meet Me in St. Louis, deep depression). This list is just an offering of seven wonderful (non-holiday) musicals from someone who is a complete sucker for the genre and actually likes to spend the holidays singing along with people on the TV.

1. Guys and Dolls: As a few of you may remember, there was a time when VCRs were an incredibly cool, new invention. Back in those dark ages, my dad would sometimes stop by our neighborhood video store on Friday nights and check out not just a few movies, but also a VCR. (I swear to you that such a time once existed.) One of the first movies I ever saw under this arrangement was Guys and Dolls, at which time I fell totally in love about four times. First, with musicals. Second, with Marlon Brando (even today, after over 100 viewings, I still swoon a little bit when he puts his hat on and tells Sister Sarah about turning the other cheek). Third, with Frank Sinatra, even though as Nathan Detroit he's at his most beaten-down. Fourth, with the movie itself. Yeah, I know it's too long, and that Brando can only barely sing. And yet it still manages to be perfect.

2. All That Jazz: I plan to shoehorn this movie into as many Cinematical lists as I can, because I'm just that obsessed. Every time I see All That Jazz, the audacity of it stuns me anew, and it somehow improves and expands a little bit with each viewing. Just an incredible creation.

3. Robin and the 7 Hoods: "There's somethin' wrong wit his t'roat." As far as I'm concerned, this movie is simple proof of the little known axiom that anything that brings Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Falk, and Bing Crosby together can't possibly go wrong. It's campy and silly and just wonderful, in a deeply flawed sort of way. Plus, Mr. Booze is one of the best songs ever sung in a church that's really a gambling hall.

4. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: Hi, my name is Martha and I have a weakness for Bing Crosby - and I think it's because of this movie. There was a while during my childhood during which if The Beastmaster wasn't the special Saturday afternoon TV movie, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was. And I watched it a lot. Honestly, at this point I don't remember many details - but what has stuck with me is just a general sense of innocent joy, a totally unconvincing castle set, and Bing's firm belief that he'd be deeply unhappy, if only he could find the time.

5. Top Hat: The dance to Isn't It a Lovely Day is one of the sexiest, most romantic scenes in any movie, and Fred and Ginger aren't even touching most of the time. Pure, gorgeous class.

6. My Fair Lady: I first saw this under the same arrangement as I did Guys and Dolls, and even as a kid it totally grabbed me. I loved Rex Harrison because, despite the fact that he was an utter bastard, he was a wry bastard, which somehow made him ok. As an adult, I'm incredibly put off by Jeremy Brett and the stupid Freddy, but the movie as a whole remains magical. Wonderful music and endearing characters aside, what really blows my mind is the incredibly elaborate and costly production - watch the "come on Dover, move your bloomin' ass!" sequence, and just look at the hats and dresses. It's actually glorious enough to make you miss the big studio days.

7. Gold Diggers of 1933: They're wearing giant coins and dancing around singing We're in the Money - and that's just the opening! Great cast, great music, and an unusually complex tone for a Depression-era musical. Easily the best of the Gold Diggers series, and finally about to make its first appearance on DVD, just in time for the holidays. 
categories Features, Cinematical