American Film Musical Themes and Forms (Google eBook)

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McFarland, Aug 25, 2004 - Performing Arts - 223 pages
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The musical has been called "the most popular form of entertainment in the world." This work examines the subjects, themes, and contemporary relevance of Hollywood musicals through their long popularity, placing each show in historical and political context and analyzing it in detail. A chapter is devoted to how Golddiggers of 1933 (1933) and Stand Up and Cheer (1934) deal with the economic crises of the Depressions. Another addresses race issues by examining the prevalence of blackface minstrelsy in the 1930s and 1940s, looking at productions like Swing Time (1936) and Dixie (1943). Rock and roll culture, which started in the 1950s and threatened America with teenage sex and rebellion, is addressed through such hits as Girl Crazy (1943), Bye Bye Birdie (1963), and Grease (1978). The work also explores dance as a signifier of character, the geography of musicals (such as New York or "the South"), fantasy settings, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and the musical biopic (mentioning biographies of such figures as Ziegfeld, Cohan, Rogers and Hart, Cole Porter, and Jerome Kern). A later chapter discusses intertextuality in such shows as Singin' in the Rain (1952), which refers to many earlier musicals; Kiss Me Kate (1953) which refers to Taming of the Shrew; and All That Jazz (1970) which refers to the life and work of Bob Fosse. The work concludes with an examination of the continuing popularity of the musical with such hits as Moulin Rouge (2001) and Chicago (2002).
  

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Contents

Hollywood Musicals and the Depression
13
Blackface Minstrelsy in Musicals
34
Confronting Rock Culture
52
Dance as a Narrative Agent
67
American Places and Spaces
87
Fred and Gene in Never Never Land
107
Musical Biopics
126
Intertextual Musicals
147
How About a Nice Musical?
173
Chapter Notes
187
Works Cited
201
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Michael Dunne is a professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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