The musical is above all seen as a vehicle for escapism and general
jollity.A constant theme was the show within a show, the stresses
and creativity of life behind stage. In the 1950's the genre aspired
to the status of a Fine Art with evocations of the balletic. This
talk (with compilation tape) begins by trying to establish the basic
conventions of the form with particular emphasis on design and narration.
It then demonstrates ways in which the implicit conventions are undermined.
Constant Points of Reference
1. An American in Paris, 1951 113mins, directed by
Minelli, chor.by Gene Kelly, music by the Gershwins (the cyclic experience
of the young dancer)
2. Top Hat 1935 100 mins directed by Mark Sandrich,
chor. Hermes Pan, music by Irving Berlin (the Astaire technique)
3. Gold Diggers of 1933 1933 96mins directed Mervyn
Leroy, chor. Busby Berkeley music by Warren and Dubin. (synchronised
dancing, In the Shadows Let Me come and Sing to You)
4. Royal Wedding, 1951 93 mins., directed by Stanley
Donen, music by Lerner and Lane, ( special effects, the rotating set,
compared with Kubrick's 2001 , 1968)
5. The Barkleys of Broadway, 1949 109 mins directed
by Charles Walters, chor. by Astaire, music various, Shoes with Wings
Scenes from the Underworld .
1. Meet Me in St Louis 1944, Minelli (the Horrific;
the theatrical based framing of the the characters, Garland in the
Window, the cake walk in the room; the character of Tootie, the night
chaos of Halloween, Tootie's destruction of the Family, her feelings
at the Fair).)
2. Its Always Fair Weather 1955 Kelly/Donen, ( the
Hysteric, Dan Dailey's Situation-wise number , )
3. The Gang's All Here 1943, Busby Berkeley (defying
censorship, Carmen Miranda's Lady with the Tooty Frooty Hat ) excerpt
from unknown musical with fruit growing motif.
4. Gold Diggers of 1933 (the perverted infant)
5. The Band Wagon 1953, Minelli (defying Art and
undermining the Star, Astaire in Top Hat compared, )
6. The Band Wagon II (satire, Astaire's Girl Hunt
ballet, after Mickey Spillane, links with the opening of 2001)
7. Its Always Fair Weather (the satiric, Thanks a
Lot but no Thanks, satire on the stage musical)
We finish with Dream Sequences from the Folk Musical ;
Oklahoma (Zinneman 1955 )
( King 1956 ).
John Kobal A History of Movie Musicals Hamlyn London
1983 interviews with wide range of participants Clive Hirschhorn The
Hollywood Musical Octopus London 1981 a complete listing, film by
Jane Feuer The Hollywood Musical BFI London 1981
the first attempt at systematic interpretation and collation of themes.
Rick Altman The American Film Musical Indiana Univ.Press
Altman(ed) Genre; the Musical RKP London 1981;
on Minelli by Elsaesser, Entertainment and Utopia by Richard Dyer,
Patterns of Meaning in the Musical by Martin Sutton, Show-making by
Dennis Giles, on the position of the Spectator by Jim Collins, and
particularly Art and Ideology in Silk Stockings by Robin Wood. Richard
Dyer The Musical BFI study Unit 16 1975
Gavin Lambert On Cukor Allen, London 1973 (A Star
is Born 1954; Les Girls 1957; My Fair Lady 1964)
Vincente Minelli I remember it well Angus/Robertson L 1974 (Meet Me
in St Louis 1944; Ziegfield Follies 1945; Yolande and the Thief 1946,
The Pirate 1947; An American in Paris 1951; The Band Wagon 1952; Brigadoon
1953; Kismet 1955; Gigi 1957).
Arlene Croce The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book Vintage Books
NY 1977 Sarah Giles Fred Astaire; His Friends Talk Bloomsbury London
Ronald Haver A Star is Born, the Making of the Movie Deutsch
London 1959, day by day assembling of the film.
Richard Dyer The Sound of Music Movie No 23 Winter
Danny Peary Cult Movies Vermilion London 1981 on