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Free and Easy?: A Defining History of the American Film Musical Genre



Free and Easy?: A Defining History of the American Film Musical Genre

Sean Griffin

ISBN: 978-1-405-19496-9 July 2017 Wiley-Blackwell 376 Pages


A History of the American Musical narrates the evolution of the film musical genre, discussing its influences and how it has come to be defined; the first text on this subject for over two decades, it employs the very latest concepts and research.

  • The most up-to-date text on the subject, with uniquely comprehensive coverage and employing the very latest concepts and research
  • Surveys centuries of music history from the music and dance of Native Americans to contemporary music performance in streaming media
  • Examines the different ways the film musical genre has been defined, what gets counted as a musical, why, and who gets to make that decision
  • The text is written in an accessible manner for general cinema and musical theatre buffs, whilst retaining theoretical rigour in research
  • Describes the contributions made to the genre by marginalized or subordinated identity groups who have helped invent and shape the musical


Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

1 Overture: Musical Traditions before Cinema 11

2 You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet: The Sound Revolution 35

3 Face the Music and Dance: The Depression 67

4 Singing a Song of Freedom: World War II 97

5 There’s Beauty Everywhere: MGM and the Freed Unit 125

6 Something’s Gotta Give: The Postwar Musical 147

7 Bustin’ Out All Over: The Rise of the Musical Blockbuster 175

8 In a Minor Key: The B Musical and Beyond 197

9 The Sound of Money: Musicals in the 1960s 225

10 Whistling in the Dark: A Genre in Crisis 251

11 Can’t Stop the Music: Musicals and the New Hollywood 279

12 Just Like Scheherezade: Reviving the Musical Film Genre 307

Index 335