Must See Musicals Review & Giveaway - On the Bedside Table

My birthday came a little early this year with the surprise arrival of Richard Barrios' newest volume  Must See Musicals published by Running Press.  Mr. Barrios is a widely acknowledged expert (at least by me!) on the artistry of Hollywood Musicals.  I still need to read Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter (shame on me) and I have long been a fan of A Song in the Dark (which I consider required reading).  Must See Musicals  will be published on October 10th (my birthday, in fact).  

George Stevens directed this wonderful film. 
My favorite of the Fred and Ginger musicals and it's on the list in this book!
Win one copy of Must See Musicals by Richard Barrios

  1. Leave a comment on this blog indicating what you consider your favorite movie musical.
  2. The winning comment/entry will be randomly drawn on September 18, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. PST. I will contact the winner and obtain his/her mailing address. The book will ship immediately after. (If the winner does not reply to me within 48 hours, I will draw an alternate.)
  3. Due to distribution/publishing rights, this drawing is limited to readers in North America and will ship to the U.S.A. only.
  4. One entry per household, please.
  5. The book has a retail value of $24.99 USD. 
Jean Hagen as the glorious Lina Lamont in Stanley Donen's Singin' in the Rain.

First off, as a classic movie musical lover, I will not complain about the image chosen for the cover.  I totally get why the publisher chose La La Land it is hip, it is current and it is recognizable.  I confess I have not seen La La Land so cannot possibly comment on the film.  The book is a lushly illustrated and an elegantly designed dip into a film genre I love.  

It begins with another expert on musicals, a Foreword by the legendary Michael Feinstein.  Not a bad start!

The choice of musicals is not arbitrary and the listed films are well thought out.  In scanning the list, I was immediately struck by the omission of any of the 20th Century Fox musicals starring Alice Faye or Betty Grable.  Happily, Mr. Barrios addresses this in his Introduction.  I have to say I agree with him upon reflection.  He writes that "[They] worked mainly in films that were essentially products of their time, entertaining now and then without being terribly exceptional or resonant."   That being said, I think that including a film like the Technicolor wonder The Gang's All Here would not be a bad thing; except for the fact it really does have a pedestrian and dull plot in between all the colorful and wackadoodle Busby Berkeley numbers.  I still think Carmen Miranda in her Tutti Fruiti Hat is still resonant today (especially to me since I live in the city with the ever-present, large-hatted musical revue Beach Blanket Babylon).

The list of fifty Must See Musicals begins at the beginning, The Broadway Melody (1929) and ends with La La Land (2016).  Other noteworthy films included are King of Jazz (1930), which has recently been restored and is just a marvelous time capsule; Love Me Tonight (1932); 42nd Street (1933) (truly a landmark film, but not my fav of the BB WB musicals, that would be Footlight Parade);  Swing Time (1936); Show Boat (1936); Cabin in the Sky (1943); the groundbreaking On the Town (1949); An American in Paris (the Freed Unit is well represented); Singin' in the Rain (1951); The Band Wagon (1953); Calamity Jane (1953); Oklahoma (1955); Mary Poppins (1964);  The Sound of Music (1965); Funny Girl (1968); The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975); and a film I saw at least 5-6 times on first run in the summer of 1978 Grease (1978).  I cannot list all fifty films here, but you get the idea.  The nine decade span of this book offers an awfully rich harvest of material from which to cull.  This is a really thoughtful list of films and many are musicals I consider essential.  There are a few I would have added, or subtracted myself, except nobody asked me and I'm no expert!

If you love musicals, there really is something here for everyone.  This book was a real pleasure to read and to look at.  Lavishly illustrated is hardly the word. In between we are treated to Mr. Barrios' insightful observations, fascinating history and delightful turns of phrase.  His love and scholarship on the movie musical is never in doubt.  There are loads of tidbits that were totally new to me, see the chapter on The Band Wagon, for example.  Do not miss the "More to See" sidebars (yes, yes, yes!! to Footlight Parade) for other film suggestions.  If this book does not make you want to dance in the aisles, put on a musical soundtrack and watch one of these films, you do not have music in your soul.  This is a must go on the bookshelf, be it a regular bookshelf or on your kindle.

If you do not win the copy I'm offering here, get thee to amazon and pre-order it!

I'd like to thank Running Press for sharing this beautiful book with me.  I could not help but share it with one of you, too.  Good luck!

I'd also like to thank Fritzi Kramer over at Movies Silently for the advice on how to do a #giveaway!  I cribbed from her excellent blog shamelessly!


Laura S said…
I love Oklahoma! It has long been a favorite of mine since first discovering it, and every since I always find the songs stuck in my head every now and again!
Leslie Eckhardt said…
I love so many movie musicals, but, I guess my favorite has to be SINGIN'IN THE RAIN. This show I've seen countless times, and it never fails to delight me. As a fan of early talkies, the subject matter of the conversion to sound is presented in a humourous way. The cast is perfection, and the songs memorable.
Anonymous said…
Barrios is a superb writer and historian, but I'm a bit disappointed that selection of films appears to be strictly the 'same-old-same-old' musicals that have been discussed and dissected repeatedly. Are there any films included that are offbeat or obscure?
rudyfan1926 said…
Anonymous, there is a lot of the same old same old, the only one I've not seen is Le Million. Nonetheless, I stand by Richard on this one, it's a delightful read and useful reference.
Kevin Winkler said…
I love all the films you mention as being in the book. My expand favorite movie musical is CABARET. It is a brilliant evocation of the pre-Nazi era. The stunning musical sequences by Bob Fosse expand on and illustrate the dramatic story. And it showcases larger than life musical stars Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey. CABARET is unlike any other movie musical.
james said…
My fav has to be LADY BE GOOD, starring Eleanor Powell. It's got *ahem* Fascinatin' Rhythm!
Ron said…
I do love Top Hat....the most frothy of the F&G musicals....
Anonymous said…
I love all musicals but my favorite would have to be Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Lover of Movies said…
My favorite has to be The Sound of Music. It brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. Julie Andrew's is just amazing in the movie.
DKoren said…
This looks like a fun book to read!

I love so many musicals, but my favorite has to be South Pacific. The music is some of the most beautiful, the scenery is gorgeous (even with the wonky colors), and I love the actors and WWII setting.
It's hard to pick one, but I think "Singin' in the Rain" has the edge for me. It's a film that I cannot resist watching any time it is on. I so enjoy the underappreciated Donald O'Connor, who just shines in this film.
Tinky said…
Choosing a favorite musical is like choosing a favorite recipe. It will vary by mood and weather! For today I will pick "The Band Wagon." But don't hold me to that choice tomorrow!

Sorry if this posts twice! It showed up again so I'm trying again.
Hamlette said…
This book looks amazing!

My favorite movie musical is Guys and Dolls. The quirky characters, distinctive dialog patter, and snappy songs make it a continual delight.
I am very much looking forward to reading the book. Mr. Barrios has a gift of finding something in each film that has been overlooked or unexpressed by other writers. In "Why Movie Musicals Matter", I particularly like his reappraisal of SNOW WHITE as a major musical (it isn't often thought of as one) and of prime importance begetting THE WIZARD OF OZ, a fact that has often been downplayed. But all due respect to Mr. Barrios, I'd rather see ALEXANDERS RAGTIME BAND or THE DOLLY SISTERS than the half-hearted LA LA LAND, which can also be characterized as a "product of its time, entertaining now and then without being terribly exceptional or resonant."
rudyfan1926 said…
The lucky winner of Must See Musicals is James Z. I have contacted him and hopefully he will respond shortly. Thanks to everyone who commented and entered.

Look for another giveaway in a week or so! Another terrific book!
james said…
Whoo Hoo! That's awesome! Thank you, Donna! I'm looking forward to reading it and enjoying the wonderful photographs! It looks like a wonderful read by a terrific author!
Fran L said…
The Unsinkable Molly Brown is a great musical. The musical scores composed by Robert Armbruster are fabulous. Debbie Reynolds was perfectly casted for the main character, Molly Brown. It's a great American story of how one can go from rags to riches with determination.

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