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!
- Leave a comment on this blog indicating what you consider your favorite movie musical.
- 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.)
- Due to distribution/publishing rights, this drawing is limited to readers in North America and will ship to the U.S.A. only.
- One entry per household, please.
- 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!