Posts Tagged ‘Summer Stock’
It’s a question that’s plagued me for a while now: whatever happened to big Hollywood movie musicals? Movie genres typically go through cycles of popularity and I think we’re due for another round of flashy, dance-filled musicals.
Musicals have been a long-enduring genre since the early days of film. In fact, the very first sound film was a musical—1927’s The Jazz Singer. When it became a runaway success, studios rushed to create more musicals, some of which became the beginnings of a series. Warner Brothers’ triumph with The Gold Diggers of Broadway led to The Gold Diggers of 1933, which became one of the most celebrated musicals of all time thanks in large part to Busby Berkeley’s intricate choreography. RKO Radio Pictures first paired dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers—who danced together in nine films—in 1933 in Flying Down to Rio, creating arguably the most famous dancing couple in film history. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released The Broadway Melody in 1929, which not only started a series but also won the Academy Award for Best Picture. As time went on, production companies made more and more musicals until the genre reached its greatest popularity in the 1940’s and ‘50s.
Though many studios made musicals during that time, MGM arguably became the company most associated with producing expensive, opulent and immensely successful musicals. They produced Easter Parade, Summer Stock, An American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Guys and Dolls, as well as numerous others. Those films were a mixture of song and dance and while they weren’t exactly realistic, they were always entertaining. MGM musicals have always been my favorites and when I think of the kind of musicals I’d love to see now, I imagine huge productions with the same glamour and spectacle as MGM’s greatest musicals. I’m talking musicals with big, expensive set pieces and extended dance sequences with dancers wearing costumes of every conceivable color. I’m talking great songs that not only convey exactly what the character feels, but are also catchy and make the audience want to sing along.