The Musical Essay

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The Musical The classical period of the musical coincided with the heyday of the Hollywood studios from the early thirties to the early fifties. The conventions of the integrated musical were formed in the Astaire--Rogers musicals made at RKO in the thirties and the form peaked at MGM in the forties and early fifties, most notably in films produced by Arthur Freed.

Thomas Schatz has provided a useful definition of the integrated musical. `Rather than create a realistic --or at least plausible --world whose inhabitants find reasonable motives for breaking into song (rehearsals, shows, etc.) the music itself seems to determine the attitudes, values and demeanour of the principal characters. As the musical genre evolved it
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Each package is made up of either two or three VHS videocassettes and notes which contextualise the packages within the genre and place them in relation to other musicals in the Film Study Collection on film. The notes also provide specific suggestions for the use of extracts from the films on videocassette.

Films on both VHS and 16mm are organised below into three sub-genres (fairytale, show and folk) proposed by Rick Altman. Not all musicals fall neatly within boundaries of one of these sub-genres. It's Always Fair Weather, for example, as a whole operates as an urban folk musical but the satire of television in the last third of the film draws it towards the show musical. Although Altman locates Ziegfield Follies in the fairytale sub-genre it seems marginally placed between the fairytale and show musical. Ostensibly a tribute to the Follies it lacks any unifying narrative. Although the introductory numbers --`Bring on the Beautiful Girls' and `Bring on the Wonderful Men' --display sexual desire as a motive force, this is not consistently maintained through the series of musical numbers and comedy sketches that follow. The Fairytale Musical

This sub-genreborrowed massively from a long (pre-cinema) tradition of European and American operettas. Methods are a combination of those used by the fairytale and the romantic comedy. In the early sound years (1929--1934) the sexual energy driving the plot is clearly

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