The Wizard of Oz, Gigi, Top Hat, High Society - some of the most popular movie musicals ever made were written by Broadway songwriters.
The Sound of Music, Chicago, West Side Story, The Music Man, Grease - some of the other most popular movie musicals were adaptations of Broadway shows. From the very first talkies to the present, Broadway's composers and lyricists have given much of their best work to the movies - but with varying results.
In the 1930s, Rodgers and Hart's Love Me Tonight, with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald at their sexiest, is a masterpiece of fairytale sophistication.
But Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, an Al Jolson vehicle about tramps in Central Park, is one of the outstanding flops, partly because Rodgers and Hart wrote it as a kind ofopera that is spoken instead of sung. Or take the big films based on Broadway shows in the 1960s.
After The Sound of Music, Hollywood sought to fill the screen with lots of scenery, lots of drama, and lots of Julie Andrews.
But Camelot and Hello, Dolly! had too much scenery, Paint Your Wagon was the hippie musical, and Song of Norway was simply loony.
Even Julie Andrews couldn't save the Broadway bio film called Star!, all about the adventures of Gertrude Lawrence.
Who?As historians have begun to consider the movie musical along with the stage musical, Ethan Mordden explores just how influential such writers as Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, and Stephen Sondheim have been when they moved from Broadway to Hollywood.
Are the welcomed? Do they get to experiment, using the freedom of the camera to expand the very geography of song? Or do movie producers resent that New York sophistication?
Broadway excels in the bittersweet"Send in the Clowns." But Hollywood wants it simple: "White Christmas."With his usual combination of scholarship and wicked wit, Ethan Mordden tantalizes us with anecdotes and fresh observations.
He discusses many unusual titles as well - Viennese Nights, The Boys From Syracuse, Anything Goes, with Ethel Merman preserving her classic stage part as Reno Sweeney, the swinging evangelist.
The first of its kind, this book is made for the moviegoer and theatre buff alike.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 272 pages, 24 illustrations
- Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
- Publication Date: 09/02/2017
- Category: Theatre studies
- ISBN: 9780199395408
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