A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film / Edition 2

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Overview

Drawing on meticulous research, sharp wit, and insightful analysis, Richard Barrios illuminates the origins of the movie musical in this extensively revised and updated edition of his highly acclaimed A Song in the Dark. From Warner Bros. and Jolson, to the Oscar-winning Broadway Melody and beyond, here is the whole funny and peculiar history of these films, their creators, and their audiences. Ranging from the smash hits of The Singing Fool and Sunny Side Up to bizarre flops like Golden Dawn and Cecil B. DeMille's Madam Satan, they form a body of work unlike anything else in the history of popular entertainment. Here too are legendary performers, directors, and composers: from Fannie Brice, James Cagney, and Mae West, to Busby Berkeley, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, and countless others. With many new rare photographs, some not published in nearly 80 years, this new edition traces the rise and fall, and rise again, of this quintessential piece of the American experience.

Chronicling the early musical film years from 1926 to 1934, A Song in the Dark offers a fascinating look at these innovative films, the product of much of the major experimentation that went on during the development of sound technology. The triumphs, disasters and offscreen intrigue of this era form a remarkable story of this vital and unique film history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This lively, intelligent and well-researched survey tells the tumultuous and often delightfully absurd saga of the film industry's frantic, disaster-laced efforts in the late 1920's and early 1930's to fabricate a new, lucrative product — the movie musical — as part of its effort to come to grips with the new technology of sound. Mr. Barrios makes clear that contrary to myth The Jazz Singer, featuring the overbearing Al Jolson, was neither the first major motion picture to use sound nor the first to make notable use of music. A Song in the Dark deals engagingly with its colorful and fascinating subject, and it is illuminating not only on artistic concerns, but on business and technical ones as well, including the process by which many of these films, previously declared lost, have been found and restored. It makes an effective case for a re-examination of this audacious, excessive and underappreciated moment in motion picture history."-New York Times

"For anyone who is drawn to the American Movie Classics channel on cable, or the 'Oldies' shelf at the local video store, Richard Barrios and his book will serve as a hugely well-informed and immensely authoritative ...companion."—Los Angeles Times

"Fascinating and exhaustive.... The general reader will find immense pleasure in the wealth of detail the author provides about those films that are long-forgotten and in most cases completely lost to the movie student."—The Stage

"With his definitive A Song in the Dark ...Richard Barrios fills the gap with a zestful account of the teething problems the cinema encountered when it first found its voice and out on its dancing shoes....Informative and hugely entertaining."—The Sunday Express

"This book fills an important gap in literature on the early days of the musical film, and charts its rise in detail."—BBC Music Magazine

"Richard Barrios provides an in-depth look at Post-Depression Hollywood."—Tutti

"Anyone interested in the Broadway and/or movie musical will find this history as engrossing as it is informative...One must be grateful to the author for bringing to life a faraway, misunderstood time of trial and error and turning both the triumphs and the misfires of early movie musicals into fascinating history." —Fontes Artis Musicae

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195377347
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/9/2009
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 504
  • Sales rank: 431,157
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Barrios has lectured extensively on film, served as a commentator on numerous DVDs, and co-hosted a series on Turner Classic Movies. He currently lives outside Philadelphia.

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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
INTRODUCTION
1. VITAPHONE PRELUDE
2. THE SOUND BARRIER
3. "YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME"
4. ON WITH THE SHOW!
5. FINDING A VOICE
6. DUELING MAMMIES
7. HOLLYWOOD, REVUED
8. BROADWAY BABIES
9. "WITH ALL ITS ORIGINAL STAGE ENCHANTMENT"
10. JUST IMAGINE
11. THE CUCKOOS
12. OF VIENNESE NIGHTS AND GOLDEN DAWNS
13. IS IT A MUSICAL?
14. THE MARCH OF TIME
15. VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS
16. "WE'RE IN THE MONEY"
17. THE PAST AS PROLOGUE
FINALE
Appendix One:
NOTES ON LOST FILMS
Appendix Two:
A SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY: EARLY MUSICALS ON RECORD
SOURCE NOTES
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

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