My presentation explores the relation between American masculinity and film musicals. I demonstrate how the dominance of the musical at the box office in the middle of the 20th century reflects historical events and technological change. Drawing on both scholarly and popular criticism, I show how the images of masculinity that Americans once encountered on the silver screen have transformed as musicals became marginal to popular culture in the United States. My research considers both classic 20th century musicals, such as Wizard of Oz (1939) and 42nd Street (1933), and more recent experiments with the genre, including adaptations of Broadway shows like Into the Woods (2014), as well as art-house cinema with a surprisingly broad appeal, such as La La Land (2016).
42nd Street. Directed by Lloyd Bacon, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, cinematography by Sol Polito, music by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, Warner Bros., 1933. Altman, Rick. “The American Film Musical as Dual-Focus Narrative.” The American Film Musical, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987, pp. 16-27. Arbuthnot, Lucie and Seneca, Gail. “Pre-text and Text in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” Film Reader, Northwestern University, 1982, pp. 13-23. Cohan, Steven. “’Feminizing’ the Song-And-Dance Man: Fred Astaire and the Spectacle of Masculinity, in the Hollywood Musical.” Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema, London: Routledge, 1993, pp. 46-69. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Directed by Howard Hawks, performances by Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, produced by Sol C. Siegel, cinematography by Harry J. Wild, music by Hoagy Carmichael, Jule Styne, Eliot Daniel, Lionel Newman, 20th Century Fox, 1953. La La Land. Directed by Damien Chazelle, perfoamnces by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, produced by Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, Gary Gilbert, Marc Platt, cinematography by Linus Sandgren, music by Justin Huritz, Lionsgate, 2016. Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen, vol. 16, no. 3, 1975, pp. 6-18. The Wizard of Oz. Directed by Victor Fleming, performance by Judy Garland, produced by Mervyn LeRoy, cinematography Harold Rosson, music by Harold Arlen, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayor, 1939.