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Publisher's Summary

Irresistible and authoritative, The Movie Musical! is an in-depth look at the singing, dancing, happy-making world of Hollywood musicals - an essential audiobook for anyone who's ever laughed, cried, or sung along at the movies.

Leading film historian Jeanine Basinger reveals, with her trademark wit and zest, the whole story of the Hollywood musical - in the most telling, most incisive, most detailed audiobook of her long and remarkable career.

From Fred Astaire, whom she adores, to La La Land, which she deplores, Basinger examines a dazzling array of stars, strategies, talents, and innovations in the history of musical cinema. Whether analyzing a classic Gene Kelly routine, relishing a Nelson-Jeanette operetta, or touting a dynamic hip hop number (in the underrated Idlewild), she is a canny and charismatic guide to the many ways that song and dance have been seen - and heard - on film.

With extensive portraits of everyone from Al Jolson, the Jazz Singer; to Doris Day, whose iconic sunniness has overshadowed her dramatic talents; from Deanna Durbin, that lovable teen-star of the '30s and '40s; to Shirley T. and Judy G.; from Bing to Frank to Elvis; from Ann Miller to Ann-Margret; from Disney to Chicago...focusing on many beloved, iconic films (Top Hat, Singin' in the Rain, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Sound of Music) as well as unduly obscure gems (Eddie Cantor's Whoopee!, Murder at the Vanities, Sun Valley Serenade, One from the Heart), this audiobook is astute, informative, and a pure pleasure to hear.

©2019 Jeanine Basinger (P)2019 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Movie Musical!

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So You Think You Know Movie Musicals

I grew up before the internet, before streaming downloads, before cable TV, before movies-on-demand. We only saw old movies when they came on late-night or afternoon movie programs on broadcast television stations, or when somebody rereleased a classic into the theaters or a revival house picked them up.

So we would drive many miles when my mom took us to see a program of operettas in a revival house -- Spring Time, Rose Marie, and above all her favorite, Naughty Marietta (my mom's glorious singing voice was quite similar to Jeanette Macdonald's, and she could sing-and-play her way through the whole score). And we would build our family's schedule around the upcoming broadcast of a classic, like Singin' in the Rain. When MGM released the montage movie That's Entertainment, containing great clips and scenes from the MGM musicals, I saw almost everything for the first time in that movie.

Yet when a good friend, my musical collaborator, started talking about the glories of Busby Berkeley's choreography, I had no idea what he was talking about. My parents had little patience with Ethel Merman's strident singing, so I had no chance to acquire a taste for her style, and as for Esther Williams, how in the world can you be credible singing and swimming in the same show?

With The Movie Musical!, Jeanine Basinger does a fabulous job of introducing us to movie musical genres and classic films that no longer get any love. She also tells us, respectfully, about movies that had many flaws and failings, and approaches to the genre that missed the point. By the time I finished listening to Erin Bennett's excellent, clear, perfectly-paced narration, I found myself going online to find and download, or order as DVDs, many musicals that I heard of for the first time in this book. Whether you know little about movie musicals or a lot, whether you think La La Land was a great musical or a pale shadow of the films that came before, even if you can't remember the difference between the movies Holiday Inn and White Christmas (both with Bing), this book will bring you nothing but pleasure. Read it if you must, but it's more fun to listen.

6 people found this helpful

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An epic history of movie musicals

I haven't finished it yet, but so far this sweeping history of the movie musical from the late 1920s until today is enjoyable and impressive. Author Jeanine Basinger is an academic, and really knows her stuff, but her writing is lively and witty, while at the same time being analytical. She has her likes and dislikes when it comes to musicals, but since a lot of them are similar to mine I don't mind. Narrator Erin Bennett does a great job, giving a really vivid and expressive reading that makes the narrative come alive. For fans of movie musicals this is an essential book.

6 people found this helpful

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Historical view of the musical

Maybe because so much has been written about the top musicals, Singing in the Rain, Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz these sections seemed short. Loved the detail about Fred and Ginger, not enough about Kelly. Overall fascinating historical view of the musical by someone who obviously loves this genre

3 people found this helpful

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Great narration! But pronunciations...

The narrator is perfectly suited to the work, which I highly recommend. You will learn more about Vera Hruba Ralston than you ever thought you would!

Bennett is great with Basinger's casual (occasionally too much so) tone, and clearly understands the fact that this is a serious history told in a breezy style. I think she is very talented and would certainly listen to books by her again.

However! Can authors please review the text first and give proper pronunciations when needed? Mispronounced: Chevalier, Donen, Adolphe Menjou, Apache (Native American = ah-PATCHE-ee; French dance = uh-POSH)...and I swear I heard an "eck cetera." It takes you out of the story for just a moment, and it's so avoidable. No fault given to the narrator. Just bad preparation.

I will add that I've read many of Basinger's books, and her easy style makes them a natural for audiobooks. I hope there will be more.

5 people found this helpful

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Brilliant Analysis of a Wonderful Art Form

Epic, always fascinating story of the most fascinating film genre. Jeanine Basinger proves herself to be the most entertaining and erudite of film historians. Lovingly narrated, utterly compelling.

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A Treat for Musical Fans

A great book for fans of musicals and of Hollywood history. It provides a tremendous amount of information about the birth and development and significance of the film musical, discusses the great and sometimes not so great films and stars, and analyzes the details of specific numbers. It’s beautifully written and beautifully read. A winner!

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Take your time

This was my first purchased in audible. Had I known the flow of the boom I wouldn’t have gone through with it. It’s very very slow and boring and feels like facts after facts after facts

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What happened to Camelot and Paint Your Wagon?

I have always loved musicals, as a young boy as my friends sought out the actioners, I was drawn to the emotional charge of the musical with its magical transition from straight dialogue to song. Aside from the great musicals lauded by the author, she does point out and explain the flawed efforts that don't stand up well. one of the movies that hooked me as a tender lad was the film version of Camelot, surely this uneven gem deserved some discussion? Also Paint Your Wagon which had Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood in song. Wandering Star was even a pop hit. These omissions as well as others like Dr Doolittle and a string of British movies, leave me with the impression that the topic was not adequately researched by the author. What did remain for inclusion in her book was satisfying and well narrated.

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Re: History of American musicals

This is a well researched history of American musicals, with occasional references to more famous international musicals, and covers the field in every significant manner possible including star vehicles, television attempts, animation, cult and speciality titles. While a listener may not agree with all of the author's insights or ratings, every opinion is well justified or explained to the audience. The weakiest, if necessary, section of the title occurs at the outset when the writer defines what will qualify as a musical and what doesn't while emphasizing how each choice advances, extends or brings an original aspect to this type of movie vehicle.

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  • Farniboy
  • 11-20-19

A Fab Look At The History of the Hollywood Musical

Wow, Jeanine Baker knows her onions!

This is a brilliant look at the Hollywood musical from the advent of sound through the glory years of the 50's, their fall from favour in the 60/70's upto the faltering attempts at revitalising the genre in recent years. Its chocka block of anecdotes and back scene stories of the films and their stars. Special consideration is given to Gene Kelly and Fred Estaire and their impact on the form and also the Fox Studio blondes. Its not just the actors that are exhaustively studied but the composers, lyricists, designers, choreographers etc that made the musical so special. An indispensable look at one of the true American art forms.

I grew up watching musicals and I've now started to rewatch them, inspired by the new perspectives that this book has given me.

Audible we need the rest Of Jeanine Bakers back catalogue on Audible ASAP.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kirsty
  • 12-14-19

A great disappointment

I found the writer opinionated to the degree that it just became unlistenable - what came across to me was that her views are the only valid ones. When she was giving straight history the narrative was OK, but soon she was off with her opinion, and rarely, if ever, did she quote from a person with a dissenting view. The reader's performance was great.

1 person found this helpful