The Hollywood film Musical in its Mediatic and Cultural Context
Project leader: Marguerite Chabrol
In collaboration with:
Paris 7 (CERILAC)
Université de Lorraine (2L2S)
Paris 4 (VALE)
Université Paris Lumières
The musical has often been described as one of the most typical Hollywood genres, the epitome of the spectacle that classical Hollywood cinema tried to achieve. However with this project the classical film musical and its spectacular features will be seen in their specific cultural and media context: their roots in the Broadway musical theatre, but also in radio, television, and the record industry.
Since the history of the film musical seems to match that of classical Hollywood cinema – from the rise of the talkies to the struggles and relative decline of the industry as a whole in the forties and fifties –, the musical has been studied, in the United States and in France, as a reflection of Hollywood genres, even though it exhibits unique semantic and syntactic features within the classical genre system (Altman, 1987). Yet the titles, plotlines and spectacular numbers of the first musicals – starting with The Broadway Melody (Harry Beaumont, 1929) – often point out their constant reference to the cultural traditions of the Broadway musical theatre, to its choreographic and musical forms, as well as its imaginary.