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American Music Film Essay

1335 words - 6 pages

Mid-term Paper

October 19 2012

Backstage Musical Evolution

The backstage musical has been around for quite some time. From Busby Berkeley and Fred Astaire to more modern like Arthur Freed and Judy Garland, the backstage musical genre will always have a place in Hollywood history. What makes the backstage musical different from the typical musical is that the plot usually revolved around the theater and therefore can lead to natural breaks into song and dance. For example in Easter Parade Fred Astaire says that he can get anyone to become a great dancing partner, therefore Fred and his dancing partner, Judy Garland can break out in dance and the logic would not be questioned. ...view middle of the document...

All from plot, music, and character, we can see how these films changed.

Some ways A Star is Born has matured since the creation of the backstage musical are apparent in looking at the plot, characters, and music. One example of this is in the plot. The plot talks about a man, James Mason who plays the character of Norman Maine, whose fame is fleeting meets this woman, Judy Garland who plays the character Vicki Lester/ Esther Blodgett who is just starting to get famous. They fall in love over time and it becomes very apparent that Norman develops an addiction to alcohol. He is shown drunk many times and it is ruining his life. This is the first time we see alcohol has been a plot device to move the story forward. Compared to a film like Footlight Parade or Easter Parade or even Top Hat alcohol never had such an influence on the plot of a film.

The second example of how A Star is Born has matured the backstage musical is in the characters. One thing that is unique about this is that Judy Garland is the lead in this movie. These films are usually male driven. Another example of character is the suicide of Norman. Suicide is a dark and mature subject matter to put in a film about love. It is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, if it were a musical and more modern. When you compare these characters to the characters in Oklahoma, they talk and sing about death, like the song "Poor Jud is Dead" but that song has more of a playful tone to it. The characters in this film made choices that no other backstage musical film before it would make.

The third and last example of how this movie has matured this genre of musical talks about how the music has changed. To match the dark material like alcoholism and suicide covered in this film the music matched. The music is not as upbeat as previous films like Easter Parade or even Footlight Parade. The song "The Man That Got Away", is a slowed down song that Judy Garland sings in an almost black scene. Compared to the more upbeat songs like "Stepping out with my Baby" from Easter Parade or "By The Waterfall" in Footlight Parade. The music in A Star is Born also showed how this genre has matured with time.

Some of the ways that the movie The Bandwagon has matured are also in character, plot, and music. One example is the plot of this film. The film talks about yet another man trying to get back to the fame he once had, Tony. Tony signs on to do a new play that he thinks will get him the fame he has been searching for. Then the play turns from a comedy to a much more sinister play. He now plays the Faust. This talks about the devil and once again talks about darker subject matter that...

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