Elizabeth Titrington Craft
This chapter looks at the musical biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy. George M. Cohan was still alive when the movie about his life was made and his influence is seen on how it depicts aspects of his life to suit his own account of it. But the chapter also explores how the movie is a self-reflexive backstage musical and how its attention to theatrical authenticity served to deflect scrutiny from the lack of veracity in Cohan’s biography. Examples include the changing of details in scenes from the stage musicals George Washington, Jr and I’d Rather Be Right to serve the movie’s hagiographic depiction of Cohan’s life, as memorably played by James Cagney. But on the whole, the chapter reveals that fidelity was the byword in the treatment of Cohan’s musical oeuvre and the staging of musical numbers. James Cagney also took great care to capture Cohan’s renowned, distinctive dancing style; his instructor Johnny Boyle had even performed in Cohan shows and staged dances for Cohan.
This chapter deals with sexuality in the much-maligned film adaptation of Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon, the least popular of the team’s three 1960s film adaptations (My Fair Lady and Camelot are the others). Situating the movie in the sexual revolution and second-wave feminism of the 1960s, the chapter examines the characterization of Elizabeth and her only song, ‘A Million Miles Away Behind the Door,’ as well as her polyandrous marriage to Ben and Pardner. The chapter also reflects on not only how adaptations change the source but—due to changing social conventions and expectations—why they must. In the case of Paint Your Wagon, the film matches Lerner’s depiction of triangular relationships in My Fair Lady and Camelot, deletes Jennifer and Julio, the principal romantic couple of the stage version, omits the Mexican American perspective represented by Julio, adds the new character Pardner, and places Ben Rumson into a polyandrous relationship with Pardner and Elizabeth. Thanks to the shift from the Production Code to the Ratings System in 1968, Paint Your Wagon could portray a more liberal sexual situation than would have been the case over a decade earlier when the stage version appeared, and the screenplay exploits this possibility in a variety of ways, thereby reflecting its time.
Acting and singing have often been considered incompatible activities, but most successful operatic performances depend in part on successful acting. Acting in opera is, however, different from acting in spoken drama. Realistic characterization is often difficult to achieve when acting with music, and often the formal gestures of a more rhetorical representation are more appropriate. A more vivid style of acting was initiated with the bel canto opera early in the nineteenth century, and later verismo opera required acting that brought out the unconscious motivation of characters. Wagner, Stanislavski, and Felsenstein all developed a style of acting that reflected the psychology of the character and encouraged ensemble. Modern operatic performance incorporates a variety of styles, but a combination of realism and minimalism may be most effective on stage. Callas’s performance in Act 2 of Tosca and Nicholas Lehnhoff’s production of Parsifal are analyzed.
The opening decades of the twentieth century saw painters renounce mimetic representation for the formal rigors and spiritual transcendence of visual art divorced from reproduction of the visible world. That they chose to do so in no small measure resulted from a profound shift in aesthetic values: music became the paradigm for visual art. While the concept of visual music gained international currency, this seductive aesthetic model had particular resonance in the United States. Between 1910 and 1930, leaders of the American avant-garde, such as Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Max Weber, experimented with musical ideas to forge a new abstract art. A comparative case study of the music pictures of these painters and the inter-media installations of contemporary artist Jennifer Steinkamp will illuminate the transformation of the modernist ideal of visual music in the postmodern era.
Different issues challenged the screen adaptation of Finian’s Rainbow, which was one of the most successful Broadway musicals of the 1940s but took more than twenty years to be released as a film. Using archival research, this chapter reveals the frustrated early attempts to make Finian’s into an animated film musical, partly blighted by the blacklisting of lyricist E. Y. Harburg in 1951. Ex-Disney animator John Hubley was hired to work on the film and created more than 400 storyboard sketches, designs, and character drafts for the movie. By 1954, ten key songs had been recorded by leading artists such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong; indeed, in an attempt to make the project as commercial as possible, Sinatra was assigned a part in nearly all the songs. A new prologue was added and changes were made to the story to soften its vigorous political message, but for a mixture of political and financial reasons the production was abruptly closed down; Finian’s Rainbow would not reach the screen until late the following decade.
This chapter outlines some of the key trends in the history of the screen musical adaptation. Noting how Hollywood initially seemed like an exciting prospect for some of the leading Broadway writers of the 1920s and ’30s, the chapter examines the liberal nature of most of the early stage-to-screen musicals up to On the Town (1949). In those days, Hollywood frequently retained only the title and a song or two from the Broadway shows it bought the film rights to, much to the frustration of the original composers and lyricists. But in the 1950s, a new trend saw an increasing move from the reasonably faithful Annie Get Your Gun (1950) and Kiss Me Kate (the title lost its comma in the film version of 1953) to the reverential adaptations of Oklahoma! (1955), West Side Story (1962), and My Fair Lady (1964). The mixed results of many of the other screen adaptations of the 1960s, including Paint Your Wagon and Hello, Dolly!, led to the near-collapse of the genre, with only a few successful titles such as Cabaret (1972) and Grease (1978) appearing over the next thirty years. But the release of Chicago in 2002 led to an apparent renaissance that has seen one or more screen musicals made each year since, most of which have been movie adaptations of Broadway shows (e.g., Into the Woods, 2014).
This chapter maps the territory of the contemporary audiovisual cinematic avant-garde, which arose at the very moment of celluloid’s passage from mass use to obsolescence. It presents films that bear witness to the avant-garde’s ongoing interest in the formal organization of sound/image relationships. If one of the main concerns of sound in conventional film is to “naturalize” the image, experimental film is interested instead in an anti-naturalistic use of sound. Films without sound or even without images (which still can be called “films”), the use of audiovisual polysemy, asynchronous, or even synchronous sound, as well as the visualization of code-based music, are all means of revealing the constructed nature of the cinesonic event. The chapter examines the realm of the sound of technology itself, pointing out the creative potential of optically synthesized sounds as well as live generated sounds and images, which attest to the agility of current projection performances.
This chapterexamines questions about musical scores of silent films. It highlights the ephemeralityof exhibition practices for the silent film and describes the reconstruction and exhibition of “special scores” composed for individual films. It discusses the main objectives for undertaking a project to resynchronize a “special score” with a silent film and identifies the elements of an “edition” of a silent film score that could have meaning in various forms.
This chapteroffers a survey of literature and analytical approaches in the study of television music. It explains the distinction between composer-based,auteurist models and agency-oriented models of television music, and describes the distinctive character of music video. It discusses the trend in current television and television music and evaluates the presentstate and prospects for television music research. This chapteralso considers the factors that significantly influenced the evolution of television music, including the advent of DVR technology.
The chapter discusses two modes of combining music and moving images that developed in modernism. The first mode, which the author terms generation, relates to a type of animated narrative film in which the music precedes the visual sequence which generates the will or thought (modality) that gives rise to the narrative action. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” from the Disney film Fantasia, is examined as an example. In the second mode, suspension, the picture appears as if preceding the music, even if the creative order was different, or the work does not have an actual visual manifestation. The visual sequence, which appears as if deriving from the composer’s inner world, is characterized by minute occurrences, wishing to arouse as an atmosphere or “third consciousness.” The movement “Colors” from Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for an Orchestra, opus 16, is examined as an example alongside examples from film music.
This chapter offers an analysis of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse’s contribution to the MGM adaptation of Brigadoon. On the stage, this musical was designed for singers, but the film version cast Kelly and Charisse, the latter replacing soprano Kathryn Grayson, who was the original choice for the character of Fiona. This necessitated enormous changes to the Broadway material, including the deletion of some of the most vocally demanding songs (‘There But for You Go I’ and ‘From This Day On’) and the reworking of ‘The Heather on the Hill’ and ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ into solos for Tommy (Kelly) rather than duets for Tommy and Fiona. Kelly’s presence also meant that he served, naturally, as the film’s choreographer, replacing Agnes de Mille, whose choreography had been one of the cornerstones of the Broadway production. Because the leads were now dancers, with additional opportunities for them to dance added to the piece, the role of Harry Beaton, which had revolved around the famous Sword Dance on the stage, was reduced and his number cut. Yet the chapter also identifies benefits from the casting changes and argues that it is one of MGM’s most underrated musicals, gaining tension and complexity from some of its perceived flaws.
Robynn J. Stilwell
This chapter examines Hollywood’s great rival, television, in a study of how television adapted the Broadway musical. Rather than looking at conventional stage-to-small-screen adaptations, however, the chapter focuses on how Carol Burnett’s TV show provided adaptations of another kind, that is, parodies of famous musicals. For example, the chapter explains how ‘Hold Me, Hamlet’ can be read as a parody/adaptation of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate, even retaining the doubling of the onstage/backstage musical format of the latter. Meanwhile, The Wiz is the clearest referent for ‘Cinderella Gets it On.’ These Burnett shows approach poesis because they take the form of the musical, and they often do comment upon it, but they are also genuine expressions of the form and the creators’ deep love and understanding of it.
Robynn J. Stilwell
This chapterintroduces two case studies of film music. These are analyses of the musical scores for Cecil B. DeMille’sThe Ten Commandments and Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. It suggests that Elmer Bernstein’s score for The Ten Commandments served as the frame for a naturalistic representation that the audience will accept as real because of its recognizability, while the compilation score of 12Monkeys opens up spaces in which timelines converge and collapse.
This chapterexamines the connections between music, particularly classical music, and the representation of the human body in narrative films. It evaluates the validity of several relevant theories, including the theses that cinema is about moving images of bodies, that classical music is particularly adept at enabling the cinematic embodiment that screen images alone cannot, and that cinematic bodies are “primarily or originarily erotic.” It contends that musical embodiment in cinema goes beyond the framing of erotic energy and that music is the animate substance that completes the transformation of the image from the mimetic to the virtual.
This chapter focuses on Cole Porter’s list songs on stage and screen. In his private life, Porter liked to make lists of things: the chapter uncovers a list made by Porter of things he required to be provided during the out-of-town tryout of one of his musicals, as well as requests for lists of words and ideas for songs from Can-Can. The list song is a staple of most of Porter’s shows, with key examples including ‘You’re the Top’ and ‘Let’s Do It,’ but their transposition to the screen is not always straightforward. For example, the film adaptation of Kiss Me, Kate moves ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ from a song delivered in front of the curtain to the audience in the theatre (literally a show stop) to a song performed in an alleyway to cheer up Fred. The chapter proposes that this contextual dramatic change from the general to the specific hints at a fundamental aspect of filmed musicals that is inimical to list songs: their separateness and staticness, their drawing of attention to themselves and to words rather than, primarily, visuals or the narrative of the film, and their potential open-endedness may all work against the notion of what a film does.
This chapterexamines the film soundtrack compilation from the 1960s to the present. It describes the music video compilation, the compilation by Tower Records, and the digital records of the 1990s, and suggests that the compilation soundtrack has been deeply and directly affected by a parallel evolution in the technology of recorded music. It shows that the compilation score since the 1960s has seen three separate incarnations and discusses how magnetic tape, videotape, and the iPod have affected the use of preexisting music in film.
Peter Schweinhardt, Johannes C. Gall, and Oliver Dahin
This chapter examines the career of film music composer Hanns Eisler. It explains that Eisler wrote music for films in virtually every year of his adult life and has covered more cultural and political ground than any prominent composer in the twentieth century. It describes Eisler’s experience as an early practitioner in sound, film including the experimental Film Music Project. This chapter also summarizes the motivations and methods associated with Eisler’s “lifelong film music project” and analyzes the book Composing for the Films, which Eisler coauthored with musicologist and philosopher Theodor W. Adorno.
This chapter provides a historical account of animated films and their music. It describes the variety of early studio practices, the centrality of production for music, and the effects of technological changes after 1950. It compares Disney’s Steamboat Willie and The Fairly OddParents with the works of Pixar, which deliberately avoided making a musical in the Disney mold. This chapteralso suggests that while the score of Pixar’s animated films are rich, provoking, and complex as any live-action Hollywood film, they still dip into some good old-fashioned cartoonism.
The first decade of the 2000s witnessed the transnational proliferation of dubstep, an electronic dance music style that quickly became ubiquitous across media platforms and audiences. This article traces the history of dubstep, from its origins in the underground clubs of south London to its presence on the silver screen of Hollywood films. First, the transnational musical relationship between England and the United States is interrogated, in an effort to highlight the significance of “local” scenes in light of increasing globalization. Second, the article examines the use of dubstep across media platforms, positing the more general cultural practice of technological mediation in electronic music as a gendered practice.
The Fascinating Moment of Godspell: Its Cinematic Adaptation in the Shadow of Jesus Christ Superstar and Leonard Bernstein’s Mass
Paul R. Laird
This chapter delves into contextual issues on the film version of Godspell, focusing on a small religious revival in American popular culture in the early 1970s. Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and Stephen Schwartz’s Godspell appeared on stage within months of one another, and Christianity appeared in other aspects of popular culture at the time, including an image of Jesus on the front of Time magazine in 1971. The producers of Godspell, however, realized that the musical was quickly at the height of its cultural moment and they decided to release it as a movie while the stage production was still in its original run in various cities, thus providing a direct competition between stage and screen versions (normally film adaptations are released after the closing of stage versions). Changes were made to the material for the film version and, like On the Town and Bells Are Ringing, there were challenges related to the location filming in New York City. Reactions to the film were polarized, but it remains an important document of a time when Jesus made more than just a cameo appearance in popular culture.