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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the series of operettas made by MGM for Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy in the 1930s and early 1940s. Describing the series as a sustained exercise in nostalgia and prestige product, the chapter examines the films’ legacy as nostalgic romantic film operettas, richly realized in visual and musical terms and shaped entirely around the two stars’ distinct voices and personas. The movies are marked by lavish production values and the recurrent grafting onto these musical films of narrative tropes from more prestige-oriented genres, such as historical epics and period-setting melodramas. The films featured consistent elements—regular plot devices, the use of a legitimate singing style, similar character types, approaches to key and tonality in the arrangement of the songs, the preservation of racial whiteness— a formula that was facilitated by a liberal approach to the source material in all but Bitter Sweet.

Keywords: Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, MGM, operetta, nostalgia

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