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date: 15 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

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).

Keywords: musicals, adaptation, Broadway, Hollywood, movies

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