An in-depth look at the singing, dancing, happy-making world of Hollywood musicals, illustrated in color and black-and-white—an essential text for anyone who's ever laughed, cried, or sung along at the movies.
...[an] exquisitely detailed, loving history of the genre ... propelled by equal measures of deep insight and breezy anecdote ... Basinger’s exuberant style — the exclamation mark in her title almost seems to declare the book a kindred spirit to Oklahoma! — coupled with her dry wit, is hard to resist. Her writing zips along with the same razzle-dazzle she so loves in the movies she discusses, while the sumptuous selection of photographs included in the book offers the perfect visual counterpart. Whatever reservations she may harbor about certain recent movie musicals, Basinger has not lost her faith. 'Who today can outsmart the old musical?' she asks, inviting a challenge. 'Who wants to try?' The heart of this book lies in her answer: 'Someone, I hope.'
Jeanine Basinger is a veteran film historian and author with a well-respected body of work — behind her. But read her new book, The Movie Musical!, and you might think she's a debut author with something to prove. And, in fact, she does ... Basinger wisely isn't trying to argue that musicals take up more space in the pop-culture consciousness circa 2019 than they actually do. What she does argue, authoritatively and passionately, is that the musical has never really left us, and that there's relevance and inspiration to be eternally gleaned from the golden age of Hollywood musicals ... The book darts and weaves dexterously through subgenres, superstars, and studio politics, leaving no stone unturned as Basinger assembles a mosaic of the musical's history ... The Movie Musical! is a downright delightful read ... What makes The Movie Musical! truly dazzle, however, is its insight ... Every page is infused not only with Basinger's knowledge, but her overwhelming adoration for the tuneful, silver-screen tales that changed her own life. The book is a passion project, organically rendered, and shot through with longing for an age where sophistication was as subtle as it was scintillating. The Movie Musical! is more than a love letter to a great American artform; it's a symphony.
Jeanine Basinger has since seen many more movies than I. She seems, in fact, to have seen all movies, right up to yesterday ... at once an impressive history and a penetrating criticism of movie musicals, nicely punctuated by the author’s wit and insider knowledge ... In her book’s final section, Ms. Basinger discusses, in sometimes tedious detail, many of the movie musicals made after the close of the studio era, all the way up to 2016’s La La Land and 2018’s A Star Is Born. She grants the strengths to be found in some of these movies, but also locates their usually ruinous flaws.