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Comment: Book and dust jacket are in great condition, both inside and out, with no visible sign of wear. Ex-library copy with the usual markings, and there is a mylar plastic protective cover.
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The Songs of Hollywood Hardcover – April 7, 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Furia’s classic The Poets of Tin Pan Alley (1990) receives ideal complementation with this consideration of the impact of the same cohort of lyricists on the movies. The songwriters brought two functional modes of their craft with them to Hollywood: the crafting of basically freestanding pieces that could be inserted as called for in reviews of greater or lesser topicality, and the creation of dramatically appropriate numbers for the still brand-new “book” musicals, such as Show Boat. Two kinds of films arose to accommodate those song types: the performance musical, whose plot was about putting on a show, and the integral (Furia and Patterson’s term) musical, in which the songs expressed the characters and furthered the developments of a naturalistic story. The first megahit movie musicals, Al Jolson in The Singing Fool and the second best-picture Oscar-winner, The Broadway Melody, rather blurred the lines between the types, but soon the Maurice Chevalier–Jeanette MacDonald films (especially Love Me Tonight) firmly established the integral musical. While Furia and Patterson favor the integral musical and rue its apparent demise (except for adaptations of stage shows, for which they have no time), they discuss great examples of all kinds of singing in the movies so perspicaciously that this is a book thatlovers of warbling on celluloid will utterly treasure. --Ray Olson

Review


"With its critical investigation of the connections between Broadway and Hollywood, the intertwining of music publishers and studios, as well as the marketing strategies behind hits, it's clear that this book is not only a careful investigation of musical films up to the 21st century, but also an insightful means of taking stock of film musicals in Hollywood cinema writ large, which gives rise to yet further consideration about the integration of music into the realistic medium of film." --Lied und populäre Kultur [Song and Popular Culture]


"The Songs of Hollywood is a brilliantly researched, highly entertaining cornucopia of facts, tracing and defining the evolution of the use of songs in film. It's a fascinating read, bursting with information about the great songwriters, performers, producers and directors who transformed a novelty gimmick into an art form."-Richard M. Sherman, Composer / Lyricist of Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Jungle Book.


"If you love attractive songs and movies that sing and dance, this book is a must. But be prepared to rent all the films you missed or will want to see again after reading the authors' appetizing descriptions!" --Sheldon Harnick, Lyricist


"Good reading--and great history--this book offers a fresh examination of the way songs were integrated into Hollywood movies from the silent era through the glory years of musicals. Furia and Patterson write with equal parts knowledge and enthusiasm. I thought I knew this territory pretty well, but they linger over details to create a rich context for their raw material."--Leonard Maltin


"They discuss great examples of all kinds of singing in the movies so perspicaciously that this is a book that lovers of warbling on celluloid will utterly treasure."-Booklist Starred Review


"Considerable insight. A book that can be used to advantage in serious film study or read for pure enjoyment."-California Literary Review


"The Songs of Hollywood benefits from Philip Furia's previous wok on the American popular song...The selection of key works to illustrate the main themes is done with a purpose; focused not filleted, this is a good, readable history." --Times Literary Supplement


"A good, readable history." --Times Literary Supplement


"A remarkably well constructed, comprehensive overview of the songs of Hollywood...[A] tremendously informative book." --Brad Hathaway - Theater Shelf


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195337085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195337082
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,561,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I studied movie musicals in college so had a "been there, read that" attitude going in. But I was impressed by the details included regarding the performers and creators of the original movie musical songs. The focus is mainly on the films from the 20's-60's when the creation of movie musicals with original songs was possible due to lyricists and composers being contracted by studios to create this unique art form with one picture after another. The conversion of movies to sound in the late 20's REALLY got the ball rolling. Then by 1930 the public was tired of movies with people breaking into song, the economy made the public more choosey plus the early equipment prevented creative filmmaking. Soon with the use of boom mikes and mobile cameras and prerecorded tracks, the golden age of movie musicals developed until television in the 50's forced studios to use gimmicks like wide screen Cinemescope, 3D, and stereophonic sound to compete. Studios also were compelled to adapt Broadway shows that were already familiar to audiences in advance as a way to create the movie musical. The authors of this book seem to be more impressed with the integrated musical than the performance musical. But when the integrated musical is adapted from Broadway, it no longer ranks as an original creation and just gets perfunctory mentions. To the authors' credit, the focus of this book is on the songs created for Hollywood but I enjoy well made movie adaptations of Broadway shows so feel they deserve inclusion along with the films with original material.

I do have issues with their descriptions of two particular films. There are two instances in which the description of the song's use is at least misleading and at worse false.
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Format: Hardcover
The book is well researched and contains a wealth of chatty, back-stage information (a whole chapter on the Astaire-Rogers musicals at RKO, and right on the mark analysis of Bob Hope and Shirley Ross in "Thanks For The Memory."), but the tiny photo reproductions really do disappoint.

The whole issue of layout and photos really matters when they are handled so badly. Why include about 200 photos--when they mimic the tiny size of a 35mm film frame (not clever), and with poor resolution to boot? Frustrating. Makes you want to look elsewhere for the pictures. This also makes the layout a little too cluttered. In regard to content, the authors neglect the 1930's Jolson films at Warner Brothers, such as "The Singing Kid" (with extended lyrics by Yip Harburg for "I Love To Singa" that are hysterical). They also score a zero for ignoring the early Sinatra musical films, while treading too much of the same old ground with Judy Garland at MGM. It would also help if the technical issues around the conversion to sound and 1930's recording techniques, were handled with more authority.

This is the kind of book that one buys for the permanent library, so I'd have to rate it a missed opportunity. Hope this book is reissued with better layout, more on the forgotten musicals, and a judicious selection of larger photos with crisp resolution. I'll wait for that edition.
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Format: Hardcover
On the whole, I enjoyed this book and will be coming back to visit its pages many times in the future. It is a marvelous history of the remarkable talents that came together to make the American musical film a unique and wonderful experience. Who hasn't had their spirits lifted by a song from a Hollywood musical?

Furia is a noted scholar of American popular song. Precisely what Laurie Patterson brings to the party is unknown.

Essentially this is a history of the Hollywood musical and particularly the people who wrote those wonderful songs, made sure they got into the movies (producers and directors), gave them a framework (directors) and character (actors). There is no question of Furia's knowledge, including backstage lore, which in turn makes this an interesting book.

It is, unfortunately, not a particularly well-written book. Furia writes like an academic. His style lacks verve and is somewhat stiff. The feeling that you are reading a textbook is never far away.

But the book is readable and, with all its information, enjoyable for anyone who likes Hollywood musicals.

A surprising omission is that the book lacks a fimography, that is a list of all the movies mentioned, dates of production, stars, songwriters and so on. Anyone who doesn't want to watch some, most or all of these films again after reading this book is probably dead and, thus, a filmography would be helpful. There is a song index.

The design of the book is, charitably stated, a total disaster.

The cover of the copy I read has a picture of Gene Kelly and Debby Reynolds on the cover. It is an iconic shot from "Singing In The Rain". But instead of the raincoats being bright yellow, they are an ugly, vile, repulsive shade of orange/brown or perhaps umber.
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