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Movie Musicals: From Oz to La La Land

ENGL 1892.401
also offered as: THAR 1276 / CIMS 1276
MW 1:45-3:14pm

The very first major sound film—The Jazz Singer, in 1927—featured not only speaking, but also singing. Audiences around the country hungrily consumed this new cinematic genre—one that was also strongly influenced by the stage musicals that were taking New York by storm. The synergy between Hollywood and Broadway was electric. Virtually every major composer and lyricist, including Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, worked both coasts. At the same time, the movies created new film celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, The Nicholas Brothers, and more. In the Depression 42nd Street, The Wizard of Oz, and Stormy Weather provided entertaining escapism—and sometimes a critical lens into reality. As time moved on movie musicals moved with them… and continue to do so. Jailhouse Rock, A Hard Day’s Night, Sparkle, The Who’s Tommy, Robert Altman’s Nashville, and Damien Chazelle’s La La Land are just a few of the films that reinvent and even subvert the genres, while showcasing stars from Elvis Presley to Tina Turner to Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Movie Musicals will explore the development of this form and the artists who made it, including Busby Berkeley, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Bob Fosse, Baz Luhrmann… and of course, Walt Disney. The class will also present an international perspective: Bollywood, Nollywood, and the Scandinavian sensibility of Bjork and Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark.

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • Drama Concentration (AEDR)
College Attributes