Picks and Pans Review: The Hollywood Musical

updated 11/02/1981 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/02/1981 01:00AM

by Clive Hirschhorn

Fans of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the other singing cowboys won't like this book. Neither will admirers of such British musicals as Tommy or A Hard Day's Night, or Annette Funicello-Frankie Avalon devotees, to whom Beach Blanket Bingo is the peer of Gone With the Wind. Otherwise, this year-by-year chronology is all but irresistible. Hirschhorn, a London theater critic, rather arbitrarily excludes Westerns and most British-made musicals, and relegates the Annette-Frankie classics to a "miscellaneous pop musicals" section. But he does describe 1,344 films, from 1927 through 1980. All the mainstream films, from Astaire and Rogers to Newton-John and Travolta, are included. So are 1943's Reveille with Beverly, with Ann Miller, Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington; Hat Check Honey, a 1943 flick featuring Grace McDonald and Ted Weems' Orchestra; 1950's Bloodhounds of Broadway, with Mitzi Gaynor and Charles Buchinsky (later Branson); 1965's Harum Scarum, with Elvis, Mary Ann Mobley and Fran Jeffries; 1977's Scott Joplin, with Billy Dee Williams; and 17 films whose titles begin with the word "Swing." There are black-and-white photographs illustrating most of the paragraph-length listings, and it's a hard book to put down without walking away feeling cheery. (Crown, $30)

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