Picks and Pans Review: The Hollywood Musical
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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