Sunday, June 15, 2014

DANGEROUS RHYTHM: WHY MOVIE MUSICALS MATTER and a giveaway right here & now!

(Information about the giveaway for this book is at the end of the article)

Movie musicals... some folks hate them and some simply love them. There seems to be no in-between. If you can suspend disbelief, give yourself over to magic and fantasy, and open your heart to the musical interpretation of life, then you must be in the category of those who love them. And if you love them, then "Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter" by Richard Barrios is for you.

As a huge fan of Barrios' earlier book "A Song in the Dark," (one of my most favorite movie books ever), I was thrilled that he has again taken on his favorite topic. Unlike the earlier book, this one covers the genre in its entirety. This is no small feat and I expected a book the size of the Oxford English Dictionary, but it is a compact overview that focuses on several key aspects about this completely preposterous but endearing genre. 

Musicals and Sound wowed the public for a time
Barrios knows his topic inside out (I think he has seen just about every movie musical ever made), but his writing is conversational and witty and opinionated. If you love Gene Kelly unconditionally, you might get a little miffed (his gripe is not with his talent but his ego and somewhat abrasive personality). His comments about modern day stars like Madonna and Mariah Carey are amusing and spot on. He takes the time to throw roses at Jean Hagen's brilliant performance as Lina Lamont in "Singin' in the Rain" (a film he praises to the skies) and reserves high praise for my favorite movie musical, "Love Me Tonight."

Elegant and Timeless Perfection
Everyone is there. The best (Astaire, Rogers, Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Betty Grable, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra), the not-so-great (Janet Gaynor, whose voice is likened to that of Minnie Mouse's, Marlon Brando, Esther Williams) and the downright awful (poor Lucille Ball and Joan Crawford get skewered on the musical front).

Doris Day: She could do it all.
Too bad she didn't receive better material

For Barrios, The Wizard of Oz is
the crowning achievement of movie musicals

Perfection never goes out of style
The greatest musicals, like the greatest films of any genre, transcend their time. Those that are great use a language that speaks directly to the human heart. 

The funny thing about musicals is that they refuse to die. Every time they are on life support, they somehow manage to rise like a phoenix once more. After the novelty of the late 20s, musicals were officially dead by the beginning of the 1930's. And then came "42nd Street." After the golden age of the 1950s, "The Sound of Music" and "My Fair Lady" proved that there was life in the old girl yet. And even now, as hip and self-conscious as we are, "Chicago" and "Les Miserables" brought the public to the theaters. And on it goes, as "Jersey Boys" will open soon.

Take a Chance and Win a Copy of This Book!
Interested in reading this book? it is available at most outlets, including Amazon. Want to win a copy? Take a chance and enter the giveaway. Simply send me an email at and write "GIVEAWAY" in the message section. The drawing will be held on Sunday, June 22nd. Good Luck!!

Many thanks to Claire MacKinney PR,LLC for generously providing copies of this book for review and giveaway.


R. D. Finch said...

A great review of what sounds like a great book. I'm one of the lovers of musical movies, and judging from your comments, it sounds like I'm pretty much on the same page on this subject as you and Mr. Barrios.

Freder said...

Ditto what RD said. I must say that I always thought Gene Kelly was Beyond Criticism until I heard some of the stories about what an SOB he could be behind the camera... in one case insisting on cutting out a co-star's solo number because it was too good! He was so very likable onscreen -- impossible to hate his confidence, because it seemed so good-natured -- that it comes as kind of a blow to learn that he could be a prick at times. Oh well. It was the Age of Dreams.

FlickChick said...

R.D. - hey! Thanks for stopping by. I generally agree with the author on everything. His enthusiasm for The Wizard of Oz far surpasses mine, but otherwise we are in sync.

FlickChick said...

Hi Doug - long time no see. Barrios does not really deal with Kelly's off-screen personality (he was a real perfectionist), but his onscreen persona (which may have been a reflection). He found him to be rather abrasive. I find that to be so only on occasion and still think he's the bomb. Barrios found those qualities and that of his character in Singin' in the Rain to be a perfect match, which only adds to the multi-layered perfection of that film. So glad you stopped by.

Vintage Cameo said...

Great review! I'm a big musical fan so this sounds right up my alley... though it's probably best that I now know about his Gene Kelly feelings ahead of time :) But I'll definitely check it out!

FlickChick said...

Vintage Cameo- he is a little hard on Kelly, but that seems to be the fashion. Of course, those of us who love him will not be swayed!

Silver Screenings said...

This sounds like a great book, with insightful analysis.

We have a teenage niece who is too cool for absolute everything, but if she's visiting and sees that there's a musical on TCM, she will drop everything and watch. Musicals matter, indeed!

ClassicBecky said...

Chick, I too am a lover of musicals. I grew up listening to Broadway soundtrack records and watching every classic musical on TV. I was lucky enough to be a good age to experience the first showings of West Side Story at the theatres ... I just love 'em! You make the book sound intriguing. And you are so right -- it is a favorite pasttime of people today to rake up dirt on classic stars. I don't care -- Picasso was an SOB too, but I love his work.

Christian Esquevin said...

I've been meaning to get this book since I first read about it. Thanks for reminding me with this nice review FlickChick.

FlickChick said...

Silver Screenings - oh, a newbie - may she love them as much as you do!

FlickChick said...

Hi Becky: there is nothing like a great musical. it stays with you forever.

FlickChick said...

Hi Christina. I hope you get a chance to read it. I still prefer the earlier A SONG IN THE DARK, but this is a nice overview.