The Musical: From Broadway to Hollywood (hardback)
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The Musical: From Broadway to Hollywood (hardback)

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The Musical: From Broadway to Hollywood

Copyright ©2022 by Michael B. Druxman. All Rights Reserved.

214 pages


 ISBN 9781629338996

 The Musical - From Broadway to Hollywood


              Combining as it does the elements of drama, comedy, music, dance, photography, and design, the film musical is a unique and favored genre, with, it would seem, almost unlimited possibilities for artistic expression and satisfying entertainment. This potential has, at times, been realized with particular success. Some of the best-loved films in motion-picture history have been musicals.  And, with the exception of several MGM originals and a few of the show-business biographies, the most admired musical films have been those adapted from the stage. Of the seven musicals that have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, four—West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, and Oliver!—had their origins in the theatre. 

              However, the transfer of a production from stage to screen is, to say the least, a precarious affair. Many of Broadway’s most successful shows have bombed on celluloid.  Why does this happen?

In an attempt to answer that question, film writer Michael B. Druxman here provides an excellent survey of the movie musical, focusing on twenty-five musicals adapted from the stage.  The films span three decades, and hits as well as flops are included. 

What happens when a musical play is adapted from the stage to the screen?  Should the resulting film be a carbon copy of the play, or is it better to utilize the screen’s greater flexibility to create a new, original, and completely different work of art?  Can one go too far in this direction, and by tampering with a script divest an established hit of the appealing qualities that made it popular in the first place?  Or, is it true that, as Norman Jewison said in speaking of his enormously popular film, Fiddler on the Roof, “A bad musical film is one that sticks to the play”?

On the other hand, can a movie version that is too imaginative and opulent distract audiences from the plot and score and smother a production that was successful in the theatre?  More specifically, how did the producers and/or directors of the films highlighted in this volume approach their material? How were the productions received? These and other important questions regarding movie musicals are dealt with extensively herein.

Some of the films treated at length are Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Oklahoma!, Guys and Dolls, Carousel, Pal Joey, Damn Yankees, Porgy and Bess, Gypsy, Finian’s Rainbow, Cabaret, Man of La Mancha, and Jesus Christ Superstar. A full chapter is devoted to each film; plots, characters, songs, musical scores, stars (singers, actors, dancers), directors, producers, composers, costumes, sets, choreography—all are given their due. In addition to the twenty-five chapters on individual movies, there is a background introduction to the genre.

And, of course, there are photographs—over 200 of them! All the twenty-five musicals discussed in detail are well represented, but there are over 50 stills from other musical films as well—from The Vagabond King (1930) to Hair (1979).


About the Author

Michael B. Druxman was born in Seattle, Washington, and graduated from the University of Washington with a major in sociology.  His avid interest in motion pictures and the theatre stems from early childhood.  As he grew older, he became active in Seattle’s community theatre movement, and eventually formed his own group, Actors’ Theatre.

Moving to Los Angeles in 1963, Mr. Druxman produced and directed a film, Genesis. In 1966, he formed his own public relations firm, which catered to both show business and commercial clients.

He has contributed to Films in Review, as well as to Coronet, for which he wrote a semi-regular feature, “Yesterday at the Movies”. He is the author of Paul Muni: His Life and His Films; Basil Rathbone: His Life and His Films; Make It Again, Sam: A Survey of Movie Remakes; Merv; and several other titles. 

He is also a screenwriter, with credits that include Keaton’s Cop, Cheyenne Warrior, Dillinger and Capone, and The Doorway, which he also directed.

Mr. Druxman has a son, David, and now lives with his wife, Sandra, in Austin, Texas.