WE CAN BE WHO WE ARE: MOVIE MUSICALS FROM THE '70s (paperback)
The movie musical has been a much loved genre since motion pictures found a voice and learned to sing. Throughout the decades, audiences thrilled to the glamour of the musicals of Busby Berkley and were emotionally invested in stories about Austrian nuns and the King of Siam with the musicals from Rodgers and Hammerstein. With the advent of Rock ’n Roll, Heavy Metal, R&B, Motown, Punk Rock, and Disco entering the public consciousness, musicals started to sing a very different tune.
Into the 1970s, the movie musical became a daring, dangerous, and divinely decedent cinema experience. Lee Gambin’s We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals from the 1970s explores this explosive energy and diversity. From the quirky sophistication of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever and the dark unnerving genius of Cabaret to the sweet sentimentality of Charlotte’s Web, Gambin’s book offers insightful film criticism while exhaustively covering the decade.
Some of the films Gambin examines include Phantom of the Paradise, Grease, The Wiz, Rock’n’Roll High School, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, All That Jazz, Godspell, Hair, The Rose, Saturday Night Fever, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Pete’s Dragon, Tommy, Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park, and many, many more.
The book also features incredible brand new interviews from dozens of extremely talented artists who made these movies possible: director John Carpenter discussing his biopic Elvis; Lesley Ann Warren giving fascinating insight into the made for TV production It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Superman; auteur filmmaker Norman Jewison delivering two very different musicals with Fiddler on the Roof and Jesus Christ Superstar. This book is loaded with numerous production stories and candid insights into how these films were made and received. Gambin’s book also features loads of wonderful photos, many of which have never before been seen including wonderfully candid behind the scenes stills!
WE CAN BE WHO WE ARE: Movie Musicals From the 1970s by Lee Gambin
“The 1970s were certainly a strange era for movie musicals, with studios and filmmakers struggling to make this once-popular genre relevant to an audience that was bored with big-budget bombast. They pushed the envelope, embraced subculture topics, and often veered into spectacularly misguided directions, with author Lee Gambin taking us on a year-by-year odyssey - from 1970 to 1980 - of music-themed cinema in a massive, 812-page volume that covers everything from acclaimed hits (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, HAIR, NASHVILLE) to the most obscure cult fare (Phillippe Mora's TROUBLE IN MOLOPOLIS, the Russian fantasy ROCK N' ROLL WOLF). There's something here for everyone's tastes, including gritty dramas (ALL THAT JAZZ, SPARKLE), rock operas and concert films (TOMMY, ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS), off-beat high-concepts (THE FIRST NUDIE MUSICAL, BUGSY MALONE), dreadful miscasting (Neil Diamond in THE JAZZ SINGER, Peter O'Toole in THE MAN OF LA MANCHA), auteur oddities (Robert Altman's POPEYE, Ken Russell's THE BOYFRIEND), musical TV-efforts (KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK, Kirk Douglas' DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE), utter fiascos (LOST HORIZON, SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEART'S CLUB BAND), as well as loads of delightful dementia (PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, THE APPLE, THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL). It's also generously sprinkled with interviews: Lesley Ann Warren recalls IT'S A BIRD... IT'S A PLANE... IT'S SUPERMAN, P.J. Soles on ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, Austin Pendleton on THE MUPPET MOVIE, John LaZar on BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, Valerie Perrine on CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC, and many more. Gambin insightfully critiques the most notable entries, examining their stories and themes, as well as the use of its music, and although he goes too easy on some films (the Disney dud PETE'S DRAGON is "captivating"? XANADU is "silly, irreverent fun"?), this is a stunningly comprehensive, informative, and entertaining volume. Highly recommended!"
-- Shock Cinema