A Song in the Dark

A Song in the Dark : The Birth of the Musical Film

4.39 (28 ratings by Goodreads)
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Drawing on meticulous research, sharp wit, and insightful analysis, Richard Barrios illuminates the origins of the movie musical in this extensively revised and updated edition of his highly acclaimed A Song in the Dark. From Warner Bros. and Jolson, to the Oscar-winning Broadway Melody and beyond, here is the whole funny and peculiar history of these films, their creators, and their audiences. Ranging from the smash hits of The Singing Fool and Sunny Side Up to bizarre flops like Golden Dawn and Cecil B. DeMille's Madam Satan, they form a body of work unlike anything else in the history of popular entertainment. Here too are legendary performers, directors, and composers: from Fannie Brice, James Cagney, and Mae West, to Busby Berkeley, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, and countless others. With many new rare photographs, some not published in nearly 80 years, this new edition traces the rise and fall, and rise again, of this quintessential piece of the American experience.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 504 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 703.06g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • 2nd Revised edition
  • 76 black and white halftones
  • 0195377346
  • 9780195377347
  • 1,658,200

Review quote

This lively, intelligent and well-researched survey tells the tumultuous and often delightfully absurd saga of the film industry's frantic, disaster-laced efforts in the late 1920's and early 1930's to fabricate a new, lucrative product - the movie musical - as part of its effort to come to grips with the new technology of sound. Mr. Barrios makes clear that contrary to myth The Jazz Singer, featuring the overbearing Al Jolson, was neither the first major motion picture to use sound nor the first to make notable use of music. A Song in the Dark deals engagingly with its colorful and fascinating subject, and it is illuminating not only on artistic concerns, but on business and technical ones as well, including the process by which many of these films, previously declared lost, have been found and restored. It makes an effective case for a re-examination of this audacious, excessive and underappreciated moment in motion picture history. * New York Times *show more

About Richard Barrios

Richard Barrios has lectured extensively on film, served as a commentator on numerous DVDs, and co-hosted a series on Turner Classic Movies. He currently lives outside Philadelphia.show more

Table of contents


Rating details

28 ratings
4.39 out of 5 stars
5 50% (14)
4 39% (11)
3 11% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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