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Film Genres: Musicals

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A quick definition for musical films

An internationally popular film genre, featuring music, song, and dance in varying combinations, often intertwined with a romance plot with a happy ending. Film versions of operas and stage musicals made in the silent era were usually screened with live musical accompaniment, often as part of theatrical entertainments featuring musical acts (see music). Some scholars contend that it was the popularity of these shows with audiences that prompted the development of synchronized sound after the mid 1920s.

In film studies, the Hollywood musical has long been the subject of analysis and investigation across a range of topics: these include the various ways in which plot and musical numbers are integrated in a film's narrative; issues of gender, sexuality, and spectacle; questions of studio style (MGM's lavish Technicolor musicals of the 1950s are a case in point); the contributions of key creative personnel (such as directors Ernst Lubitsch and Vincente Minnelli, choreographer Busby Berkeley, and performers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers); and investigations of the genre's industrial, social, and cultural contexts.

Kuhn, A. and Westwell, G. (2012). "Musical." In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 Dec. 2015

Getting started

To find musical films in the Library's collections, you can click on the subject headings below. The collections are split between Baker Stack Level 4 and Paddock Music Library.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book titles

Finding articles & journals

Articles and other writings about musicals can be found in many publications. We don't have journals that look exclusively at musicals. However, you can use Film & Television Literature Index to find relevant articles.

A Selected list of musical films

Find more musical films.