This book focuses on the distinctiveness of the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. These stars were cast for their specific dancing or singing skills, that could be recognized by audiences and sold by the studios' publicity machine. They acquired Hollywood stardom through a dialogue with highbrow culture and mass industry, that cinema tried to bring into harmony. This collection brings together the contributions of American, British and French researchers.
More than any other film
genre, the musical of Hollywood's Golden Age depended on the presence of performers on the bill: these personalities met the expectations of the star system and, in addition, their dancing
and/or singing skills gave them a special place in a context where star images were foregrounded. This book studies what makes musical stars so specific from the 1930s on: their performances, especially solo, which also reveal how film musicals tackle highbrow and popular culture.
Acts by Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth, Barbra Streisand, Carmen Miranda, Eleanor Powell, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, Doris Day and the Nicholas Brothers are analyzed according to four main issues: the role of technology in cinema-made performances (editing, dubbing…); ethnicity issues and the distinctive place that the musical genre granted—or not—to “non-white” artists; the importance of stars specialized in comedy who developed a carnivalesque dimension in films; and the process of star construction itself within the Hollywood system, in relation to other forms of performance or cultural industries.