This 262 page book is a must for all movie musical fans. The cover is adorned with a stunning full color photo of Zsa Zsa Gabor in the original "Moulin Rouge", while the back cover features a color photo of Betty Hutton standing in front of a huge Annie Oakley poster.
All the great musical stars are represented in this book. Here are the Bing Crosby pictures and the Fred Astaire’s, as well as the stars of the "Road to … " movies, namely Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. The list goes on and on: Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Dean Martin, Jack Haley, Tommy Trinder, Betty Grable, Esther Williams, Danny Thomas, Doris Day, Jeanette MacDonald, Lana Turner, Dan Dailey, and of course many, many more. The movie companies who produced these extravaganzas are also represented: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century-Fox, Paramount, Walt Disney, RKO, and even Universal.
There are of course detailed reviews of well-known musicals like "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950), "Broadway Serenade" (1957), "Funny Face" (1957), "Funny Girl" (1968), "Invitation to the Dance" (1957), "Jazz Singer" (1953), "Kiss Me Kate" (1953), "The Merry Widow" (1952), "The Mikado" (1939), "Miss Sadie Thompson" (1953), "Moulin Rouge" (1953), "Night and Day" (1946), "The Red Shoes" (1948), "The Road to…" movies, "Singin’ in the Rain" (1952), "A Song Is Born" (1948), "The Sound of Music" (1965), "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1967), "The Ziegfeld Follies" (1946), plus the perennial "White Christmas" (1954).
Also included are oddities like "In the Navy" with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Dick Powell, Dick Foran and the Andrews Sisters; "Minstrel Man" with Benny Fields (which Reid regards as the best "B" musical ever made); Walt Disney’s "Jungle Book"; "My Friend, Irma" with John Lund, Diana Lynn, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; and Charles Chaplin’s "Limelight". In all, 139 movies are reviewed, ranging from "Glorifying the American Girl" (1929) to "Robin Hood" (1973), when this great movie genre had more than run its course.
There is much to be gained from this book for the dedicated movie musical fan. I loaned the book to a friend who is somewhat of a movie musical authority. He rated the book highly and thought the detail and comments were "spot on!" In fact, there were even details that he was unaware of. As John Howard Reid points out, many of these movies were made in color, but some were filmed in black-and-white. Also some of the stars singing or performing were dubbed by famous musicians. In "You Were Meant for Me", for instance, Dan Dailey’s alto sax was dubbed by Russ Cheever. In "Song of Love", both Katharine Hepburn’s and Paul Henreid’s piano solos were actually played by Arthur Rubinstein.
All the actors for each movie are listed, plus the production staff, release dates in various countries, story synopses, copyright dates, running times. In addition, John Howard Reid provides not only one, but several or more reviewers’ comments.
I repeat: This book is a must for the movie buff.