1950's America; when the stars shined the brightest. The effects of musical films on society in America during the 1950's

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Branigan, Niamh
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BA (Hons) in Film, Literature and Drama
Dublin Business School
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I chose to write my thesis on musical films because I think they were a very important stepping stone in the visual medium of film. The genre of musical films set the standard for motion pictures that followed for years after. The Jazz Singer (1927) holds a significant place in film history because it was the first “talkie” movie that contained singing and dancing also. The objective of my research was to find out if musical films gave audiences escapism from their everyday lives and to see if musical films had any major impact on society at the time. I aim to expose the social agendas of the movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the effects and benefits it had. The work of two films, Annie Get Your Gun (1950) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) is explored in the body of this work, namely George Sidney, Stanley Donen, Michael Kidd and Arthur Freed. By focusing on the work of these particular people, it is possible to explore a wide array of material and issues, including representations of women, men, sexuality, and race. The ideas expressed in this work are validated with reference to many film critics and theorist, as well as by close reading of each film. By the close of this thesis, it will become clear that re-introducing the issues beneath the surface of these films is a constructive approach to encouraging people to realise the depth that they can contain.