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A Song in the DarkThe Birth of the Musical Film$
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Richard Barrios

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377347

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377347.001.0001

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On with the Show!

On with the Show!

(p.75) 4 On with the Show!
A Song in the Dark

Richard Barrios

Oxford University Press

The earliest rivals of The Broadway Melody were compelled to grapple with a distinctive group of artistic and technical challenges. Warners' The Desert Song, the screen's first operetta, and Fox's Movietone Follies of 1929 were both hampered by various delays. Universal's Show Boat suffered from its juxtaposition to the triumphant stage musical. Syncopation, from the new company RKO, was filmed so quickly and cheaply that it beat most of its rivals to the screen. Broadway was an uneasy hybrid of stage melodrama and screen musical. Warner's On With the Show!, the first sound film shot entirely in Technicolor, was the definitive backstage film and a huge success, most notably with Ethel Waters singing “Am I Blue?”

Keywords:   Desert Song, Show Boat, Laemmle, RKO, Syncopation, Marx Brothers, Fox Movietone Follies, On With the Show, Ethel Waters, Technicolor

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