The First Hollywood Musicals

A Critical Filmography of 171 Features, 1927 through 1932


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About the Book

As Hollywood entered the sound era, it was rightly determined that the same public fascinated by the novelty of the talkie would be dazzled by the spectacle of a song and dance film. In 1929 and 1930, film musicals became the industry’s most lucrative genre—until the greedy studios almost killed the genre by glutting the market with too many films that looked and sounded like clones of each other.
From the classy movies such as Sunnyside Up and Hallelujah! to failures such as The Lottery Bride and Howdy Broadway, this filmography details 171 early Hollywood musicals. Arranged by subgenre (backstagers, operettas, college films, and stage-derived musical comedies), the entries include studio, release date, cast and credits, running time, a complete song list, any recordings spawned by the film, Academy Award nominations and winners, and availability on video or laserdisc. These data are followed by a plot synopsis, including analysis of the film’s place in the genre’s history. Includes over 90 photographs.

About the Author(s)

Edwin M. Bradley is the associate curator of film at the Flint (Michigan) Institute of Arts and an archivist for the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University. This is his fourth book on early cinema history.

Bibliographic Details

Edwin M. Bradley
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 400
Bibliographic Info: 92 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004 [1996]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2029-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents


Introduction     ix

1927–1928: “Who the Hell Wants to Hear Actors Talk?”     1

1928–1929: Fanny, Bessie and The Broadway Melody      13

1929: No Business Like Show Business     25

1929–1930: “Some Laughs, Some Songs, and Even a Little Acting”     77

1929–1930: If I Had a Talking Picture of You …     123

1929–1930: Hail to the Victors     150

1929–1930: You Will Remember Vienna     165

1930: There’s a Tear for Every Smile in Hollywood     210

1929–1930: A King and Two Aces     243

1929–1930: More Stars Than There Are in Heaven     260

1931: Without a Song     277

1932: On the Way to 42nd Street     297

Appendix I: 1914–1928: Silent Feature Films Inspired by Broadway Musicals     321

Appendix II: 1928–1932: Selected Short Subjects     325

Notes     345

Bibliography     361

Index     365

Book Reviews & Awards

“Bradley’s thoroughness is commendable…. Recommended”—Choice; “Bradley is the author of another good musical book…. It’s nice to see someone take movie musical seriously, especially since many of these films are rare and even lost”—Classic Images; “a splendid resource, and it makes for good reading…. A thorough work which will likely remain the standard for years to come”—ARBA; “insightful commentary…. Unlikely that one could find in any other book more detailed information about obscure films”—Show Music; “informative…the amount of documentation is impressive…. Recommended”—Classic Images; “an excellent job of researching…. The book’s strength is its reevaluation of underrated gems”—Big Reel; “fascinating”—In the Groove Magazine.