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History of Hollywood Musicals

During the mid 1920s, Warner Brothers studio began experimenting with something new known as Vitaphone. The Vitaphone provided a method of coordinating a musical soundtrack with film, thereby effectively creating a sound picture. This method, however, overlooked much of the huge potential regarding the adding of sound to motion pictures. At this time in movie history, Warner Brothers felt it was not necessary to hear the individuals talk, and merely wanted the sound to provide some musical background noise to film. It wasn’t until 1927 that Warner Brothers first introduced to the big screen singing along with sound in their release of The Jazz Singer; a remake of the Broadway musical of the same name.

The late 1920s brought difficult financial times to the country. It was during this time that Hollywood came to the publics rescue with the wonderfully entertaining diversion of the Hollywood musical. Hollywood movie studios began to release numerous musicals which offered the movie going public a chance to temporarily escape from the financial issues at hand. Some of the most popular and highly regarded musicals to come out during the 1930s included 42nd St, Bright Lights, and Gold Diggers. The 1939 musical, The Wizard of Oz is one of these classic musicals that still continues to entertain audiences today.

It was during the 1940s that the Hollywood musical really came of age and their popularity continued right through the 1950s. One of the more popular 1940s musicals was Yankee Doodle Dandy, a film that introduced movie lovers to a young James Cagney who gave a performance that earned him an Oscar. This movie continues to be one of the most famous musicals ever produced. Another popular title that has become a holiday tradition is The Bells of St. Mary’s.