Packed with fascinating information, this is an impressive labor of love that should appeal to all Broadway fans.


What happens when Broadway’s musicals try to go Hollywood?

Mordden (On Sondheim: An Opinionated Guide, 2015, etc.) is probably the authority on the American musical and the perfect person to write about the important role of American songwriters and composers who looked west to ply their trade in Hollywood. As the author makes clear, these plans didn’t always work out. Hollywood had its mogul, control-freak producers who didn’t necessarily appreciate musicals, forced too many writers to work on a film, frequently cast the wrong people, and were fond of eliminating way too many songs in order to make a “better” movie. When silent films became talking films, they were able to add music and songs, little by little. The Jazz Singer showed it could be done. Irving Berlin’s great songs in films made audiences happy, but they still remained “Berlin-catalogue films” rather than true musicals. Realizing they needed the quality and prestige of the Broadway songwriters, Hollywood started hiring. The Gershwin brothers, George and Ira, brought consummate artistry to these new films. Top Hat, Shall We Dance, and Porgy and Bess showed what could be achieved, almost—Berlin was rarely involved in “planning or executing a project.” Then came Rodgers and Hart, whose Love Me Tonight is one of the great Hollywood musicals, perhaps the “greatest of all.” Here the songwriters’ art merged beautifully with “cinema’s ability to mash time and space together.” Jerome Kern’s Show Boat has both “epic” story and music. In 1962, Hollywood filmed with “respect” to Broadway by keeping Robert Preston for The Music Man. The pace picks up as Mordden describes a series of good film musicals, from Gypsy to The King and I to The Sound of Music. He’s not, however, much impressed by the many bio-musicals made about these songwriters. De-Lovely, about Cole Porter, is an “excrescence.”

Packed with fascinating information, this is an impressive labor of love that should appeal to all Broadway fans.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-939540-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?