Tough guys, rock stars, and messiahs: genre and gender in the Hollywood musical, 1966-1983

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Kessler, Kelly Kay

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This project seeks to examine how the generic norms (narratives, themes, aesthetics, performers, and performances) of integrated musicals of the 1966-1983 period diverge from those the previous era, and further, how they interrelate with the films' representations of masculinities (visually, intertextually, and bodily). While the musical has oft been discussed academically and popularly as having an underlying mission of projecting an imagined cultural utopia and celebration of romance, many of these later vehicles deviate into a subgenre which features a pattern of unsatisfactory resolutions including unrequited love (Sweet Charity [1969], At Long Last Love [1975]), failed business ventures (Camelot [1967]), and death (The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975], All That Jazz [1979]). This study interrogates emerging generic dictates in terms of narrative goals, integration of contemporary visual techniques associated with New American Cinema, and a definitively changing pool of musical male stars (eschewing Howard Keel and Fred Astaire for Steve Martin, Burt Reynolds, and The Village People), and ultimately examines their impact on the construction of a less restrictive notion of male gender.