The musical film which comprises of several songs intertwined together to produce a narrative has come a long way since its inception as a film genre. However, the 1960’s have been considered as the golden age in which this genre of film made its mark in the world of entertainment. The American stage has seen it all in terms of the ups and downs of the film industry and also the way it has evolved over the years than any other country in the world. The 1960’s saw the establishment of the Hollywood Walk of Fame that changed the perception of American musical films forever. This has been a major attraction not only for tourists alone but also for players in the industry who strive to have their names embedded in the elegant stars.
The 1960’s was the year in which fashion, fun, rock and roll were at their peak. It was also the period in which calls for tremendous social changes were thriving amongst the American population. The 1960’s was an era in which tragedies, assassinations and cultural events ruled the lives of Americans in equal measure. It was at this period that events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy took place other notable assassinations were that of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. It was also the period in which the first man landed on the moon with Apollo 11 space ship.. In the world of fashion, mini skirts made a grand entrance and ruled the lives of those who dared experience this fascination. This had a distinct effect on the musical film industry at this particular time in history. Most of the films made during this time characteristically reflected on the moods and social aspects of the public during the time.
After a boom in the preceding years, 1963 went in history books as the worst musical film year in its history. This was largely attributed to the growing dominance of television. This meant that film companies had to diversify their entertainment options in order to survive the cut-throat competition that threatened to strangle any company that failed to find alternative survival ways. One of the main highlights in this period was the production of the West Side Story. As a renowned musical film and pundit put it the film begins with “helicopter shots of Manhattan’s soaring skyline” (Monaco, 160). This film won an impressive 10 categories in the Oscars. Another notable musical film of the 1960’s was the Saturday Night Fever where disco dancing and break dancing was at its best. Modern music has however changed the pomp and glamour that characterized this type of showpieces with music nowadays highly computerized. Only the dance can be seen to remain original (Altman, 364).
During the 1960’s there was a notion going around that musical films were a gamble. The main reason was that most production houses depended on foreign markets too. This meant that the foreign market had trouble following lyrics that were sung using Native American English. The technological advancements in the world of film also had a marked influence on the types of musical films that were being produced. By the end of 1960’s, color films were gaining momentum which ensured production of quality musical films in the years that were to come after. As innovations and inventions took shape through out the 1970’s, film schools were a common place for future producers and directors and this had the effect of changing the musical film sector for ever.
This change is still very vivid nowadays. The social settings of these modern times have had a remarkable effect on the types of films being produced not only in quality but also in the social aspects of most musical movies. Ruthless competition is now a reality and the emergence of rival production houses has made it much difficult for seasoned players in the market to cut a niche just as they did in the past. This brutal competition has in one way or another led to eroding of family values as one author seems to argue. He argues that nowadays, “money increasingly replaces the couple, the family and other homespun, human values.” The author goes further to claim that “the detective genre gives voice to the fall from rural communal security into the individuality and impersonality of the city” (Altman, 360). The popularity of the American musical film industry has declined tremendously especially after the recent stock market crashes that have rocked the American market. However this has not erased it and some diehard fans still find pleasure in watching these pieces of film fascinations.