Public Relations Blog

Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter by Richard Barrios


Just as America went to war in Iraq, Rob Marshall’s Chicago razzle-dazzled audiences and took home six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The last time a musical had won the top prize was 1969, when Oliver! won while the Vietnam War waged on. It’s no surprise that musicals serve as an escape, and they’ve been an important part of American culture since the first true musical film, The Broadway Melody, premiered 85 years ago in 1929.

In DANGEROUS RHYTHM: Why Movie Musicals Matter, Richard Barrios deconstructs the American film musical to understand how they entrance an entire country or how they flop. Film musicals are difficult to do right, and Barrios finds that an adaptation’s relationship to musical film history can make or break the adaptation. Throughout the entire span of both the musical, history keeps repeating itself even when the creators aren’t aware of it, with the films and performers of 1930 finding easy equivalents in those many decades later.

Musicals constantly go in and out of fashion, mixing skill with ineptitude and failure with success in proportions unknown elsewhere. DANGEROUS RHYTHM lays out the whole story in all its quirky richness: artists and masterpieces and disasters, times of glory and moratorium, decades of depression and war, and influences of society, television and the internet.

At once history, analysis, investigation and meditation, DANGEROUS RHYTHM both celebrates the art and laments the garbage in American film musicals, demonstrating how and why they are an important part of American culture.

About the Author
Richard Barrios worked in the music and film industries before turning to film history with the award-winning A Song in the Dark. He lectures extensively and appears frequently on television and in film and DVD documentaries. Born in the swamps of south Louisiana and a longtime resident of New York City, he now makes his home in western New Jersey, near Philadelphia.