Will the film adaptation of the international musical stage smash Les Misérables, due for release in movie theatres on Dec. 25, drastically, suddenly, miraculously prompt the movie industry to churn out movie-musicals again, as they did in The Golden Age? This question gets kicked around every time a studio decides to flirt with the genre — a genre, mind you, that has not flourished with consistency since the 1950s, when Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly were dancing on ceilings, roller skates, trash-can lids and in the rain for M-G-M.
Did the hit films "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music," "Cabaret," "Oliver!," "Grease," "Chicago," "Hairspray" and "Dreamgirls" transform the industry into a Song-and-Dance Factory, as it was in the '30s, '40s and '50s? They didn't. Tastes change, and the moviegoing public lost its taste for a steady diet of film musicals long ago.
Let's not be obsessed with the wearying question of the reviving of the old form — do you really expect a dozen musicals to be released a year? Is there enough content and imagination to support such a blossoming today?
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