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02.07.2014 | | Posted at 05:01 PM

When Movie Musicals Went out of Style

By David Luhrssen
  Hollywood musicals ruled box offices—until suddenly they didn’t. A long history led to that drastic turnaround. Talking pictures began with a musical, The Jazz Singer, and as technology developed, musicals became the showboats for the big studios—elaborately choreographed spectacles full of song and dance, color and motion. By the 1950s, musicals were Hollywood’s ...
08.13.2013 | | Posted at 11:14 AM
By David Luhrssen
  Walt Disney’s 1940 marriage of symphony and animation, Fantasia, is probably the most familiar artifact of a half-forgotten time when classical music occupied a more substantial place in popular culture than nowadays. The importance of this music in the lives of Americans in the ‘40s undergirds a fascinating new book, Sounds of War: Music in the United States During World...
07.03.2013 | | Posted at 11:10 AM
By David Luhrssen
  The stories of H.P. Lovecraft, the reclusive New England master of cosmic horror, have been the source for around two-dozen movies. In scanning the list, I realize that most have slipped past me unseen, and those I did watch were inevitably disappointing. Lovecraft’s unsettling dread requires masterful staging and acting. And his sense of malign, inhuman reality —that eve...
Monday, Oct. 8, 2012

An alphabetical walk through classic compositions

 The great thing about jazz, one of America’s distinct contributions to the world’s culture, is that it’s always changing—not just year to year, but also performance to performance. At least that’s the line from some...
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lockwoods detail when the North nearly lost the Civil War

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War and has been the occasion for many books on a conflict that continues to fascinate Americans. One of the war's great puzzles was why the Confederacy failed to seize Washington, D.C., defended in the early weeks by...