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Title:Broadway noir: Film noir and musical comedy in City of Angels (1989)
Author(s):Witt, Jason Charles
Advisor(s):Magee, Jeffrey S.
Contributor(s):Magee, Gayle S.
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Cy Coleman
Film Noir
David Zippel
Larry Gelbart
Musical Theatre
Musical Comedy
Abstract:City of Angels (1989) uniquely transforms the structural, thematic, and visual elements of film noir through the conventions of musical comedy and thereby subjects both genres to affectionate satire. This essay explores the connections between these idiosyncratic forms of entertainment, particularly in the ways that noir devices and tropes emerge from songs penned by Cy Coleman and David Zippel, to reach a greater understanding of the ways in which City of Angels depicts and comments on the cultural history of film noir. My methodology looks to literary criticism and philosophy written on both film noir and hardboiled fiction for theorization on the core elements of those genres. Those traits are measured against City of Angels as a work, primarily musically but also in its lyrics and dialogue, using frameworks presented within the work of Raymond Knapp, Stacy Wolf, Scott McMillin, and other scholars of musical theatre. Where relevant, I engage with histories, music theory, and non-scholarly publications for social context and reception. The essay is organized along archetypal lines, namely the private investigator and femme fatale, to show how those models inform the show’s gendered characterization. It exposits indices for the 1940s and the classic Hollywood era, all pointing toward a framework where the musical comedy can function as a cultural history.
Issue Date:2019-04-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Jason Witt
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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