Trope In The Movie: Making A Musical Romance

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Making a Musical Romance It’s an all too familiar trope in the film musical genre: the perfect couple locks eyes across the room. The piano strikes up. The happy couple sings in perfect harmony. They all live happily ever after. It’s a trope so familiar, it provokes audience responses ranging from grudging acceptance to outright hatred. However, like all tropes, the “soulmate song” can be effective when used properly, and truly move the audience to believe in the couple. In order to analyze what constitutes “proper” usage of the soulmate song, I will examine three different scenarios that a musical couple can encounter in the course of a film. The first category is the couple that, despite the conventions of the genre, does not ever actually …show more content…
To begin, we start with the unbelievably mild and tepid “romances” in which the two characters involved never share a song together. A clear example of one such couple is the showgirl Carol (Joan Blondell) and millionaire J. Lawrence (Warren William) in Gold Diggers of 1933 (Busby Berkeley, 1933) Carol first approaches J. Lawrence to exploit him for his money, but the dialogue expects the audience believe that they eventually develop romantic feelings for one another. However, the feeling that their relationship is merely a business arrangement becomes somewhat unshakable in the context of the rest of the film. As many scholars have pointed out, the film projects the idea that women’s bodies are a form of currency- hardly a shocking conclusion to draw from a film which opens with a shot of a long line of beautiful showgirls dressed in large gold coins (and not much else) and whose plot is driven by women using their body to earn a living (either through stage performance, prostitution, or, like Carol, gold-digging). Patricia Mellencamp, in her essay “Sexual Economics”, goes one step further, arguing that “the film equates marriage and the couple- the …show more content…
This runs quite opposite to Gold Diggers of 1933’s assertion that “a woman’s got to have a man” and rather shows that the man in the romance is sometimes dependent on the woman. This assertion opposes the claims made by Margaret McFadden in her work on Rogers-Astaire films. McFadden claims that their relationships throughout their filmography “stage the gender crisis of the 1930s; male dominance is in question and cannot be taken for granted, and so it is what the narrative must repeatedly and insistently argue for” (McFadden 686). In Swing Time at least, the narrative is not insistently arguing for male dominance but rather showing a more realistic give-and take dynamic in the romantic

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