Tag: Frank Sinatra

Music/Movie Monday: Elvis, James and Marilyn – the ’50s

Music/Movie Monday: Elvis, James and Marilyn – the ’50s

Music

By the end of the ’40s, Big Band and Swing were pretty much over and it was all about crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

This trend continued into the early ’50s, with singers like Eddie Fisher, Perry Como and Patti Paige, who dominated the airwaves for the first half of the decade.

Perry Como
Eddie Fisher
Eddie Fisher

Gone was the focus on orchestration, replaced by a focus on emotion. The king of this genre was singer/songrwriter Johnnie Ray, whose “Cry” is said to have influenced Elvis himself and who Tony Bennett has called the “real father of Rock’n’Roll.”

Johnnie Ray
Johnnie Ray

Speaking of which, you can’t talk about the ’50s without talking about Rock’n’Roll. Rock began to evolve in the late ’40s from jazz, rhythm and blues and gospel with a little country/western and pop thrown in. Cleveland DJ Alan Freed is credited with coining the term “rock’n’roll.”

Alan Freed
Alan Freed

Early pioneers include Chuck Berry, who refined the elements of the style and introduced the focus on guitar solos and showmanship, and Les Paul, who was known for his innovations and work with the electric guitar, which made the genre possible.

Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry
Les Paul and his guitar

Other important early rockers include Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly.

Pat Boone became the first teen rock idol in 1955 after releasing a number of pop-influenced R&B cover songs that introduced the genre to a wider audience.

Pat Boone
Pat Boone

The mid-’50s also gave us Elvis, the Memphis-born heartthrob who conquered radio, movies and the increasingly available TV.

50selvis1

in 1957, Dick Clark took over as host of American Bandstand, helping bring rock to the mainstream by embracing a new generation that was gaining influence: the teenager.

By the end of the ’50s, teen idols like Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon, and Connie Francis were topping the charts. In 1959, a plane crashed killed Buddy HollyThe Big Bopper and Richie Valens.

50samerpie

The incident was memorialized in Don McClean’s 1971 hit “American Pie,” as “the day the music died,” and the crash, plus Elvis’ stint in the army are thought by critics to have begun the end of the genre’s golden age, although rock will remain popular for at least the next 30 years.

Movies

50srebel1

During the ’50s, the booming post-war economy gave the rising middle class more time for leisure. Marry that with the advent of car culture and the drive-in became king, with over 4,000 outdoor theaters across the country by the late ’50s.

’50s culture was beginning to cater to teens who were looking for an antidote to the dull conformity that was hallmark of the era. Seeking to assert their independence, they turned to movies like Rebel Without a Cause and Blackboard Jungle, movies that showed  society’s gritty underbelly, far from the safety of their suburban, split-level ease. Actors like James Dean and Marlon Brando arrived on the scene, portraying tortured, anguished and moody anti-heroes.

Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando

The ’50s also gave us Marilyn, no last name needed.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles, CA in 1926. She began her career as a pinup model and played minor roles in B movies until her 1953 breakout in film noir thriller Niagara. That year she also starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, one of her greatest box office successes.

Marilyn in Gentlemen
Marilyn in Gentlemen

She would go on to star in The Seven Year Itch (1955), Bus Stop (1956) and  Some Like it Hot (1959), as well as many others. In 1999, Playboy named her Number One Sex Star of the 20th Century and People voted her Sexiest Woman of the Century. She continues to be an enduring sex symbol and beauty icon.

The ’50s were also marked by an underlying fear of communism and nuclear war and these influences are evident in the sci-fi and horror films of the decade. The early ’50s mark the rise of the Monster Movies, like Them! about giant radiation-mutated ants or Invasion of the Body Snatchers about alien pod people invading earth.

Them!
Them!

Although formulaic and campy, the movies play on common fears of the era, like infiltration or the threat of nuclear war. Movies like Gojira, which introduced our friend Godzilla, are seen as warnings about the effects of atomic tests and the dropping of the A bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII.

Godzilla-illa-illa
Godzilla-illa-illa

So friends, there you have some entertainment highlights of the ’50s. There are way more of course, and if you’d like to learn more, check out the sites below.

wikipedia
fiftiesweb.com
rockmusictimeline.com

wikipedia
filmsite.org

And! Tickets are now ON SALE for Decadent: 100 Years or Burlesque and you can get them HERE.

See you on April 22 at The Triad!
xoxo

Music Movie Monday: Big Bands and Film Noir – the ’40s

Music Movie Monday: Big Bands and Film Noir – the ’40s

Music

With the Depression over, people began returning to the dance halls and the era of Big Band Swing was underway. The top dogs in the field were Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

Glenn Miller Orchestra
Benny Goodman
Artie Shaw

Glenn Miller was killed while en route to a USO show when his plane crashed into the English Channel, and his death is considered the end of the Big Band Era.

With the close of the swing era, we see the emergence of  bebop and jump blues, two forms of up-tempo jazz. As the decade rolled on, jazz and blues began to make their way into the mainstream, with such singers as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald reaching national prominence.

Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday

“Crooners,” such as Bing Crosby were in vogue and by the end of the decade, Frank Sinatra would become the first teen idol.

Bing Crosby

Crosby’s 1942 “White Christmas” is the best-selling single of all time, with an estimated 50+ million copies sold worldwide.

Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra

Singing cowboys were also a thing, with Gene Autry among the most famous of these.

Gene Autry

Movies

After a rough start in the early ’40s because of the war and loss of foreign markets, the movie industry rebounded and by 1946 was at peak profitability.

You can’t talk ’40s film without Casablanca, the 1942 romance starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The movie won Oscars for Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director, and gave us such classic lines as “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “Round up the usual suspects,” and “We’ll always have Paris.”

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca

Another hallmark of ’40s film was film noir, literally “black film,” which evolved from ’30s gangsters movies and reflected a darker and more cynical mood among the country. Film noir features ominous plots, fatalistic heroes and dangerous femmes fatales (shoutout!). The first definitive example of this genre was The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart as hard-boiled detective Sam Spade and was directed by John Huston in his directorial debut.

Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sidney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon

On a more optimistic note, the films of Frank Capra idealized the underdog and the triumph of the “common man.” The most “Capraesque” of his movies is 1946 holiday feature It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.

And finally, there’s Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane, which has been called the most influential movie of all time. The film is renowned for its cinematography, innovative plot structure and memorable musical score. Stanley Kubrick, Sydney Pollack and Woody Allen are among the filmmakers who list Citizen Kane as one of the best movies of all time.

So there you have an overview of music and films of the 1940s. If you want to read more, check out the sites below.

filmsite.org
Wikipedia
retrowaste.com

As always, thanks for reading, and have a great day!

xoxo