Anxiety Muted: American Film Music in a Suburban Age

ISBN : 9780199936175

Stanley C. Pelkey; Anthony Bushard
320 Pages
158 x 234 mm
Pub date
Dec 2014
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The most familiar entertainment icons and storylines from the 1950s and 60s remain potent signs that continue to resonate within contemporary American society and culture. Both the political Left and Right invoke the events and memories of those decades, celebrating or condemning the competing social forces embodied in and unleashed during those years. In recent decades, the entertainment industry has capitalized on this trend with films such as Pleasantville (1998), Far from Heaven (2002), The Hours (2002), Revolutionary Road (2008), and Julie & Julia (2009), and television shows such as Mad Men and Pan Am, all of which have looked back on the 1950s and 1960s with a mixture of nostalgia and criticism. Anxiety Muted: American Film Music in a Suburban Age explores the role of music in American film and television of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as in films from more recent years that reflect upon this period. Throughout the collection, authors use music as a means to interrogate film and television in order to explore how anxieties about issues of community, social codes, gender, family and suburbanization - all central concerns of the Fifties and Sixties - have been treated in motion picture media relating to those decades. These references function as signs of the social and political assumptions about the American past that foil contemporary self-understanding. By studying these musical materials through the lens of relevant writings of the 1950s, it demonstrates that specific television shows such as Leave It to Beaver - often seen as the epitome of Fifties naivety - offers a more nuanced vision of community and conformity than is usually recognized, revealing much about our own current social anxieties. By focusing on a common set of themes relevant to the time period, Anxiety Muted binds several strands of film studies into a cohesive and engaging introduction to the Fifties and Sixties, its visual media and its music. The book will be of interest to students and scholars of both film music and American music studies.


Table of Contents
List of Images, Tables, and Musical Examples
1. A Survey of History, Themes, and Trends
Stanley C. Pelkey II
2. Music and Mimicry in Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Christina Gier
3. Who's Who in Hadleyville: The Civic Voice in High Noon (1952)
Anthony Bushard
4. Anxieties of Accuracy: Miklos Rozsa's Score for Quo Vadis (1951)
Linda K. Schubert
5. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be": Gender Equality and the Music of Alfred Hitchcock's
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Joshua Neumann
6. Music, Maturity, and the Moral Geography in Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963)
Stanley C. Pelkey II
7. The Whole Truth: Music as Truth in The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
Reba Wissner
8. "Living in Harmony"?: American Music and Individualism in The Prisoner (1967-1968)
Joanna Smolko and Tim Smolko
9. The Sound of Disability: Music, the Obsessive Avenger, and Eugenics in America
Meghan Schrader
10. Masculinity, Race, and the Blues in the Bizpic Cadillac Records (2008)
Jesse Schlotterbeck
11. Comin' Back to the Sixties: Mobilizing Music and Performing Politics, 1988-1990
Christopher D. Stone
12. Late-Adolescence in the American Sixties: "The Twist" and the Twentysomethings in AMC's Mad Men (2007-)
Samantha London
13. Musically Recreating the Fifties in Far From Heaven (2002)
Mariana Whitmer
14. The Very Essence of Tragic Reality: Aaron Copland and Thomas Newman's
Suburban Scoring
Anthony Bushard

About the author: 

Stanley C. Pelkey II is Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Roberts Wesleyan College (Rochester, New York). A musicologist and cultural historian, he co-edited Music and History: Bridging the Disciplines (University Press of Mississippi, 2005) and has published articles on British composers and musical culture as well as on American film and television music.; Anthony Bushard is Associate Professor of music history in the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Most recently, he wrote Leonard Bernstein's On the Waterfront: A Film Score Guide (Scarecrow Press, 2013) and has published articles on jazz and film music and lectured on those topics at regional, national, and international conferences and symposia.

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