If I were reviewing this classy book for American fans, I would certainly give it five stars. The coverage of Hollywood movies is both thorough and sensible. Admittedly, most readers will be surprised at the inclusion of a few cult movies like "Cabaret", "Nashville" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" in the list of 50 Essential Film Musicals, but most of the well-known and highly popular films that don't make this list are covered elsewhere in the book. I personally am disappointed that no Alice Faye vehicle is included in this "canon" and she herself receives only one page in the bio section and not a single photo in the whole book. But that's just a personal grievance. What I think will most disappoint British readers is that, although this is a British book, the coverage of British musicals is given extremely short shrift, to say the least. Less than four pages out of 326! The same number, in fact, as German musicals!
On the front cover of my own book, plainly titled Hollywood Movie Musicals, the publisher has a lovely photo of Zsa Zsa Gabor in the 1953 "Moulin Rouge" (which of course is covered inside in the book itself). Although ostensibly a bio of Toulouse-Lautrec, this movie was extensively sold and promoted as a musical. Which it is. One of the songs was top of the Hit Parade for over eight months! Yet this British film, that was equally successful in America, is not even mentioned in the Rough Guide. Nor is "Car of Dreams" (also featured in my book), one of the top ten British musicals ever made. Icons like Jessie Matthews, George Formby, Gracie Fields receive little more than a passing reference, while many like Jack Hulbert, Cicely Courtneidge, Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen simply don't figure in the Rough Guide at all! Perhaps "rough" is the right word. It's a shame, however, to find such a small regard for British contributions to "Film Musicals" in an otherwise extremely detailed and well-informed survey of the genre.