With Music in the Shadows, Biesen continues her trailblazing scholarship in film noir. Having delineated noir's World War II origins in Blackout, Biesen focuses on noir's impact on a specific genre, the musical. Biesen offers an arresting and innovative exploration of studio documents, publicity, and the films themselves, spanning wartime through the 1950s, demonstrating the cycle's continuing resonances. A book for every noir and musical enthusiast who wants to expand their understanding of these forms―and for all who want to know more of the American musical tradition and its cultural evolution.(Brian Taves, author of Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer)
Continuing the groundbreaking work on film noir in her first book, Blackout, which uncovered the origins of noir in World War II, Sheri Chinen Biesen’s Music in the Shadows traces another unlikely, understudied connection―between film noir and the Hollywood musical. Blending archival research, textual analysis, industrial and cultural history, Biesen builds a fascinating and quite convincing case for a genre hybrid, the noir musical, that took root in the 1940s but has continued to evolve ever since―from post-classical masterworks like The Red Shoes and West Side Story to New Hollywood gems like All That Jazz and Moulin Rouge. In the process, she challenges and fundamentally changes our understanding of both film noir and the film musical.(Thomas Schatz, The University of Texas at Austin)
[Biesen's] writing is silky and engaging and will enthrall fans of musicals and film noir...(Library Journal)
Music in the Shadows is an interesting and provocative approach to post-genre film criticism that underscores the interconnectedness of diverse media, and provides both a challenging perspective on the musical genre and a testimonial to the ongoing legacy of noir sensibility.(Louis J. Kern Key Reporter)
The book nicely balances in-depth historical research and previous film noir scholarship with fresh ideas and a writing style that is both evocative and concise. The author doesn't force the films into the model of her theory; instead the films guide the theory, a quality often lacking in film writing. Music in the Shadows ultimately succeeds on two levels, both in providing an entertaining and enlightening read, as well as an impetus to watch previously unseen films and rewatch familiar classics with a new perspective.(Anne M. Hockens Noir City)
Biesen's relevant study provides new insight and proves a welcome addition to film noir studies.(Choice)
About the Author
Sheri Chinen Biesen is an associate professor of radio, television, and film studies at Rowan University and author of Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir, also published by Johns Hopkins.