Rock ‘n’ roll and films about it have been synergistically interdependent since they emerged simultaneously in the United States in the mid-1950s. With Bill Hayley’s “Rock Around the Clock” playing over its opening credits, Blackboard Jungle, released on 25 March 1955, was the first to feature the new music. The subsequent emergence of other films about rock ‘n’ roll marked the end of the great period of the classic film musical. But despite the cultural ruptures, the classic musical’s main structural motifs were assimilated into the rock ‘n’ roll film, allowing us to understand the two genres as chronologically distinct, but otherwise not dissimilar responses to cultural-and especially cinematic-possibilities. The most important of the continuities are the distinction between the narrative and the spectacle; the “dual focus” narrative; and the desire of industrially produced, commodity film musicals to present themselves as folk art. The development and transformation of these motifs reached a utopian crisis in Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh, 1970).

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