Movie musicals have been a part of Hollywood from the beginning, capturing the imagination of moviegoers generation after generation, and they’re still going strong — proven by the success of films like Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman and Disney‘s Beauty and the Beast. One of those moviegoers is journalist and author Lee Gambin, who wrote the book We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals from the ’70s.

“I come from a history of loving all film types, but if you look at the trajectory of my career, it started with horror,” Lee explains in an exclusive interview. “I wrote for Fangoria magazine and then on to different periodicals and websites that focused on that genre. But in going through my love of certain genres, I realized that horror seems to have been misrepresented by people who think that it’s one very specific thing. I’ve always felt the same with musicals; that people didn’t realize musicals could be incredibly versatile and diverse, so I wanted to champion that.”

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In considering the best way to do so, he decided to write a book about movie musicals of the 1970s. “A lot of films from that period were underrepresented and under-discussed,” he says. “I’m sure everyone knows everything about Grease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but there were so many others people were missing out on. Also, films like Hello Dolly! and Doctor Doolittle got roped into this notion that musicals were falling out of favor with the audience’s needs, but they failed to realize that at the same time films like Oliver! were not. They were really successful, so the idea of championing the musical as something that wasn’t falling out of fashion was my goal.”

It would seem he achieved it. In what follows, Lee provides behind the scenes information on a number of musicals released between 1970 and 1980, many of which were enormously successful.

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