Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Film Studies

First Advisor

Creekmur, Corey

First Committee Member

Altman, Rick

Second Committee Member

Glass, Loren

Third Committee Member

Herr, Cheryl

Fourth Committee Member

McLeod, Kembrew


The mid-2000s saw a surge in the popularity of musical biopics: films such as Ray (2004) which tell the story of a star musician. While academic studies have addressed biopics treating classical and jazz composers, the popular musical biopic (encompassing blues, folk, pop, country, rap, and rock) is not only the least studied subtype of the musical biopic, but the most profitable and frequently made. I analyze four different aspects of the musical biopic that illustrate its significance: Chapter One addresses the musical biopic in the context of the post-studio era entertainment industry. I study A Hard Day's Night as a film which reconciles artistry with the commercial imperative of cross-promotion. Chapter Two surveys the increased presence of minority entertainers in post-studio era musical biopics, covering films featuring African American musicians, as well as films which pair a black mentor with a white musician or producer. Chapter Three examines the relationship between storytelling, particularly the portrayal of love relationships, and song performances. I find in that the post-studio era musical biopic often reconciles narrative structures inherited from the classical Hollywood musical with post-classical film styles. Chapter Four, a psychoanalytic study of the contemporary musical biopic, theorizes the genre's turn to the representation of flawed and scandalous subjects.


biopic, film musical, Hollywood, I'm Not There, popular music, psychoanalysis


ix, 325 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 309-325).


Copyright 2010 Jesse Schlotterbeck