220 • notes to introduction
15 For more on these works, see Jones, Yellow Music, 131–32; Zhang Z., An Amorous
History of the Silver Screen, chapter 8; and Y. Wang, “The ‘Transnational’ as Method-
16 Zhou, “Genü Hong mudan duiyu Zhongguo dianyingjie de gongxian jiqi yingxiang,” 14.
17 Needham, “Fashioning Modernity,” 45.
18 This gloss on the ﬁlm musical and its “harmonious unity” of marriage comes from
Altman, The American Film Musical, 24. Altman’s deﬁnition of the musical forms the
backbone for Needham’s comparative reading. Needham also comments on the gen-
eral absence of dance and choreographic spectacle in the group of ﬁlms he describes
as Mandarin musicals (“Fashioning Modernity,” 50).
19 Needham, “Fashioning Modernity,” 42. It is telling that several of the entries in
Creekmur and Mokdad, The International Film Musical—a recent volume that sur-
veys international ﬁlm musicals by country— reflect on the diﬃculty of reconciling
the ﬁlm musical as understood in an American context with their par tic u lar region
of focus, at both the semantic and syntactic levels.
20 Dyer, In the Space of a Song, 57–58.
21 McMillin, The Musical as Drama, 1.
22 McMillin, The Musical as Drama, 3.
23 Teo, “Oh, Karaoke!,” 35.
24 Teo, Hong Kong Cinema, 31. Chapter 2 of Hong Kong Cinema revisits and expands on
the arguments of Teo’s earlier essay on this topic, “Oh, Karaoke!” My discussion here
synthesizes and responds to both of these works.
25 Teo, “Oh, Karaoke!,” 32.
26 Teo, Hong Kong Cinema, 34.
27 Altman, The American Film Musical, 13.
28 Dyer, In the Space of a Song, 5. This last point echoes observations by other theorists
of the musical. For example, Altman writes about how musical numbers unfold at a
diﬀerent level of reality, in “a ‘place’ or transcendence where time stands still, where
contingent concerns are stripped away to reveal the essence of things,” “a utopian
space in which all singers and dancers achieve a unity unimaginable in the now
superseded world of temporal, psychological causality” (The American Film Musical,
66, 69). McMillin emphasizes the repetitive (rather than static) temporality of song:
“there is another order of time in the theatre, not just the cause- and- eﬀect sequenc-
ing of plot but the lyrical repetitions of song and dance” (The Musical as Drama, 9).
And Herzog writes: “Unfettered by the demands of causality, the sensorial spectacles
in the musical often subsume the narrative framework, creating conﬁgurations of
time and space completely unlike those found in other ﬁlmic works” (Dreams of Dif-
29 The crux of McMillin’s book lies in his assertion that “the musical depends more on
the diﬀerences that make the close ﬁt interesting than on the suppression of diﬀer-
ence in a seamless whole” (The Musical as Drama, 2). Herzog’s analysis focuses on
those “breaks and stutters on the level of the image and the sound track” that open
onto the “noise” of social diﬀerences (Dreams of Diﬀerence, 4). And Dyer’s most recent
book relates the aﬀective dimension of song per for mance to questions about such is-