The musicarello (plural: musicarelli) is a film subgenre which emerged in Italy and which is characterised by the presence in main roles of young singers, already famous among their peers, supported by comic actors.
The genre began in the fifties, and had its peak of production in the sixties. According to film critic Stefano Della Casa, the name "musicarello" is a reference to the successful Carosello. The film which started the genre is considered to be I ragazzi del Juke-Box by Lucio Fulci. At the heart of the musicarello is a hit song, or a song that the producers hoped would become a hit, that usually shares its title with the film itself and sometimes has lyrics depicting a part of the plot. Unlike most film musicals, this subgenre has an evident age-based focus: while musical films had until that time had been produced in a way generally undifferentiated for tastes and ages, musicarello is explicitly targeted to a youthful audience and usually has in its plot a vague polemic against conformism and bourgeois attitudes. The genre was referred to as a curious mix between fotoromanzi, traditional comedy, hit songs and tentative references to tensions between generations. The key figures in this genre were directors Piero Vivarelli and Ettore Maria Fizzarotti, and actor-singers Gianni Morandi, Little Tony, Rita Pavone and Caterina Caselli.
With the arrival of the 1968 student protests the genre started to decline, because the generational revolt became explicitly political and at the same time there was no longer a music equally directed to the whole youth-audience. For some time the duo Al Bano and Romina Power continued to enjoy success in musicarello films, but their films (like their songs) were a return to the traditional melody and to the musical films of the previous decades.
- S. Della Casa, P. Manera, I musicarelli, in "Cineforum", 1991, 310
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