The Sound Of Film Musicals: How Songs Shaped Showbusiness On The Silver Screen
Film musicals are one of the vital quintessentially American artwork paperwork, and person who used to be sooner or later exported world wide. Westerns originated from dime novels about cowboys, however musicals advanced in tandem with Hollywood itself. Over the last 90 years, this cinema style has celebrated freedom, self-expression, and the pursuit of goals down lifestyles’s yellow brick street.
The fortunes of movie musicals – motion pictures that come with a variety of music and dance by way of the primary characters, relatively than an interlude of making a song – have ebbed and flowed down the many years. Their heyday used to be arguably the 30s, when stars equivalent to Fred Astaire and Judy Garland sang and danced their manner by way of a large number of hit motion pictures annually, together with the golden technology of theatre-inspired movie musicals within the 50s and 60s. Even in skinny many years, such because the 90s, then again, there were musical movie gemstones equivalent to Evita.
Down the years, Hollywood musicals got here to epitomize the very concept of sunshine leisure, and although movies equivalent to Singin’ In The Rain, The Sound Of Tune or Los angeles Los angeles Land are definitely escapist, they have got supplied cinema with a few of its maximum iconic moments. Proof that little adjustments in the case of style is the truth that Girl Gaga starred in the fourth remake of A Celebrity Is Born.
Tune and picture have at all times been inextricably connected. Rudolph Valentino used to be dancing the tango on movie in 1921 (in The 4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse), and, most effective 5 years later, one of the vital first Vitaphone quick movies, which starred John Barrymore, had a ranking performed by way of a 107-piece New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
A yr later got here the primary feature-length “talkie.” The Jazz Singer, made by way of Warner Bros in 1927 and that includes Al Jolson, had seven songs and a couple of traces of display discussion, however its affect used to be seismic. Hollywood knew that vast structural adjustments had been had to modify the best way audiences watched movie. Although consumers had been used to seeing tune in stay drama (that used to be a core of the Vaudeville custom), many display theatres needed to demonstrate The Jazz Singer as a silent movie for the reason that venues weren’t stressed for sound. Via 1928, when Jolson’s moment movie, The Making a song Idiot, used to be launched, maximum cinemas had been supplied with new sound techniques. That “musical talkie” set a list for box-office takings that stood for 11 years, till it used to be overtaken by way of Long gone With The Wind.
The tempo of alternate used to be dramatic. Via 1929, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayers Studios (MGM) had stuck up, and its movie The Broadway Melody gained the primary Oscar awarded to a musical movie. Within the subsequent decade “the studios became out musicals like sausages,” in step with one famous movie historian. This used to be partly all the way down to the results of The Nice Melancholy. Following the Wall Side road Crash of 1929, many New York theaters closed. Degree stars – together with Fred and Adele Astaire, Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, Maurice Chevalier, and Marilyn Miller – adopted Jolson to Hollywood. Profitable contracts additionally tempted Broadway songwriters and librettists into the brand new medium. Broadway manufacturers had been simply persuaded to promote the movie rights to their presentations.
Having the ability to put the similar film in masses of hundreds of image homes, Hollywood operated on a wholly other monetary scale to Broadway. The writers adopted the cash, with lots of the new movie songs written by way of Tin Pan Alley greats equivalent to Harry Warren. A just right instance of the converting panorama used to be that esteemed theater composer George M Cohen (who, aptly, used to be the person who wrote “Give My Regards To Broadway”) had songs in 40 movies throughout the Melancholy and most effective six in level presentations.
For Hollywood, then again, the whole thing used to be new. There used to be no confirmed components for good fortune and no established strategies for musical filmmaking. There had been no sound engineers nor cinematographers who had been mavens with sound cameras. In addition to bringing stumbling blocks, this additionally presented an incredible inventive alternative to those who moved throughout from the theatre.
Within the 30s, there used to be a focal point on dance. Los Angeles-born Busby Berkeley, who choreographed or directed 19 movie musicals within the 30s, created the unique and sensual kaleidoscopic birds-eye view photographs of dancers. Berkeley’s use of movement cameras, in movies equivalent to 40-2nd Side road (1933), made the target market virtually a part of the choreography. He used to be groundbreaking in using swooping cranes, filming from trenches under the level, or hanging cameras on particular tracks to seize audacious photographs. He used to be additionally imaginative. The props in his stylized “shifting photos” incorporated neon violins, vast flora, and waterfalls.
The most effective rival to Warner Bros’ Berkeley movies within the 30s used to be the RKO cycle of movies that includes Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – and that pair turned into superstars. The chemistry of the primary performers is regularly the important thing to a musical’s good fortune. That’s what came about with Shirley Temple and Invoice “Bojangles” Robinson; Bob Hope and Bing Crosby; or Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, proper as much as Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in Los angeles Los angeles Land.
One of the most movie musicals from the 30s stay classics, as an target market’s want for escapism used to be sated with top-class leisure; in Most sensible Hat (1935), Astaire and Rogers are on the height in their shape. The film features a host of show-stopping Irving Berlin songs (“Cheek To Cheek,” “Isn’t This A Pretty Day?”), lavish units and a witty plot that make it an unalloyed pleasure. By the way, the songs that tugged on the feelings of audience had been recognized within the trade as “appeal songs.”
On the finish of the last decade got here one of the vital best-loved musicals in cinema historical past: the Technicolor The Wizard of Oz. (1939), ruby sneakers and all. Teen Judy Garland used to be a captivating Dorothy in a heat fable that affirms the price of house. The movie has an blameless appeal, and in addition, in “Someplace Over The Rainbow” – with tune by way of Harold Arlen and lyrics by way of Yip Harburg – one of the vital biggest of all film songs.
“It’s been in me goodbye. I simply need to let it out”
Film musicals equivalent to The Wizard of Oz. had not anything to do with realism, and the makers felt no use to provide an explanation for the supply of the tune because the quite a lot of outlandish characters carry out the songs. As Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion says simply prior to breaking right into a music, “It’s been so in me goodbye. I simply need to let it out.”
The movie sums up one of the vital nice delights of a musical – and, conversely, in all probability explains why additionally it is one of the vital reviled movie genres – that this is a position of transcendence, the place time stands nonetheless and the on a regular basis disappears in a whirl of tune. Examples of this vary from the chorines dancing at the wings of an plane in Flying Down To Rio (1933), as much as the bravura opening freeway collection in Los angeles Los angeles Land. Gene Kelly’s commentary in Singin’ In The Rain – that he’s “gotta dance” – may sum up the entire of musical movie historical past.
The onset of struggle did not anything to hose down the urge for food for movie musicals, and Garland remained a key determine within the medium. She adopted … Oz. with Babes On Broadway, Ziegfeld Woman (each 1941), and Meet Me In St Louis (1944). One Garland movie of the 40’s had extra industrial affect than its inventive worth in all probability merited: Until The Clouds Roll Via, a
1946 biopic concerning the lifetime of composer Jerome Kern, starring Robert Walker, used to be one of the vital first movement photos to have a soundtrack album issued together with the movie.
The album, that includes songs by way of Garland, Dinah Shore, and Tony Martin, used to be produced by way of MGM data and at first launched as a number of 4 78rpm data. When the soundtrack used to be therefore launched as an LP, its good fortune helped begin the Hollywood follow of liberating a soundtrack album as a movie’s ancillary product.
A formidable Hollywood determine on the time used to be Arthur Freed. Once a talented lyricist who had then been an affiliate manufacturer on The Wizard Of Oz., Freed loved a large good fortune that very same yr with Babes In Fingers. His self-styled “Freed Unit” at MGM used to be a workforce of grasp actors, writers, administrators, choreographers, composers, and set designers. They created greater than 40 of the good movie musicals of the 40’s and 50s, together with Annie Get Your Gun (1950), An American In Paris (1951), Display Boat (1951), and Gigi (1951). MGM didn’t have all of it their very own manner, although, as RKO’s Oklahoma! used to be one of the vital standout movies of the last decade.
Freed used to be chargeable for bringing a brand new musical famous person from Broadway to Hollywood within the struggle years: the charismatic and swish Irish-American Gene Kelly. As a dancer, Kelly introduced a freshness and balletic-like energy to quite a lot of movies, together with A Position In The Solar (1951), a musical, in keeping with the songs of George and Ira Gershwin, that gained 5 Oscars.
MGM’s masterpiece, although, used to be Singin’ In The Rain (1952), considered one of the vital biggest movie musicals of all time. While Astaire used to be all about sophistication and magnificence, Kelly used to be all down-to-earth appeal. His umbrella-wielding, puddle-stomping solo dance to the identify music of the film is among the maximum breath-taking moments in cinema historical past.
The songs – together with “Make ’Em Giggle” and “Moses Supposes” are chic, in a movie that captured the chaotic transition between silent movies and the approaching of the talkies. And who can fail to remember the unforgettable exuberance of the outlet bars of “Just right Morning,” as Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor carry out a dance regimen that comes to an upended settee?
The 50s movie musicals had been additionally automobiles for the famous person actors and actresses who had tough making a song types. Doris Day used to be at her best possible because the whip-crackin’, gun-totin’ frontierswoman in Calamity Jane (1953), whilst in the similar yr Marilyn Monroe used to be strutting her stuff in Gents Desire Blondes. The decade additionally noticed excellent variations of quite a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein classics, together with Oklahoma! (1955), Carousel (1956), The King And I (1956), and South Pacific (1958). The latter’s soundtrack proved to be a shocking good fortune: the album used to be No.1 in each the USA and UK, the place it stayed for a record-breaking 115 weeks.
Now and again jazz musicians would famous person within the movies – equivalent to Louis Armstrong in Prime Society (1956), or Nat King Cole in St Louis Blues a few years later – bringing an authenticity and glamour to the tasks. However, the large transformation on this decade used to be that cinema turned into one of the vital major mediums in serving to rock’n’roll make its leap forward and create a brand new tradition. Simply as rock’n’roll broke down the hegemony of The Nice American Songbook, rock musicals displaced the vintage movie musicals.
The King and his wiggling hips
All of the early widespread stars of rock made appearances in quite a lot of motion pictures, together with Chuck Berry, Fat Domino, Gene Vincent, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran. Musical performances had been additionally introduced otherwise. Long gone had been probably the most stagey demonstrate dances. Of their position got here Berry and his infamous “duck stroll”, which used to be captured on movie in Pass, Johnny, Pass!). As well as, the usage of rock tune in soundtracks may cause a record-buying craze, one thing that came about when Invoice Haley’s “Rock Round The Clock” used to be used over the credit within the social problems film The Blackboard Jungle.
There used to be no larger rock film famous person, although, than Elvis Presley. The display enjoyed The King and his wiggling hips. He made 31 movies between 1956 and 1971, and despite the fact that lots of them had been formulaic and forgettable – boy-meets-girl tales laced with hit songs – they had been an absolute money cow for the studios. Presley’s movies are estimated to have earned greater than two billion kilos. Their doubtful inventive worth pissed off the singer himself however the most productive, equivalent to Jailhouse Rock (1957), seize the magnetism of the younger tune famous person.
The 50s weren’t all about Presley motion pictures, variations of theatre musicals or rock tune automobiles; there had additionally been various very good music-based animated Disney motion pictures, together with The Girl And the Tramp (1955) – with all the ones sensible Peggy Lee songs – and Slumbering Attractiveness (1959). There had been nonetheless formidable and artistic movie musicals, too, equivalent to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). Jacques Demy’s beguiling sung-through operetta used to be founded round Catherine Deneuve’s position as a store assistant who will get pregnant.
The sound of tune
Although this trend of movie musicals survived into the early 60s – when the film model of West Facet Tale (1961) discovered display good fortune by way of conserving the tune of Leonard Bernstein and lyrics from Stephen Sondheim in large part unchanged from the Broadway manufacturing – the studio machine used to be going into decline. Public weariness with big-budget movie musicals intended that they had been few and a ways between within the 60s.
Once they had been at the mark, although, they nonetheless did spectacularly neatly, as with The Sound Of Tune (1965) and Oliver! (1968), either one of that have been tailored from Broadway hits. Now and again a cinema adaptation rivaled the level model within the public’s creativeness, as when Barbra Streisand gained an Oscar for reprising her position as Fanny Brice in Humorous Woman (1968).
One of the important thing adjustments in movie musicals within the 60s got here by way of The Beatles, who supplied a dream-like model of the last decade by way of their movies. They additionally loved fantastic good fortune with at the same time as launched soundtracks, with the excellent songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Of their first movie, A Exhausting Day’s Evening (1964), director Richard Lester cleverly captured the insouciant wit and grace of the 4 musicians in what used to be virtually an early instance of a longer pop video, as The Beatles discover the absurdity in their world repute as they trip to Swinging 60s London. There used to be a equivalent anarchic freedom with Lend a hand! (1965). This used to be adopted by way of the surreal and psychedelic Magical Thriller Excursion (1967), the animated comedy Yellow Submarine (1968) and the 1970 documentary Let It Be, with the well-known improvised rooftop live performance.
Although Let It Be used to be now not the primary tune movie documentary, it used to be one of the vital widespread. However this style has its personal prominent historical past, starting from implausible live performance movies equivalent to The Band’s The Ultimate Waltz to Phil Joanou’s achingly stunning documentary U2: Rattle And Hum. There have additionally been momentous documentaries on Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, Neil Younger, Jimi Hendrix, Madonna, The Conflict, Glen Campbell and Tom Petty, proper as much as Amy Winehouse in 2015. A few of them have, as with Martin Scorsese and The Ultimate Waltz and Shane Meadows’ Stone Roses documentary, Made Of Stone, had been made by way of acclaimed administrators who weren’t famend for musical movies.
The Beatles set a brand new same old for rock and dad movie musicals, and the structure in their first two movies has been periodically up to date within the part century since, for motion pictures equivalent to Prince’s Crimson Rain and Spice Women: The Film. Within the twenty first Century, Eminem’s 8 Mile and 50 Cent’s Get Wealthy or Die Tryin’ did for hip-hop what the previous motion pictures did for Prince, and Posh Spice and co.
Film musicals went by way of a difficult time within the overdue 60s and early 70s. Although some confirmed that there used to be pots of cash to be made – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as an example – some big-budget motion pictures across the time of the ultimate Beatles movie had been field workplace flops. Paint Your Wagon, Finian’s Rainbow and Physician Doolittle served as warnings for the trade. As well as, the deficient high quality of a few – Andrew L Stone’s Tune Of Norway and Peter Bogdanovich’s At Lengthy Ultimate Love had been considered embarrassing screw ups – added to a way of fatigue with the style. Additionally, the values some out of date Broadway musicals gave the impression to trumpet had been considered incongruous at a time when second-wave feminism used to be rising and the backdrop used to be certainly one of assassinations, the Vietnam Conflict, and race riots.
Musical movies had been nonetheless made within the 70s, however the successes – Fiddler On The Roof, Cabaret, That’s Leisure (the top-grossing MGM musical of all time) and Grease (which used to be using the wave of a length of nostalgia for the 50s) – had been the exception now not the rule of thumb.
Within the 80s, some movies produced huge-selling singles and soundtracks, equivalent to Neil Diamond’s The Jazz Singer and the Ritchie Valens biopic Los angeles Bamba, with tune by way of Los Lobos. But it surely used to be by no means a constant nor antique decade for musicals. There had been memorable movies with tune in them – the witty Blues Brothers, the blockbusters Footloose (1984) and Grimy Dancing, Clint Eastwood’s Chicken, about jazz legend Charlie Parker, Amadeus, The Little Store Of Horrors, The Commitments, with its dazzling Southern soul soundtrack – but when musicals had been to usher in severe cash, a brand new way used to be wanted.
Via the beginning of the 90s, the characters in all probability to burst into music had been animated creations. Disney used to be chargeable for one of the vital extra a hit modern day musical actions: animated song-based blockbusters. Disney movies equivalent to The Little Mermaid, Attractiveness And The Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King had been launched in fast succession, accumulating an unlimited fanbase. The components used to be robust. There had been enticing tales, quirky characters, and songs that had been well stitched into the plot. The Little Mermaid even tipped a nod to the Busby Berkeley extravaganzas, with the choreographed music Beneath The Sea. The movie gained two Oscars and earned just about $100 million.
Of all Disney’s nice movies of the technology, in all probability none can fit the musical attraction of The Lion King. Elton John helped compose the soundtrack after being requested to be in agreement by way of his good friend, the lyricist Tim Rice. John mentioned the revel in of running at the film and serving to write iconic songs equivalent to “Hakuna Matata,” “The Circle Of Lifestyles” and the Oscar-winning “Can You Really feel The Love This night” “modified the process my occupation and my lifestyles.” John joined a choose band of widespread tune stars to have gained Oscars for tune, a roll name that comes with Randy Newman, Prince, Lennon and McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Annie Lennox.
Although Disney dominated, live-action movie musicals weren’t lifeless. Arnold Glimcher’s The Mambo Kings celebrated Latin American tune, whilst Sister Act supplied a field workplace hit for Whoopi Goldberg. Most likely probably the most memorable musical movie from that decade used to be director Alan Parker’s Evita (1996), which used to be tailored from the 1976 level model and unique idea album by way of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Parker, whose again catalog incorporated Bugsy Malone, an enthralling musical remake – with a forged of youngsters – of a Jimmy Cagney gangster film, and The Wall with Red Floyd, used to be given a $60 million price range for Evita. Lead famous person Madonna put center and soul into her efficiency and the movie ended up successful an Oscar for ultimate unique music for “You Should Love Me.”
Like Evita, the trend all through maximum of Hollywood’s musical historical past has been for presentations to be translated into movies. However there was a pattern lately for big-budget movie musicals to be became level presentations, with the likes of Shrek The Musical, as an example. However, The Lion King stays the blueprint of a a hit film-to-stage switch. The use of puppetry and African mask allowed the theatre model to mark out its personal inventive terrain, whilst nonetheless the usage of all of the widespread songs from the movies. Via 2017, The Lion King level musical have been working frequently for two decades world wide, in additional than 20 nations, incomes greater than one billion bucks.
The extra offbeat examples of film-to-theatre productions come with Faculty Of Rock. Silence! The Musical (a spoof on The Silence Of the Lambs) and Monty Python’s Spamalot (encouraged by way of Monty Python And The Holy Grail). Common Films has a subdivision referred to as Common Footage Degree Productions whose task is to show the studio’s highbrow houses into Broadway subject matter. Amongst its variations are Cry Child, Billy Elliot (as soon as once more that includes songs by way of Elton John), and, maximum famously, the transmutation of The Wizard Of Oz. (the movie relatively than the unique novel) into the worldwide hit Depraved.
Additionally working as a thread by way of movies for almost a century – musicals and dramas alike – has been the standard of the soundtrack. Film tune used to be born out of classical tune, so the 2 are certain to have a robust circle of relatives likeness. One of the titans of early movie tune used to be Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The composer used to be chargeable for the ranking for the 1938 film The Adventures Of Robin Hood. Korngold, who used to be described as a “musical genius” by way of Gustav Maler, used to be now not by myself in being nurtured within the nice facilities of Eu classical tune equivalent to Vienna, and those composers introduced their wealthy symphonic heritage with them to Hollywood.
Classical tune has infused the paintings of lots of the nice fashionable movie composers, equivalent to John Williams, the person chargeable for a large number of gemstones equivalent to Jaws, Shut Encounters Of The 3rd Type, the Celebrity Wars issues, and in addition underrated delights such because the tune for Some distance And Away. Williams additionally labored at the tune for Saving Non-public Ryan. When Spielberg confirmed him Schindler’s Record, Williams mentioned, “You want a greater composer than I’m for this movie.” Spielberg answered, “I do know. However they’re all lifeless.”
Different main ranking composers for Hollywood come with Alexandre Desplat, Lalo Schifrin (Grimy Harry), Ennio Morricone (famend for his Spaghetti Western soundtracks) and John Barry (Out Of Africa; James Bond soundtracks, together with an iconic efficiency of Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme”). The 60-year-old Hans Zimmer confirmed, along with his collaborative paintings on 2017’s Blade Runner 2049, that he’s nonetheless as masterful as ever. The German composer’s astonishing again catalog comprises his ranking for The Lion King in addition to the Pirates Of The Caribbean sequence and Gladiator.
As well as, some widespread musicians have grow to be virtually as revered for movie paintings as for his or her industrial albums (Ry Cooder being a just right instance). Now and again movie soundtracks give welcome publicity to nation and people artists who don’t seem to be widely known to most of the people. Into this class would fall musicians equivalent to Julie Fowlis (who sang “Into the Open Air” for Courageous) or Finbar Furey (“New York Women” at the Gangs Of New York soundtrack) or The Cox Circle of relatives, whose “I Am Weary (Let Me Leisure)” is any such enjoyment of O Brother, The place Artwork Thou?. However those are 3 examples from hundreds. And occasionally established performers create one thing particular by way of re-interpreting a music, equivalent to CeeLo Inexperienced with “Kung Fu Combating” for Kung Fu Panda.
Film musicals within the twenty first Century
So the place do movie musicals stand within the twenty first Century? It will have gave the impression for a time that live-action musicals had been just about as endangered a movie species as westerns, however there are nonetheless excellent ones being made. Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Chicago (2002) each made the American Film Institute’s fresh checklist of the 25 biggest film musicals, whilst Richard Linklater’s 2003 comedy Faculty Of Rock used to be the highest-grossing musical comedy of all time till it used to be overtaken by way of Pitch Best 2 in 2015.
The good fortune of different fresh movie musicals, together with Hire (2005), Sweeney Todd (2007) and Les Misérables (2012) – wherein actors equivalent to Hugh Jackman carried out their songs stay – have demonstrated that there’s nonetheless an urge for food amongst digital-age audiences for fascinating musicals. Mama Mia!, as an example, gained combined evaluations however nonetheless took greater than $600 million on the field workplace in 2008.
Although movie musicals had been an artwork shape created in The us, they have got taken on a lifetime of their very own all spherical the arena – despite the fact that that used to be simply the Soviet musical propaganda movies underneath Stalin. One of the hubs of musical movie has been Bollywood – the place about 90 p.c of all movies are musicals – which performed an instrumental position within the fresh revival of movie musicals in The us.
Director Baz Luhrmann mentioned that Moulin Rouge! used to be immediately influenced by way of Indian cinema. Luhrmann mentioned: “I love the films of the 30s and the 40’s, that have a freelance with the target market. I used to be additionally very influenced by way of Bollywood motion pictures, or Hindi motion pictures. Cinema the place the target market participates in a film. The place they know they’re looking at a film all the time.”
There had been 100 musical movies made in 1930 by myself. In 2016, there have been 4 live-action musicals launched in the USA. The person who stood out, in fact, used to be Damien Chazelle’s Los angeles Los angeles Land. Chazelle, who used to be born in 1985, mentioned it used to be revelatory to look Astaire and Rogers cheek-to-cheek in Most sensible Hat. He recalled: “That used to be the preliminary factor the place I awoke and went, “Oh my God, I’ve been napping on a gold mine.’”
Los angeles Los angeles Land gained seven Golden Globes and 6 Oscars and took $445 million on the field workplace. Most likely it is going to spark every other revival of the musical movie. Los angeles Los angeles Land lyricist Benj Pasek says that the present technology “grew up with the resurgence of Disney animation… and are primed for musical content material.”
Who is aware of what is going to come within the 2020s? Possibly, to paraphrase Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer, we simply ain’t heard nothin’ but.
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Jonas Brothers, Lenny Kravitz Among 2023 Hollywood Walk Of Fame Inductees
Jonas Brothers, Lenny Kravitz as well as Pentatonix are amongst the songs acts that will certainly get a celebrity on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2023.
” We can not wait to commemorate them as they enter into Hollywood’s background with the introduction of their celebrity on the globe’s most popular sidewalk,” stated chair as well as iHeartRadio host Ellen K, in a declaration.
Jonas Brothers as well as Kravitz are being sworn in right into the Walk Of Fame in the Recording classification together with Marc Anthony, Sheila E, Blake Shelton, Charlie Wilson as well as executive Irving Azoff. Vocalist Jenni Rivera is readied to be recognized posthumously.
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