With its characters bursting into song and dance at the drop of a top hat, no Hollywood genre is more blissfully escapist than the movie musical—nor more attuned to the reality its audiences need to escape. We’ll look at the evolution of this genre and its themes, from the political messages and romantic fantasies of `30s films, such as Gold Diggers of 1933 and The Gay Divorcee, to the artistic ambitions of Gene Kelly in On the Town and An American in Paris to its modern rebirth in La La Land.