Greatest Song and Dance
Musical Moments and Scenes

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Greatest Song and Dance Musical Moments and Scenes
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Gang's All Here (1943)

Busby Berkeley directed and choreographed this amazing and fascinating Fox film - it was his first Technicolor musical and starred Alice Faye and the outrageously-vivacious Brazilian bombshell Carmen Miranda.

It featured an erotic sub-text involving suggestively-phallic, gigantic bananas in a spectacular synchronized musical number with partially-clad chorus girls on a South Seas island titled The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat (pictured often).

In the number, Miranda appeared in a gold cart drawn by two live gold-painted oxen and she ended up wearing a tall, 30 foot high headdress of fruit and banana flowers.

The hallucinatory balletic finale The Polka Dot Polka (pictured twice) was partly viewed through Berkeley's kaleidoscopic camera lens, producing abstractions and odd camera angles.

The Gay Divorcee (1934)

Best Original Song: The Continental

This RKO film by director Mark Sandrich was the second pairing of Fred Astaire (as amorous dancer Guy Holden) and Ginger Rogers (as Mimi Glossop) in their first starring roles in a film. It had a total of five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Art Direction, and Best Musical Score, and won its sole award for Best Original Song (The Continental).

It included two major song-and-dance numbers:

  • their classic and sensual duet Night and Day (pictured twice) - a soft and whispery Cole Porter tune during which Rogers finally surrendered and melted to Astaire's lyrical seduction on a moonlit balcony and then in a vast, deserted ballroom of a resort hotel
  • and the 17-minute lavish production of The Continental (pictured twice) - the longest number in a film up to that time and the first song to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song - with almost one hundred dancers (males in black, females in white) on a set representing the Brighton hotel's esplanade

The film also included Astaire's early solo song and tap-dance A Needle in a Haystack (pictured) performed in a London hotel room in front of a fireplace (in which he changed from a dressing gown to a tie and jacket during the number).

In addition, Edward Everett Horton's (as Egbert 'Pinky' Fitzgerald) song/dance number with a young Betty Grable (credited as "Dance Specialty") was titled Let's K-nock K-neez - in the number, the back-up dancers were dressed in period bathing suits.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

# 12 "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend"

In a film advertised as having "The Two M-M-Marvels Of Our Age In The Wonder Musical Of The World!", gold-digger Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) dazzled with her pink-dress show-stopping performance of Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend (pictured) - her most famous musical number.

Madonna famously copied Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend for her music video of Material Girl - both songs were merged for the showstopping Sparkling Diamonds medley in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! (2001), performed by Nicole Kidman.

The film also exhilarated with:

  • the opening rendition featuring the entrance of Russell and Monroe in glittering, dazzling red costumes singing Two Little Girls From Little Rock (pictured)
  • sexy Jane Russell's (as Dorothy Shaw) song/dance performance of Ain't There Anyone Here For Love? (pictured) on board a ship bound to France, while surrounded by disinterested bathing-suited, body-building athletes (the Olympic Team)

George White's Scandals (1934)

This 1934 pre-Code Busby Berkeley-inspired Fox film was the first of two productions based upon the Ziegfeld Follies-like stage spectacles of legendary Broadway impresario George White. [Note: The second version was George White's 1935 Scandals (1935) the following year, featuring the film debut of Eleanor Powell.]

The 1934 film featured stars Rudy Vallee (as entrepreneur Jimmy Martin), Jimmy Durante (as Happy McGillicuddy), and Alice Faye (as aspiring singer Kitty Donnelly/Mona Vale, in her film debut).

During the lurid and saucy (Oh, You) Nasty Man! (pictured twice) number, Faye wore a skimpy costume while appearing with rows of dancing chorines (called the White "Scan-Dolls").

Another voyeuristic number (a sing-along) was titled Hold My Hand (pictured) in which the dancers lifted their white gowns and waved their skirts.

The film also featured Jimmy Durante's infamous performance of Cabin in the Cotton (pictured) in blackface, with the Scan-Dolls costumed in polka-dotted outfits, picking cotton, with figures of black males strapped to their middles.

Ghost (1990)

# 27 "Unchained Melody"

Director Jerry Zucker's popular romantic melodrama (and slightly supernatural ghost-story film) was honored with an Academy Award nomination for Maurice Jarre's Original Musical Score.

It told about the love between:

  • Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze), a young stockbroker/investment consultant
  • Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), his beloved

During an early scene in the beginning of the film, a 45 rpm record was loaded in a jukebox. Molly sat her hypnotically-spinning pottery wheel (in an oft-parodied sequence) where she sensuously molded, formed and sculpted a phallic-shaped clay object to the tune of Unchained Melody (pictured) (the 1965 recording by the Righteous Brothers) when she couldn't sleep (it was 2 am).

Shirtless Sam came up behind her and kissed his lover Molly as he was seated behind her. He assisted her in reshaping a collapsed piece of pottery (her failed "masterpiece") by putting his hands together with hers, as she instructed:

Put your hands here. Now get them wet. Let the clay slide between your fingers.

The sequence continued with their extended love-making and kissing ("hunger for your love") in their darkened apartment.

Gigi (1958)

# 56 "Thank Heaven For Little Girls"

Best Original Song: Gigi

This profitable Best Picture-winning MGM song musical with music and lyrics by Lerner and Loewe, was directed by Vincente Minnelli and showcased Cecil Beaton-designed costumes and sets. Its soundtrack was the first ever to receive a Grammy.

It was a remarkable film, winning all nine of its Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (Alan Jay Lerner), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Score (Andre Previn), and Best Song (music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner).

Having played the title role on the London stage, Leslie Caron was cast as Gigi, a trainee courtesan who grew up.

It featured Maurice Chevalier's (as romantic boulevardier Honore Lachaille) famous renditions of Thank Heaven for Little Girls (pictured) and I Remember It Well (pictured), (a duet with Gigi's grandmother, Parisian courtesan Madame Alvarez played by Hermione Gingold).

Other popular Lerner and Loewe songs were sung by cast members Leslie Caron, Chevalier, Louis Jourdan (as romantic interest Gaston Lachaille, Honore's wealthy young nephew) and Gingold. The best numbers included:

  • The Night They Invented Champagne (pictured), performed by Leslie Caron (dubbed by Betty Wand) with Gingold and Jourdan
  • Gigi (pictured), the Oscar-winning title song, performed by Jourdan
  • Say a Prayer for Me Tonight, performed by Leslie Caron (again dubbed)
  • I'm Glad I'm Not Young Any More (pictured), sung by Chevalier

Gilda (1946)

# 84 "Put the Blame on Mame"

Director Charles Vidor's black and white classic film noir was about a destructive love triangle between:

  • Gilda Mundson Farrell (Rita Hayworth), the femme fatale
  • Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford), a small-time American gambler, newly-hired casino manager/bodyguard, and Gilda's ex-fling
  • Ballin Mundson (George Macready), wealthy Buenos Aires casino owner and Gilda's new husband

The film's most memorable scene was Gilda's (Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Anita Ellis) bawdy, sexy casino performance/glove striptease, her signature number, while singing the torchy, defiant number Put the Blame on Mame (pictured).

The lyrics of the song, filled with double entendres, described a dangerous, threatening kind of woman who was often blamed - unfairly and illegitimately - by men. Swathed in a black satin dress displaying bare upper arms and shoulders, she beckoned with extended arms toward the lusting men in the audience and peeled off one of her long, elbow-length black satin gloves - keeping the casino audience (and viewers) in suspense - wondering whether the strapless gown would remain suspended on her frame.

Receiving accolades and encore-applause, Gilda flung her second glove toward the hungering audience. As she started to shed her strapless dress, she entreated the men for assistance before being dragged off the stage:

"I'm not very good at zippers, but maybe if I had some help."

Gimme Shelter (1970)

The Maysles Brother's haunting concert documentary film covered the 1969 British rockers' Rolling Stones tour that captured the stabbing to death on December 6th of fan Meredith Hunter (who waved a gun) by Hell's Angels "security" (who were paid with beer) at Altamont Speedway during the Altamont Free Concert, when the Stones were playing Under My Thumb.

One section of the film showed the Stones' Mick Jagger watching film of the events - footage of the murder in the editing room on a small monitor.

The documentary featured performances of the best-known Rolling Stones songs including:

  • Satisfaction
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • Brown Sugar
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Gimme Shelter, among others

The Girl Can't Help It (1956)

This late 50s comedy/musical film was most memorable for the 'acting' of buxom blonde star Jayne Mansfield as mobster Marty "Fats" Murdock's (Edmond O'Brien) untalented blonde moll Jerri Jordan.

The role recreated Born Yesterday (1950) - in its story of Fats hiring alcoholic publicity agent Tom Miller (Tom Ewell) to train Jerri to be a rock 'n' roll singing star in just six weeks.

In this spoof of the record industry, the musical performances from rock icons were classic, such as:

  • Gene Vincent's Be Bop A Lula
  • Fats Domino's Blue Monday
  • Little Richard's The Girl Can't Help It (pictured) (in the background of the memorable scene of busty Mansfield swiveling her hips down the street and walking up the front steps of an apartment)
  • Ready Teddy
  • She's Got It (pictured) (during Mansfield's walk to a night club's powder room in a stunning red dress)

Spread the Word (pictured) was a musical performance made in front of a shimmering dark blue curtain in the Late Place Club by Abbey Lincoln (as Herself).

Although Mansfield sang the dreamy Every Time It Happens (pictured) in the finale (a Rock 'N' Roll Jubilee) when accompanied by Ray Anthony and his band, her performance was dubbed.

Girl Crazy (1943)

This MGM musical adapted from the Broadway hit, by director Norman Taurog, was the best (and last that co-starred the pair) of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "let's put on a show" feature-length musicals (this was their eighth film together).

The film reprised Gershwin songs of the 30s and early 40s (played by the Tommy Dorsey Band).

It featured Rooney (as New York playboy Danny Churchill, Jr. at a college in Cody, Wyoming) and Garland (as Ginger Gray) singing I've Got Rhythm (pictured twice) (directed by Busby Berkeley) in fringed white buckskin in the giant-scale western rodeo finale.

Other numbers included:

  • a young June Allyson (credited as a "Specialty Singer") singing Treat Me Rough (with Rooney)
  • the full-scale production number Embraceable You (pictured) with Garland surrounded by white-tuxedoed singers
  • Garland's heart-rending solo But Not For Me (pictured)

Godspell (1973)

This off-Broadway hit of the early 70s was adapted for the screen - it was a fresh and innovative musical representation of the gospel of Matthew set in modern-day NY.

It featured a number of astonishing and freshly-interpreted numbers:

  • All For the Best (pictured three times), ending with an extreme long shot of the ensemble dancing on a NYC rooftop, and then a climactic shot of the troupe atop the North Tower of the World Trade Center (still under construction) - with an added poignant subtext after the 9/11 tragedy
  • Lynne Thigpen's (in her film debut) belting-out the Psalm 103-derived Bless the Lord (pictured) in the Central Park Theatre in front of silver mylar curtains
  • the defiant Alas For You (pictured), when Manhattan hippie Jesus (Victor Garber in his film debut) with mime makeup bitterly argued with a hypocritical Pharisee (voice of John-Michael Tebelak)
  • the popular Day by Day as the disciples (a roving acting troupe) removed their makeup/face paint
  • the sorrowful On the Willows when Jesus left after the Last Supper
  • Jesus' stylized rock 'n roll death (pictured) in the finale next to a chain-link fence, as his followers empathically felt his pain ("Oh, God, I'm dying...!" "Oh, God, you're dying...!") as they writhed in agony on the fence
  • the magical ending in which the disciples carried Jesus' crucified body aloft while singing Day by Day and Prepare Ye (reprised), turned a corner on the streets of NY, and the once-vacant city sprang to life again

Going My Way (1944)

# 37 "Swinging on a Star"

Best Original Song: Swinging on a Star

This highest-grossing 1944 picture was a sentimental comedy/drama. It had a total of ten Oscar nominations and won seven, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Bing Crosby), Best Director and Best Original Story (Leo McCarey), Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Barry Fitzgerald), and Best Song. Its other nominations were Best Actor (also Fitzgerald), Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing.

It featured Oscar-winning crooner Bing Crosby as a young priest (Father Charles "Chuck" O'Malley) who revitalized St. Dominic's parish and its elderly Irish priest (Father Fitzgibbon portrayed by Oscar-winning Barry Fitzgerald).

Crosby's famous upbeat performance of the Academy Award-winning Best Song Swinging on a Star (pictured) occurred when he accompanied himself on the piano while surrounded by church youth (the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir).

Greatest Song and Dance Musical Movie Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title)
Introduction | A-1 | A-2 | B-1 | B-2 | B-3 | C-1 | C-2 | D-1 | D-2 | E | F-1 | F-2 | G-1 | G-2
H-1 | H-2 | I-J | K | L-1 | L-2 | M-1 | M-2 | N-O | P-1 | P-2 | R-1 | R-2 | S-1 | S-2 | S-3 | T | U-V | W | X-Z

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