Greatest Song and Dance
Musical Moments and Scenes

G - 2

Greatest Song and Dance Musical Moments and Scenes
Film Title/Year and Brief Musical Scenes Description

The Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929)

One of the earliest, most successful, and most ambitious Warners' musicals using the Vitaphone process, this two-toned Technicolor film (touted as a "talking and singing natural color picture") was the first of the talkie "Gold Digger" films (although it was a remake of the silent film Gold Diggers (1923) - based on the 1919 hit play), and the second all-color talkie; it featured Nick Lucas' (as Himself) music, including the first rendition of Tip-Toe Thru' the Tulips, as well as the elaborate production number Painting the Clouds with Sunshine, and In a Kitchenette; it also featured Mechanical Man sung by Winnie Lightner; only portions of this landmark film now exist.

Gold Diggers in Paris (1938)

The dance productions in this Warner Brothers picture were staged by Busby Berkeley, but they were less memorable set-pieces due to slashed budgets - this was the fifth and last "Gold Digger" film; the musical numbers were sung by radio star and crooner Rudy Vallee (Vallee replaced Dick Powell, who turned down reprising his role) who fondly impersonated Maurice Chevalier and FDR; songs included the memorable I Wanna Go Back to Bali, Daydreaming All Night Long (sung with Rosemary Lane in the role of star ballet pupil Kay Morrow), and The Latin Quarter dance number.

Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

This was the biggest and most dazzling of the "Gold Digger" films and featured more extravagant Busby Berkeley numbers - this was the second Warner Bros. backstage musical of 1933 - the briskly-told musical directed by Mervyn LeRoy included the following numbers, with song and dance choreography by Busby Berkeley:

(1) the opening number We're In the Money, with massive money-related sets and over-sized coins (and featuring Ginger Rogers as chorine Fay Fortune in a glittering coin-covered costume, who famously launched into what Pauline Kael called 'Pig Latin' -- just undecipherable nonsense syllables set to the music that was a fad at the time) - this was the first of several melodies penned by Al Dubin and Harry Warren

(2) also the pre-Code, slightly risque and crude production number Pettin' in the Park was set in an outdoor park and featured a leering baby (midget Billy Barty) spying on them and viewing rainstorm-drenched chorus girls undressing in silhouette behind semi-transparent screens

(3) the exquisitely-choreographed The Shadow Waltz (with white violins illuminated by neon tubing) featured kaleidoscopic patterns and glow-in-the-dark patterns of the platinum-blonde dancing girls in white dresses, shot from above

(4) and the most-remembered, show-stopping finale number, the sobering song Remember My Forgotten Man - it provided commentary about poverty-stricken veterans suffering from the Depression (and seen marching in silhouette on a half-wheel) who demanded to be paid a $1,000 bonus promised in 1925 - the number was introduced by Joan Blondell as a streetwalking prostitute under a street lamppost.

Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)

The two major production numbers in this film from choreographer-director Busby Berkeley, considered his best work, were the following:

(1) a moonlight ride in a motorboat, while the tune The Words Are in My Heart was sung by Dick Powell (as New England summer hotel clerk Dick Curtis) to Gloria Stuart (as millionairess' shy daughter Ann Prentiss) - the number featured 56 mostly-blonde evening-gowned chorines pretending to 'play' waltzing/dancing white baby-grand pianos (the lightweight piano shells were moved around by black-clad men manuevering the pianos on their backs while following tape markings on the shiny black floor) that formed geometric arrangements and ultimately came together to form one giant piano top

(2) and the inventive, show-stopping, tap-dancing climactic finale The Lullaby of Broadway - a film within a film - and a day in the life of the Great White Way of New York, with its opening shot (in a dark frame) of a lit, approaching, disembodied, singing, and upturned face (singer Wini Shaw's face) followed by a famous dissolve (into an aerial shot of Manhattan) - and then telling a mordant and cautionary tale of life (and death by falling from a skyscraper balcony) in the hedonistic night-time city.

Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936)

In this expensive Warner Brothers film, Busby Berkeley's closing production number All's Fair in Love and War, the best in the film, featured Joan Blondell leading a chorus of dozens of helmeted, drum-playing women dressed in white military uniforms (against a shiny black floor) as they tapped their way through a series of military formations and flag-wavings with Berkeley's trademarked geometric patterns; another of the production numbers, Let's Put Our Heads Together, presented chorines at a summer garden party in fifty big, white rocking chairs - each with a lover.

Grease (1978)

This immensely popular screen musical directed by Randal Kleiser was the longest-running Broadway show in history by 1979; many of the catchy numbers ("Grease is the word!") set in a 50s high school (with overaged students) were sung by 29 year-old John Travolta and sweet-voiced 24 year-old Australian singer Olivia-Newton John as rebellious Danny Zuko and good girl Sandy Olsson, including his wistful Hopelessly Devoted to You; also, Travolta's wild, profanity-laced ode to the muscle car of his dreams -- Greased Lightning ("Well this car is systematic, hydromatic, ultramatic - Why, it could be Greased Lightnin'!"); also, their infectiously-sing-along-to paralleled duet Summer Nights in which the couple presented their own versions of their summer romance to friends ("Summer lovin' had me a blast - summer lovin', happened so fast, I met a girl crazy for me - I met a boy, cute as can be, Summer days driftin' away, to uh-oh those summer nights, Tell me more, tell me more, did you get very far? Tell me more, tell me more, like, does he have a car?"); and the showstopping finale You're the One That I Want in a funhouse, with Olivia Newton-John in tight, black leather pants that literally had to be sewn onto her, followed by the cast singing We Go Together, ending with the two flying away (!) in Greased Lightning. The film was highly influential as a teen flick, and led to similar films, such as Fame (1980), Footloose (1983), Flashdance (1984), and Dirty Dancing (1987) in the next decade.

Great Balls of Fire! (1989)

This musical biopic was highlighted by Dennis Quaid's virtuoso impersonation of controversial rocker Jerry Lee Lewis (Quaid did his own piano playing but lip-synched the lyrics), and the memorable singing of the title song Great Balls of Fire on a blazing piano.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

This Best Picture-winning, lavish MGM episodic biopic of the showman Flo Ziegfeld (portrayed by William Powell) included elaborate, mechanical camera-work production numbers (matching Busby Berkeley's productions), including the famous crane shot of a slowly-spinning, corkscrewing tower of stairs holding singers and other artists; also, it featured the fictional and real-life portrayals of past Ziegfeld Follies greats, including Fanny Brice, Will Rogers, and Eddie Cantor; gargantuan numbers and songs included the expensive Academy Award-winning dance number just before the Intermission -- Irving Berlin's A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody (pictured) - filmed in one continuous shot and featuring 180 performers - including Ziegfeld chorine showgirl Audrey Dane (Virginia Bruce) perched atop the giant revolving platform or pillar; another of the film's spectacular production numbers was the closing segment You Never Looked So Beautiful.

A Guy Named Joe (1943)

In the original MGM film (before Spielberg's remake Always (1989)), civilian cargo pilot Dorinda Durston (Irene Dunne) tenderly sang I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You) (pictured) to her reckless and carefree heroic pilot lover Pete Sandidge (Spencer Tracy). As she crooned, he lovingly gazed into her eyes, and then she danced with him, while pal Al Yackey (Ward Bond) played a harmonica. The tune served as the thematic leitmotif for the love between the two.

Guys and Dolls (1955)

This Samuel Goldwyn production (directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz) developed from a 1931 collection of stories by writer Damon Runyon was released by MGM in the mid-50s - adapted from the long-running 1950 musical play, with the well-known song-dance number Luck Be a Lady (pictured) by slick big-city gambler Sky Masterson (a slightly miscast Marlon Brando in his musical debut - who sang with his own voice), and the marvelous Michael Kidd-choreography; Gene Kelly was supposed to play the main part, but MGM refused to loan him to Goldwyn Studios; the film's plot told of Masterson who made a $1,000 bet that he could successfully romance/seduce "Save a Soul" missionary Sgt. Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons); other well-known songs included Guys and Dolls, Frank Sinatra in a secondary role as NY crap game organizer Nathan Detroit singing Adelaide and Sue Me, wacky nightclub chorus girl and Nathan's fiance Miss Adelaide's (Vivian Blaine) Adelaide's Lament sung in her dressing room, Nicely-Nicely Johnson's (Stubby Kaye) Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat, and the opening number about horse-gambling titled Fugue for Tinhorns sung by small time gangsters Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet (Johnny Silver) and Rusty Charlie (Danny Dayton) ("I got a horse right here / His name is Paul Revere...") (pictured).

Gypsy (1962)

This screen version of the 1959 Broadway musical play (starring Ethel Merman) by Warners -- with a Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim score -- was suggested by the lives of ecdysiast-actress Gypsy Rose Lee (Natalie Wood), her sister June Hovick (Suzanne Cupito/Morgan Brittany as younger 'Baby' June, and Ann Jillian as older 'Dainty' June), and their bullying and domineering mother known as Mama Rose (Rosalind Russell, singing voice of Lisa Kirk); the most memorable number was belted out by the Mama Rose character to Louise -- Everything's Coming Up Roses (pictured) ("You'll be swell, you'll be great, Gonna have the whole world on a plate"); another was the wild You Gotta Have A Gimmick performed by a trio of Minsky's burlesque house strippers (Roxanne Arlen, Betty Bruce and Faith Dane) to Louise Hovick aka Gypsy Rose Lee (Wood) on how to be an innovative stripper; and Gypsy's debut stripping performance of Let Me Entertain You (pictured) with a deeply sensual subtext while wearing long white gloves and an elegant blue evening gown and using Mama's vaudeville trademarks (asking the audience: "Hello everybody, my name is Gypsy! What's YOURS?") and teasingly offering: "We'll have a real good time".

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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