Greatest Song and Dance
Musical Moments and Scenes

H - 2

Greatest Song and Dance Musical Moments and Scenes
H (continued)
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

High Society (1956)

This entertaining Technicolored MGM musical with an original Cole Porter score (with an Academy Award nomination for Best Score) was a tuneful remake of director George Cukor's screwball comedy The Philadelphia Story (1940) set in Newport with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart.

It starred miscast Bing Crosby (as ex-husband CK Dexter Haven), Frank Sinatra (as writer Mike Connor), and Grace Kelly (in her last film before marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco, as rich girl Tracy Samantha Lord).

It marked the first teaming of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

Memorable moments included:

  • Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong's singing of the title song High Society (pictured) in the back of a limousine in calypso style with his band to outline the plot like a Greek chorus
  • Sinatra's seductive singing of You're Sensational (pictured) to Kelly
  • the teaming of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby in a clever duet singing the recycled song Well, Did You Evah? (pictured)
  • the romantic popular Oscar-nominated hit song True Love (pictured) performed shipboard by Crosby (with a squeezebox) to Grace Kelly
  • and Crosby's lively duet of Now You Has Jazz (pictured) accompanied by Louis Armstrong's jazz band (and in the middle of the piece featuring Armstrong's own trumpet solo) during the Newport Jazz Festival.

High, Wide and Handsome (1937)

Director Rouben Mamoulian's and Paramount's lavish but forgotten western-flavored musical, a box-office failure, again teamed soprano Irene Dunne (as Sally Watterson) with the music of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, due to the the studio's previous year's success with Showboat (1936).

It was shot on location in California to tell its story of the 1870s struggle between farmers and railroaders led by Walt Brennan (Alan Hale) over western Pennsylvania oilfields.

Its most memorable songs integrated into the plot were:

  • the beautiful Can I Forget You? (pictured), sung by Sally to her beau - future husband and local farmer Peter Cortlandt (Randolph Scott)
  • the torch song The Things I Want (pictured) sung by saloon girl Molly Fuller (Dorothy Lamour)
  • Molly's duet with Sally in a saloon - Allegheny Al (pictured)
  • and the two classic songs Can I Forget You? (reprised by Dunne in a traveling medicine show ring) and Dunne's lovely and great ballad The Folks Who Live on the Hill (pictured), sung in her wedding dress to husband Peter

History of the World: Part 1 (1981)

Director/writer/producer/actor Mel Brooks appeared as the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada of the Spanish Inquisition in this episodic comedy.

He was featured leading the lengthy song and dance musical number The Inquisition (pictured) in which he sang with a chorus of monks:

"The Inquisition, Let's begin, The Inquisition, Look out, sin, We have a Mission, To Convert the Jews!..."

The sequence ended with an Esther Williams/Busby Berkeley set piece production depicting water torture (for the persecution of the Jews) which was introduced by Torquemada:

"We'll flatten their fingers, we've branded their buns! Nothing is working! Send in the nuns!"

A long row of nuns appeared, removed their black and white habits to reveal one piece white bathing suits and caps - and then dove sideways into a large pool and performed a synchronized swimming routine (pictured).

Holiday Inn (1942)

# 5 "White Christmas"

This Paramount homefront musical with 14 Irving Berlin songs teamed Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in the first of their two appearances together.

As song-and-dance men who competed in a love triangle for the same girl Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds, dubbed by Martha Mears), mellow-voiced Crosby delivered his first screen performance of Berlin's timeless classic and poignant Oscar-winning Best Song White Christmas (pictured) - the best-selling single in any music category for more than 50 years.

[Note: The song would become the title tune for the remake White Christmas (1954), starring Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.]

Astaire's best and most spectacular dance number was Say It With Firecrackers (pictured) - punctuated by exploding fireworks.

Hollywood Hotel (1937)

This lively and amusing Busby Berkeley-directed musical comedy was famous for its musical numbers, although it appeared to be the last of the cycle of lavish musicals.

It told about small-town jazz band member Ronnie Bowers (Dick Powell) winning a Hollywood talent contest and being assigned as his prize to escort a starlet to a movie premiere - in a case of mistaken identity.

Its numbers included:

  • the opening theme song Hooray for Hollywood (pictured twice): ("Hooray for Hollywood / That screwy, bally-hooey Hollywood...") - sung by Johnnie Davis (as Georgia) and Frances Langford (as Alice)
  • I'm Like a Fish Out of Water (pictured) - sung by Dick Powell and Lola Lane (as Mona Marshall) while wading in a fountain

Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)

MGM's elaborate, Best Picture-nominated film at the dawn of the talkies (with some color sequences) was an early all-star musical Broadway revue with many star performers from Hollywood.

It was hosted by Jack Benny (including a bit in drag) and Conrad Nagel, and starred a number of big-name performers:

  • Joan Crawford - singing and dancing (with vigorous leg and arm swinging) to Gotta Feelin' For You (pictured)
  • Bessie Love singing I Never Knew I Could Do a Thing Like That
  • comedians Laurel and Hardy (bumbling through magic tricks)
  • Marie Dressler singing For I'm the Queen (pictured)
  • Buster Keaton
  • Marion Davies performing Tommy Atkins on Parade and tap-dancing on a large drum
  • Norma Shearer and John Gilbert reprising (in color) the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet

Its most famous and popular song was the first rendition of Singin' In the Rain (pictured), sung by Cliff ("Ukelele Ike") Edwards playing a ukulele with a chorus of showgirls in raincoats during a downpour - the song was also reprised at the climax of the film when the entire cast appeared in yellow raincoats (pictured).

Horse Feathers (1932)

This was the fourth comedy masterpiece from the Marx Brothers. Groucho Marx portrayed Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff who was assuming the presidency of Huxley College.

During the musical number (Whatever It Is), I'm Against It (pictured), Professor Wagstaff described how he would nihilistically respond to trustee suggestions, ridiculing them:

"I don't know what they have to say. It makes no difference anyway. Whatever it is, I'm against it."

The second verse was for a different song: I Always Get My Man (pictured).

The bearded faculty professors joined the contemptable Wagstaff, slavishly bowing and pointing to him, and circling around him in a soft-shoe routine. When the dance was finished, he told them:

"All right scram, boys. I'll meet you in the barber shop."

In addition, throughout the film, the Marx Brothers sang (or played, or whistled) the song Everyone Says I Love You (all pictured):

  • Baravelli (Chico Marx) accompanied himself on the piano and sang the song to college widow Connie (Thelma Todd)
  • Frank (Zeppo Marx) serenaded Connie while serving her breakfast in bed
  • dog-catcher Pinky (Harpo Marx) whistled the tune for a horse before feeding it
  • Professor Wagstaff strummed on a guitar to Connie during a canoe trip on a lake with her

How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955)

This Cinemascope film by writer/director Nunnally Johnson was a modified remake of She Loves Me Not (1934).

Sheree North, an attempted carbon-copy blonde replacement for Marilyn Monroe, starred in this musical comedy opposite Betty Grable (her last film in the role of Stormy Tornado) after the unwilling blonde bombshell star walked off and refused to do this picture for Fox.

In one of its more talked-about sequences, Sheree North (as Curly Flagg) was placed in a hypnotic trance, programmed to begin dancing if she heard the word "Salome". During the graduation ceremony at Bristol College, one of the speakers mentioned the Battle of Salamis, causing Curly to strut on stage, strip off her gray graduation gown and perform a rock and roll dance to Shake, Rattle & Roll (pictured) in a shimmering, purplish sequined outfit.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)

This musical comedy film version virtually duplicated Frank Loesser's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical from 1961 - it included two stars reprising their roles from the stage, both employed in the World Wide Wicket Company:

  • Robert Morse (as ex-window washer and ambitious, up-and-coming corporate executive J. Pierpont Finch)
  • Rudy Vallee as his pompous boss J. B. Biggley

A few of the film's catchy tunes included:

  • A Secretary is Not a Toy (pictured)
  • the irreverent The Company Way (pictured)
  • the romantic ballad I Believe in You (pictured)
  • the mock college fight song Grand Old Ivy
  • and the finale Brotherhood of Man (pictured)

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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