Musical Moments and Scenes
|Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions|
Key Largo (1948)
The John Huston-directed Warners' gangster film included the disturbing scene in which desperate alcoholic ex-moll Gaye Dawn (Oscar-winning Claire Trevor) was goaded by her gangster boyfriend Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) into a rugged rendition of Moanin' Low (pictured) in front of him and his henchmen in exchange for Scotch whiskey drink: ("Now you sing us your song, you can have a drink... the song, then the drink").
But after she had delivered the song and begged for a drink, she was denied when he complained that her performance was awful: "You were rotten."
This was an opulent Fox production (by director Walter Lang) of the Rodgers and Hammerstein 1951 musical play (based on Margaret Landon's factual book and the film Anna and the King of Siam (1947)).
Widowed English tutor Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr partially dubbed with singing voice of Marni Nixon) and the polygamous bald King of Siam in the 1860s, Mongkut I (Oscar-winning Yul Brynner reprising his original stage role) danced energetically and joyously in the memorable, iconic dance number Shall We Dance (pictured), in which Anna taught the barefooted monarch how to polka.
Other famous tunes included:
King Creole (1958)
This Michael Curtiz-directed film version of the story in Harold Robbins' novel A Stone for Danny Fisher (and inspired by Rebel Without a Cause (1955)) starred Elvis Presley in one of his finest early performances as troubled high-school dropout and New Orleans musician Danny Fisher. He was drawn back into his criminal past with gangsters as a singer in a mob-owned nightclub (led by crime boss Walter Matthau).
Amongst other upbeat songs (King Creole, Trouble (pictured) and Hard Headed Woman), the film was highlighted by Presley's opening Creole duet Crawfish (pictured twice) with a black street vendor (female vocalist Kitty White).
King of Jazz (1930)
This was one of the most important early musicals (and early two-strip Technicolor films). It was the first feature-length film to use a mostly pre-recorded soundtrack made independently of the film itself.
It also contained the first Technicolor sound animated cartoon ever made - by Walter Lantz - featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
The musical from Carl Laemmle (and Universal) was an unscripted vaudeville revue of a long series of production numbers as a tribute and "scrapbook" honoring and showcasing "King of Jazz" band leader Paul Whiteman (Himself), and "A Spectacular Array of Screen - Stage and Radio Stars."
It featured a young Bing Crosby (lead singer of The Rhythm Boys trio, the Whiteman Orchestra's vocal trio, in his first film appearance) performing Mississippi Mud and So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together (pictured).
Also notable was Al Norman's astounding rubber-legged dance titled Happy Feet (pictured) that featured "impossible" double-jointed, loose snake-hips dance steps, and trick violinist Willie Hall ("One of the Whiteman Boys") played both Pop Goes the Weasel (pictured) with the violin in various positions and a very unusual version of Stars and Stripes Forever using a bicycle pump (by varying the air volume let out).
The most striking numbers were:
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
MGM's and director George Sidney's witty version of Cole Porter's successful, Tony-award winning 1948 Broadway musical was the first stereo-optic 3-D musical - in full Technicolor (although it could be argued that Paramount's Those Redheads From Seattle (1953) was first).
It was also the first Cole Porter musical to retain most of its songs from the play-within-a-play stage production (although some of the lyrics had to be edited down to satisfy Code censors).
Mostly based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, it was the second of three Golden Age Broadway musicals based on the bard's plays. The other two were:
This film featured stars Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson in the feuding lead roles as divorcees "Petruchio" (as actor Fred Graham) and "Katherine" (aka Lilli Vanessi, Fred's ex-wife).
Many notable and dazzling songs from various performers were featured, including:
Song-and-dance numbers also included five with Ann Miller:
(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