Greatest Song and Dance
Musical Moments and Scenes

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Greatest Song and Dance Musical Moments and Scenes
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Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions
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Paint Your Wagon (1969)

When brought to the big screen by heavy-handed director Joshua Logan, Lerner and Loewe's western stage musical from 1951 (with adaptation by Paddy Chayefsky and additional tunes by Andre Previn), set during the 1849 California Gold Rush, was mostly criticized for its contrived love triangle plot and for featuring non-singers:

  • polygamous Mormon wife Elizabeth (Jean Seberg with voice of Rita Gordon)
  • a farmer named Pardner (Clint Eastwood) in a singing role, performing I Still See Elisa, and I Talk to the Trees (pictured)
  • Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin), as a Western rowdy, drunken tough-guy prospector, performing Wand'rin' Star (pictured) after he decided to move on to the next gold field

The musical also featured a rendition of one of the stage show's best songs - the most-often recognized and melancholy They Call the Wind Maria (pictured) sung by Rotten Luck Willie (Harve Presnell).

Another lively song was The Gospel of No Name City (pictured), sung by a bearded religious Parson (Alan Dexter) to the townsfolk of the tent city that had sprung up due to the gold rush: ("...You wanna say where the vice is worser? Here it is! I mean, here it is! You wanna live life in the rottenest way? Here it is! Women and whiskey, night and day? Here it is! You wanna embrace the golden calf? Ankle, and thigh, and upper half? Here it is! I mean, here it is! No name city. No name city. The Lord don't like it here...").




The Pajama Game (1957)

Stanley Donen and Broadway director George Abbott co-directed this late 50s musical, based upon the 1953 novel 7 1/2 Cents by Richard Bissell and the earlier Tony Award-winning Broadway show in 1954. Over a third of the cast were retained from the original Broadway show, including eleven of the fifteen songs.

The dancing sequences were staged by legendary choreographer Bob Fosse.

It told about a romance (during a 7.5 cents an hour pay dispute in the Sleeptite Pajama Factory) between feisty union representative Catherine "Babe" Williams (Doris Day) and new factory shop superintendent Sid Sorokin (John Raitt).

The musical numbers included:

  • the film's opening with the title song Pajama Game sung over the credits
  • Babe's I'm Not At All in Love (pictured) sung to her sweatshop colleagues
  • Sid's Hey, There (You With the Stars in Your Eyes) (pictured), one of the best numbers, sung into a dictaphone - and later reprised by Babe in her room while bathed in red and green light (pictured)
  • and the high-spirited Once-a-Year Day (pictured) performed at the company picnic by the riverside - by Sid and Babe and the huge cast

Two of the most exciting numbers were:

  • Fosse's spectacularly jazzy and syncopated Steam Heat (pictured) performed on stage at a union rally (by Gladys Hotchkiss (Carol Haney) and two other union members dressed in tight-fitting men's black suits and derby hats)
  • and the showstopper Hernando's Hideaway (pictured twice) performed first between Gladys and Sid, and then by the whole cast with their faces lit by match lights






The Paleface (1948)

# 87 "Buttons and Bows"

Best Original Song: Buttons and Bows

This was a B comedy-western from Paramount Pictures, presented in Technicolor and directed by Norman Z. McLeod. It won its sole Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, with music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

Due to its box-office success, there was a sequel titled Son of Paleface (1952), directed by Frank Tashlin. Both films starred:

  • Bob Hope - as cowardly, inept, correspondence school dentist "Painless" Peter Potter
  • Jane Russell - as a buxom Calamity Jane, the famous female outlaw, who duped Peter Potter into becoming her quickie marriage partner, in order to hide her identity (as an undercover government agent)

It was famous for its theme song Buttons and Bows (pictured), the year's Oscar-winning Best Song, sung by Hope (playing a concertina while riding along in a covered wagon) to Russell inside the wagon.


Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)

Best Original Song: Call Me Irresponsible

Director George Marshall's family comedy had the tagline: "Follow the Gay Parade" - different in meaning from today. The plot (screenplay written by Jack Rose) was based on silent screen actress/author Corinne Griffith's memoirs, published in 1952, about her life in Texas at the turn of the century with her father. She had acquired the title: The Orchid Lady of the Screen.

The film's main characters in the Griffith family were:

  • Jack Griffith (Jackie Gleason), a railroad inspector, and a financially-irresponsible, alcoholic patriarch known as "Papa"
  • Ambolyn (Glynis Johns), Jack's long-suffering wife
  • Corinne (Linda Bruhl), Jack's young daughter

The 1962 Jimmy Van Heusen (music) and Sammy Cahn (lyrics) song Call Me Irresponsible won the year's Oscar for Best Original Song (the film's sole nomination). Many others have recorded the song, notably Frank Sinatra, but also Jack Jones and Andy Williams.

In the comedy, it was sung by Jackie Gleason (pictured twice), alone at night, drinking and stumbling around in his bedroom in his pajamas, directing the lyrics toward a mannequin (his wife's headless dress dummy):

Call me irresponsible, Call me unreliable,
Throw in undependable, too. Do my foolish alibis bore you?
Well, I'm not too clever, I just adore you
Call me unpredictable, Tell me I'm impractical
Rainbows, I'm inclined to pursue
Call me irresponsible, Yes, I'm unreliable
But it's undeniably true, I'm irresponsibly mad for you...


Paramount on Parade (1930)

This stylish black and white Paramount production (one of the best examples of an all-star revue of songs and sketches by current and upcoming stars in a studio) was directed by eleven directors. It was created in response to other popular revue films at the time, including:

  • MGM's The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)
  • Warners' The Show of Shows (1929)
  • Universal Studios' King of Jazz (1930)

Its major numbers were:

  • the opening title sequence, known as Paramount on Parade (lost footage - only sound survives)
    [Note: it was used as music over the credits for many later Paramount newsreels and short films, due to its lyrics: "Proud of the crowd that will never be loud, it's Paramount on Parade."]
  • All I Want is Just One Girl - sung by Maurice Chevalier (as a Paris Park Gendarme)
  • My Marine (pictured) - sung by Ruth Chatterton (as Floozie (The Montmartre Girl)) seated at a bar with four Marines (two on either side)
  • I'm True to the Navy Now (pictured) - sung by red-headed Clara Bow (as Herself, in one of her few talkies), dressed in a white naval uniform, and performing with dozens of Navy men
  • the Rainbow Revels sequence in the Technicolored finale (surviving only in B/W), and the song Sweepin' the Clouds Away (pictured twice) - sung by Maurice Chevalier as a Chimney Sweep (and performed by chorus girls)



The Parent Trap (1961)

This Disney Technicolored comedy farce was so popular that it spawned three made-for-TV sequels: The Parent Trap II (1986), Parent Trap III (1989) and Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon (1989), and the feature film remake The Parent Trap (1998) with Lindsay Lohan (in her film debut).

It featured a plot in which two teenaged twins romantically schemed to reunite their divorced biological parents: Mitch Evers (Brian Keith) and Maggie McKendrick (Maureen O'Hara).

It was cleverly advertised with trick photography (Oscar-nominated for Best Film Editing) - early split-screen images of its main star Hayley Mills (in her second of six films for the Disney studio), portraying both of the separated-at-birth twins:

  • Sharon McKendrick (Hayley Mills)
  • Susan Evers (also Mills)

Their most memorable song was a duet titled Let's Get Together (pictured).

Pennies from Heaven (1981)

This MGM film was based on the critically acclaimed late 1970s, six-part British BBC-TV mini-series by Dennis Potter - it was set not in London but in Depression-era Chicago and areas of rural Illinois.

The two main stars who lip-synched and danced to many 1920s-30s pop songs were:

  • Steve Martin (in his first dramatic film role as Chicago sheet-music salesman Arthur Parker)
  • Bernadette Peters (as romantic interest and shy schoolteacher Eileen ("Lulu"))

Numbers included:

  • Pennies From Heaven, the title song
  • Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries (pictured) - mimed by Martin, Peters, and Jessica Harper (as Joan)
  • Let's Face the Music and Dance (pictured) - sung by Martin to Peters, while watching a film clip from Astaire's and Rogers' Follow the Fleet (1936)
  • the finale song The Glory of Love (pictured) - sung by Martin and Peters and a huge group of high-kicking chorines

Christopher Walken, in a short role as slick pimp Tom, performed a seductive, almost-lewd striptease/tap-dance (to the tune of Let's Misbehave) (pictured thrice) on top of a bar in a sleazy joint to entice "Lulu".






Persepolis (2007, Iran/USA/Fr.)

This dark autobiographical, coming-of-age film (nominated for Best Animated Feature Film) was about the 1979 Islamic (Iranian) Revolution, based upon Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel.

Its most notable sequence was a montage, featuring a humorous, heavily-accented rendition of Frank Stallone's and Survivor's Eye of the Tiger (from the "can-do" film Rocky III (1982)): ("Risin' up, Back on the street...") (pictured).

It was portrayed by defiant Iranian political dissident Marjane Satrapi (voice of Chiara Mastroianni) - beginning with her punching fists in the mode of Bruce Lee - after she had returned to a repressive Iran and was freed from heavy medication (after being mis-diagnosed as "depressed").

In the work-out montage, she awoke, punched out three times, showered, removed some unwanted body hair on her leg and karate-kicking like Bruce Lee, then strode into the street and entered the University. The rhythm of the song enervated her to exercise in aerobic-wear (and leg warmers) with others.




Philadelphia (1993)

# 68 "Streets of Philadelphia"

Best Original Song: Streets of Philadelphia

Hollywood's first major, big-budget feature film about AIDS was this landmark film (essentially a courtroom drama) by director Jonathan Demme. The film had five Oscar nominations (with two wins) - two of which were for competing 'title songs':

  • Best Original Song: Philadelphia (music and lyrics by Neil Young)
  • Best Original Song: Streets of Philadelphia (music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen)
  • Best Makeup
  • Best Actor (Tom Hanks, as AIDS-afflicted, homosexual lawyer Andrew Beckett)
  • Best Original Screenplay

Bruce Springsteen's tear-jerking Oscar-winning song Streets of Philadelphia (pictured) was effectively used in the film, during the opening credits sequence - a flyover and montage of various locations in the city.

During the final scene - a reception sequence held in the Beckett home following Andrew's funeral, mourners watched home movies of Andrew's younger days, to the soundtrack's tune of Neil Young's Oscar-nominated Philadelphia (pictured twice).



The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

There were many film versions of Oscar Wilde's 1890 novel of the same name, although this MGM production was the most famous. Its familiar tale was about a young, wealthy, hedonistic and handsome Victorian aristocrat Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield) in 19th century London, who made a wish that his portrait would age (and show the ravages of sin) instead of himself.

In one of the film's earlier scenes, on stage in a cheap English tavern (the Two Turtles pub) in the East End slum area of the city, beautiful Sibyl Vane (Angela Lansbury) performed a plaintive song::

  • Good-bye, Little Yellow Bird (pictured)

She then reprised the song by walking amongst the patrons, as the manager threw fake snow onto her.

One of the customers - Dorian Gray - was entranced by her innocence and her singing. She also was smitten by him, and called him "Sir Tristam" - referring to the name of a mythical, chivalrous knight. He soon fell in love with her and proposed engagement. However, he shortly thereafter cruelly broke off the engagement, causing her to commit suicide.



Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982, UK)

Alan Parker's re-imagining of the Pink Floyd musical album incorporated memorable adult-themed animated sequences by cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.

The sequences illustrated a descent into madness by burned-out rock singer Pink (Bob Geldorf) in a Los Angeles hotel room (pictured) - through a series of rambling music video segments.

Memorable scenes included:

  • the ugly vision in Another Brick in the Wall (part 2) in which doomed schoolchildren were turned into faceless zombies, and fed on an assembly line into an approaching meat-grinder - before they revolted
  • the animated and nightmarish Goodbye Blue Sky in which a dove imploded and morphed into a monstrous black bird of prey - a fighter plane bomber over London
  • in In the Flesh, Pink envisioned himself as an eyebrowless, racist, fascist Hitler-like leader of a Nuremberg-like rally
  • in the musical Waiting for the Worms scene, a Fascist-style Pink commanded a rally on the streets (with a skinhead chorus) as cartoon hammers rhythmically marched down bombed out streets




Pinocchio (1940)

# 7 "When You Wish Upon a Star"

Best Original Song: When You Wish Upon a Star

This masterful Disney animation, Disney's second full-length animated film (following Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)), was about Geppetto, an old Tuscany wood-carver who wished that his hand-made wooden puppet named Pinocchio would turn into a real boy. Shortly later, a Blue Fairy (voice of Evelyn Venable) promised that if Pinocchio was brave, told the truth, and was unselfish, the wish would come true.

The film won two Academy Awards: Best Original Music Score, and Best Original Song. The film was most noted for its award-winning song When You Wish Upon a Star (pictured), sung by small Jiminy Cricket (voice of Cliff Edwards) during the opening credits.

There were many other reknowned musical scenes:

  • Jiminy Cricket taught Pinocchio to whistle and then sang the advisory Give a Little Whistle (pictured twice) to become Pinocchio's conscience: "...Take the strait and narrow path / And if you start to slide / Give a little whistle, give a little whistle / And always let your conscience be your guide"
  • Pinocchio was led astray by wily Honest John (the Fox) Worthington Foulfellow and his mute feline sidekick Gideon the Cat during the delightful song Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life for Me) (pictured): "Hi-diddle-dee-dee An actor's life for me A high silk hat and a silver cane A watch of gold with a diamond chain Hi-diddle-dee-day An actor's life is gay It's great to be a celebrity An actor's life for me!....Hi-diddle-dee-dum An actor's life is fun...Hi-diddle-dee-dee An actor's life for me A wax mustache and a beaver coat A pony cart and a billy goat Hi-diddle-dee-dum An actor's life is fun You wear your hair in a pompadour You ride around in a coach and four You stop and buy out a candy store An actor's life for me!"
  • the human-like puppet Pinocchio (voice of Dickie Jones) sang I've Got No Strings (pictured) when performing for Italian marionette-maker Stromboli's (voice of Charles Judels) puppet show: "I've got no strings To hold me down To make me fret, or make me frown I had strings But now I'm free There are no strings on me Hi-ho the me-ri-o That's the only way to be I want the world to know Nothing ever worries me..."





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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