Greatest Song and Dance
Musical Moments and Scenes

B - 2

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

Before Sunset (2004)

In this sequel to the first film Before Sunrise (1995), two lovers Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met again nine years later, with only a short time before Jesse's flight left Paris.

At the end of their time together, they went to her apartment to have some camomile tea where she sang A Waltz For a Night (written by Delpy herself) while playing a guitar and sitting on her bed, telling about their previous romantic encounter ("lovely one night stand"):

"Let me sing you a waltz, out of nowhere, out of my thoughts, let me sing you a waltz, about this one night stand, you were for me that night, everything I always dreamt of in life..."

They also listened to a CD recording of Nina Simone singing Just in Time. Recalling a Nina Simone concert that she had attended, Celine did an impression of the singer as she stopped in the middle of a song and came to the edge of the stage, while slowly moving her hips side to side and puckering up her lips in a pout, seductively speaking:

"Oh yeah, baby. Oh, yeah. Uh, hmm. I love you too. And then she'd walk back, took her time, no hurry, you know. She had that big cute ass that she would move, woooh! And then she would, uh, go back to the piano and play some more..."

Celine then warned Jesse: "Baby, you are gonna miss that plane." Jesse responded quietly and knowingly: "I know" as he held his left hand up and briefly twirled his wedding ring with his left thumb. The screen faded to black before the closing credits.

Belle of the Nineties (1934)

Leo McCarey directed screenwriter Mae West, playing a seductive cabaret chanteuse entertainer named Ruby Carter, with sashaying hips and an hourglass figure who loved men and jewelry, and spewed double-entendres and innuendo in her fourth film, from Paramount. This melodrama was West's first post-Production Code film, meaning that it was heavily pressured during production for clean-up, rewrites, and retakes.

The musical comedy tale (originally titled It Ain't No Sin - the title of West's original story), about a love-triangle was heavily censured by the Hays Office for its "glorification of prostitution and violent crime." The main male character who received Ruby's affection was a muscle-bound boxer named The Tiger Kid (Roger Pryor), whom she married by film's end, although she was romanced by wealthy Brooks Claybourne (Johnny Mack Brown) who provided her with expensive diamonds and jewelry. Ruby was the star attraction at the "Sensation House" saloon in New Orleans run by sinister Ace Lamont (John Miljan), who was jealously scheming against her.

In the opening number, Ruby appeared against a theatrical stage backdrop posing as a butterfly, a bat, a rose, a spider, and as the Statue of Liberty (pictured). Duke Ellington and his orchestra were featured in the film as back-up for Ruby, and she sang honky-tonk tunes including W.C. Handy's Memphis Blues, My Old Flame (pictured), and When a St. Louis Woman Comes Down to New Orleans. Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag was also heard on the soundtrack.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)

This Broadway play film adaptation, a musical comedy, featured big-bosomed Dolly Parton as Madame Mona Stangley - the flamboyant, smooth-talking proprietor of a 'working girl's' establishment - wearing a red gown and sporting blonde ringlets.

She sang the catchy down-home tune A Lil' Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place to introduce her bordello to other dancing floozies and to explain the do's and don'ts of the place.

Later, she sang a classic rendition of I Will Always Love You as she serenaded local Sheriff Ed Earl (Burt Reynolds).

The Big Broadcast (1932)

This was the first in a series of Paramount musicals regarding the new medium of radio, in which many of the new radio performers from "Radioland" were brought to the screen for the first time.

In this film's score, there were three of the best-known tunes of mellow-voiced Bing Crosby (as Himself):

  • Please (where he was accompanied by Eddie Lang on guitar)
  • Here Lies Love (sung in a slightly morbid sequence)
  • Bing's trademark song Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day

The film also included Cab Calloway's (as Himself) famous performance of Minnie the Moocher, and the Boswell Sisters' rendition of the hit song Heebie Jeebies (pictured).

[Note: Cab Calloway also sang Minnie the Moocher in Fleischer's Betty Boop Talkartoons cartoon of the same name, in 1932.]

The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935)

This basically plotless musical film contained a few memorable song/dance moments, including:

  • a recording of Miss Brown To You - accompanied by a famous dance number performed by both Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (exiting a barber shop) and the Nicholas Brothers (as Dot and Dash) (at an early stage in their career) on a small stage
  • the spirited singing of It's The Animal in Me by Ethel Merman (the number was shot for the earlier film We're Not Dressing (1934), but was cut, and then used in this film)

The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1937)

There was one very classic, touching and sentimental song in this madcap musical film:

  • the Academy Award-winning Best Song Thanks For the Memory, sung as a serenade-duet by womanizing radio host Buzz Fielding (Bob Hope) and ex-wife Cleo Fielding (Shirley Ross) who poignantly and slightly regretfully looked back on the good times they had experienced within their failed relationship

They clinked together their drink glasses as he started to sing, and they continued to alternate the lyrics:

"Thanks for the memory / Of rainy afternoons / Swinging Harlem tunes/ Motortrips and burning lips / And burning toast and prunes" and she joined in: "How lovely it was / Thanks for the memory / Of candlelight and wine / Castles on the Rhine / The Parthenon..."

Their singing ended wistfully, as they clinked their glasses together again and sang: "Hooray for us." She asked, still singing: "Strictly entre nous, darling, how are you?" and he replied: "And how are all those little dreams that never did come true?"

She responded: "Awfully glad I met you," with his response: "Cheerio, toodle-oo." She collapsed in tears in his arms when they finished.

[Note: this was the song that would launch Hope's career and become his famous trademark or signature theme song.]

The Big Chill (1983)

This dramatic film centered around the reunion of aging college friends from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who pondered the subject of death ("the big chill") and loss of idealism during the funeral-weekend of a suicidal friend (an off-screen Kevin Costner).

But in one scene, they boogied-danced to the Temptations' Ain't Too Proud to Beg while cleaning up in the kitchen.

Blazing Saddles (1974)

On stage at the Rock Ridge Saloon, saloon singer Lili Von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn) performed "I'm Tired" off-key, parodying Marlene Dietrich's "Falling in Love Again" with a world-weary Germanic, monotoned accent and a lisp.

The sultry singer reduced all the men in the audience to fools - in the lyrics, she asked one of the drooling cowboys: "Hello, handsome, is that a ten-gallon hat - or are you just enjoying the show?" [Her line was a variation of one of Mae West's most infamous pronouncements.]

She sang about being tired and having had her fill of sex: "I've had my fill of love, From below and above." To finish her sleepy act, she yawned: "Tired, tired of playing the game. Ain't it a freakin' shame. I'm so? Let's face it. Everything below the waist is ka-put."

Blonde Venus (1932)

Although not a musical, this film was most memorable for Marlene Dietrich's performance as a night-club performer to the beat of an African drum.

After stripping down from a gorilla headed costume in the Hot Voodoo number, she sang the throaty song wearing a blonde Afro wig while surrounded by archetypal 'black' dancers -- the song's lyrics included:

"...That African tempo has made me a slave, hot voodoo - dance of sin, hot voodoo, worse than gin, I'd follow a cave man right into his cave."

The Blue Angel (1930, Ger.) (aka Der Blaue Engel)

In director Josef von Sternberg's film, the legendary Marlene Dietrich in a star-making role - portrayed a sensual, carefree, and carnal top-hatted entertainer named Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich) at the Blue Angel nightclub.

In her most memorable scene featuring Dietrich's signature song, she sang a throaty rendition of "Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It)" astride a barrel on stage.

She tilted her head to the side, leaned backwards, and grasped one gartered-stockinged leg on bare thighs with her arms:

"Falling in love again, Never wanted to, What's a girl to do?, I can't help it, Love's always been my game, Play it how I may, I was made that way, I can't help it."

Blue Skies (1946)

This Technicolored Paramount production about a love triangle featured Fred Astaire's (as radio broadcaster Jed Potter) famous virtuoso and witty rendition of Puttin' on the Ritz, with his only prop being his cane (that he used in synchronized conjunction with his rat-a-tat tapping).

In one segment of the performance, he danced in counterpoint with ten miniature Astaires.

[Note: Puttin' on the Ritz was performed in homage in Mel Brooks' horror comedy Young Frankenstein (1974).]

The Blues Brothers (1980)

In this anarchic musical comedy, Jake and Elwood Blues (Saturday Night Live alumni John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) performed I Can't Turn You Loose, the bluesy Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, and in a bar - the main theme from the TV western Rawhide ("Rollin', rollin', rollin'...keep them doggies rollin', Rawhide").

There were also many other show-stopping performances by R&B and soul singers, like:

  • Jailhouse Rock (with the Blues Brothers, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin)
  • Minnie the Moocher (reprised by Cab Calloway)
  • Think (Aretha Franklin with a show-stopping version)
  • Hold On, I'm a Comin'! (Sam & Dave)
  • Shake A Tailfeather (with Blues Brothers and Ray Charles)

The Bodyguard (1992)

The popular version of I Will Always Love You was belted out with romantic feeling by Whitney Houston (as singer Rachel Marron).

The film also featured the song I'm Every Woman.


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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