Greatest Film Scenes
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The Gang's All Here (1943)

 





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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions
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The Gang's All Here (1943)

In director Busby Berkeley's musical (his sole Fox film, his first Technicolor film, and the first film that he both directed and choreographed); its simple plot of soldier boy-meets-chorus girl was overshadowed by complex and extravagant production numbers:

The Opening Sequence: "Brazil"
  • one of the most famous and amazing of Berkeley's production numbers was the six-minute long number that occurred in the film's opening; it began with a male singer Aloysio de Oliveira (his floating face was surrounded by black) crooning the Latin song "Brazil (Aquarela Do Brasil)"; as the camera pulled back, it was shown that he was on a docked ship at port, the S.S. Brazil; the next panning shot focused on the unloading of passengers who were disembarking down a gangplank, while a dockworker pushed a wagon-cart of burlap bags of SUGAR, and other roped bundles of merchandise (exports from Brazil) were lowered to the dock (including a large bundle of fruit) - the fruit was revealed to be, in a quick and invisible cut during a downward pan, on the head of Dorita (Carmen Miranda, the "Brazilian Bombshell"); the belly-dancer made her entrance wearing the fruit-bowl shaped hat, a red-and-white pom-pom outfit with a bare midriff, while also singing "Brazil" (backed by a mariachi band)
    - a marching band entered from off-stage, playing "Hail to the Chief"
    - a limousine pulled up next to the band, with a top-hatted, formally-clad city official coming up to Dorita and asking: "Got any coffee on ya?"; she smiled and replied: "Such a very handsome fellow. So you come to welcome me?"; he responded by offering her the keys to the city: "In the place of Fiorello, I present you with a key" [Note: Fiorello referred to Fiorello LaGuardia, NYC's mayor at the time]
    - another camera pull back revealed the entire scene was being performed on a Broadway nightclub stage in NYC, the Club New Yorker
    - Dorita began to sing a second song: "You Discover You're In New York"; during the second chorus of the song, Dorita walked off stage and into the nightclub
    - seven, stylishly black-clad chorines seated at tables in the club joined her (each of them sang one of two lines of the song), before the camera returned to Dorita who finished the song
    - meanwhile, the other chorus members took the stage and danced with her during the number's finale - Dorita disappeared behind a red curtain as the number concluded; the stage host joked about how the coffee Dorita had bestowed upon him would make him rich ("Now I can retire"), then greeted her back on stage to take a bow: "Well, there's your Good Neighbor Policy. C'mon honey, let's good neighbor it! There we are!"

  • the second major Berkeley production number was about 23 minutes into the film - a 7-minute long, bizarre and erotic musical number known as: "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat"
    - it began with an organ grinder, his monkey, and lots of fabric banana trees with more monkeys
    - dozens of bare-legged and bare-footed showgirls (with yellow turbans, black crop tops, and ruffled yellow miniskirts) lounged on a tropical South Seas island stage set, with their legs half-splayed open (filmed from a high-angle top view); they rushed to the shore to wave and greet Dorita, as she arrived on a banana cart pulled by two live gold-painted oxen
    - surrounded by the island girls, Dorita sang "The Lady in a Tutti Frutti Hat", and was soon joined by the chorus girls who surrounded her with a ring of bananas (that she played like a circular xylophone)
    - the chorus girls formed a chorus line, as they carried (and waved) surreal, oversized, erect six-foot tall bananas (major phallic symbols made of papier mache)
    - the bananas were arranged in two rows, and moved into various geometric patterns
    - seven of the girls laid down in a star formation with wide-open legs, holding inflatable, oversized strawberries - as a circle of bananas tipped forward and came together above them (an unabashed enactment of sex)
    - an undulating, waving motion was again made with the bananas, before much of the opening of the sequence was seen in reverse
    - the number concluded with about a dozen organ grinders (and monkeys), and the sight of an enormous fan of bananas coming out of the top of Dorita's headdress 30 feet into the air, and two rows of giant strawberries on either side of her
"The Polka Dot Polka"
  • the final balletic production number: "The Polka Dot Polka" began with a group of dancing children dressed in polka-dotted clothes
    - the song's basic lyrics were sung by showgirl Edith (Alice Faye): "The polka dance is gone, but the polka dot lives on"
    - chorus girls played with neon-lit hula hoops, first appearing as floating, disembodied floating heads against a blue curtained backdrop; and in the air, they slowly rotated the gigantic, neon polka-dot hoops, and then were seen with giant, green and pink cut-out circles or discs (a disorienting sequence later showed them moving in reverse)
    - a surrealistic kaleidoscopic camera view (seen from a top angle) topped off the finale with many abstract shapes and patterns
    - the disembodied heads of all the principal actors zoomed up and appeared one at a time in the middle of a polka dot, singing the movie's signature love song: "A Journey to a Star"









"The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat"


Finale: "A Journey to a Star"

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