Greatest Song and Dance
Musical Moments and Scenes

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Greatest Song and Dance Musical Moments and Scenes
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Hair (1979)

# 33 "Aquarius (Age of Aquarius)"

Czech director Milos Forman's and UA's invigorating and audacious film version of the 1968 rock musical play, with dancer Twyla Tharp's choreography, included many memorable song-and-dance tunes (and boldly stark nudity) among the Central Park hippies, such as:

  • the opening number Aquarius (Age of Aquarius) (pictured) ("harmony and understanding") performed in the park, including the "horse ballet" of Central Park's mounted police (pictured)
  • the title song Hair (pictured) (performed partly in a prison), and in part sung by leader George Berger (Treat Williams)
  • and the closing scene at the cemetery (with white crosses) and the moving song Let the Sunshine In (pictured)

Hairspray (2007)

This successful song-and-dance adaptation of the Tony award-winning 2002 Broadway smash hit was also based on John Waters' 1988 cult classic film. It became one of the few movie musicals that grossed over $100 million (it was the third highest grossing musical film in U.S. cinema history at the time).

Set in early 1960s Baltimore, it told about how plump teenager Tracy Turnblad (newcomer Nikki Blonsky) - who had an equally corpulent laundress mother Edna Turnblad (John Travolta in drag) - successfully competed in a local teen dance TV show and also brought about racial integration.

Although it was not nominated for a single Academy Award, it had three Golden Globe nominations (Best Motion Picture Musical, Best Actress Musical - Blonsky, and Best Supporting Actor - Travolta).

The final showstopping song at the "Miss Teenage Hairspray" pageant was You Can't Stop the Beat (pictured twice), sung and danced by Tracy, Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah), and others.

Hallelujah (1929)

An early MGM talkie directed by Academy Award-nominated King Vidor was daring because it was the first sound feature film from a major studio with an all-black cast. Noted as the first all-black musical, it was produced as a silent film and then supplemented with a dubbed-in soundtrack during post-production in Hollywood. It was considered slightly overwrought, patronizing and flawed (Vidor's only musical after it failed at the box-office). It was criticized as having stereotypical racist overtones (its trailer advertised "Famous All-Colored Artists"), a slow pace, and some embarrassing dialogue.

The memorable film - a story of murder, corruption and redemption in the Deep South, was filmed mostly on location in Memphis, Tennessee and Arkansas in plantation settings. It featured the story of a black sharecropper/preacher Zeke (Daniel L. Haynes) who was treacherously seduced by Chick (Nina Mae McKinney).

The musical was filled with jazz numbers, spirituals, traditional folk songs, work songs and lullabies, including:

  • Swanee River (pictured) (during a scene of cotton picking)
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
  • Going Home
  • and Irving Berlin's new songs Waiting At the End of the Road (pictured) (sung by Zeke) and The Swanee Shuffle (pictured) (sung in a nightclub by Chick)

Happy Feet (2006)

The many song-and-dance numbers in this CGI-animated tale included the opening courting duet songs between two Emperor Penguins in Antarctica:

  • Elvis Presley-like Memphis (voice of Hugh Jackman) to Heartbreak Hotel and breathy Marilyn Monroe-like Norma Jean (voice of Nicole Kidman) to Prince's Kiss (pictured)

It told about the birth of their young penguin chick Mambo (nicknamed "Mumble") (voice of Elijah Wood) - a young fuzzball without the gift of song but who had a unique talent as a tap dancer (noted dancer Savion Glover motion-captured to supply the dancing movements). The memorable scenes included:

  • Mumble practicing alone to Patti LaBelle's I Wish (pictured) because his dancing was considered forbidden and abnormal by the elders
  • Mumble ruining his true love Gloria's (voice of Brittany Murphy) rendition of Queen's Somebody to Love (pictured) by trying to screech the lyrics
  • the brilliant Spanish-lingo version of Frank Sinatra's My Way by rambunctious Latino penguin Ramon (voice of Robin Williams)
  • Mumble's successful courting of Gloria by tap dancing to Gloria's singing of a fully orchestrated rendition of Boogie Wonderland (pictured)
  • the heart-wrenching scene when an exiled Mumble, now caught and placed in a big-city aquarium, performed a soft-shoe routine for a little girl (a biped "alien") on the other side of the glass (pictured) - drew a crowd's attention and was set free
  • the finale, in which human scientist aliens followed him back to his habitat where they witnessed the penguins' mass dancing (pictured) - resulting in their being saved from starvation and hunting by a United Nations decree

A Hard Day's Night (1964, UK)

The many famous Beatles songs (performed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) were interwoven into this semi-documentary comedy story of 36 years in the life of the rock group by director Richard Lester, including:

  • the opening title song as the Fab Four were chased through a train station by screaming hordes of fans (pictured)
  • the finale with the group singing at the London television show (pictured)

The film also included the memorable moment when the group romped through an open grassy field like children to the tune of Can't Buy Me Love (pictured) - filmed with creative camera angles.

Hard to Get (1938)

This Warners Brothers' romantic comedy was about a developing romance between unemployed and struggling Bill Davis (Dick Powell) and spoiled heiress Margaret Richards (Olivia de Havilland).

He sang a famous rendition of the Oscar-winning hit song You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby (pictured twice) during a night-time rowboat ride -- with music and lyrics by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer.

The Harvey Girls (1946)

Best Original Song: On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe

This entertaining MGM film, directed by George Sidney and produced by Arthur Freed, included a score by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer. It had two Academy Award nominations, for Best Musical Score and Best Song, and won the latter.

The title referred to the straight-laced waitresses of the pioneering restaurant chain founded by Fred Harvey, who were brought Westward to fill the eating establishments and bring domesticity to the townsmen.

It starred Judy Garland as mail-order bride Susan Bradley - the film opened with Garland on the back of a westward-bound train singing the very pretty ballad In the Valley (Where the Evenin' Sun Goes Down) (pictured).

One of Garland's biggest hits was the film's best number, after arriving in the fictional Arizona town of Sandrock - the elaborate, show-stopping Oscar-winning Best Song: On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe (pictured twice).

Other favorites were:

  • rival low-class dance-hall girl Em's (Angela Lansbury) on-stage singing of Oh, You Kid (pictured) (dubbed by Virginia Rees) with a long red boa
  • the chorus' singing of Swing Your Partner Round and Round (pictured)

Hello, Dolly! (1969)

After her success in Funny Girl (1968), Barbra Streisand starred in this ill-considered, cumbersome Fox film directed by dancer Gene Kelly -- it was a big-budget musical version of Thornton Wilder's play The Matchmaker that had opened on Broadway in 1964. The musical was the most expensive ($20 million) produced up to its time.

Streisand starred as a miscast widowed Jewish matchmaker named Dolly Levi -- she sang the famous title song Hello, Dolly! (pictured twice) in the Harmonia Gardens sequence where she was joined by gravel-voiced bandleader and trumpeter Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong who sang:

"Well, hello... Dolly! It's so nice to have you back where you belong."

The film also included Before the Parade Passes By (pictured twice), first solely with Streisand, and then staged with a large parade down a reconstructed 14th Street in 1890s NYC.

Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)

Best Original Song: You'll Never Know

There were ten songs nominated by the Academy for Best Original Song, one of which appeared in this lightweight, Technicolored 20th Century Fox musical feature, released during the height of WWII. Its Harry Warren-penned song You'll Never Know, with lyrics by Mack Gordon, was declared the winner.

Although the film was a modified remake of King of Burlesque (1936), it was a high-grossing star vehicle for Fox's beautiful singing star Alice Faye, who was soon to be replaced by Betty Grable. You'll Never Know became Faye's signature song:

Darling I'm so blue without you,
I think about you the live-long day.
When you ask me if I'm lonely,
Then I have only this to say;
You'll never know just how much I miss you,
You'll never know just how much I care.

Faye also performed the song in Four Jills in a Jeep (1944).

The setting of the film was San Francisco ("Frisco," aka the Barbary Coast), during the early part of the 20th Century, at the time of the Panama Pacific Exposition. The main plot was about struggling vaudeville performers involved in a love triangle of sorts, including:

  • Johnny Cornell (John Payne), an ambitious showman, and leader of a musical troupe
  • Trudy Evans (Alice Faye), Johnny's songstress girlfriend with unrequited love for him
  • Bernice Croft (Lynn Bari), the competing love interest, a pretentious and selfish Nob Hill socialite heiress (and ultimately Johnny's wife whom he married for money)

The Best Original Song winner You'll Never Know (pictured), was performed by Faye and played throughout the picture. She also sang Hello, Frisco! (pictured) while talking on the newly-invented Bell telephone, Ragtime Cowboy Joe (pictured) - performed costumed in a cowgirl outfit while spinning a rope, and They Always Pick on Me (pictured).

Help! (1965)

In this Fab Four spoof of the James Bond films, the Beatles sang many classic, memorable tunes, including:

  • the title song Help!
  • You're Gonna Lose That Girl
  • I Need You (pictured) and The Night Before (pictured) - performed in an open field surrounded by tanks
  • Ticket to Ride (pictured) - on the Austrian Alps ski slopes
  • You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (pictured) (written and sung by John Lennon and Beatles)
  • Another Girl (pictured) - with Paul McCartney strumming a 'human' guitar

Hercules (1997)

This Disney animation (their 35th) was the studio's first feature film inspired by Greek mythology. The opening narration was by the voice of Charlton Heston:

"Long ago, in the faraway land of ancient Greece, there was a golden age of powerful gods and extraordinary heroes. And the greatest and strongest of all these heroes was the mighty Hercules. But what is the measure of the true hero? Ah, that is what our story is... "

Then came one of many lively Greek Chorus gospel soul group do-wop songs including the opening credits expositionary song The Gospel Truth (pictured).

Young Hercules (voice of Roger Bart) also sang the triumphant Oscar-nominated original song Go the Distance (pictured):

"...I am on my way, I can go the distance..."

Here Comes the Groom (1951)

Best Original Song: In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening

Paramount Pictures' and Frank Capra's little-known romantic comedy/musical had the honor of receiving two Academy Award nominations and winning Best Song In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening (music by Hoagy Carmichael, and lyrics by Johnny Mercer). It was also nominated for Best Motion Picture Story (by Robert Riskin and Liam O'Brien). This was Capra's and Bing Crosby's second film together, after Riding High (1950).

The plot was about the romantic efforts to win back love from a former fiancee (in order to legally adopt two war orphans within five days time, or they would be returned to France), with two main stars:

  • Pete Garvey (Bing Crosby), a carefree newspaper reporter and foreign correspondent in Paris, also a musician
  • Emmadel "Emmy" Jones (Jane Wyman), Pete's ex-sweetheart (who he left at the altar), now engaged to her boss - wealthy real estate tycoon and suitor/fiancee Wilbur Stanley (Franchot Tone) in Boston

The main song/dance between the two stars was their duet performance of the hit song In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening (pictured) in an office building:

In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin'
Tell 'em we'll be there
In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin'
Better save a chair
When the party's gettin' a glow on
And singin' fills the air
In the shank of the night
When the doin's are right
Well, you can tell 'em we'll be there...

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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