Greatest Song and Dance
Musical Moments and Scenes

H - 2

Greatest Song and Dance Musical Moments and Scenes
H (continued)
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

High Noon (1952)

# 25 "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')"

Best Original Song: High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')

This successful box-office United Artists production by Stanley Kramer and director Fred Zinnemann was one of the best Western films of all-time. Of its seven Academy Award nominations, it won four Oscars, including two for its music:

  • Best Song for High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin') (music by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington, sung by Tex Ritter)
  • Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture (music composed and directed by Dimitri Tiomkin)

As the film opened with the credits (pictured thrice), it was accompanied by the High Noon title ballad song (a recurring theme throughout the entire film), played atop a scene of vengeful desperadoes gathering on the outskirts of the small, quiet, arid western town of Hadleyville in the 1870s. A solitary, stoic, honor-bound marshal/hero, Will Kane (Oscar-winning Gary Cooper), well past his prime and already retired, was left desolate and abandoned by the Hadleyville townspeople he had faithfully protected for many years, and was refused help at every turn against a revenge-seeking killer and his gang.

The film also ended with the title song's famous melancholy ballad in the background, as the beleaguered Marshal Kane (and his new pacifist wife Amy (Grace Kelly)) rode off into the distance from the town in a buckboard, after saving it from the outlaws.

High Society (1956)

This entertaining Technicolored MGM musical comedy with an original Cole Porter score (earning two Academy Award nominations for Best Score and Best Song - "True Love") was a tuneful remake of director George Cukor's screwball comedy The Philadelphia Story (1940). The original non-musical film set in Philadelphia starred Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart. Both films were based on Philip Barry's 1939 play The Philadelphia Story.

The romantic musical comedy, now set amongst the rich elite of Newport, RI, starred miscast Bing Crosby as ex-husband CK Dexter Haven, Frank Sinatra as tabloid writer Mike Connor, and Grace Kelly (in her last film before marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco), as rich girl Tracy Samantha Lord. It marked the first teaming of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

  • In the film's prologue, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong (as Himself) was with five members of his band in the back of a chartered Greyhound bus (bound for Newport, RI and its famous Jazz Festival); he was singing the title song "High Society Calypso" in a calypso style.
  • Via the song, he outlined the plot like a Greek chorus and introduced its main characters; he explained how Dexter, a formal pal, was managing the local Newport Jazz Festival but was "nursing the blues"; his former wife (a "silly chick") was making plans to marry a "square"; Satchmo urged Dexer to "stop that wedding and kill that match"; then he informed the audience: "End of song, beginning of story."
  • Armstrong's band was delivered to a palatial estate home where they were greeted by successful jazz singer-composer C.K. Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby), a financially-successful and popular composer-singer who was organizing the upcoming Newport Jazz Festival. He was living in a mansion where rehearsals would be held in the lobby, and it happened to be located across the street from where his ex-wife Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly) lived.
  • Dexter had been divorced from wealthy, strong-minded Newport, Rhode Island socialite Tracy Samantha ("Sam") Lord (Grace Kelly), but was still in love with her. Dexter retained his love for bride-to-be Tracy ("I'm still in love with you") and was maneuvering to win Tracy back. Tracy was in the midst of preparations in the Lord's estate for her impending marriage the next day to a stuffy and bland gentleman named George Kittredge (John Lund).
  • Two employees of the tabloid magazine Spy arrived to stay at the Lord's residence to cover the high-society wedding: reporter Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) and photographer Elizabeth "Liz" Imbrie (Celeste Holm). Tracy's Uncle Willie (Louis Calhern) had been promised by a SPY editor (Paul Keast) - or blackmailed - that a scandalous, "unsavory" article about Mr. Seth Lord's (Sidney Blackmer) infidelity with a dancer would be withheld and not published if they were given permission to attend.
  • Liz and Mike were astounded by the "filthy rich" family with many materialistic possessions - and in response, they sang a duet together of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", as they danced in the room holding all of the Lords' fancy and expensive silverware and other glittering possessions
  • Tracy sternly ordered no interference from Dexter to ruin her wedding, but he still brought her a wedding present. By the pool, Dexter met with Tracy (in her bathing suit), and mused about the reason for their failed marriage. After he left, she opened the gift - a scale model of their former sailboat-yacht "True Love." Tracy was inspired - in an evoked flashback sequence or reverie, to recall her romantic honeymoon with Dexter aboard their yacht. She remembered Dexter on shipboard singing to her (with a squeezebox) the romantic popular Oscar-nominated hit song "True Love."

Flashback -- Dexter Singing to Tracy: "True Love"

Mike Singing to Tracy: "You're Sensational"

Mike and Dexter: "Well, Did You Evah?"
  • Tracy was beginning to have second-thoughts about marrying Kittredge who unrealistically idealized her as a "goddess." Mike was also expressing his increasing affection for 26 year-old Tracy, and seductively sang "You're Sensational" to her ("I don't care if you are called The fair Miss Frigidaire 'Cause you're sensational")
  • Complications arose the night before the planned wedding as a messy love triangle (of sorts) was developing around Tracy, while she experienced a series of flirtatious escapades with three men. She was faced with a difficult choice between her pompous but clueless fiancee, her reassessment of Dexter, and her growing romantic attraction to Mike. Mike also sensed Dexter's ongoing love for Tracy, and in a clever duet, Mike and Dexter sang the recycled song: "Well, Did You Evah?"
  • The night before the wedding, at a celebratory dance at Uncle Willie's place, Tracy slipped away with Mike to return to her home. While dancing together by the Lord's pool, she suggested that they go swimming in the moonlight ("Tonight I want to do everything"). Mike sang the beautiful love song "Mind If I Make Love to You" to her as they kissed and embraced, before jumping in the pool.
  • The next morning at the Lord's residence, George showed up and both George and Dexter witnessed Tracy being carried up to the house by Mike (both were slightly drunk, wet and dressed in robes) after their pool experience. George was now jealously angry with both Dexter and Mike, and Tracy was still hung-over and miserable: "I'm such an unholy mess of a girl" - she thought she had compromised her own virtue with Mike.
  • Mike calmed George's and Tracy's nerves by admitting that due to her drunkenness, he had treated her with the utmost respect the previous evening - and her virtue remained intact. However, Tracy successfully coaxed George into calling off their nuptials, by claiming she was unworthy for him and couldn't behave herself.
  • However, the guests had already arrived and an organ began playing the 'Wedding March.' Tracy awkwardly informed them of the change in plans and that her fiancee had cancelled the wedding. Dexter stepped forward to volunteer as the groom, to make up for the wedding they didn't have earlier. They had eloped two years earlier to Maryland to get married, and would now have the opportunity for a full ceremony. Tracy accepted Dexter's offer, and her father began to escort her down the aisle, as Mike and Liz mentioned how the idea of marriage was becoming "contagious" - a declaration of their own love for each other.
  • The picture closed with Louis Armstrong's jazzy rendition of "Here Comes the Bride" (loudly played outside on the patio) for the marital processional of the reconciled couple Tracy and Dexter; he also told the audience with the film's last line of dialogue: "End of story"

On a Chartered Bus to Newport, RI, Louis Armstrong: "High Society Calypso"

CK Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby)

Tracy (Grace Kelly) Deriding Dexter as a "Jukebox Hero"

Tracy's Fiancee George Kittredge (John Lund)

Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm)

Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra)

"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

Mike with Tracy by the Pool, Singing "Mind If I Make Love to You"

Tracy Attempting to Coax George Out of Their Planned Marriage

The Film's Ending: Wedding of Dexter and Tracy

High, Wide and Handsome (1937)

Director Rouben Mamoulian's and Paramount's lavish but forgotten western-flavored musical, a box-office failure, again teamed soprano Irene Dunne (as Sally Watterson) with the music of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, due to the the studio's previous year's success with Showboat (1936).

It was shot on location in California to tell its story of the 1870s struggle between farmers and railroaders led by Walt Brennan (Alan Hale) over western Pennsylvania oilfields.

Its most memorable songs integrated into the plot were:

  • the beautiful Can I Forget You? (pictured), sung by Sally to her beau - future husband and local farmer Peter Cortlandt (Randolph Scott)
  • the torch song The Things I Want (pictured) sung by saloon girl Molly Fuller (Dorothy Lamour)
  • Molly's duet with Sally in a saloon - Allegheny Al (pictured)
  • and the two classic songs Can I Forget You? (reprised by Dunne in a traveling medicine show ring) and Dunne's lovely and great ballad The Folks Who Live on the Hill (pictured), sung in her wedding dress to husband Peter

History of the World: Part 1 (1981)

Director/writer/producer/actor Mel Brooks appeared as the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada of the Spanish Inquisition in this episodic comedy.

He was featured leading the lengthy song and dance musical number The Inquisition (pictured) in which he sang with a chorus of monks:

"The Inquisition, Let's begin, The Inquisition, Look out, sin, We have a Mission, To Convert the Jews!..."

The sequence ended with an Esther Williams/Busby Berkeley set piece production depicting water torture (for the persecution of the Jews) which was introduced by Torquemada:

"We'll flatten their fingers, we've branded their buns! Nothing is working! Send in the nuns!"

A long row of nuns appeared, removed their black and white habits to reveal one piece white bathing suits and caps - and then dove sideways into a large pool and performed a synchronized swimming routine (pictured).

A Hole in the Head (1959)

Best Original Song: High Hopes

Frank Capra's and United Artists' light comedy was based upon the 1957 Broadway play of the same name. The film was the recipient of only one Academy Award for its sole nomination: Best Song (with music by James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn).

Its main character was:

  • widower Tony Manetta (Frank Sinatra), the owner of the "Garden of Eden," a small hotel in Miami Beach

Tony was financially struggling with the hotel and having trouble raising his young 11 year-old son Alvin "Ally" Manetta (Eddie Hodges). Tony called upon his older brother Mario (Edward G. Robinson) in New York (married to Sophie (Thelma Ritter)) to help him save his hotel with a monetary bailout. There were also attempts to match Tony up with also-widowed Eloise (Eleanor Parker), a friend of Sophie's, to get him to be more fiscally responsible.

The singing of the song High Hopes (pictured twice) was first performed by Tony and his son Ally in front of the hotel, and then in the film's ending by Tony, Eloise and Ally during a reunion scene on the beach.

Holiday Inn (1942)

# 5 "White Christmas"

Best Original Song: White Christmas

This Paramount homefront musical with 14 Irving Berlin songs teamed Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in the first of their two appearances together. Of its three Oscar nominations, including Best Original Story and Best Score, it won one Award - Best Original Song.

As song-and-dance men who competed in a love triangle for the same girl Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds, dubbed by Martha Mears), mellow-voiced Crosby delivered his first screen performance of Berlin's timeless classic and poignant Oscar-winning Best Song White Christmas (pictured) - the best-selling single in any music category for more than 50 years.

[Note: The song would become the title tune for the remake White Christmas (1954), starring Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.]

Astaire's best and most spectacular dance number was Say It With Firecrackers (pictured) - punctuated by exploding fireworks.

Hollywood Hotel (1937)

This lively and amusing Busby Berkeley-directed musical comedy was famous for its musical numbers, although it appeared to be the last of the cycle of lavish musicals.

It told about small-town jazz band member Ronnie Bowers (Dick Powell) winning a Hollywood talent contest and being assigned as his prize to escort a starlet to a movie premiere - in a case of mistaken identity.

Its numbers included:

  • the opening theme song Hooray for Hollywood (pictured twice): ("Hooray for Hollywood / That screwy, bally-hooey Hollywood...") - sung by Johnnie Davis (as Georgia) and Frances Langford (as Alice)
  • I'm Like a Fish Out of Water (pictured) - sung by Dick Powell and Lola Lane (as Mona Marshall) while wading in a fountain

Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)

MGM's elaborate, Best Picture-nominated film at the dawn of the talkies (with some color sequences) was an early all-star musical Broadway revue with many star performers from Hollywood.

It was hosted by Jack Benny (including a bit in drag) and Conrad Nagel, and starred a number of big-name performers:

  • Joan Crawford - singing and dancing (with vigorous leg and arm swinging) to Gotta Feelin' For You (pictured)
  • Bessie Love singing I Never Knew I Could Do a Thing Like That
  • comedians Laurel and Hardy (bumbling through magic tricks)
  • Marie Dressler singing For I'm the Queen (pictured)
  • Buster Keaton
  • Marion Davies performing Tommy Atkins on Parade and tap-dancing on a large drum
  • Norma Shearer and John Gilbert reprising (in color) the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet

Its most famous and popular song was the first rendition of Singin' In the Rain (pictured thrice), sung by Cliff ("Ukelele Ike") Edwards playing a ukulele with a chorus of showgirls in raincoats and hats during a downpour.

The song was also reprised at the climax of the film when the entire cast appeared in slick raincoats and hats (pictured), in a two-strip Technicolor segment.

Horse Feathers (1932)

This was the fourth comedy masterpiece from the Marx Brothers. Groucho Marx portrayed Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff who was assuming the presidency of Huxley College.

During the musical number (Whatever It Is), I'm Against It (pictured), Professor Wagstaff described how he would nihilistically respond to trustee suggestions, ridiculing them:

"I don't know what they have to say. It makes no difference anyway. Whatever it is, I'm against it."

The second verse was for a different song: I Always Get My Man (pictured).

The bearded faculty professors joined the contemptable Wagstaff, slavishly bowing and pointing to him, and circling around him in a soft-shoe routine. When the dance was finished, he told them:

"All right scram, boys. I'll meet you in the barber shop."

In addition, throughout the film, the Marx Brothers sang (or played, or whistled) the song Everyone Says I Love You (all pictured):

  • Baravelli (Chico Marx) accompanied himself on the piano and sang the song to college widow Connie (Thelma Todd)
  • Frank (Zeppo Marx) serenaded Connie while serving her breakfast in bed
  • dog-catcher Pinky (Harpo Marx) whistled the tune for a horse before feeding it
  • Professor Wagstaff strummed on a guitar to Connie during a canoe trip on a lake with her

How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955)

This Cinemascope film by writer/director Nunnally Johnson was a modified remake of She Loves Me Not (1934).

Sheree North, an attempted carbon-copy blonde replacement for Marilyn Monroe, starred in this musical comedy opposite Betty Grable (her last film in the role of Stormy Tornado) after the unwilling blonde bombshell star walked off and refused to do this picture for Fox.

In one of its more talked-about sequences, Sheree North (as Curly Flagg) was placed in a hypnotic trance, programmed to begin dancing if she heard the word "Salome". During the graduation ceremony at Bristol College, one of the speakers mentioned the Battle of Salamis, causing Curly to strut on stage, strip off her gray graduation gown and perform a rock and roll dance to Shake, Rattle & Roll (pictured) in a shimmering, purplish sequined outfit.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)

This musical comedy film version virtually duplicated Frank Loesser's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical from 1961 - it included two stars reprising their roles from the stage, both employed in the World Wide Wicket Company:

  • Robert Morse (as ex-window washer and ambitious, up-and-coming corporate executive J. Pierpont Finch)
  • Rudy Vallee as his pompous boss J. B. Biggley

A few of the film's catchy tunes included:

  • A Secretary is Not a Toy (pictured)
  • the irreverent The Company Way (pictured)
  • the romantic ballad I Believe in You (pictured)
  • the mock college fight song Grand Old Ivy
  • and the finale Brotherhood of Man (pictured)

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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