Greatest Song and Dance
Musical Moments and Scenes


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

Key Largo (1948)

The John Huston-directed Warners' gangster film included the disturbing scene in which desperate alcoholic floozy ex-moll Gaye Dawn (Oscar-winning Claire Trevor) was goaded by her gangster ex-boyfriend Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) into a rugged rendition of Moanin' Low (pictured) in front of him and his henchmen in exchange for a Scotch whiskey drink: ("Now you sing us your song, you can have a drink... the song, then the drink").

But after she had delivered the song and begged for a drink, she was denied when he complained that her performance was awful: "You were rotten."

The King and I (1956)

# 54 "Shall We Dance"

This was an opulent Fox production (by director Walter Lang) of the Rodgers and Hammerstein 1951 musical play (based on Margaret Landon's factual book and the film Anna and the King of Siam (1947)). The honored film had five Academy Award Oscars from its nine nominations: Best Score (Alfred Newman and Ken Darby), Best Sound, Best Actor (Brynner), Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. Its other nominations were for Best Actress (Kerr), Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Picture.

The two main characters were:

  • widowed English tutor Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr partially dubbed with singing voice of Marni Nixon)
  • the polygamous bald King of Siam in the 1860s, Mongkut I (Oscar-winning Yul Brynner reprising his original stage role)

Both danced energetically and joyously in the memorable, iconic dance number Shall We Dance (pictured), in which Anna taught the barefooted monarch how to polka.

Other famous tunes included:

  • Getting to Know You (pictured) (Anna's welcoming song to the King's children)
  • Hello, Young Lovers
  • I Whistle a Happy Tune
  • The March of the Siamese Children (pictured), a novelty song when the King's children were introduced, including his eldest son and heir Prince Chulalongkorn (Patrick Adiarte)

King Creole (1958)

This Michael Curtiz-directed film version of the story in Harold Robbins' novel A Stone for Danny Fisher (and inspired by Rebel Without a Cause (1955)) starred Elvis Presley in one of his finest early performances as troubled high-school dropout and New Orleans musician Danny Fisher. He was drawn back into his criminal past with gangsters as a singer in a mob-owned nightclub (led by crime boss Walter Matthau).

Amongst other upbeat songs (King Creole, Trouble (pictured) and Hard Headed Woman), the film was highlighted by Presley's opening Creole duet Crawfish (pictured twice) with a black street vendor (female vocalist Kitty White).

King of Jazz (1930)

This was one of the most important early musicals (and early two-strip Technicolor films). It was the first feature-length film to use a mostly pre-recorded soundtrack made independently of the film itself.

It also contained the first Technicolor sound animated cartoon ever made - by Walter Lantz - featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

The musical from Carl Laemmle (and Universal) was an unscripted vaudeville revue of a long series of production numbers as a tribute and "scrapbook" honoring and showcasing "King of Jazz" band leader Paul Whiteman (Himself), and "A Spectacular Array of Screen - Stage and Radio Stars."

It featured a young Bing Crosby (lead singer of The Rhythm Boys trio, the Whiteman Orchestra's vocal trio, in his first film appearance) performing Mississippi Mud and So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together (pictured).

Also notable was Al Norman's astounding rubber-legged dance titled Happy Feet (pictured) that featured "impossible" double-jointed, loose snake-hips dance steps, and trick violinist Willie Hall ("One of the Whiteman Boys") played both Pop Goes the Weasel (pictured) with the violin in various positions and a very unusual version of Stars and Stripes Forever using a bicycle pump (by varying the air volume let out).

The most striking numbers were:

  • John Boles with a chorus of 500 reddish-shirted cowboys in the climax of Song of the Dawn (pictured)
  • a lineup of seated chorines performing a sit-down dance - I Like to Do Things For You (Meet the Girls) (pictured)
  • the extravagant My Bridal Veil
  • the 10-minute reprised jazzy playing of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (pictured) inside a giant baby-blue grand piano by the Whiteman Band
  • The Melting Pot Medley (pictured) in the film's grand finale featuring a number of acts and dozens of chorines

Kiss Me Kate (1953)

MGM's and director George Sidney's witty version of Cole Porter's successful, Tony-award winning 1948 Broadway musical was the first stereo-optic 3-D musical - in full Technicolor (although it could be argued that Paramount's Those Redheads From Seattle (1953) was first).

It was also the first Cole Porter musical to retain most of its songs from the play-within-a-play stage production (although some of the lyrics had to be edited down to satisfy Code censors).

Mostly based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, it was the second of three Golden Age Broadway musicals based on the bard's plays. The other two were:

  • 1938's The Boys From Syracuse (with a film version in 1940 and based on The Comedy of Errors)
  • 1957's West Side Story (filmed in 1961 and based on Romeo and Juliet)

This film featured stars Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson in the feuding lead roles as divorcees "Petruchio" (as actor Fred Graham) and "Katherine" (aka Lilli Vanessi, Fred's ex-wife).

Many notable and dazzling songs from various performers were featured, including:

  • the title song Kiss Me Kate (pictured)
  • the show-stopping Brush Up Your Shakespeare (pictured) (a comic duet delivered by James Whitmore (as Slug) and Keenan Wynn (as Lippy) to "Petruchio")
  • the two duets by Grayson and Keel, So in Love (pictured) and Wunderbar (pictured)

Song-and-dance numbers also included five with Ann Miller:

  • Why Can't You Behave? and Always True to You In My Fashion (pictured) (by singer-dancer Ann Miller (as Lois Lane "Bianca") in her greatest film role, with boyfriend-suitor Bill Calhoun "Lucentio" (Tommy Rall))
  • From This Moment On (pictured), including an incredible back-flip by Miller's dance partner, a young Bob Fosse
  • the Hermes Pan-choreographed Tom, Dick or Harry (pictured), with Ann Miller and others
  • the sizzling tap-dance solo by Ann Miller in a red-hot costume in Too Darn Hot (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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