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

Dames (1934)

This film followed up on The Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) with more astonishing Busby Berkeley production numbers, including the clever and most memorable I Only Have Eyes For You (pictured) (sung by Dick Powell), in which Ruby Keeler and Powell fell asleep aboard a subway train.

During the dream, he saw repeated images of her face (actually chorus girls with large Keeler-face masks) and images of white-gowned chorus girls on a rotating white ferris wheel and multiple sets of stairs - the set ended with the chorus girls (with puzzle pieces strapped on their backs) coming together to form a huge jigsaw puzzle of Ruby's face

In the title number finale Dames (pictured), close-ups of the faces of various 'dames' applying for work led to the camera voyeuristically following the chorus girls with white blouses (and black tights) through a single day (including their waking, stretching, bathing in a bubble bath, powdering, applying makeup, etc.).

Everything ended with an overhead kaleidoscopic star-formation of abstract designs - and one sequence where the trick reverse-action camera made it appear that the tap-dancing chorines were flying straight up from the floor into the camera.

Damn Yankees (1958)

This Faustian musical baseball fantasy from Warner Brothers was co-directed by George Abbott and Stanley Donen and featured choreography supervised by Bob Fosse.

This adaptation of the Broadway hit was about a sensational Washington Senators baseball player Joe Hardy (Tab Hunter) who was under the spell of the Devil-Mr. Applegate (Ray Walston) and the Devil's sizzlingly seductive and tempting assistant Lola (Gwen Verdon) to convince Joe to stay young and not convert to his old self.

Verdon's sensuous, hot-blooded show-stopping Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets) (pictured) performed in the locker room with Joe was the highlight of the film.

Other numbers included:

  • the inspirational song (You Gotta Have) Heart ("Ya gotta have heart! / Lots and lots and lots of heart") (pictured), performed by three players and the Senators' team manager: Smokey (Nathaniel Frey), Benny Van Buren (Russ Brown), Rocky (James Komack), and Vernon (Albert Linville)

Also memorable was the stage song/dance duet between Fosse (as a Mambo dancer) and Verdon called Who's Got the Pain (pictured).

A Damsel in Distress (1937)

Fred Astaire's first film without Ginger Rogers was this one - with a Gershwin score and leading lady Joan Fontaine (as Lady Alyce Marshmorton).

Two of Astaire's (as American dancer Jerry Halliday living in London) most notable numbers were:

  • the inspired percussive drum dance solo Nice Work If You Can Get It (pictured)
  • his singing of A Foggy Day (in London Town) while strolling in a misty London park

He also performed a romping number (an Oscar-winner for Best Dance Direction by Hermes Pan) titled Stiff Upper Lip (pictured) with the comedy team of George Burns and Gracie Allen in an English fair funhouse filled with spinning discs, barrels, and distorted mirrors.

Dancing Lady (1933)

This whole production was an imitation of the year's other backstage musical 42nd Street (1933).

In his first screen appearance, Fred Astaire (already wearing his trademark top hat and tails) danced opposite MGM star Joan Crawford (as upwardly aspiring dancer Janie Barlow) in this musical extravaganza in the number Heigh, Ho, The Gang's All Here (pictured).

Dangerous When Wet (1953)

In this musical film, aqua-queen Esther Williams (as English Channel swimmer Katie Higgins) performed her famous underwater ballet with MGM cartoon stars Tom and Jerry, reprising the Arthur Schwartz and Johnny Mercer tune In My Wildest Dreams (pictured).

Dark Victory (1939)

At a nightclub-bar at closing time, drunken socialite Judith Traherne (Bette Davis) demanded that the resident showroom chanteuse (Vera Van) sing a poignant tune about time, titled Oh, Give Me Time for Tenderness (pictured), with a bribe of $50 dollars. It was the exact subject of Judith's plight, now that she had been diagnosed "prognosis negative" with a terminal illness.

She accompanied the lounge singer in the refrain during another run-through of the song. Her eyes bulged out with fear and terror, as she sang the lyrics:

"Oh! Give me time for tenderness, One little hour from each big day, Oh! Give me time - to stop and bless, The golden sunset of a summer day, Let my heart be still and listen to one song of love, Let me feel the thrill of quiet we know nothing of. Oh! Give me time for tenderness, To hold your hand - and understand, Oh! Give me time."

A Day at the Races (1937)

Toward the end of this Marx Brothers comedy, Pied-Piper-like Stuffy (Harpo Marx) led a cavalcade of children through a barn in Gabriel (pictured): ("Who Dat Man?"), a musical number that had little connection to the film's main plot.

Next came the exuberant song and jitterbug-dance number through Negro shanty towns, titled All God's Chillun Got Rhythm (pictured), with the gravity-defying, jitter-bugging danced by Herbert "Whitey" White's Lindy Hoppers.

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

# 39 "Days of Wine and Roses"

Best Original Song: Days of Wine and Roses

Director Blake Edwards' melodramatic film was an intense dramatic portrayal of an alcoholic, co-dependent couple:

  • Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon), a SF public relations advertising executive
  • Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick), a secretary

Both turned to drink due to job and personal pressures, first as social drinkers and then as full-blown alcoholics. The screenplay was adapted from J.P. Miller's own 1958 Playhouse 90 television script.

The film was honored with five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Best Actress (Lee Remick), Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Its sole win was Best Original Song for the title song Days of Wine and Roses (played under the opening credits) (pictured), with music by Henry Mancini and lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

The days of wine and roses, laugh and run away like a child at play Through the meadow land toward a closing door - a door marked nevermore that wasn't there before. The lonely night discloses just a passing breeze filled with memories, Of the golden smile that introduced me to - the days of wine and roses and you...

Deliverance (1972)

Before the film's major river adventure, its musical highlight was a lively, captivating banjo duel of bluegrass music titled Dueling Banjos (pictured) (actual title "Feudin' Banjos" - arranged and played by Eric Weissberg with guitarist Steve Mandell). [The song was authored by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith in the 50s, and copyrighted by the Combine Music Corp.]

Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox) began by playing chords on his guitar. A deformed, retarded, albino hillbilly youngster (Billy Redden) (on banjo) appeared on the porch and answered him. The impromptu song was played as a rousing challenge between the two. Toward its furious ending, Drew admitted to the grinning boy: "I'm lost."

When Drew, seen as a suspicious stranger, complimented the moon-faced winner when they were done - "God damn, you play a mean banjo," the mute, inbred, half-witted boy resumed his stony stare, turned his head sharply, and refused to shake hands with the interloping foreigner. Drew was obviously disappointed that the boy ignored him.

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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