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

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

This film included the infamously torrid scene in which high-heeled, sensuous and slinky ex-hooker Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer), wearing a high-slit red dress, sang Makin' Whoopee (pictured).

She slithered atop a slippery piano top, as piano lounge singer Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges) accompanied her and the camera executed a 360-degree circling around her.

A Face in the Crowd (1957)

In this Elia Kazan-directed satirical political drama, Andy Griffith (in his first dramatic role) starred as Larry 'Lonesome' Rhodes - an opportunistic, smiling, drunken cornpone-spouting, back country Arkansas homeless drifter.

Radio producer/interviewer Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) first heard him strum his bluesy guitar in a rural Arkansas jail-cell, when he sang the home-spun song Free Man in the Morning (pictured twice).

Soon, he became an overnight media celebrity on the radio and a mean-spirited demagogue on a Memphis TV show.

Fame (1980)

# 51 "Fame"

Best Original Song: Fame

This 'feel-good' Alan Parker-directed dance musical (with an Oscar-winning Best Score by Michael Gore) showcased aspiring and gifted young performers. The film had six Oscar nominations (with two wins):

  • Best Original Song: Fame (win) (music by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford)
  • Best Original Score (win)
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Original Song: Out Here on My Own
  • Best Sound
  • Best Film Editing

The popular film inspired a hit TV series and stage musical, and some of the young cast members became stars (Irene Cara, Debbie Allen, Richard Beltzer, and Meg Tilly).

One of the most memorable scenes, accompanying the Oscar-winning title song, Fame (pictured) (sung by Coco (Irene Cara)): ("Baby, remember my name..."), involved New York City's High School of the Performing Arts wanna-be students who spilled out onto the street and danced atop NY taxi cabs and other cars.

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

This Best Picture-nominated musical fable film (adapted from the Sholom Aleichem stories) by Best Director-nominated Norman Jewison successfully reproduced the long-running Broadway stage production on the screen with its romanticized Ukranian Russian ghetto village of Anatevka at the turn of the century. It garnered eight Academy Award nominations with three wins:

  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Sound
  • Best Musical Adaptation Scoring and Original Song Score (John Williams)

Its main character was charismatic, scheming, beleaguered, poor, Jewish-Russian, life-affirming peasant bearded milkman Teyve (Israeli actor Haim Topol - with a Best Actor nomination - replacing Zero Mostel from the stage). His songs included:

  • the opening pre-credits/titles sequence and musical number Tradition (pictured) prefaced by the words of Tevye as he delivered milk: ("A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof. Trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word! Tradition!...Because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything. How to sleep. How to eat. How to work. How to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I'll tell you. I don't know. But it's a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do")
  • the ending of the joyous and lively song/dance Tradition about the conflict between traditional values and modern industrial changes: ("Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as... as a fiddler on the roof!")
  • the singing of Matchmaker, Matchmaker by Teyve's five daughters
  • Teyve's dreams of wealth in If I Were a Rich Man (pictured): ("If I were a rich man. Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum All day long I'd biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy man") - sung in his barn during an exuberant dance
  • the scene of the Jewish wedding of Tevye's eldest daughter Tzeitel (Rosalind Harris) and her childhood friend, poor tailor Motel Kamzoil (Best Supporting Actor nominated Leonard Frey), and the wistful song of Tevye and his wife Golde (Norma Crane) during the ceremony: Sunrise, Sunset (pictured): ("Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don't remember growing older. When did they? When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small? Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly flow the days. Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers. Blossoming even as we gaze")

The Fifth Element (1997, Fr.)

In this writer-director science-fiction feature from Luc Besson, blue-skinned alien Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco) sang the impossible, techno-styled Aria 'Lucia di Lammermoor' (pictured twice) (the notes were rumored to be electronically aided to go above and below human octave levels).

It was choreographed to an accompanying fight scene as the beautiful, red-haired and ethereal alien Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) balletically dispatched invaders (Mangalores) in her chamber.

Flashdance (1983)

# 55 "Flashdance…What a Feeling!"

Best Original Song: Flashdance...What a Feeling!

This R-rated sleeper hit from director Adrian Lyne received four Oscar nominations and won Best Song (Flashdance...What a Feeling! with music by Giorgio Moroder and lyrics by Keith Forsey). Its other nominations included another Best Song nominee: Michael Sembello's Maniac, also Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography.

The fast-moving movie included energetic, glossy music-video style dance sequences - especially in the Mawby's Bar sequence when Pittsburgh welder/exotic bar dancer Alexandra "Alex" Owens (Jennifer Beals) performed supine on a chair (mostly in dark silhouette) as water splashed down on her.

She was accompanied by the song He's a Dream (pictured) sung by Shandi Sinnamon (as Shandi). Then she rose from the chair and danced in her wet red leotard.

Also the film displayed:

  • the sweaty scene of her equipment and weights workout (with two others who were providing dating advice) in a gym to the tune of I Love Rock 'N Roll (pictured), sung by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
  • Alex's intense foot-pounding, stretching, hair-spinning, practice exercise routine in a black leotard, to the tune of Maniac (pictured twice)
  • her climactic audition (also with a black leotard and ankle warmers) before the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance to the music (sung by Irene Cara) of the Oscar-winning Best Song Flashdance - What A Feeling! (pictured)

Flying Down to Rio (1933)

This high-grossing RKO film marked the first pairing between Fred Astaire (as Fred Ayres) and Ginger Rogers (as Honey Hale) as supporting performers.

Their star-making dance was in a brief debut dance number - during the lengthy sensual show-stopping The Carioca (pictured) (as the casino owner explained: "The American foxtrot is considered tame. Too dull...Our people prefer the Carioca").

The dance required the dancers to touch foreheads while clapsing hands - and then to execute a turn without losing forehead contact, as Fred commented: "I'd like to try this thing just once" and Ginger added: "We'll show 'em a thing or three."

The film was most memorable, however, for the Flying Down to Rio number (pictured twice), with airplane wing-dancing/walking, skimpily-attired chorus girls atop biplane wings (filmed in an airplane hangar with wind machines and a few planes hanging from the ceiling - enhanced with backdrops of Rio and Malibu Beach), while Astaire danced below and sang the title song (pictured).

Follow the Fleet (1936)

This nautical musical film marked the fifth teaming of Fred Astaire (as confident gum-chewing sailor "Bake" Baker) and Ginger Rogers (as cheap dance-hall hostess and Baker's former dance partner Sherry Martin) to the music of Irving Berlin.

They played the parts of reunited dance performers after the fleet came to San Francisco, and were best known for their wistful, poignant, romantically-lyrical and elegant self-contained, staged mini-drama/song-and-dance aboard the ship, titled Let's Face the Music and Dance (pictured twice) - with many lifts and twirls featuring Rogers' billowing, art-deco beaded white dress with billowing sleeves on a moonlit terrace, with Astaire in his trademark tuxedo tails and white tie - with the two defiantly facing life's struggles (bankruptcy, suicide).

They also performed the zany comic slapstick duet and dance I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket (pictured).

Also memorable was their delightful show-within-a-show dance contest routine in the Paradise Ballroom titled Let Yourself Go (pictured) with Rogers wearing a satiny sailor suit - in the number (pictured), Rogers also sang the tune (her one solo singing performance in the entire set of Astaire/Rogers films) while backed by a trio of Jeanne Gray, Betty Grable, and Joy Hodges.

Footlight Parade (1933)

In this third backstage musical from Warner Bros in 1933 (after 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933), from director Lloyd Bacon, the premise was that theatrical producer Chester Kent (James Cagney) was pressured to create three fantastic, spectacular and show-stopping musical numbers or "prologues" in only three days! In the film, the numbers were choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

The "prologues" (short, live stage productions) were to be marketed to movie theatre owners as added pre-show musical attractions for their patrons - in fact, all of the "prologues" in the film were actually finales that were performed back-to-back in the musical's extravagant conclusion.

  1. Honeymoon Hotel - by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics)
  2. By a Waterfall - by Sammy Fain (music) and Irving Kahal (lyrics)
  3. Shanghai Lil - by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics)
  • the suggestive and naughty 9-minute Honeymoon Hotel (pictured) heavily-censored sequence featured married (?) couples (all named Smith) in a hotel, along with newlyweds Scotty Blair (Dick Powell) and Bea Thorn (Ruby Keeler), who were harrassed by her younger, lecherous 'Little Boy' brother (Billy Barty) who almost shared their wedding night

  • the 10-minute pre-Code, opulent aquacade By a Waterfall (pictured twice) featuring an elaborate grouping of 100 bathing-suited girls/chorines (deliberately wearing nude-like bathing suits) performing amazingly intricate dances and patterns in the water while shot kaleidoscopically from overhead - and then forming a revolving 70 foot high human wedding cake/fountain waterfall formation at its climax

In between the second and third numbers, producer Kent fell down a staircase in a scuffle with the drunken lead actor and landed on-stage, where he was able to signal to the orchestra conductor to begin the musical prelude for the third and final number --

the stylized 10-minute long Shanghai Lil (pictured) (providing commentary on Paramount's Shanghai Lily character (Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (1932) from the year before) with Ruby Keeler in Chinese makeup and a jet-black wig, portraying a prostitute in a sleazy, backstreet opium den and brothel on Shanghai's waterfront, and a tap-dancing sailor (Kent (James Cagney) was forced to play the lead male role because the main star was drunk) looking for his long-lost love Lil in the vice-ridden bar - featuring a fantastic tap-dance duet between the two across a bar counter and on a bar table.

It closed with jingoistic configuration shots of an imperialistic, militaristic US Navy drill team of sailors, the Stars and Stripes American flag, the face of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (pictured), and the logo of the NRA's Blue Eagle.

"Honeymoon Hotel"

"By a Waterfall"

"Shanghai Lil"

Footlight Serenade (1942)

Fox's star Betty Grable appeared in this black and white musical (her last starring B/W film) as shapely chorine-dancer Pat Lambert starring in the Broadway show, Down and Out.

She was pursued by arrogant champion heavyweight fighter Tommy Lundy (Victor Mature) in the lead role, her co-star (who was nicknamed "The Body Beautiful")..

She also sang the duet I'm Still Crazy For You (pictured), during a balcony massage sequence, with her shirtless, secret husband William J. 'Bill' Smith (John Payne). At the end of the song, she asked him: "Darling, when does our wedding license expire?" He quipped: "Baby, when you drop a hint, you use a bomb..." and then added: "You're the most persistent, hard-headed, adorable person..."

In one memorable number in which she wore boxing gloves, Grable sang and danced to I Heard the Birdies Sing (pictured) with the chorus. In the song, she described how falling in love was like being hit with a knock-out punch. During the sequence, she also shadow-boxed with herself (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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