ThinMan15

Strangest Musical Moments on film, 1928-1960

72 posts in this topic

This is a movie that I try to see whenever it plays at one of the local rep houses. It's become quite a cult favorite. A pal of mine made "Happy Fingers" hats for everyone to wear to the showings. For awhile we were trying to get ahold of the original hats. I was acquainted with the head milliner at Warner Bros. and we hoped he could pull some strings (yes, I know it was a Columbia movie; but the Hollywood hat world is small...). When that didn't come to fruition, she made her own.

 

As for "Do-Mi-Do Duds" (The Dressing Song), I was surprised to see you attribute it to homophobia. The San Francisco audiences seem to see it as a celebration rather than a denegration. If you want to hear the roar of a crowd's approval, you should hear the cheers at the finale of this number (as well as the uber-Suess Dungeon production number). "Because We're Kids" is such a great anthem for tykes too.

 

I wish someone would remaster the soundtrack to this movie and release it on cd (I own a vinyl version).

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You know, Marco, I have a morbid fascination with this film, and I watch it every time it's broadcast. I'm glad to hear that it is appreciated, but I honestly don't think it was intended to be a celebration. I think it was intended as just the opposite, given the time frame. And if not, it was surely interpreted that way by early 1950s audiences. I'm glad to know that something snide has been turned into a positive experience. And why not -- it's so over the top -- who would want to take it seriously? And I still do a double-take every time I see "A Stanley Kramer Production." It is a very odd duck of a movie, and I didn't like it at all when I was a child -- too intense, too nightmarish, to moiling (all those little boys in striped shirts!) and, dare I say it -- too sadistic. I like it better now - at least, I can sit through it.

 

I am a big fan of Conried, and I think he was terrific in this movie. I especially like the Do-Mi-Do number - it's very clever, but it's also a little icky. I loved Tommy Rettig, and I suffer with him on so many levels while I'm watching this movie (those endless, boring, piano scales!).

 

My impression of Dr. Seuss, after reading about him here and there, is that he was anything but sweet in reality. I suppose I therefore tend to ascribe baser intentions to his work.

 

By the way, did you happen to see a broadcast of the opera "Turandot" a few years ago? The sets (David Hockney?) looked very much like the sets for "Dr. T."

 

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jdb1

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I've seen Hockney's production of Turandot live and now that you mention it, I can see the similarities between the two productions (Hockney/Suess)! Similar palette. I wonder if Mr. Hockney is aware of this. Perhaps he was also traumatized by Dr. T.'s undulating undies with the maribou fringe.

 

I first saw this movie when I was a piano lessoned kid. I loved it. It held equal fascination as Invaders from Mars.

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Yes!!!! You are so right!!!

 

I've been having traumatic flashbacks for weeks since we discussed "Invaders From Mars," and now I see that "Dr. T" is in my mental mix as well. Going through those weird underground passageways and up and down those crazy stone stairways (no Freudians, please).

 

Well, thanks a lot - I"ll never get to sleep tonight. Good thing you didn't mention "Forbidden Planet," my other childhood movie trauma.

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Wow. No one's mentioned "The Goldwyn Follies" (1938) yet, which is a virtual catalogue of wierd moments on film.

 

The Ritz Brothers singnig "Here ****, ****" while inundating Adolphe Menjou's office with two score or more cats.

The Ritz Brothers (again) dressed as mermaids, warbling "Serenade to a Fish."

Dennis Day being heckled by Charlie McCarthy as he tries to sing in rhyme while playing the accordion. (You go, Charlie!)

Kenny Baker, singing "Love Walked In" while flipping hamburgs at a lunch wagon.

And the "dance-off" (jazz vs. classical ballet) in the Romeo and Juliet fantasy sequence being staged by Menjou's film company early in the film.

 

Also, anything staged by Busby Berkely and featuring a performance by Billy Barty. How about the "Honeymoon Hotel" sequence (I think from Gold Diggers of 1933) where Barty is dressed like a leering toddler and peeking in on the honeymooners. Or the sequence (same film) in which the a dressed in rain gear gives Dick Powell a can opener to pry open the metal corset Ruby Keeler is sporting. Yeeks.

 

And here's one more. I've gotta toss a mention to Robert Fuest's brilliant "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (1971) starring Vincent Price. You just haven't lived until you've seen a psychiatrist's head implode inside a ornate frog mask while Paul Frees sings "The Darktown Strutter's Ball"

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I can't believe that no one's mentioned the Joan Crawford vehicle, Torch Song (1953) for bizarro musical and non-musical moments. Perhaps that's due to the fact that no present day network seems to have the bad taste, (or is it nerve?), to show a technicolor Joan in full blackface performing the song, "Two Faced Woman". This sequence is just part of the movie, and no one in the movie seems to bat an eye about the inclusion of a seriously offensive nod to a properly dead minstrel tradition. Since MGM seems to have been willing to alienate huge chunks of its audience they also throw in lines like Joan's nasty crack to blind pianist Michael Wilding : "Why don't you get yourself a seeing eye girl?" Joan also "sings", (actually, she's dubbed by India Adams), "Blue Moon", "Tenderly", and, most appropriately, "You Won't Forget Me".

 

And just to prove that Joan has still got "it", she's swathed in Helen Rose costumes that seem to emphasize what discipline can do for the figure of a middle aged lady, especially when they're cut up the leg revealing a thigh that you could crack a walnut on. At one point Joan has a run-in with an unfortunately clumsy chorus boy who is felled by said limb. Joan's excuse for this "accident"? : "He's paid a handsome salary to dance AROUND that leg!"

 

During this movie, it's said that Joan "has the mouth of angel, but the words that come out are pure tramp!" I would hesitate to recommend this musical, except as a diversion for Joan Crawford aficionados. Truly strange, and, alas, only available, as far as I know, on vhs.

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I watched a strange musical moment last night. Lizabeth Scott serenades Humphrey Bogart in "Dead Reckoning" (1947). Well, sort of "serenades"--Ms. Scott is about 1/8 second late lip-synching the voice...enough to be noticed. A few seconds into the song, my wife and I left the room in search of food. When I was sure the music thing was over, I remarked, "time to go back to the movie". Pretty good movie, other than the pretty bad musical interlude. Note that IMDB has Lizabeth Scott performs the song and dubbed by "unknown". My wife mentioned Lauren Bacall as a possible candidate for "unknown". Hmm...Lizabeth Scott dubbed by Lauren Bacall...gives me the "willies".

 

BTW: Is it the first, or second, Dr. Phibes movie that ends with the song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"?

 

Rusty

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Good afternoon, Rusty.

 

Actually, BOTH Phibes films end with "Over the Rainbow." In the 1971 original, the song is used as the closing credits music, but it is instrumental form only, with a full-throated Vincent Price cackle at the end. In the sequel, "Dr. Phibes Rises Again" (1972) the same song is used for the end credits, only Vincent Price gets to sing it as well. You have to hand it to any filmmaker who is willing to let the audience go out of the theater listening to Vincent Price sing "If happy little bluebirds fly..."

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"Also, anything staged by Busby Berkely and featuring a performance by Billy Barty. How about the "Honeymoon Hotel" sequence (I think from Gold Diggers of 1933) where Barty is dressed like a leering toddler and peeking in on the honeymooners..."

 

Which reminds me of another Busy Berkeley film from that era. I've actually never seen the movie itself, but it includes a number that I have on vinyl. The number is called "The Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish" and it's wild! It comes from a movie called Garden of the Moon. The song defies any description that I could put into words, and the images that accompanied it must have been bizarre. I believe it features John Payne and Jerry Colonna (amongst others) singing this song. Has anyone seen it?

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In HEARTBURN, Mark Forman (Jack Nicholson) serenades his pregnant wife Rachel (Meryl Streep).

I enjoy Nicholson as an actor, but singing is not his forte, to say the least.

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Derek Jarman directed a rather stodgy version of Shakespeare's The Tempest (1979). I first saw it in the Cinema III in NYC. Some of the audience members slept through much of the film. They woke up near the end, when Elisabeth Welch appears, billed as "A Goddess," to sing this amazing version of "Stormy Weather."

 

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"By the Waterfall" in Footlight Parade (1933).  All the musical numbers were supposed to be "Trailers" put on before films, and the chorus girls were supposed to be bused from theater to theater.  They could set up a giant fountain and swimming pool at several different theaters?  Also, the camera angles, etc., are definitely semi-pornographic.  Allegedly, Berkeley got his ideas for his musical numbers while drinking bourbon and sitting in his bathtub, which I could believe.

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Kiss and Make Up from 1934 is a film I've only seen once

 But several years on, I still remember that musical number: "Corned Beef and Cabbage, I Love You"

And also the "Marijuana" numer in Murder at the Vanities.

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I've always like the movie The Third Man, but found the music extremely irritating. I know it was the late 40s, but for me it really distracts from what is otherwise a great film. 

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In Catalina Caper (1967), one of those non-American International beach party ripoffs, Little Richard lets loose with "Scuba Party", the kind of youth anthem with which he had obviously never been previously associated in the least. He's Little Richard to the max, dressed head-to-toe in gold lame, and surrounded by bare-midriffed go-go girls on the deck of a boat full of "surfer" dudes, as incongruous as he could possibly be. The funny thing is the number kills. I burned it to a CD with some other magic movie moments and listen to it on long drives.

The Supremes singing "Surfer Boy" in Beach Ball is another dumb*** moment which actually pays off in a weird kind of way.

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4 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

:o

Another "zombie thread"?

Looks like it. But a fun one, apparently brought back to coincide with "Mad About Musicals".

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Oh, my vote has to be Smiley Burnette teaching a bunch of African natives (the wonderful Cabin Kids) how to get hot in ROUND-UP TIME IN TEXAS.

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TCM broadcast a little film from 1929, Sunnyside Up, starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell a few years back.  There is a musical number in this film called "Turn on the Heat".  The musical number starts out with chorus girls in winter coats dancing around Eskimo igloos and transforms over the course of the song to scantily clad chorus girls with palm trees, bananas plants and fire coming out of the floor forcing the chorus girls to dive into a pool of water.  I am watching this and I can't decide if this is strange or stupendously unique. 

I thought "Sunnyside Up" was a great film which will draw you in, hold your attention and keep you entertain but the "Turn on the Heat" number had me wondering what am I watching here.  I wish TCM would place this title back on their broadcast schedule in the coming months. 

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9 hours ago, thomasterryjr said:

TCM broadcast a little film from 1929, Sunnyside Up, starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell a few years back.  There is a musical number in this film called "Turn on the Heat".  The musical number starts out with chorus girls in winter coats dancing around Eskimo igloos and transforms over the course of the song to scantily clad chorus girls with palm trees, bananas plants and fire coming out of the floor forcing the chorus girls to dive into a pool of water.  I am watching this and I can't decide if this is strange or stupendously unique. 

I thought "Sunnyside Up" was a great film which will draw you in, hold your attention and keep you entertain but the "Turn on the Heat" number had me wondering what am I watching here.  I wish TCM would place this title back on their broadcast schedule in the coming months. 

Being a big fan of Sunnyside Up, a definite favorite of mine, I can only add to that a couple of the songs from Just Imagine (1930).

http://moviecollector.us/pics_to_hotlink_on_TCM/just imagine.png

"Never Swat A Fly" seems to have been noticed by at least a few others, judging by Youtube uploads.  This a silly little song, performed during a set of vaudeville acts, aboard a futuristic airship (zepelin) party in the year 1980, before the Hindenburg disaster put a definitive end to the romance with airships. 

Also on board this airship party, there is a choreographed drinking song with impeccable timing.  This movie was made during the Prohibition, so they saw themselves only drinking from very small sample-sized bottles by the time the year 1980 came around.

Towards the end there is an unusual production number on the planet Mars in 1980, where the locals and the experimental space travelers from Earth are treated to a presumably typical sort of native "Martian" dance, which might be categorized these days as "performance art".  That is in the last third of the movie, and where it runs out of steam IMO.  The first two thirds are so imaginative though that I am more than willing to overlook that. 

The humor is chock full of period-era references.  The set design is said to bear some resemblance to Metropolis, though the movie itself doesn't burden the viewer with heavy-handed messages.  Instead it instills a sense of wonder about what the future might be like in 1980, from the perspective of 1929/1930.  Typical early sound era stuff for Fox, back when when the title cards said "The William Fox Company" and purveyors of sound movies were still in their discovery phase. 

The movie gets a lot of flak, IMO mostly because it doesn't adhere to any typical formulas (i.e. "categorizers" are bound to be befuddled).  IMO that only adds to it.

Here is what I think is a fair enough review of the movie:
http://horrornews.net/84704/film-review-just-imagine-1930/

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