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TCM Spotlight: Dance Numbers


Toto
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Another musical with disjointed musical routines is There's No Business Like Show Business, which I love.  I think it works though, because we're seeing these routines outside of the confines of a "show within a show."  We see the "Alexander's Ragtime Band" when it's being performed as part of a show.  Marilyn Monroe's numbers ("Lazy" and "Heat Wave") are presented as rehearsal sessions.  The "Lazy" song is also a plot device as Donald O'Connor and Mitzi Gaynor's characters are offered roles in the number which causes a small rift in their relationship to their parents, Ethel Merman and Dan Dailey--who are trying to keep the family act together.  Johnnie Ray's numbers are just presented as a number that he's performing for the family, because he's planning on leaving the family act to become a man of the cloth. O'Connor and Monroe's "A Man Chases a Girl" number is used as a plot device to establish their romance.  

The other numbers in this film, are used to show other jobs that the family members are doing to stay afloat, or performances that are being put on because they're a musical family.  

Films like The Band Wagon or Summer Stock however, just seem to be a bunch of random songs that have nothing that even remotely ties them together.  I think this is even more glaring in Summer Stock, when we have the famous "Get Happy" number that was clearly filmed months after the rest of the film, as Judy Garland looks completely different here than she does in the rest of the film. 

I think it's impressive when a musical can present a cohesive story that can use songs that move the plot without relying on the show-within-a-show trope.  The Wizard of Oz and Grease come to mind. 

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2 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I love White Christmas.  You're correct that White Christmas isn't trying to put on a play.  I think they're putting more of a revue together, so it's just a series of individual performances and routines. And not that Bing and Danny aren't trying to put together a quality show, but I think it is something that was thrown together on the fly in light of learning that General Waverly is about to lose everything. 

I also love Rosemary's "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me" song that she performs outside of Bing and Danny's show.  This of course is shown when Rosemary temporarily leaves the show and goes to New York to make it on her own as a singer.

I love the whole damn thing.  Not usually a Danny Kaye fan, I think he's hysterical in WC.  "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" is wonderful and one of my favorite musical numbers ever and, like you, I  love "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" (Rosemary is very sexy looking and singing!) Dean Jagger is great, Mary Wickes is great and my only small complaint are those annoying little ballerinas taking up space in the final number.

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14 minutes ago, lydecker said:

I love the whole damn thing.  Not usually a Danny Kaye fan, I think he's hysterical in WC.  "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" is wonderful and one of my favorite musical numbers ever and, like you, I  love "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" (Rosemary is very sexy looking and singing!) Dean Jagger is great, Mary Wickes is great and my only small complaint are those annoying little ballerinas taking up space in the final number.

Yes. I love Danny Kaye.  I also love him in the "Choreography" number because it's just so delightfully weird. I agree about "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing." It's such a beautiful number.  I think White Christmas was originally meant to be a reunion between Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, but Fred wasn't available for whatever reason.  Then I think Donald O'Connor was linked to the film at some point, but he either was sick or had a conflict or whatever happened, it doesn't matter. He was out.  Then Danny Kaye was brought in.  I am so happy that things worked out how they did.  I love Vera-Ellen and I love Danny Kaye.  It's a shame that Rosemary Clooney's acting career didn't really pan out, but maybe she was more comfortable singing and she was definitely good at it.  Her black dress in the "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me" number is gorgeous.  That dress fits her like a glove.  I also love the black and red dress she wears in the "Mr. Bones" number. I hate how people instantly only want to comment on how thin Vera-Ellen is in this film, and completely ignore her fantastic dancing.  I especially love the "Abraham" routine. 

I love Mary Wickes, she is hilarious.  Though every time I see her, I think of her as Lucy Ricardo's ballet instructor.  "A one, a two, a three, a four..."

I agree with you about the ballerinas.  

I love Bing Crosby's "musician speak" that he uses throughout the film, like when he tells Rosemary Clooney to "bring the cow" (i.e. bring the milk) over to the table. 

Now I'm trying to decide if it's too early in the year to watch "White Christmas." 

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10 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

Yes. I love Danny Kaye.  I also love him in the "Choreography" number because it's just so delightfully weird. I agree about "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing." It's such a beautiful number.  I think White Christmas was originally meant to be a reunion between Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, but Fred wasn't available for whatever reason.  Then I think Donald O'Connor was linked to the film at some point, but he either was sick or had a conflict or whatever happened, it doesn't matter. He was out.  Then Danny Kaye was brought in.  I am so happy that things worked out how they did.  I love Vera-Ellen and I love Danny Kaye.  It's a shame that Rosemary Clooney's acting career didn't really pan out, but maybe she was more comfortable singing and she was definitely good at it.  Her black dress in the "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me" number is gorgeous.  That dress fits her like a glove.  I also love the black and red dress she wears in the "Mr. Bones" number. I hate how people instantly only want to comment on how thin Vera-Ellen is in this film, and completely ignore her fantastic dancing.  I especially love the "Abraham" routine. 

I love Mary Wickes, she is hilarious.  Though every time I see her, I think of her as Lucy Ricardo's ballet instructor.  "A one, a two, a three, a four..."

I agree with you about the ballerinas.  

I love Bing Crosby's "musician speak" that he uses throughout the film, like when he tells Rosemary Clooney to "bring the cow" (i.e. bring the milk) over to the table. 

Now I'm trying to decide if it's too early in the year to watch "White Christmas." 

It is never too soon to watch White Christmas.  Also, I wanted to give a special shout out to Vera-Ellen.  I think she is the best female dancer, ever and never gets her due.  She is a joy to watch in this film  --  whether she is dancing or not.  I love her scenes with Danny Kaye.  They are quite the funny pair.  I also love her with Astaire in Three Little Words.  

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10 minutes ago, lydecker said:

It is never too soon to watch White Christmas.  Also, I wanted to give a special shout out to Vera-Ellen.  I think she is the best female dancer, ever and never gets her due.  She is a joy to watch in this film  --  whether she is dancing or not.  I love her scenes with Danny Kaye.  They are quite the funny pair.  I also love her with Astaire in Three Little Words.  

Yes.  Vera-Ellen is fantastic in Three Little Words.  I also love her as "Miss Turnstiles" in On the Town.  She's also really great in the "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" number in Words and Music--the best part of that movie, imo.   She has such a small filmography, which is unfortunate because she is a fabulous dancer.  I would rank her up there alongside the best female dancers of that era: Eleanor Powell and Cyd Charisse. 

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I just watched "Kiss Me Kate" on TCM Spotlight:  Dance Numbers.  There are some incredible dance numbers and I was so surprised to see a young Bob Fosse in the film.  He danced in the film and has some uncredited choreography.  I spotted some of his dance style in his dance numbers. 

Later on TCM Spotlight:  Dance Numbers, they will show one of my favorite musical movies Cabaret (1972) directed by Bob Fosse.  Cabaret takes place in a Berlin Cabaret circa 1930 and has a dark theme that deals with totalitarianism.  It breaks with the idea that "musicals have to be happy".  This is an amazing movie.  It marks a change in the evolution of movie musicals.

Below:  A young Bob Fosse dancing in "Kiss Me Kate" and scenes from Cabaret

image.jpeg.79dac85386b4e4545f47a9cf49f0b7c2.jpeg                     DREAMS ARE WHAT LE CINEMA IS FOR...: CABARET 1972    image.jpeg.b333f8dce3653852ab5b85bb82dbab4e.jpeg

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I love "The Gay Divorcee" with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  Their dance to the song "Night and Day" is so elegant and tells the story of two people attracted to one another coming together.  Their dance movements are in perfect synchronization when they are dancing apart.  I know that Fred Astaire liked few cuts (or no cuts) during a dance number and showing the dancers whole figures.  This gives me the feeling of watching an actual dance (as opposed to bits and pieces of a dance that are later edited together) and I can appreciate the dancers whole figure movements coordinating arms, legs, etc.. 

There is a funny dance scene with Edward Everett Norton and a 17 year old Betty Grable dancing at the seaside resort.  Norton has a terrible bathing outfit on but Betty's dance outfit is beautiful.

The Gay Divorcee (1934) Review, with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire –  Pre-Code.Com     image.jpeg.c07ff2f821436e54937c3b9e4037d441.jpeg     image.jpeg.01a3a78e6510163544f74a2adffe89e1.jpeg

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19 hours ago, Toto said:

I just watched "Kiss Me Kate" on TCM Spotlight:  Dance Numbers.  There are some incredible dance numbers and I was so surprised to see a young Bob Fosse in the film.  He danced in the film and has some uncredited choreography.  I spotted some of his dance style in his dance numbers. 

I was so excited that in Dave's pre-film conversation with Adam Shankman they gave an extended shout out to Tommy Rall! I assumed they were going to talk mainly about Bob Fosse ( which would have been ok, too!)

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17 hours ago, sagebrush said:

I was so excited that in Dave's pre-film conversation with Adam Shankman they gave an extended shout out to Tommy Rall! I assumed they were going to talk mainly about Bob Fosse ( which would have been ok, too!)

I totally agree.  Tommy Rall was amazing and it was the first time that I was introduced to him.  The physicality of his dance routine on the roof was really exceptional.  How could he do it?  And like Shankman pointed out, he does incredibly difficult dance movements but makes it all look effortless and easy.

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They didn't discuss "Gold Diggers of 1935" for the TCM Spotlight but did show it on the Spotlight night with other musicals.  The musical number where Winnie Shaw transforms into Manhattan is clearly filmed with changes of scenes and different camera angles, edits, special effects, etc..  This clearly departs from the story line where this musical is suppose to be happening on a stage at a resort.  That said, I love this unusual musical number done with Busby Berkley's fantastic creativity.  When I watch a Busby Berkley musical, I just wait for the big Berkley musical number toward the end.  It's always a visual surprise.

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10 hours ago, Toto said:

When I watch a Busby Berkley musical, I just wait for the big Berkley musical number toward the end.  It's always a visual surprise.

My favorite is "Remember My Forgotten Man" from GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933.

 

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6 hours ago, sagebrush said:

My favorite is "Remember My Forgotten Man" from GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933.

 

"Remember the Forgotten Man" is my favorite Busby Berkley number too!  It really brings home that the time of this film is the Great Depression and calls to mind the hard times of the veterans of WWI.  Marching soldiers from WWI transform into hungry men on a breadline.  This number is unforgettable.

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Once again I was excited by a shout out Adam Shankman gave post film. This time, it was for dancer/choreographer Robert Helpmann, who, along with Leonid Massine (who played the cobbler), choreographed The Red Shoes ballet. He was quite a prolific performer/director/choreographer. You can catch him in a few other British films as an actor, too (ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING, HENRY V, THE IRON PETTICOAT to name a few) and also CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

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