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What's the etiquette for "borrowing" another movie's musical numbers?

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There's an interesting thread on "There's No Business Like Show Business" in General Discussions, but I don't want to get it off-topic with this discussion. My cable company has posted a great (and extensive) collection of HD films, mostly classics. Lots of mid-50's Columbia stuff, and one of them is "Three For The Show", a 1955 musical with Betty Grable, Jack Lemmon, and Marge and Gower Champion. But the big musical numbers are total rip-offs from other films, notably "Kiss Me Kate", "Kismet" and the "Heat Wave" number from TNBLSB. I forget what the song is but,seriously, there's Betty Grable in that ruffled wrap-around skirt, doing all of Marilyn's bump and grind action and surrounded by bare-midriffed chorus boys in carpi pants. The ONLY real difference is that Betty's wearing a red bowler hat instead of Marilyn's straw picture hat. There's an opening number that looks like an out-take from "Kiss Me Kate", I swear. Does anyone know what gives? Was this considered OK by the industry? Was it thought to be fair game or was Harry Cohn being a .....? Maybe they thought it was a cute homage, but seeing it today is shocking, so I wonder what audiences of the day thought when those movies were still fresh in their minds. Don't get me wrong; it was a treat seeing Betty still going strong, Jack Lemmon in one of his few musical roles, and Marge and Gower in absolutely anything. But I still can't help feeling that this movie overstepped its bounds. Does anyone know how this came about or have anything they can add?

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I haven't seen both movies but I would wager that the music and costuming was probably standard fare if the depiction is a scene in Latin America. i.e. the"Heat Wave" number. I have seen numerous movie musical performances from Mexican and Cuban cinema and there is usually little to distinguish one number from the other.


It's kind of like popular music. To some people's ears its all the same.


My two cents.

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That's an interesting analogy but yeah. The statement could apply if one would generally regard popular tunes as drivel. Some friends of mine like classical and/or jazz and I feel they're missing out. "Like a Virgin" and "Jumping Jack Flash" are both in 4/4, have a similar tempo, and a strong afterbeat to balance the rhythm. So they're kind of fun. If I had to choose, it would be the Stones tune because of it's gritty edge.


Edited by: Daria on Nov 29, 2011 6:13 PM


Edited by: Daria on Nov 29, 2011 6:14 PM

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I don't think there's ever been such a thing as etiquette when it came to movies. If a studio had a hit, then all the others tried to copy it. It didn't matter if it was a plot element, a particular type of character or a musical number, everything seemed to be fair game. It still happens today although probably more so in television. One great idea for a "new" show and within six months there's a dozen others doing the same thing.

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