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Strangest Musical Moments on film, 1928-1960


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This category is for unusual, funny, or just plain weird music or performances of it.

It doesn't have to be in a musical. It would be helpful if you put down who sang it and what movie it is from (if you know).

A few I thought fit this description:

 

Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn singing "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" to Baby (the leopard) in Bringing Up Baby

 

"How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?" Song title in Royal Wedding, sung by Fred Astaire and Jane Powell.

 

"How Long Will It Last?" sung in three languages by Joan Crawford in Possessed (1931.)

 

"They're Either too Young or Too Old" sung (?) by Bette Davis in Thank Your Lucky Stars.

 

I'll try to remember some others, but I'm sure other folks can think up more!

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Strange indeed! By the way, here are a few others:

 

In the Barkleys of Broadway (with Fred & Ginger), there is a number (presumably in a theater) called "Shoes with Wings On." In the beginning, we hear Astaire's disembodied voice singing (live theaters weren't wired for sound in those days). When he begins to dance, the shoes on a shelf hop down and dance with him. Love the number, but it could only happen in the movies!

 

I might also add "The Girl Hunt Ballet" from "the Band Wagon" (also with Astaire) as improbable since it also involves narration by Fred over the dancing. It's also too cinematic to be in a theater.

 

And of course we all know, [at least I hope everyone does : )] that even Fred Astaire can't dance on the ceiling as he did in Royal Wedding.

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OK, you can post strange musical moments from anytime after 1960. I did that originally since there are so many "worst musicals" from the decades following which have already been discussed. 1928 was because sound pictures were beginning to pick up speed and "musicals" were quite popular for a short period but had burned out by the time 42nd Street was released (a hit.) Most early musicals were mediocre (at best!) with creaky plots, or even no plot at all (think of the Hollywood Revue of 1929, with no plot and the original Broadway Melody, both by MGM.) There are some exceptions, The Love Parade and Love Me Tonight, which stand up today quite well. Even some of the worst had hit songs though, some of which are "Singin' in the Rain," "Broadway Melody," "Happy Days are Here Again" and many of the Freed songs from the film Singin' in the Rain are from that era.

 

I can think of several strange musical moments from before 1928. During the late 20's, there was a theme song craze. That is, a songwriter associated with the studio would write a song, usually with the movie's title in it and sell it to movie theaters to play at showings of the film. Some of the stranger titles:

 

"Woman Disputed, I Love You" from Woman Disputed

 

"Redman, Why Are You Blue?" from Redman

 

Also in that era, when silent stars made their first talkie, they were often called upon to sing (even if it wasn't very good.) I can't remember many particular times, but Gloria Swanson did and could sing well, I heard her on an album made during the seventies, and she still sounded good. I've heard Pola Negri sing somewhere, too. But the strange musical moment is Joan Crawford again, doing the first audible tap dance in "The Hollywood Revue." Her tepsichohrean grace has been compared to lumberjacks and mules....

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the "Limehouse Blues" number in Ziegfeld Follies. With Fred Astaire and Lauren (something i can never remember her name sorry). Its just weird, I mean first Astaire walks around in that number like his shoes are too tight and then when they have a close up on his face he looks soooooooo scary with his eyes all taped back to look oriental. The dance in that number is sorta odd too. And then its all depressing and stuff at the end.

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Fred's partner in that kitschy number is Lucille Bremer, who he also partnered in "This Heart of Mine" in the same film. She also played Judy Garland's older sister in Meet Me in St. Louis, and danced with Fred again in Yolanda and the Thief (in which there are many more strange musical moments.)

 

My personal favorite from the Follies is the opera excerpt with those hideous costumes. It's so bad it's funny.

 

Practically every Esther Williams water ballet qualifies, but the one on water skis has to be the last word on overdone spectacle outside of DeMille.

 

I might also add the "tribute" to Jerome Kern at the end of Till the Clouds Roll By. Frank Sinatra gets special mention for pointlessly singing "Old Man River" at the top of a white pedestal on what must have been a bad hair day....

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Yeah that was her name thanks. Yeah that wavy black & white floor thing in Yolanda in the Thief was strange. Also i totally agree with you and the Ol' Man River number. His hair was very....different. also, i don't know why, but i find Frank Sinatra saying "He don't plant taters.." strange and funny

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I think any musical moment on film is strange ... the music comes out of nowhere and everyone knows the lyrics/dance steps. But to twist the category around a bit, I think two of the strangest moments in musicals were from A Star Is Born and Young At Heart, which both deal with the topic of suicide. Definitely a far cry from the 40s happy-go-lucky fare.

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I remembered 2 more strange musical moments! In Broadway Melody of 1940, who in the world is singing "Begin The Beguine". She sounds so weird. (btw what is a Beguine?). The other is in Summer Stock when Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers dance to and sing (just guessing the title) "Its a beautiful Music". Its funny but it was strange especially the outfits with those big huge feet.

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Here are two earlier "weird" moments:

 

1929 BROADWAY MELODY: "Wedding of the Painted Doll." The whole thing looks like the camera was bolted to the 22nd row of the theatre, and filmed straight on. Very vintage!

 

The next one I don't know the year or picture. I think it was one of those early "revue" type shows. It has someone singing to a bunch of school girls, "Lon Chaney's gonna get you...if you don't watch out." I've only seen clips of it, but what a weird topic to sing about.

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How could I have forgotten Busby Berkeley?!?! he had some of the most surreal, imaginative and tasteless musical numbers in movie history.

A few examples:

 

"Shadow Waltz", Gold Diggers of 1933-with those swirling dresses and glowing violins.

"Remember My Forgotten Man," sung by Joan Blondell in Gold Diggers of 1933

"Hoe Down" in a Mickey and Judy musical.

 

Several tasteless blackface numbers in various Mickey and Judy musicals, most notably in Babes on Broadway.

 

And in the spirit of Berkeley, there's the title number in Flying Down to Rio, with chorus girls doing various arm-and-leg waving postures on the wings of airplanes we are led to believe are in the air(!) ; it's hopelessly outclassed by Astaire and Rogers, whose first movie together this was.

 

I should also add "Orchids in the Moonlight" also from Flying Down to Rio sung by Gene Raymond to Dolores Del Rio with what looks like a kaleidoscope of flowers behind them.

 

One last favorite: a song called "Gone With the Wind" (unrelated to book or movie)

as sung by a character named Dixie Belle Lee in The Awful Truth. I'm not going to say anymore about it for fear of spoiling it. :)

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i know that this is after 1960 but...

in Willy Wonka the 1971 version when Gene Wilder goes in the tunnel w all the kids on the boat n is like sayin/singin somethin its CREEPY. cant watch that if u paid me. n one o the funniest moments is when he first walks out w the leg problem n then his cane gets stuck in the floor n he does that tumble thing i thought that was rele funny.but the tunnel thing too creepy

BTW Happy Holidays to everyone out there

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My favorite weird musical moment can be summed up in three words:

 

Benny Goodman sings!

 

This absurd event occurs in the movie The Gang's All Here (1944). The bad song that Benny makes even worse is "Minnie's in the Money." All I can say is, after you've hear this gem, you'll think William Hung sounds like Pavarotti.

 

Midge

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Did anyone see Golden Dawn the other day? You want to talk about strange musical moments! Practically everything about the film is bizarre, if not downright absurd. I read a fantastically written review for the film on imdB that really made me want to see, though I didn't need as many stimulants to get through it as the reviewer suggested would be necessary. I'm sure the absurdity would be increased if the original Technicolor version were around to give it an unhealthy, faded-painting look. And what was with Noah Beery?!? Ouch!

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