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Strangest Musical Moments on film, 1928-1960


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I never liked hearing Lauren Bacall sing. She's too cool to sing, and singing makes her appear goofy. She is far too alto, and just doesn't sound right at all.

 

There was also a moment in The King and I when the young couple was in the garden, they're having a perfectly natural conversation, when the woman suddenly breaks into song in answer to her beau's question. Makes my skin crawl.

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I've never been a fan of Lauren's singing either, but out of morbid curiousity listenened to the cast album from the Broadway musical Applause, which was based on All About Eve. Not an improvement for Eve or Bacall. Other B'way musicals with Hollywood stars would be Coco with Katharine Hepburn, the revue Two's Company with Bette Davis, Wonderful Town with Rosalind Russell, and of course The Music Man and My Fair Lady, with Robert Preston and Rex Harrison respectively. Kate's and Bette's have their strangest musical moments when they sing (or do they?)

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Ah, Robert Preston and Rex Harrison are perfect examples of leading men cast in musicals who had no lyrical ability at all. Since neither can sing, they just add a lilting quality to their voices to give the appearance of singing, when they're actually just saying the words to the song. They used to do that for the actors at the Oscars when they used to have the musical montages, the actors that couldn't sing would use the same lilting quality to sing their part. Just plain silly!

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Any production number from the delightfully demented Al Jolson musical "Wonder Bar" has to rank right up there with some of the strangest musical images ever captured on film. I'm recalling one bizarre ditty where Ricardo Cortez bull whips Delores Del Rio as she furiously tap dances...

 

The cult Vincente Minnelli musical "Yolanda and The Thief" presents stars Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer in one gloriously gonzo moment after another -- including a gorgeously over-the-top surrealistic dream ballet -- in eye-popping Technicolor, no less...

 

Yves Montand beckoning to Barbra Streisand courtesy of "Come Back To Me" in Minnelli's "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" is striking and definitely unusual (at various intervals, Yves sings "through" a poodle, a police officer, a cooking school instructor and a TV newscaster). That's an overlooked musical on many levels and that sequence bumps the entire film into the "must be seen to be believed" category...

 

Although it isn't a musical, Mae West sings two numbers in the disasterpiece known as "Myra Breckinridge" and Raquel Welch and Rex Reed kick the whole

insane enterprise off with a tap dance down the Hollywood Walk of Fame - with a vintage Shirley Temple vocal supplying the accompaniment. Strange and Wonderful stuff.

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I commented on Golden Dawn below but I thought no one else caught it. You're bang on with your comments and I couldn't stop watching it either. An utterly ridiculous film that is certainly up there with Plan 9 From Outer Space as one of the worst films ever, and it might even top that one being a product of a major studio utilizing (wasted) decent talent. As I mentioned previously, Noah Beery's performance is pretty tough thing to swallow...

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Oops, here goes the obsessed Dietrich fan again...LOL Matt, I have to say I don;t agree that Dietrich can't sing. OK, she doesn't have a great voice--she's not in same league as Garland and so forth--but she can definitely put a song over, especially cabaret style songs. Check out her singing in "A Foreign Affair" in Janauary if you haven't seen it.

 

Tracey

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The finale of ZIEGFELD FOLLIES with all those chorus girls twirling through the giant mounds of soap suds while poor Kathryn Grayson warbles that silly "There's Beauty Everywhere" is pretty far out.

 

Also the "It's Gonna Be a Great Day" number from FUNNY LADY with Streisand dressed in a gold lame laundry bag and a bunch of girls writhing at her feet, and lest we forget the infamous "The Lady With the Tutti-Frutti Hat" number from THE GANG'S ALL HERE featuring Carmen Miranda and a bunch of chorus girls waving giant bananas. I don't think a good psychiatrist would touch those numbers with a ten foot couch.

 

That number featuring those triple jointed triplets tumbling all over the place from BROADWAY RHYTHM.

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Apparently her personality was enough and the fact she was in a musical brought in the crowds. I haven't read too many reviews, but it seemed like the critics thought she was pretty fascinating. I think Hepburn had a first version of the album pulled because she wasn't happy with it. I don't know if the CD is the first version or a second, though, but listen to it if you can.

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I'm not sure if I have the correct movie, because I haven't seen it in awhile, but my vote for strangest musical moment on film goes to the Easter Bunny song and dance fantasy sequence in 1949's My Dream is Yours. If I recall correctly, Doris Day and Jack Carson are trying to explain the Easter Bunny and its annual activities to Doris's son. Suddenly, Bugs Bunny enters the picture, and then Doris and Carson become rabbits, and the fantasy hi-jinx begin. Whenever I see it, I wonder how they got through the filming of it - the two of them must have thought they were putting the silliest song and dance number ever created down on film.

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  • 6 months later...

"In Broadway Melody of 1940, who in the world is singing "Begin The Beguine". She sounds so weird. (btw what is a Beguine?)."

 

This is a puzzle. Carmen D'Antonio is the woman that we see "singing" on screen, but she's lip synching. I've seen three different names listed as the real vocalist: Lois Hodnott, Lois Hardnett and (most surprisingly) Louis Hudnutt. I believe Lois Hardnett is the correct answer. She has a very covered tone.

 

A beguine? It's a rumba-like dance from the Carribbean; thought to have originated in Martinique.

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In Scrooge, the dancing on his coffin in the Thank You Very Much number, and Scrooge thinking they're prasising him, is rather strange material for a musical moment. >>

 

Matt,

 

I think you have done a mind meld. "Thank You Very Much" is from "Oliver" not "Scrooge"

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I know it's not what you would consider "classic" on this site/board, but I think the strangest musical performance is Dick Shawn's performance in The Producers... I'm sure you all know the one.

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"Thank You Very Much" is indeed a musical number in Scrooge. When the Ghost of Christmas Future transports Scrooge to the future to his offices, he sees a large group of people outside listening to Tom Jenkins, the hot soup man, thanking Scrooge for the wonderful and marvelous thing that Scrooge has done for them today... meaning his death. Jenkins does dance on the coffin - disturbing enough a scene to be edited from the early TV releases of the film.

 

CharlieT

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Have you seen "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" lately?

 

The dance of the imprisoned musicians in Dr. T's dungeon - it's like musical gay porn. The choreography looks like a depiction of a bad acid trip.

 

And Hans Conreid's "Dress Me" number - wow. It's so groteque and so homophobic. The lyrics are really over the top - if you've ever seen the Mr. Burns and the puppies number on the Simpsons, wherein he extols the virtues of animal skins as clothing, you'll get the idea.

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