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Friday, May 25, 2012

25 Best Musical Performances in Non-musical Films: 5-1

I’ve been counting down my top 25 most iconic musical performances in a non musical film.  Once again, these are musical performances, lip synched or otherwise that stood out in the landscape of pop culture.  These are not from movies that have a real musical story element.  These are from films where someone, for whatever reason, breaks out into song and dance.

Now, I’ve visited the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s for selections 25-6.   I’ve done mostly comedies, and at least one thriller.   While a majority of the top five includes comedy, one of them is black and there is one war film in there.  For the top five, I’m going to give a little exposition on each one.  Sort of why I picked it and why it left an impression on me.

So, let’s not waste anymore time.  OK?

The typical childhood pop culture diet usually contains equal parts annoying kiddie show music, repetitive imagery and music from cartoons, and Disney.  Well, my kid doesn’t get that.  She’s more on the ball with my childhood’s pop culture landscape than I was when I was her age.

In my childhood, my father warped my mind with viewings of Monty Python and other British late night comedies.   Couple that with stealing HBO as a kid and I saw more movies that led to my corruption.    Chief among them  were the films of Mel Brooks.   History of the World Part I, To Be or Not To Be, and Blazing Saddles were some of my favorites.  But one stood out among the rest.  It was a black and white monster film.  OK, it was really a comedy, but still, it had a mad scientist, an ominous monster, and a hilarious musical performance that has become a quintessential joke whenever someone imitates Frankenstein’s monster.  “Puuhtin ahn tha Riiiitz!”

5. Young Frankenstein "Puttin on the Ritz"

Another film I had only seen once I was into my early teens because it was pretty risqué for its time.  Anytime you look at the TV Guide and you see the abbreviations “N” and “SC” in the synopsis for a movie, you knew you weren’t getting to see it with parents around.  Once again, HBO stepped in and I happened to catch this one when I was home alone.  Oh my!

In typical 80s fashion an outlandish scheme is hatched to cover up an even more outlandish lie which results in everything being positively resolved by the end of the film.  If only life could work like that.

Anyway, all this 80s style mayhem and one superstar’s career started simply with a pair of sunglasses, tighty whities, and Bob Seger.

4. Risky Business "Old Time Rock and Roll"

War movies are usually not known for being upbeat or sing-songy… unless that movie is South Pacific.   They’re mostly dour and somber with explosions and grief.   However, one must keep up the British end, even when a POW.  When faced with impossible odds, keep a stiff upper lip, stick out your chest and whistle a tune which serves as a placeholder for lyrics that speak of Hitler only having one ball.

Most kids don’t relish watching a two and a half hour war film, especially one that does not involve Stallone or Schwarzenegger blowing up bad guys with their one liners.   For me, though, this next film was a classic already and I loved it.  It was more cerebral than its muscle headed 80s counterparts.    But, mainly, I loved it because it had Obi-Wan Kenobi as sort of a bastard.  Seeing Alec Guiness play against type of the stoic, Zen like Jedi Master in Star Wars was really a treat.  I’d love to see his George Smiley from the BBC’s 1979 version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

But for now, I’ll just have to remember to put my lips together and blow.

3. Bridge on the River Kwai "Colonel Bogey March"

Also, I have to include as a footnote that the Colonel Bogey March appears again in another memorable 80s classic.  Same idea, POWs trying to make the best of a bad situation; Saturday detention.

Breakfast Club "Colonel Bogey March"

Stanley Kubrick was a sick f*ck.  Bloody brilliant director though.  I saw the Shining at a young age and that damn scene with the bear suit still freaks me out. And I saw 2001 and that damn star child still freaks me out. But, it wasn't until college that I actually saw this film. And yet, to this day, no matter how much I love his work, Malcolm McDowell still freaks me out.

2.Clockwork Orange "Singin' in the Rain"

Here it is, number one.   I hemmed and hawed of what I considered to be the most iconic musical performance in a non musical film.  It had to be something that sort of reached across some boundaries for people.   Being in my late 30s I thought back to first movie I ever rented on VHS.  We had just got a decent VCR for Christmas that year and my brother and I went down to the Valley Dairy to rent a video.  I had never seen this movie which had came out in theaters the previous summer.   It was a big hit in the theaters and had led to a recharting of an old tune from the 60s.  The scene featured two songs, lip synched by the lead character who pretty much just wanted to have a good day off from class. 

I think you know of which movie I speak.

1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off  "Danke Schoen / Twist and Shout"

Hope you enjoyed the list.  I'm going to put up an honorable mention list real soon.

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