Gene Kelly in the greatest musical number of all time.
A few weeks from now, on June 22nd, the American Film Institute will be releasing their list of the 100 greatest songs from the movies. Well Three Movie Buffs is beating them to the punch. We have broken our list into 2 separate time eras; those made before 1960, during the classic age of the Hollywood musical, and those released since 1960, when the musical motion picture went into major decline in popularity but still managed to produce some extremely memorable numbers. Since film is such a visual medium the performance itself is every bit as important as the song being sung. Therefore most of our choices also feature dancing. Without further adieu...
1. 'Singin' in the Rain': Gene Kelly-Singin' in the Rain (1952) Kelly singing and dancing in the rain, gleefully splashing through the puddles with that impossibly radiant smile on his face, is the classic movie musical moment of all time.
2. 'Get Happy': Judy Garland-Summer Stock (1950) Dressed in a man's tuxedo coat and a fedora Judy dances up a storm and sings her heart out. The jazzy tempo and almost desperate lyrics are the perfect fit for the most talented movie musical performer who ever lived.
3. 'New York New York': Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munson-On the Town (1949) The bouncy tune and catchy lyric of this memorable song makes it a perfect tribute to the Big Apple. Gene, Frank and Jules singing and dancing while site-seeing famous spots in Manhattan makes it great.
4. 'Jailhouse Rock': Elvis Presley-Jailhouse Rock (1957) Presley sings, dances, struts, and grins with unparalleled cocky charm. This perfomance mixes his raw rock & roll gyrations with the choreography of a Hollywood musical to perfect effect.
5. 'Yankee Doodle Boy': James Cagney-Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) No Jimmy Cagney was not a good singer but with his blazing charisma and unorthodox dance style he could really sell a number. This song embodies the flag waving patriotism of a simpler time.
6. 'A Couple of Swells': Fred Astaire and Judy Garland-Easter Parade (1948) Dressed as tramps Astaire and Garland duet perfectly on this catchy and humorous Irving Berlin gem.
7. 'Make Em Laugh': Donald O'Connor-Singin' in the Rain (1952) For sheer energy, enthusiasm and rubber-faced mugging this performance has never been equalled. The guy literally runs up walls and does back flips.
8. 'Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend': Marilyn Monroe-Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1954) Monroe's most defining and often imitated musical performance. Thirty years later Madonna would recreate it for her 'Material Girl' video.
9. 'Well, Did You Evah?': Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby-High Society (1956) There is no better duet between two men than this. One of the lyrics is "...we sing so rare, like old Camembert..." Ain't it the truth.
10. 'The Trolley Song': Judy Garland-Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) This song shows what Judy could do with a heartfelt lyric and at the same time is a peppy sing-a-long. Everybody: "Clang, clang, clang went the trolley..."
1. 'Don't Rain on My Parade': Barbra Streisand-Funny Girl (1968) Talk about chutzpah and that voice, like buttah. Sung with a steadily building urgency Babs holds that amazing final note as she floats past the Statue of Liberty. Mesmerizing.
2. 'Summer Nights': John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John Grease (1978) Ah summer romances and back-to-school days. The guys in leather jackets strutting on the bleachers, the girls in poodle skirts skipping around the lunch table and the ending where Danny and Sandy sing the final lines together all make this one unforgettable movie performance.
3. 'Do Re Mi': Julie Andrews and cast The Sound of Music (1965) The breathtaking sight of Maria and the seven matching Von Trapp children on that impossibly beautiful mountain with that impossibly beautiful view will last forever. The simple yet memorable melody and the creative lyrics are a perfect fit and boy those kids were fast learners.
4. 'All That Jazz': Catherine Zeta-Jones Chicago (2002) The best musical number in years and she's not even known as a singer or dancer. This exciting jazz number is both refreshingly modern and a faithful tribute to Bob Fosse and the roaring twenties.
5. 'Cabaret': Liza Minnelli Cabaret (1972) Divine Decadence in all its glory. Liza sings like there's no tomorrow and means every word.
6. 'Sound of Music': Julie Andrews The Sound of Music (1965) Julie Andrews shows off her serenely majestic voice with this lilting melody. One of the best opening sequences from any musical.
7. 'Let's Go Crazy': Prince Purple Rain (1984) Not since Elvis had a rock & roll star made such an impact in a musical film. Not only does he sing and dance and play guitar but he composed the song as well. In a word: primal.
8. 'Time Warp': Cast and chorus Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) The all-time most popular camp classic number. This one is irresistable. Com'on you know it. "Put your hands on your hips..."
9. 'Ease On Down the Road': Diana Ross and Michael Jackson The Wiz (1978) This song has a great beat and Diana and Michael dance their butts off on the yellow brick road. The image of Manhattan as the Emerald City across the Brooklyn Bridge is stunning.
10. 'Puttin on the Ritz': Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle-Young Frankenstein (1974) In the best movie parody of all time Mel Brooks satires an old Clark Gable number from Idiot's Delight. Only instead of being backed by beautiful women Wilder has Frankenstein's monster.