Rex Harrison was an important actor for a long time, but today he’s probably best known for the classic musical, My Fair Lady. There’s tons of fun trivia about this movie: despite having performed the role of Eliza Doolittle on stage, Julie Andrews was passed over in favor of a better-known actress, Audrey Hepburn, who then had to have her singing numbers dubbed by Marni Nixon. Andrews would go on to beat Hepburn at the Oscars, winning Best Actress for Mary Poppins. Meanwhile, Harrison also won the Oscar, despite barely singing a note. The film won eight Oscars in all, including Best Picture and Best Director (George Cukor). I’ve always been a fan of My Fair Lady, and today we’ll celebrate the anniversary of Mr. Harrison’s birth with one of my favorite numbers.
The movie: My Fair Lady (1964)
The song: Just You Wait! (‘Enry ‘Iggins)
I’m taking this moment to wish an extremely happy 59th birthday to one of Hollywood’s most well-known musicians, and one of my all-time favorite voices: Mr. Danny Elfman! Even if, for some bizarre reason, his name doesn’t ring a bell with you, I guarantee that you’re familiar with his work. He’s been composing for movies and television since the late eighties/early nineties. Ever seen an episode of The Simpsons or Desperate Housewives? Yeah, he wrote the theme songs. Remember the 80s classic “Weird Science”? That’s him with his band, Oingo Boingo. He’s also composed a long, long list of movie scores, including most of Tim Burton’s films.
Today’s selection comes from one of my favorite movies, and easily the best Burton/Elfman project. The bonus is that, although Chris Sarandon provided the speaking voice for Jack Skellington, Elfman did his singing.
The movie Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The song: Jack’s Lament
Happy birthday, Danny Elfman! Here’s to many more, and to a lot more music!
Forgive me some literary geekiness for a moment, won’t you? Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, arguably the greatest English-language novelist in history. I’m a big fan. As such, I thought I’d post a Musical Moment in tribute. Obviously, this comes from the 1968 musical Oliver!, which is an adaptation of Oliver Twist. Have you read it? You should. It’s my pick for the best Dickens novel to get started with. At any rate, this is my favorite song from that show, so enjoy!
The musical: Oliver! (1968)
The song: I’d Do Anything
(Sorry about the crappy video, but it was really hard to find this particular scene. Note the incorrect title.)
Seven years ago this morning, I woke up struggling with the question of whether or not I wanted to start a relationship with a very nice young man with whom I’d been friends for a couple of months. We hung out, watched movies, had dinner, stuff like that, but we weren’t “dating”.
Six years ago today I married that young man. And so, this is a very special Musical Moment in honor of that event. The night before that first morning we had watched a strange little film together: The Triplets of Belleville. It wasn’t the first movie we watched together, and obviously it was not the last, but it will always be important to me. If you haven’t seen it, I do recommend it, and here’s a preview.
The movie: The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
The song (segment): Belleville Rendezvous
Happy anniversary, sweetie. I tried really hard to pick a song from Transformers: The Movie*, but it just wasn’t working for me. Maybe next year?
*It’s his favorite, and possibly the very first movie we saw together.
Having just learned that today is International Literacy Day, I couldn’t let the occasion pass by without a post. Seriously, folks … reading is one of the best things ever. Pick up a book today! (/librarian)
Obviously, the choice of musical is The Music Man, since the heroine is, in fact, a librarian. Just to shake things up a little, though, I’m not going to share “Marian the Librarian” with you. No, instead we’re going with “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little.” The reason why is because I absolutely LOVE the manner of contempt in which the town ladies utter some of the great names of literature: Chaucer! Rabelais! Baaaalzac! So, enjoy!
The movie: The Music Man (1962)
The song: Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little
Today would have been Natalie Wood’s 73rd birthday, and as such, it’s only fitting that I include this Musical Moment. West Side Story is not a favorite of mine (we’ll talk about that later), and I’m sorry to break it to anyone who didn’t know, but that’s not actually Ms. Wood singing (the great Marni Nixon was dubbed in), but this is still iconic, so there you have it.
The movie: West Side Story (1961)
The song: I Feel Pretty
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. MEL BROOKS! Yes, there are many different numbers I could have chosen, but what can I say? This one always cracks me up. (Plus I have this weird Gene Wilder thing.) Enjoy!
The movie: Young Frankenstein
The song: Puttin’ on the Ritz
Also for Shelley, wherever he may be.
Because today would’ve been Audrey Hepburn’s 82d birthday. Don’t need any more reason than that for this lovely moment from the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Did you know that this song, written by Henry Mancini especially for Audrey Hepburn and this film, won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1962?
The movie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
The song: Moon River
For some weird reason, this was stuck in my head this morning. Perhaps I just needed a little pick me up. What’s funny is that I remember it from having sung a choral arrangement in college, and thought it was an actual spiritual. When I looked it up, I realized that it’s actually by Gershwin, and is from the musical Funny Face, which I saw a few years ago. It’s kind of a weird musical starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, but this is the best scene. In it, Astaire and Kay Thompson are members of the fashion industry, posing as beatnik entertainers in order to win back their star model (Hepburn) who is being influenced away by a sleazy anarchist.
Anyway, winter’s hanging on (snow today? really??) has me kind of blue, and maybe you too … so Clap Yo’ Hands!
The musical: Funny Face (1957)
The song: Clap Yo’ Hands
So, it’s Valentine’s Day. And nearly every musical you could think of has to do with love, so I tried to think of the mother of all musical numbers about love … and this is what I came up with.
The musical: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
The song: Elephant Love Medley
Epic! Happy Valentine’s Day!