Now That’s Entertainment— 11 Musical Moments in Non-Musical Films

1. Science Fiction from Rocky Horror Picture Show: One of the greatest moments in moviedom was when a little movie in 1975 premiered, forever changing the landscape of the theater experience as well as defining what it means to be a cult film. The opening film sequence has a big pair of red sultry lips singing how she wants to go to the late night double feature picture show in the back row by RKO. It was a moment that signified for me why I personally wanted to be an actress, so I can play Magenta and perform this song and I did. It also explains in full view why film is one of the great visual mediums ever invented. Rocky Horror Picture Show has seen countless parodies and homages especially from cult auteur Ryan Murphy in his maligned tribute episode on Glee to a full blown remake for Fox coming this fall with Laverne Cox stepping in Tim Curry’s iconic Sweet Transvestite heels. You can catch a showing at the local pulp theater near you. Rocky Horror has the longest running theatrical release of all time.

2. Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace dance to Chuck Berry’s “You Can Never Tell” in Pulp Fiction: Quentin Tarantino’s non-linear masterpiece was a career resurgence for fading star John Travolta and a star-making tour-de-force role for his ultimate muse Uma Thurman. The feisty twosome dance at the Jack Rabbit Slim (in real life it’s called Famous Mel’s). The restaurant holds a dance competition and Mia, the wife of the infamous mobster Marsellus Wallace, orders Vincent to dance. What appears next is a visual perfection. Their bond is connected as they grove in a stimulating twist to the sounds of Chuck Berry that has us coked up like Mia.

3. John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever: We cannot have Pulp Fiction without Saturday Night Fever and it is here that made Travolta a debonair superstar. He strutted New York to the rhythm of the Bee Gees and never let go. It was monumental as it was the makings of what would be one of dance of the last movie stars. The silver screen icon was all attitude as he glides his way to the dance floor, arresting us with the portrait of a 70’s kid facing the realities of growing up. Travolta depicts what it means to have one last great party to kick off adulthood.

4. Almost Famous’ Homage to Elton John and “Tiny Dancer:” Cameron Crowe’s last great film is the tale of a would-be music journalist for Rolling Stone magazine who experiences the pains of love, music, and heartbreak in Almost Famous. In a quiet scene, before the madness of sex, drugs, and rock and roll truly takeover, the band, the kid journalist, and the groupies (including Kate Hudson’s Cactus Flower Penny Lane) sing Elton John’s 1970’s hit. Written by Bernie Taupin, he was inspired by the groupies of a seventy’s California in the Sunset Strip. The groupies latched onto him like motherly lovers. He has described this as a patented Oedipal complex of epic proportions. He associated the women as the singular “blue jean baby.” These women, his Mona Lisas are immortalized as the woman who knows his song and hums along to it. In this scene, Stillwater tether on destruction but they mend the fences once they hit the refrain of this song.

5. Robin Williams’ Dive “Under Pressure” with David Bowie and Queen: Looking at this now from a 2016 perspective, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, and Robin Williams are all dead. And they all lived under pressure, with Williams suffering the most of it. In the film, Williams’ character’s son commits suicide. The asshole doesn’t deserve to be eulogized but as Williams creates his son’s folk lore, the character he creates is practically canonized. The sainthood becomes too much of a burden. It is in this scene where he unveils a deep catharsis. He calls the entire school out on their bullshit. He calls himself a liar for hiding behind the veil of his dead pathetic dipshit son who truly died from auto-asphyxiation. At that moment, he sincerely gives two shits what they think of him. As Bowie and Mercury sing, Williams strips naked and dives into the pool. It was his momentary happiness that freed this caged actor. He was truly the best this world has ever seen and sadly, a few years ago, we lost him at the brink of him losing his mind. He was losing his Robin Williamness.

6. Sister Christian scene that was loosely inspired by the Wonderland Murders in 1981: It was one of those scenes where the tide was high as the drug deal from hell is boiling at the seams. The constants shots, the fear, the feeling of being holstered up inside a house is riveting but Alfred Molina’s insanity draping with the lunacy of Thomas Jane maniacal Joker-esque laugh is priceless.John C Reilly and Mark Walheberg just watch in horror as the scene unfolds. The scene is loosely inspired by porn star extraordinaire John Holmes and his involvement in the Wonderland Murders. For these events, the porn star lost his life.

7. Jessica Rabbit serenades Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: We always discuss this sequence as the moment boys became men but to be honest, girls like me realized we wanted to be Jessica Rabbit.  She was the cartoon vixen and the answer to what a woman wants. The bombshell scorched the scene singing the Peggy Lee number and she does it so well. Her voice is like a red velvet cake moist at the base of the mouth. Jessica wasn’t bad as they say. She was just drawn that way. It the amalgamation of the Femme Fatales of the past that creates the sudden boil of lust so palatable. On a side note, my dad looks so much like Bob Hopkins in this movie, it’s hysterical. He usually looks more like James Gandolfini from The Sopranos.

8. The Droogs Rape and Murder through Gene Kelly’s Wholesome “Singin’ in the Rain” in A Clockwork OrangeTaking Gene Kelly’s wholesome song from the seminal film Singin’ in the Rain and remaking it to this dirty, perverted, brutal interpretation where my all time spirit animal Alex DeLarge rapes and sodomizes an unsuspecting couple. is sheer fucking bananas. It is the balls and nutsack of brilliancy that can only come from my all-time film master Stanley Kubrick. DeLarge sings the song while doing this maddening macabre act of serialized sodomy in this maddening sequence that is low-key and dripping in realism is pleasantly easy to watch as a voyeur. No bells and whistles, everything reads as if it were happening in real life.

9. Michelle Pfeiffer is Makin’ Whoopee in The Fabulous Baker Boys: Michelle Pfeiffer is one of the most striking faces ever to grace the silver screen. She is a timepiece to an Old Hollywood era. Here in The Fabulous Baker Boys, she gallivants on top of the piano and never does a live-action star make love to a microphone the way she does. She oozes sex appeal in a way the 1950’s never allowed Monroe to portray.

10. Al Pacino’s blind tango to Carlos Gardel Por Una Cabeza in Scent of a Woman: Should Scent of a Woman been the one and only Oscar win for Al Pacino. Fuck no. Absolutely never. At that point, even in 1992, it was pretty much obvious that his lack of wins was an Academy Awards blunder of epic proportions. Pacino should have won for a number of films at that point but the build up in this scene was worth the golden wait. Pacino dazzles as a charming, mild-mannered connoisseur dancing a passionate tango to Gardel’s Argentinean classic Por Una Cabeza. He brings to life a Clark Gableness that no other actor has been able to to attempt because quiet frankly Gable is the King of Hollywood for a damn good reason. Have you seen his face kids? He was Hollywood’s Adonis. Pacino soars in his quietest role thus far.

11. Des’ree sings “Kissing You” in Romeo and Juliet: Baz Luhrmann directs the best adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy as Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes star as the star-crossed lovers. The scene was one of the most gorgeously shot scenes I’ve ever seen. The petulant teen-children forget to be a nuisance to their embattled parents and meet against the serene fish tank. I hate Romeo and Juliet because I see the play for what it is but this scene is magical. The movie in itself is a dream I wished I was in. The song “Kissing You” is blissful and lusting of a love that could never be. The tale of the dying absurdity of a feud that nobody even knows how it began is coupled with the angst felt by the teens at the epicenter of the story.

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