There is perhaps no crazier, more bizarre genre in all of moviedom than the musical. The early Hollywood musicals of the ’30s and ’40s are especially good at reaching levels of off-the-wall weird that may never be equaled. Whether it’s Ziegfeldian displays of flesh and fantasy, or the optical outrageousness of Busby Berkley, Hollywood’s musical tradition is steeped in WTF. We watch with mirth, disbelief, and ultimately awe at the display of tremendous talent matched with insanity.
Unfortunately, so many of the earliest musicals are lost or mutilated in one form or another. We are left with bad TV transfers and fuzzy black and white prints, where once there was glorious two-strip Technicolor, or the even rarer color system, Multicolor. Just imagining some of these musical numbers in pastel green and red is enough to stab my heart with regret.
But what we do have is still enough to show that when it comes to weird, no one does it better than the musical. Here are five of the wildest song and dance rides you can find.
Jennifer Baldwin is a freelance writer and teacher living in metro Detroit. She is a contributor at Libertas Film Magazine and writes about classic movies and culture at her own blog, Dereliction Row.