Looking for an amazingly campy dance sequence from an old movie.
October 11, 2013 11:31 PM   Subscribe

I saw an old clip on cable a while back and can't find it again. It featured what I think was a young Buddy Ebsen, though it could have been another actor who was later famous as an older man. The clip was in black and white, I believe the principal dancers were in sailor suits, and the song was something like "keep it gay" or "make it gay" but it was definitely not the song/dance sequence from The Producers. Does this ring a bell for anyone?
posted by bink to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not the movie clip you're talking about, but here's William Shatner singing "Keep it Gay" in 1969. Presumably it's the same song you're talking about.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:59 PM on October 11, 2013

The song, I believe, is Rodgers and Hammerstein's original Keep It Gay (sung by Rosemary Clooney; sung by Kate Smith), from Me and Juliet (1953), which is what the song in The Producers was spoofing.

Ebsen was a singer and appeared on Broadway five times, all of them musicals. Although Ebsen appeared in such early stage-to-TV programming as Broadway Television Theater (slightly too early), it doesn't look as though IMDb has any record of a television staging of "Me and Juliet"; of course it's possible he did it for another program.
posted by dhartung at 1:52 AM on October 12, 2013

Sounds an awful lot like Shipyard Sally (1939), of which I know nothing -- I'm just Google-extrapolating back from a reference to it that I remember from The History Boys. The song in the film is "Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye" by Gracie Fields, and it includes the lines "not a tear, but a cheer/make it gay!"
posted by thesmallmachine at 1:53 AM on October 12, 2013

Upon finding the relevant clip from Shipyard Sally, there are no sailors (or any male singers/dancers) featured in it, which pretty much shoots my idea down. Also, it's only campy in the ordinary manner of a flag-waving WWII-era musical about a failed music hall artiste agitating for shipbuilders' rights; on the grand gauge of camp, it barely moves the needle.
posted by thesmallmachine at 2:05 AM on October 12, 2013

You did specify a young Ebsen, and that's certainly possible; I wonder if it was perhaps his supporting appearance in Born to Dance, a movie starring Eleanor Powell, but with a naval theme? Here's part of the number Swingin' the Jinx Away (by Cole Porter), including a marching band on a mockup of a battleship. Here he is singing Hey Hey Babe in a sailor outfit. But the word 'gay' is neither in that song nor capably in any subtext.
posted by dhartung at 2:23 AM on October 12, 2013

Probably not what you're looking for, but when I think of Buddy Epsen and naval theme, I think of The Codfish Ball with Shirley Temple.
posted by nightwood at 6:02 AM on October 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

My musical theater boyfriend suggests Born to Dance or Captain January, and thinks Born to Dance is more likely.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 1:44 PM on October 12, 2013

Could you be thinking of Gene Kelly in "On the Town"? (Long shot, but it's got sailors dancing and a bit of homoerotic innuendo.)
posted by trip and a half at 12:24 AM on October 13, 2013

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