Top 10 Songs in Non-Musical Movies

OK class, pay attention. Today, we're talking about diegetic music in movies. Can anyone tell me what this means? Anyone? Anyone? It means music in films that the characters can hear. Does this include songs playing on the soundtrack? Anyone? Anyone? No, it does not and that list will be for another post. Does this include musicals? Anyone? Anyone? Yes it does, but that would make this list too easy. So here, in no particular.....Anyone? Anyone?.....order, we're going to select 10 of the best musical moments in non-musical films. Does anyone not understand this? Anyone? Anyone?

"La Marseillaise"
As sang by Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and the patrons of Rick's Cafe in Casablanca
A bit miffed by the Nazis' singing, Laszlo leads the rest of the cafe in a rousing chorus of the brilliant French national anthem to drown them out. Watch it here

As sang by Otis Day & the Knights in Animal House
In a perfect world, all house parties would be like this

"Earth Angel"
As sang by Marvin Berry & the Starlighters, featuring Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), in Back to the Future
Better than the Johnny B Goode scene and who doesn't love it when George McFly finally gets the girl? Watch it here

"On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine"
As sang by Laurel & Hardy in Way Out West
Watch out for Stan's novel way of hitting the high notes. Subtitles included so you can sing karaoke.

"I've Written A Letter to Daddy"
As sang by the Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
A somewhat erratic performance by the slightly unhinged Baby Jane. Scary, funny and sad, all at the same time. Watch it here

"Puttin' on the Ritz"
As sang by Dr Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) and his Monster (Peter Boyle) in Young Frankenstein
"May I now present a cultured, sophisticated man about town..."

"Twist and Shout"
As sang by Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ferris might be an annoying little shit, but this is kinda cool.

As sang by Rebekah del Rio in Mulholland Dr.
A spine-tingling Spanish version of Roy Orbison's 'Crying', with a twist in the tale.

"Life is Brief"
As sang by Kenji Watanabe (Takeshi Shimura) in Ikiru
The rest of the club falls silent as the terminally ill Watanabe sings a drunken, mournful lament to lost youth and love. Very moving. Watch it here (in 3 languages for extra poignancy)

"Can't Take My Eyes Off You"
As sang by Patrick (Heath Ledger) in 10 Things I Hate About You
Got to have a serenade scene. This is for all the Heath fans out there.

Any I've missed? Of course there is. Sorry folks, that's a dumb question. Skip it. Instead, just post any favourites below. Remember the rules, no musicals and only music the characters can hear.


  1. Anonymous21/7/11

    How about "I was born under a wandering star" from Paint Your Wagon? I suspect you will claim this is a musical, however anyone who knows anything about music would testify that the is no music in Lee Marvin's voice.

  2. Declan21/7/11

    This is true. But give the man a break - by all accounts he was drunk as a skunk for the entire shoot, so he probably thought it was all a dream or a hallucination. Despite his efforts, thoug, Paint Your Wagon is still classed as a musical, as Bart and Homer were aghast to discover in an episode of The Simpsons