Part 2: Amazing Songs from Broadway Musicals That Were Inexplicably Cut From Their Film Versions
A few months ago, I wrote a piece about songs that were egregiously cut from the film versions of Broadway musicals. This inspired an outpouring of additional titles that people shared with me, and, in response, I felt a Part 2 of the article was necessary. So, here it is: more songs that were inexplicably cut from their film versions.
How Can Love Survive?” and “No Way to Stop It” from The Sound of Music
The film version of The Sound of Music is certainly beloved, and I may take some heat for criticizing it, but I have always enjoyed the stage version more. My chief reason is that I feel the film waters down some of the fascinating political dynamics, particularly between the Baroness and Captain Von Trapp. In the stage show, she doesn’t leave because the Captain is in love with Maria, but because they can’t agree on their political ideologies. The removal of the Baroness’s two character songs, “How Can Love Survive?” and “No Way to Stop It,” excised an interesting character and exchanged her for a caricature.
“Lonely Room” from Oklahoma!
The disturbing raison d'être “Lonely Room” is sung by the obsessed Jud Fry in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma!. The song is a the solemn confession of a lonely farmhand who is obsessed with the young woman Laurey, the object of his affections who is also being courted by the cocky cowboy Curley. Without the song, Jud is just an all-purpose baddy, but with the song, we understand that he is psychologically imbalanced in much more alarming way.
“The Art of the Possible” from Evita
This one makes some sense. The Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice song was more a theatrical set-piece than it was a great song. The Harold Prince staging, featuring several military leaders in rocking chairs in a musical game of “Musical Chairs,” symbolically depicting the ascent of leader Juan Peron, really wouldn’t have worked in the film version.
“My White Knight” from The Music Man
Meredith Willson’s score for The Music Man mostly remained intact when it was adapted for the screen, but one of Marion the Librarian’s big numbers didn’t make it. “My White Knight,” an emotionally charged torch song was tossed out and replaced with the catchier, but less effective “Being in Love.” “My White Knight” is the closest that a song in the score comes to operetta, and perhaps the powers that be felt that would be too inaccessible to movie audiences?
“Alone at the Drive-In” from Grease
There is no denying that the film version of Greasewas an enormous hit and continues to be one of the most-popular of all film musicals. About one-third of the Broadway score didn’t make it to the film version, but the most regrettable omission is “Alone at the Drive-In.” Sung by Danny Zuko after being abandoned at the drive-in movies by his girlfriend Sandy, Danny laments the mistakes he has made that drove her away. We also miss “Freddy, My Love,” “Those Magic Changes,” “Mooning,” and the handful of other songs that didn’t make it, but it’s “Alone at the Drive-In” that gives Danny some depth and most woefully lost.
“We Beseech Thee” from Godspell
Godspell is an inherently theatrical musical and I’ve never felt that the movie works like the show does on stage. That being said, the second act of the stage musical is mostly reflective and sad as it edges closer and closer to Christ’s crucifixion. “We Beseech Thee” was an essential tension-breaker in the middle of Act II, one more moment of joy before things devolve to their inevitable conclusion. For the film, Stephen Schwartz’s liveliest song from Godspell wasn’t included.
“Paris Original” from How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying
Okay, in the interest of time, I understand why they cut this song from How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, but the song is always such a guaranteed showstopper in any production of the show that it does seem a shame that they chose to. The Frank Loesser number, which features a series of women showing up at on office party, all wearing the same “original” gown, is both catchy and a hoot.
“Together Wherever We Go” from Gypsy
This one has always been a surprise to me, because “Together Wherever We Go” is one of the more performed songs from the Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim score for Gypsy. The song makes a great second act opener for the show, bringing the audience back in from the tense end of Act One. Perhaps, for the film, they didn’t want or need that and preferred pushing ahead with the relentlessness of Mama Rose. Still, it is sorely missed.
“Come to Me, Bend to Me” from Brigadoon
Arguably the most haunting song from the Lerner and Loewe score for Brigadoon, “Come to Me, Bend to Me” was not included in the Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse film version. Frederick Loewe himself was not a fan of the film for just this reason. The song is sung in the musical by Charlie Dalrymple, a Scottish lad who pines for his beloved Jean MacLaren.
Most of Babes in Arms and On the Town
It was the case that, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought the rights to a Broadway musical, that they were more interested in the show’s title than the songs therein. Why, might you ask, when both the stage versions of Babes in Arms and On the Town were brimming with hit-after-hit? MGM would not make money off of the Rodgers and Hammerstein or Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/ Adolph Green songs, since they and the stage show’s producers retained them. MGM made a lot of money from the rights to the original songs in the their films, so they stood a better chance at raking it in if they bought a show’s popular title and then hired their own composers to fill the film with songs. Thus, only a handful of the songs from each of these shows ended up in their film incarnations.