A confession by way of preface: in addition to personal finance, food, and comic books, I’m a fan of musical theater. Thus, you’ll forgive me for the following entry. I spent the evening on YouTube, looking for songs about money from old movies. I didn’t have much luck, but I had fun anyhow.

We’re in the Money
I was able to find an old clip of this song. Here’s Ginger Rogers — choreographed by Busby Berkeley — from Gold Diggers of 1933.

But wait! There’s more! How about the 2004 Huntington North Varsity Singers performing the song? Yikes! The Center Grove “CG Sound System” do a better job of nailing the vocal stylings of the early thirties. And here’s the inexplicable “Con el Dinero“, a mostly-tap version from Mexico City. Finally, here’s a random seven-second clip of some awkward freshmen butchering the song.

These are hilarious. No disrespect meant to the kids who are performing — they have my admiration — but these numbers are ill-conceived.

Puttin’ on the Ritz
Fred Astaire owned this song in the thirties and forties. Check how this man can dance:

They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Many of us remember the 1982 version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” from the man known simply as Taco:

For tears of joy and pain, try this version from Gabriella Toth on Hungarian Idol 2. (I’m not kidding you. It’s as awful as it sounds. She has no idea what she’s singing. But she puts her heart into it. Except for that last note.) Michael Jackson does it a little better starting at about 1:20 into this clip from a 1977 episode of The Jacksons Variety Show.

Why Don’t You Do Right?
This has always been one of my favorites. Here’s Peggy Lee singing with Benny Goodman’s big band:

Of course, you’re probably more familiar with Jessica Rabbit’s version from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Casey Donovan does a creditable version on Australian Idol — probably because she’s not singing in Hungarian.)

Pennies From Heaven
I’m not a huge fan of this song, but if anyone can make me like it, it’s Dean Martin. Here’s a 1959 version sung by The McGuire Sisters on the Perry Como Show.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
This is a fantastic song that captures the feel of the U.S. during the Great Depression (lyrics). It doesn’t work so well when George Michael butchers it on stage. (Anyone else think that George Michael looks more than a little like a certain manager for the Slough branch of Wernham Hogg?) I wish I could find an old video version, but it’s either George Michael or the ukelele.

Other songs
Liza Minelli and Joel Grey sing “The Money Song” from Cabaret. This theater company seems to have completely missed the concept behind Guys and Dolls‘ “Take Back Your Mink”. (It’s supposed to be “poils” and goils”. Very Helen Kane. This sounds like Christian rock.) This version is much truer to the intended spirit, but the recording is awful.

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