Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Film #121: Smokey and the Bandit

I can still vividly remember, as a 10-year-old Atlanta kid, first seeing Smokey and the Bandit. My parents had taken me to the Northeast Expressway Drive-In Theater on opening night (if you look at the top right hand corner of this blog, you can see a torn ticket from the theater). The film's star, Burt Reynolds, was then the number one box office attraction in the country, and nowhere was this more evident than in the South. Even though he was born in Michigan but raised in Florida, Burt was pretty much adopted as a hometown boy after his breakout performance in 1972's Georgia-filmed Deliverance, he was pretty much. He returned to the state to shoot White Lightning (1973), Gator (1976) and, in 1977, Smokey and the Bandit. So seeing the latter open at an Atlanta drive-in was a big event.

My father wheeled his much-adored red-and-white '57 Chevy onto the drive-in lot way before dusk, and we sat and waited for the light to change so we could see this film we'd been hearing about for so long. The action-comedy had been in production all throughout 1976, filmed primarily in neighboring Jonesboro and McDonough, with major scenes filmed at the Atlanta's Lakewood Fairgrounds, where a gigantic racetrack and rollercoaster were situated. It was unbelievably exciting for my ten-year-old self to be at the Northeast Expressway Drive-In Theater on opening night; only Burt's very presence could have made it more so.

When darkness fell, we settled in with our snacks and waited for the joy. And so it began, and the film was just gearing up when disaster struck. The frames fluttered and then cooked brightly on the screen, and we knew what this meant: the print had been damaged. The screen lights flashed on in surprise, and I remember instantly looking out the back window and seeing the second screen at the drive-in (this was the first multi-screened drive-in in Atlanta). Smokey was going to be such a Georgia hit that the managers had booked it on the other screen as well, and there, the film was still playing fine. Now, horns on our side were honking in protest as we all waited impatiently for the situation to be fixed. When the projector powered up again, we got a shock: we weren't gonna be seeing Smokey and the Bandit; instead, the second feature, Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive flickered forth.

Now, I don't know if you've ever seen Eaten Alive, but no matter how much love gorehounds may have for it, it ain't no Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it CERTAINLY ain't no Smokey and the Bandit. It's a nasty, scuzzy, unfrightening, totally mean-spirited piece of crap that has Neville Brand as a hotel owner who chops the heads off his guests with his scythe and feeds the corpses to his pet alligator. My mother, an avid animal lover (as we all were) was particularly scarred by the filmed feeding of a guest's pooch to the 'gator (to this day, my mother won't watch scary movies where a dog or a cat appears, because she's sure they're going to be killed off, and she's almost always right; it's a trend that's thankfully almost died off). Anyway, needless to say, we were mightilly pissed. But we stayed steadfast for Smokey, because Burt was our man. Happily, we weren't disappointed.

In it, Reynolds plays Bo "Bandit" Darville, a fast-talking, fast-moving rig driver who makes a massive wager with a bizarre, cocky pair of Texas businessmen (Big Enos and Little Enos, played by Pat McCormick and Paul Williams). They challenge the Bandit to deliver of truckload of Coors beer from Texarkana, TX to Atlanta, GA--a little under 1500 miles--in 28 hours (which was a little more difficult back when the speed limit was only 55 MPH). At any rate, Bandit has no problem with this. He hops into his black Trans Am (you know--the one with the T-top and the firey eagle on the hood) and gits, enlisting the help of Cletus ("When You're Hot, You're Hot" country singer Jerry Reed), who's to drive the actual payload while the Bandit's Trans Am serves as a decoy for the po-lice.

Only problem is, Reynolds takes the time to pick up Sally Field, who's decked out in a wedding dress and is thumbing a ride on the highway, escaping her marriage to a doofus played by former football star Mike Henry (who'd played alongside Reynolds in The Longest Yard). Henry's father happens to be a foul-mouthed, over-zealous country sheriff named Buford T. Justice (a dynamic, career-reviving, Southern-fried turn for certified New Yorker Jackie Gleason), who makes it his mission to catch the Bandit and foil his delivery of that Coors beer. So then we get nearly an hour of terrific car chase stunt-work from director Hal Needham, a former stuntman himself. Drive-in audiences (and four-wall audiences, too) wouldn't see so many cars pulverized for another three years, when John Landis' The Blues Brothers hit the screen. Next to that and H.B. Halicki's Gone in 60 Seconds, there has never been more wholesale destruction of Detroit product ever recorded on film. This makes Smokey and the Bandit one of the greatest drive-in movies ever (not one of the film's scenes takes place at night, which made it great for drive-ins, as it was hard to see, under the stars, scenes filmed in darkness).

Scripted by James Lee Barrett (The Greatest Story Ever Told) and Charles Shyer (Private Benjamin), the film was tight, funny, and fast. It may seem stupid today--and it is, really. But I defy you to admit you're not entertained at least a bit by it upon first viewing. Reynolds and Fields are a searing-hot couple (they'd go on to a real-life relationship that lasted for four years; together, they'd go on to appear in Smokey 2, Hooper, and the excellent Reynolds- directed comedy The End); Gleason, with his cornpone Southern accent, is ridiculously funny as the bumbling sheriff (I love it, against my better judgment, when he lets loose with the undying catchphrase "I'm gonna barbecue your ass," but my truly favorite scene--one that still makes me giggle like a kid--occurs when Justice walks out of a restaurant with a long stream of toilet paper improbably hooked onto his treasured smokey's hat). Henry also gets laughs as his idiot-boy son, always there making sure his dad's hat is secure (even after the top's been lopped off of their patrol car). Once cast as a villain in Gator, another Reynolds vehicle, Reed is quite charming (his "boogety, boogety, boogety" has become a rallying cry at present-day NASCAR events, and his songs "Eastbound and Down" and "They Call Him The Bandit" have become country classics). And my mom even got to instantly get over her distaste at the death of that dog in Eaten Alive, because Smokey starred a yelping basset hound named Fred as Reed's sidekick.

According to Box Office Mojo's ALL TIME BOX OFFICE CHAMPS adjusted for inflation list, Smokey and the Bandit ended up making more than $408 million, and became the centerpiece for the CB craze of the 1970s. Two sequels followed--the second was just okay, and the third was one of the most hilariously bad movies ever made); it also spawned countless rip-offs. My mom and dad liked it so much they ended up shelling out for a black Trans Am in 1978; now, THAT was bitchin' (though it broke down so much my parents swore never to buy another American-made car again). So, even now, after seeing all the Bergmans, Antonionis, Kubricks and Kurosawas the world has to offer, my fondness for Smokey and the Bandit remains as indelible as my love for fried chicken, cicadas, dogwood trees, and drive-ins.

Film #120: Play Misty For Me

I have a vague idea why Clint Eastwood's Play Misty For Me is such a sentimental favorite of mine; I think it was one of the first horror movies I ever caught on the big screen (its original title, by the way, was The Slasher). But, seeing it now, Play Misty For Me is really only decent in very limited ways--a rarity among Eastwood-directed projects. The iconic actor debuted as a feature filmmaker with this 1971 horror movie that's obviously a progenitor to Adrian Lyne's more famous (and classier) Fatal Attraction. To wit: Eastwood plays a successful man--a smooth jazz disc jockey in Carmel, California--who finds himself bedeviled by a lovestruck wackadoo (Jessica Walter).

Here's where the problems begin--for the film's characters, and for the film itself. Eastwood's Dave Garver is supposed to be a player in the bedroom, but somehow he can't see that it's a mistake for him to ever get involved with this crazy woman. Evelyn begins their relationship mired in deception; this should have been his warning sign #1. Though they meet as "strangers" at his local watering hole, she conceals her identity from him--recognizing her voice, he finds out quickly she's the woman who's been calling him at the station, requesting Errol Garner's "Misty" every night. Okay, that's weird enough right there...but Davey-boy can't help letting the little head think for the big one. So they sleep together. Big mistake.

Soon, she's showing up unannounced at his hep, 70s-ed-out seaside pad, ready to make elaborate steak dinners for him. She lurks around in the seaside brush, following him on dates with his true love (Donna Mills), and even bursts in angrily as he's conducting an important business lunch (in one of the movie's best scenes; the film really perks up when Walters lets Evelyn get GODDAMN angry). Dave's pretty much had enough of her quite early on but, dammit, she won't get a clue. I guess this is before the time the law had the concept of "restraining orders" down, but Dave's reluctance to report her insanity to the police is nevertheless frustrating for the viewer. Eventually, things have to get much more nasty before Eastwood takes hold of the situation; when he does, the revenge is tasty but is meted out too quickly to be satisfying (SPOILER: Clint exposes of her with one punch). But Jessica Walter does such a yeoman's job of creating this clingy, frothing monster that we wanna see her get a little more stinging torture dealt to her.Still, Jessica Walter is superb in it; she makes you really wanna choke this woman's guts out (she's the film's star attraction, although the screenplay is not fair to her character; we never really get to know anything about her). The movie has other merits. Bruce Surtees' inky black photography is, as always, superb, and Alexander Golitzen's art direction is shabbily fancy (I love Dave's confusing, slightly sloppy place). We get to see footage of Carmel, the town which Eastwood called home for many years, and for which he was, in fact, elected mayor in the late 1980s. It's novel, also, seeing director Don Siegel (Dirty Harry, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, pictured right) being given marching orders by his famous protege; Siegel portrays Dave's favorite bartender (they humorously play an inscrutable--and wholly imaginary--game at the beginning of the movie called "Cry Bastion"). Also, Roberta Flack's Grammy-winning "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" makes for a backing track to a pretty, if inconsequential, love scene between Eastwood and Mills. Finally, I really get a kick out of seeing Eastwood in late-nite DJ mode; in another world, he would've made a excellent record-spinner, equipped with that FM-lite whisper of his. A thorny look at 70s sexual politics, Play Misty For Me has its pluses, but its implausible screenplay isn't one of them (it was co-written by Dean Riesner, who probably only polished Jo Heims original script; he authored better work on three other Don Siegel productions: Coogan's Bluff, Dirty Harry, and Charley Varrick). Still, it has enough of that good ol' 70s charm to be immanently watchable, at least once.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Elegy: Maurice Jarre (1924-2009)

Here it is, a day or so since my last post about Ryan's Daughter, and I discover that the film's great composer, Maurice Jarre, passed away in Los Angeles after a short illness. This, of course, fills me with as much sadness as his movie music moved me to excitement, tears, or even laughs. Jarre began his career in the mid-1950s scoring French titles, the most famous of which is now Georges Franju's 1960 horror masterpiece Eyes Without A Face. He broke through to Hollywood in 1962 when he was chosen to score Darryl F. Zanuck's WWII epic The Longest Day. However, that same year, he pulled off an unusual hat trick: he provided music for Sundays and Cybele (winner of 1963's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar) and for David Lean's monumental Lawrence of Arabia, 1962's Best Picture winner (Lean's producer, Sam Spiegel, had heard his work for Sundays and Cybele and recommended him to the director). It was his Lawrence score, of course, that changed many lives, including his own. He easily nabbed the Academy Award for this alternately jaunty, sweeping, and menacing music; seriously, would Lean's movie be nearly as great without it? Maybe, but it seems unlikely; matched with the film's majestic images, it's soars. Thus began a 20-year collaboration with David Lean, the great British director who would never again turn to any other composer. Jarre would score his biggest hit in 1965 with his soundtrack to Lean's Doctor Zhivago, for which he would pick up another Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Grammy, and countless weeks on the Billboard charts. His "Lara's Theme" (later titled "Somewhere, My Love" when lyrics were added) would become the 60s generation's equivalent of Max Steiner's iconic score for Gone With the Wind; hearing it immediately conjures up images of wartime strife, lovely springs, and undying romance. Jarre would do less popular but no less effective work on Lean's Ryan's Daughter, and would reteam with Lean one more time on the director's final 1984 film A Passage to India, providing that mysterious movie with a romping soundtrack that earned Jarre his third Oscar.

Outside of his work for Lean, Jarre composed over 150 scores for movies that captured the heroics of The Man Who Would Be King (Huston, 75), the swirls and twirls of Isadora (Reitz, 68), the wackiness of Top Secret! (Zucker/Abrams/Zucker, 84), the mystery of After Dark, My Sweet (Foley, 90), the romance of Ghost (Jerry Zucker, 90), and the horror of two Adrian Lyne movies, 1987's Fatal Attraction and 1990's Jacob's Ladder (Lyne, 90). In the 1980s, he'd also begin another long collaboration with a director, this time Australian Peter Weir, for whom he provided gorgeous, often electronic-based scores for 1982's The Year of Living Dangerously, 1985's Witness, 1986's The Mosquito Coast, 1989's Dead Poet's Society, and 1993's Fearless (Witness and The Mosquito Coast are excellent scores by which to meditate).

Jarre was a undisputed master; he'd just received a Golden Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival for his lifetime's worth of incredible film music. He will most certainly be missed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Film # 119: Ryan's Daughter

I had long stayed away from David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970) because it had been so thoroughly drubbed by critics upon its release. But, in watching it in its newest DVD release, I was convinced that it was nearly as fine, in its own way, as Lean's previous efforts; it was really given the shaft by snooty film writers who expected something more "important" from the Oscar-winning director who toiled famously, and disastrously, on the film; the rainy coastal Irish locations refused to cooperate with the crew, and led to an expanded shooting schedule and ballooning budget; after waiting weeks to get even 30 seconds of useable film, everybody stateside thought Lean insane for going forth with the project. Ryan's Daughter strikes me as an intensely personal David Lean film, one more concerned with the more intimate stories of history rather than the broad likes of Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and even the similar A Passage to India. Watching it now, Ryan's Daughter seems like a unfathomably gorgeous, if slightly overlong, trip into another world.

Basically, the film is screenwriter Robert Bolt's homage to Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Sylvia Miles is excellent as Rosy, the homely daughter of an Irish pub owner, who desperately marries a stodgy, aging Irish schoolteacher (Robert Mitchum). Disappointed by his bedroom performance (in a very sad scene), Rosy turns her eyes to Randolph Doryan (Christopher Jones), a shell-shocked British veteran of WWI who finds his way into this judgmental Irish town (the scene where he first arrives, tapping down the cobblestones with his wooden leg, is also extremely memorable). Rosy takes her desire for this man to its furthest extreme (leading to one of the greatest love scenes ever filmed, with Rosy meeting her British soldier on horseback in order to tryst amid the march of nature, as you can see below):



I'm not blind to the film's faults, its main one being Robert Bolt's sometimes tired screenplay. Bolt seems most engaged with the story's more intimate side; where he tries to fold in the Irish Troubles in order to make the film more political, a la Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, the film wobbles. I think you needed the Irish Troubles as a factor in the film in order to show the ultra-forbidden nature of the central romance. The climax--retrieving the black market guns being delivered seaside during a raging storm--does feel tacked on, and not nearly compelling as a political struggle. But it also sets up Miles/Mitchum's ultimate fate at the hands of the Brit-hating township, so I can forgive its presence. Ryan's Daughter ain't Lawrence of Arabia or even A Man for All Seasons, script-wise. But we couldn't expect Robert Bolt to hand us Grand Slams at every bat; that said, this film has plenty of fine scripting in it, to be sure (the movie hasn't garnered its small but rabid cult for nothing). Add to that the emotive Oscar-winning photography by Freddie Young, some exacting sound work and gorgeous art direction, a surprisingly gentle Robert Mitchum, a flighty Sarah Miles, mournful Christopher Jones (I like that the teardrop-like scar on his cheek fades away as he gets deeper into passion with Miles), scolding Trevor Howard as the town priest, suspicious Leo McKern as Miles' father (the title Ryan), and the superb, unrecognizable John Mills in an Oscar-winning performance as the town fool, Ryan's Daughter should rightfully take its place, critics be damned, amongst David Lean's most well-regarded efforts.

SIDE NOTE: There's a cozy NYC pub named after the film located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, on East 85th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenues. I recommend the place highly, if only for its Irish coziness and neighborhood regulars.

Film #118: Mothlight

Watching the works of Stan Brakhage is like looking at a field of daisies: why ask why? The best of his films are pure magic, and this is one of the best. Watch it with the sound off. It was made in 1963; Brakhage took strips of 16mm splicing tape and embedded in them the wings of moths he accumulated at his New England home. This was the first Brakhage film I KNEW I had to see, and I was not disappointed; it's a perfect intro to his more challenging works. As with all great experimental films, no words can describe its beauty. But BE SURE to watch it without the sound, as it's supposed to be viewed.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

SIDE ORDERS #10

To start off in the latest edition of SIDE ORDERS, I have the simple but powerful video that pops up in the middle of Barry Shear's 1968 movie Wild in the Streets. An incendiary work like this couldn't be produced today; its premise: the youth have taken over America, and a pop star, Max Frost, is elected to the U.S. presidency. All people over 35 are put into concentration camps and fed LSD (the film is partially inspired by that ol' 60s bromide "Never trust anyone over 30"). Produced by Corman-competitors AIP (Arkoff International Pictures, named for Samuel Z. Arkoff) and Oscar-nominated for its editing (amazingly enough), Wild in the Streets is a sometimes campy but ultimately frightening look at the hate that lay inside even the most peace-loving sixties hippie; it's also very politically savvy. The landmark soundtrack, including the hit song "The Shape of Things to Come," was largely written by Brill Building denizens Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Here's just four of this married songwriting team's greatest hits: "On Broadway" by The Drifters, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers, and "Don't Know Much" by Aaron Neville and Linda Rondstadt. Though I have no idea if he actually did the vocals or not (he probably didn't do the singing), the on-screen performer here is Christopher Jones, the late 60s movie star who later memorably appeared in David Lean's Ryan's Daughter. Jones voluntarily cut short his movie career after discovering he liked painting better (he was also extremely distraught over the Manson-perpetrated murder of his friend and one-time lover Sharon Tate). He was offered the role of Zed in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, but turned it down. Still, in both this and Ryan's Daughter, he's a resonating presence.
Lord of War, directed by Andrew Nichols (Gattaca), was an only intermitantly interesting film from 2005 with Nicholas Cage as an arms dealer selling his wares to third-world countries. My initial feelings upon hearing the movie's title are: blah. But I'm extremely enthusiastic in my support of its astounding credits sequence, which details the birth of a bullet. As they used to say with Saul Bass-designed openings, it alone is worth the price of admission.
The Knack, and How To Get It won the Palme D'or at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival and was American-born Richard Lester's first film post-Beatles (he directed the Beatles' vehicles A Hard Day's Night and Help!). The Knack is a frantic romp in which its lead (Michael Crawford, later more famous for being the original Phantom of the Opera on Broadway) is a wimpy London schoolteacher trying to learn how to pick up girls from his more romantically successful upstairs neighbor (Ray Brooks). The strangely alluring Rita Tushingham is the girl who may or may not be made just for him. Lester (pictured right) made an extremely smart and funny movie, but only IF you're paying attention (and even if you're not, there's a lot of fantastic visual humor in it). Extremely influenced by the French Nouvelle Vague, it has a playful attitude towards cinema, utilizing a myriad of camera tricks to jolt the audience into laughter. It also has a terrific trailer, backed by jazzbo John Barry's potent score. By the way, even though it's in English, the British brogues are so thick that I recommend The Knack, and How To Get It be watched with the subtitles on. As such, though, it's a perfect film for its singular time and place.
I think seeing normal people at work at what they do is one of the prime subject matters that has been left by the wayside cinematically. I always love it when I'm seeing people on-screen making a gainful living. And, as a movie lover, I'm especially interested in seeing people make movies. As far as I know, this scene from Albert Brooks' Modern Romance is the only scene in film history that follows what a film editor does. As editing is possibly the most important element of moviemaking, I find this scene to be an invaluable resource. It's also quite nostalgic, having been made before the digital editing revolution. So here, with Albert Brooks and Bruno Kirby (as his assistant), we get to see what went into editing movies when we had flat-bed editing tables and splicing tape and so many more valuably tactile elements to the art. The two guys are working with footage shot for a low-budget sci-fi movie starring George Kennedy (and directed by "David," played by Simpsons creator and Oscar-winner James L. Brooks). Though this movie is largely about Brooks' troubled relationship with his girlfriend Kathryn Harrold, I'm very thankful Brooks took the time to concoct this brilliant scene, which stands as a mini-lesson in the art of film editing (there's even a later moment where Brooks and Kirby are struggling to create sound effects for this crappy movie).
With 1980's The Long Riders, writer/director Walter Hill, for a short time, seemed like the new Sam Peckinpah. But, as we now know, NO ONE can keep that game up. Peckinpah--the director of The Wild Bunch, The Getaway, Ride the High Country, and Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia--was a singular film personality. Still, this shootout scene remains the best ersatz Peckinpah available; hell, since this movie, no one has even TRIED to replicate the Peckinpah mystique. The casting of The Long Riders is perhaps its greatest wonder: James and Stacy Keach as Frank and Jesse James; David, Keith and Robert Carradine as Cole, Jim, and Bob Younger; David and Randy Quaid as Ed and Clell Miller; and Nicholas and Christopher Guest as Robert and Charlie Ford. This is a feat, to be sure; four set of acting brothers in one movie? The chances of this ever happening again in cinema history are the same as being the victim of an avalanche 30 times in a row! Witness this kinetic scene, with perfect editing and sound (no score) that has the James gang riding into Minnesota's Northfield, ready to rob the town bank, not knowing that they're being tracked by pissed-off authorities. An incredible scene, replete with Peckinpah-like slow-motion that arguably comes close to outdoing the master. Finally, for fun, an old rotoscoped video I used to see in between movies on HBO's "Video Jukebox" in the early 1980s. I don't know anything about the artist, Hilly Michaels, except that the video and the song "Calling All Girls" kicks-fucking-ass! One of the best videos ever made!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Film #116: Begone Dull Care and Film #117: Neighbours

"I was inspired to make Neighbours by a stay of almost a year in the People's Republic of China. Although I only saw the beginnings of Mao's revolution, my faith in human nature was reinvigorated by it. Then I came back to Quebec and the Korean War began. (...) I decided to make a really strong film about anti-militarism and against war." --Norman McLaren

The Scottish-born McLaren had been making films for almost twenty years when he hit upon Neighbours, the groundbreaking animated war parable which he produced for the estimable National Film Board of Canada in 1952. He began his film career in the 1930s, sans camera, by painting directly on film stock (making him a precursor to the now-more famous expreimental-filmmaker extraordinaire Stan Brakhage). Begone Dull Care, made with Evylyn Lampart, utilizes a snappy jazz soundtrack from the Oscar Peterson Trio and, with it, is a vibrant masterpiece. No words can adequately describe it.

McLaren made deeper inroads into internationally-renowned territory with Neighbours, which won him, incredibly, the Oscar in 1952 for Best Documentary Short Subject. This, to me, is a amazingly wonderful outrage that COULD NOT HAPPEN TODAY. Neighbours is for sure an animated piece (via pixillation) and very much NOT a documentary--at least, in a traditional sense (it's, also, the only non-Disney short-subject ever to get TWO nominations--it was also cited for Best One-Reel Short Subject that same year, but lost to the now-forgotten Light in the Window: The Art of Vermeer).

Along with David Cronenberg, McLaren is Canada's most influential filmmaker; as proof, there's a whole wing of the NFBC named for him. McLaren served as artist and public servant for the National Film Board of Canada from 1941 to 1983. He is, thus, the one filmmaker most notable for bringing the National Film Board of Canada into full flower. And if you've ever taken a look at any NFBC animated or live-action shorts (like the one you're about to see, or like The Cat Came Back, Special Delivery, or scads of other well-loved Canadian shorts), you begin to realize how much McLaren did to steer the entire idea of what constitutes a good short towards new directions. Pre-McLaren, we had Disney and Warner Brothers, MGM and maybe UPA providing us with animated pieces; after the Canadians came in, the revolution was won, the genre was opened up for the world, and the indies have controlled the shorts market ever since (and I think the market for shorts is going way up, what with the Internet and everything). After Neighbours, McLaren garnered acclaim for 1957's A Chairy Tale (once spoofed brilliantly on SCTV's Canadian episode) and for Pas De Deux for which he won a BAFTA Award and the Palmes D'Or at Cannes in 1968. Also, 1984's Narcissus made a big splash at the festivals that year. But it was Neighbours that I and probably millions of others saw all throughout the early 80s as "filler" in between movies on HBO (HBO really showcased a lot of cool shorts in between movies in the late 70s/early 80s--things like Frank Film, Timepiece, Quasi at the Quackadero, Solly's Diner, and tons of neat early music videos).

Anyway, take a look at Neighbours. Even though I marveled at how the film won an Oscar as a documentary, I DO have to say this: this is a perfect representation of how wars begin and escalate, so as to it winning the documentary award--hell, why not? By the way, this is a surprisingly violent film; the scenes where the (SPOILER) two men, fighting over this dancing flower on this tiny plot of land, eventually kill each others wives and children were initially excised from US prints of the movie; here they've been restored (although via a print of lesser quality). Note: the soundtrack was created by McLaren's scratchings on the edge of the celluloid, read by the projector as sound; thus, even the SOUNDTRACK becomes animation. An unparalleled film from a real visionary.

By the way, wars are fought over plots of land. And that is that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MASTER LIST #11: The 150 Best Movie Songs

In doing this list, I had to come to terms with one fact about myself: I just LIKE the music of the 60s and 70s a lot more than that of any other era (though I think the 1980s REALLY has a killer showing here). I know there were better songs written in the 30s, 40s and 50s, but the problems there are that (a) I'm not as familiar as I maybe should be with many of hits popular then, (b) some of the the movie songs I like a lot (like Irving Berlin’s “Always,” popularized in The Pride of the Yankees or “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca) weren’t actually written for the movies that made them hits (and let's also note that a lot of great songs from movies were originally written for stage shows, so no songs from, say, West Side Story or The Music Man are included here), and (c) a lot of the songs from these eras just seem a little trite now (and I LOVE old music).

Anyway, that’s my justification for the songs placed on this list. By the way, here's something I added to the article at the last minute: if you see an (*) before the entry, if means the song was nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar and a (**) means it won the award. It is stultifying the number of these compositions that have been ignored by the Academy; but it's also heartening to see which ones they've felt moved to crown. I'm also doing something a little different with the layout of this MASTER LIST: I'm publishing the way-more-readable DECADE BREAKDOWN first, with the complete list last. I thought it might make this list, in particular, more fun to read. Also, on the final 1-150 countdown, I've provided YOU TUBE LINKS to the best available versions of each of the songs--sometimes, they're directly from the movie, sometimes they're live versions, videos, or fan videos--but I always try to make each link to the performer of the original song. Anyway, now, based on (1) importance to the film, (2) tunefulness, (3) lyrics, (4) performance, (5) lasting quality and (6) intense personal bias, here are the results:

THE BREAKDOWNS BY DECADE:

10 FROM THE 1930s:

(**) "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz (1)
“Falling In Love Again” from The Blue Angel (15)
“Smile” from City Lights (18)
(*) "Cheek to Cheek" from Top Hat (26)
"Let’s Face The Music and Dance" from Follow the Fleet (35)
“Hello, I Must Be Going” from Animal Crackers (43)
(*) "I've Got You Under My Skin" from Born to Dance (44)
“The Way You Look Tonight” from Swing Time (47)
(*) "Pennies from Heaven" from Pennies from Heaven (56)
“Whistle While You Work” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (145)

12 FROM THE 1940s:
(*) "Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive" from Here Come the Waves (12)
(**) “White Christmas” from Holiday Inn (17)
(*) "The Trolley Song" from Meet Me in St. Louis (23)
(**) “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Pinnochio (31)
(*) "Baby Mine" from Dumbo (33)
(*) "Chattanooga Choo Choo" from Sun Valley Serenade (54)
(**) “You’ll Never Know” from Hello, Frisco, Hello (57)
(*) "That Old Black Magic" from Star Spangled Rhythm (61)
(**) "Swinging on a Star" from Going My Way (67)
"Little April Shower" from Bambi (79)
(*) “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” from Thank Your Lucky Stars (114)
(*) "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" from Come to the Stable (119)

13 FROM THE 1950s:
(**) "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" from High Noon (2)
(**) "All The Way" from The Joker Is Wild (34)
(*) “The Man That Got Away” from A Star is Born (38)
“Bella Notte (This is the Night)” from Lady and the Tramp (40)
(**) “Mona Lisa” from Captain Carey USA (42)
(*) “Unchained Melody" from Unchained (48)
“Jailhouse Rock” from Jailhouse Rock (51)
(*) "The High and the Mighty" from The High and the Mighty (62)
"Inchworm" from Hans Christian Andersen (68)
“Love Me Tender” from Love Me Tender (85)
"Young at Heart" from Young at Heart (97)
(*) “That's Amore" from The Caddy (108)
“My Rifle, My Pony and Me” from Rio Bravo (127)

31 FROM THE 1960s:
(**) "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's (3)
(*) "The Look of Love" from Casino Royale (4)
"Goldfinger" from Goldfinger (8)
“A Hard Day’s Night” from A Hard Day’s Night (13)
“Mrs. Robinson” from The Graduate (16)
(**) "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (19)
(*) "I Will Wait For You" from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (20)
"And I Love Her" from A Hard Day's Night (21)
(**) "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (22)
"Viva Las Vegas" from Viva Las Vegas (25)
“Springtime for Hitler” from The Producers (32)
“Everybody’s Talkin’” from Midnight Cowboy (39)
(**) "Days of Wine and Roses" from Days of Wine and Roses (65)
(*) "More" from Mondo Cane (66)
(*) "Town Without Pity" from Town Without Pity (69)
"Stay Awake" from Mary Poppins (70)
(*) "Alfie" from Alfie (71)
(**) “The Shadow of Your Smile” from The Sandpiper (72)
“The Porpoise Song” from Head (82)
“Darling Be Home Soon” from You’re A Big Boy Now (83)
“You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” from Help! (90)
“A Gringo Like Me” from Gunfight at Red Sands (92)
"I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" from The Jungle Book (98)
“Something in the Air” from The Magic Christian (101)
“The Shape of Things to Come” from Wild in the Streets (105)
“Let Get Together” from The Parent Trap (107)
(*) “Jean” from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (110)
“Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (112)
“Only a Northern Song” from Yellow Submarine (117)
“Stroll On” from Blow Up (131)
“Barbarella” from Barbarella (144)

36 FROM THE 1970s:
(**) "Theme from Shaft" from Shaft (5)
"O Lucky Man!" from O Lucky Man! (9)
"Stayin' Alive" from Saturday Night Fever (10)
"Superfly" from Superfly (11)
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door" from Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid (14)
"Suicide is Painless" from M*A*S*H* (24)
“Rock n’ Roll High School” from Rock n’ Roll High School (27)
(**) "It Goes Like It Goes" from Norma Rae (28)
"New York, New York" from New York, New York (36)
“Eastbound and Down” from Smokey and the Bandit (49)
"The Harder They Come" from The Harder They Come (50)
“Can You Read My Mind?” from Superman (52)
“Across 110th Street” from Across 110th Street (53)
"Night Fever" from Saturday Night Fever (55)
“My Idaho Home” from Nashville (59)
(**) "The Way We Were" from The Way We Were (63)
(*) "Hopelessly Devoted To You" from Grease (64)
(*) "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me (73)
"My Name is Tallulah" from Bugsy Malone (77)
“I Wanna Get Next To You” from Car Wash (80)
"I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me" from Carrie (81)
"Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" from Life of Brian (86)
“How Deep Is Your Love?” from Saturday Night Fever (87)
“Freddie’s Dead” from Superfly (88)
"Tell Me" from Electra Glide in Blue (89)
"Silent Eyes" from Shampoo (93)
(*) "Live and Let Die" from Live and Let Die (99)
(*) "Blazing Saddles" from Blazing Saddles (100)
“Trouble Man” from Trouble Man (102)
“Special to Me” from Phantom of the Paradise (103)
“She’s Only a Country Girl” from Payday (106)
(*) "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie (109)
(*) "For All We Know" from Lovers and Other Strangers (113)
“Car Wash” from Car Wash (123)
“Truck Turner” from Truck Turner (135)
“Friends” from Friends (141)

30 FROM THE 1980s (very interesting that only 6 were Oscar-nommed):

"Fight the Power" from Do The Right Thing (6)
“Big Bottom” from This is Spinal Tap (41)
(*) "Out Here On My Own" from Fame (45)
“Galaxy Song” from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (58)
(*) "Calling You" from Bagdad Cafe (75)
(*) "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" from Best Friends (76)
(*) “On The Road Again” from Honeysuckle Rose (94)
"Purple Rain" from Purple Rain (96)
“Late in the Evening” from One Trick Pony (115)
“Live To Tell” from At Close Range (118)
“Lookin’ for Love” from Urban Cowboy (120)
(*) "One More Hour" from Ragtime (121)
“Don’t Box Me In” from Rumblefish (124)
“Call Me” from American Gigalo (125)
“In My Own Way” from Shock Treatment (128)
“Absolute Beginners” from Absolute Beginners (130)
“Hairspray” from Hairspray (133)
“Love Kills” from Sid and Nancy (134)
(**) "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from Arthur (137)
“Don’t You” from The Breakfast Club (138)
“Somebody’s Baby” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (139)
“He Needs Me” from Popeye (140)
“City of Dreams” from True Stories (142)
“I’m Alright” from Caddyshack (143)
“Mysteries of Love” from Blue Velvet (146)
“It’s In The Way That You Use It” from The Color of Money (147)
“Colors” from Colors (148)
“The Boys Are Back In Town” from 48 HRS. (149)
“Cheer Down” from Lethal Weapon 2 (150)

10 FROM THE 1990s:
(*) "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2 (7)
(*) "Save Me" from Magnolia (30)
"God Give Me Strength" from Grace of My Heart (46)
"Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast (78)
(*) "Miss Misery" from Good Will Hunting (84)
(**) "Streets of Philadelphia" from Philadelphia (91)
"I Can Change" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (95)
(*) "That Thing You Do!" from That Thing You Do! (104)
(*) "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" from Don Juan DeMarco (111)
(**) “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” from Dick Tracy (129)

6 FROM THE 2000s:
“Come What May” from Moulin Rouge! (60)
(**) "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow (74)
(*) "I've Seen It All" from Dancer in the Dark (122)
(**) "Falling Slowly" from Once (126)
(**) "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile (132)
(*) "Down to Earth" from Wall-E (136)


AND NOW FOR THE 150 BEST MOVIE SONGS, IN ORDER (and with the very best You Tube links whenever possible):

(**) 1) "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz (39) -- Music by Harold Arlen; lyrics by E. Y. Harburg
(**) 2) "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" from High Noon (52) -- Music by Dimitri Tiomkin; lyrics by Ned Washington
(**) 3) "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's (61) -- Music by Henry Mancini; lyrics by Johnny Mercer
(*) 4) "The Look of Love" from Casino Royale (67) -- Music by Burt Bacharach; lyrics by Hal David
(**) 5) "Theme from Shaft" from Shaft (71) -- Music and lyrics by Isaac Hayes
6) "Fight the Power" from Do The Right Thing (89) – Music and lyrics by Carlton Ridenhour, Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler, and Keith Shocklee
(*) 7) "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2 (99) -- Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
8) "Goldfinger" from Goldfinger (64) -- Music by John Barry, Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
9) "O Lucky Man!" from O Lucky Man! (73) – Music and lyrics by Alan Price
10) "Stayin' Alive" from Saturday Night Fever (77) -- Music and lyrics by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, and Maurice Gibb
11) "Superfly" from Superfly (72) – Music and lyrics by Curtis Mayfield
(*) 12) "Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive" from Here Come the Waves (45) -- Music by Harold Arlen; lyrics by Johnny Mercer
13) “A Hard Day’s Night” from A Hard Day’s Night (64) – Music and lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
14) "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" from Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid (73) – Music and lyrics by Bob Dylan
15) “Falling In Love Again” from The Blue Angel (30) – Music and lyrics by Frederick Hollander
16) “Mrs. Robinson” from The Graduate (67) – Music and lyrics by Paul Simon
(**) 17) “White Christmas” from Holiday Inn (42) – Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
18) “Smile” from City Lights (31) -- Music and lyrics by Charles Chaplin
(**) 19) "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (69) -- Music by Burt Bacharach; lyrics by Hal David
(*) 20) "I Will Wait For You" from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (65) -- Music by Michel Legrand; lyrics by Jacques Demy; English Lyrics by Norman Gimbel
21) "And I Love Her" from A Hard Day's Night (64) – Music and lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
(**) 22) "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (68) -- Music by Michel Legrand; lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
(*) 23) "The Trolley Song" from Meet Me in St. Louis (44) -- Music and lyrics by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin
24) "Suicide is Painless" from M*A*S*H* (70) -- Music by Johnny Mandel, Lyrics by Mike Altman
25) "Viva Las Vegas" from Viva Las Vegas (64) – Music and lyrics by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman
(*) 26) "Cheek to Cheek" from Top Hat (35) -- Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
27) “Rock n’ Roll High School” from Rock n’ Roll High School (79) – Music and lyrics by The Ramones
(**) 28) "It Goes Like It Goes" from Norma Rae (79) -- Music by David Shire; Lyric by Norman Gimbel
(*) 30) "Save Me" from Magnolia (99) -- Music and Lyric by Aimee Mann
(**) 31) “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Pinnochio (40) – Music by Leigh Harline; lyric by Ned Washington
32) “Springtime for Hitler” from The Producers (68) – Music and lyrics by Mel Brooks
(*) 33) "Baby Mine" from Dumbo (41) -- Music by Frank Churchill, Lyrics by Ned Washington
(**) 34) "All The Way" from The Joker Is Wild (57) -- Music by James Van Heusen; lyrics by Sammy Cahn
35) "Let’s Face The Music and Dance" from Follow the Fleet (36) -- Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
36) "New York, New York" from New York, New York (77) -- Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb
37) “On The Radio” from Foxes (80) – Music by Giorgio Moroder; lyrics by Donna Summer
(*) 38) “The Man That Got Away” from A Star is Born (54) – Music by Harold Arlen; lyrics by Ira Gershwin
39) “Everybody’s Talkin’” from Midnight Cowboy (69) – Music and lyrics by Fred Neil
40) “Bella Notte (This is the Night)” from Lady and the Tramp (55) – Music and lyrics by Sonny Burke and Peggy Lee
41) “Big Bottom” from This is Spinal Tap (84) – Music and lyrics by Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner
(**) 42) “Mona Lisa” from Captain Carey USA (50) – Music by Ray Evans; lyrics by Jay Livingston
43) “Hello, I Must Be Going” from Animal Crackers (30) – Music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby
(*) 44) "I've Got You Under My Skin" from Born to Dance (36) -- Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
(*) 45) "Out Here On My Own" from Fame (80) -- Music by Michael Gore; Lyric by Lesley Gore
46) "God Give Me Strength" from Grace of My Heart (96) -- Music and lyrics by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach
(**) 47) “The Way You Look Tonight” from Swing Time (36) -- Music by Jerome Kern; lyrics by Dorothy Fields
(*) 48) "Unchained Melody" from Unchained (55) -- Music by Alex North; lyrics by Hy Zaret
49) “Eastbound and Down” from Smokey and the Bandit (77) – Music and lyrics by Dick Feller and Jerry Reed
50) "The Harder They Come" from The Harder They Come (72) – Music and lyrics by Jimmy Cliff
51) “Jailhouse Rock” from Jailhouse Rock (57) – Music and lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
52) “Can You Read My Mind?” from Superman (78) – Music by John Williams; lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
53) “Across 110th Street” from Across 110th Street (72) – Music and lyrics by Bobby Womack
(*) 54) "Chattanooga Choo Choo" from Sun Valley Serenade (40) -- Music by Harry Warren; lyrics by Mack Gordon
55) "Night Fever" from Saturday Night Fever (61) -- Music and lyrics by Robin, Barry and Maurice Gibb
(*) 56) "Pennies from Heaven" from Pennies from Heaven (36) -- Music by Arthur Johnston; lyrics by Johnny Burke
(**) 57) “You’ll Never Know” from Hello, Frisco, Hello (43) – Music by Harry Warren; lyrics by Mack Gordon
58) “Galaxy Song” from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (83) – Music by Eric Idle and John Du Prez; lyrics by Eric Idle
59) “My Idaho Home” from Nashville (74) – Music and lyrics by Ronee Blakely
60) “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge! (2001) – Music and lyrics by David Baerwald
(*) 61) "That Old Black Magic" from Star Spangled Rhythm (43) -- Music by Harold Arlen; lyrics by Johnny Mercer
(*) 62) "The High and the Mighty" from The High and the Mighty (54) -- Music by Dimitri Tiomkin; lyrics by Ned Washington
(**) 63) "The Way We Were" from The Way We Were (73) -- Music by Marvin Hamlisch; lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
(*) 64) "Hopelessly Devoted To You" from Grease (78) -- Music and lyrics by John Farrar
(**) 65) "Days of Wine and Roses" from Days of Wine and Roses (62) -- Music by Henry Mancini; lyrics by Johnny Mercer
(*) 66) "More" from Mondo Cane (63) -- Music by Riz Ortolani and Nino Oliviero; lyrics by Norman Newell
(**) 67) "Swinging on a Star" from Going My Way (44) -- Music by James Van Heusen; lyrics by Johnny Burke
68) "Inchworm" from Hans Christian Andersen (52) -- Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser
(*) 69) "Town Without Pity" from Town Without Pity (61) -- Music by Dimitri Tiomkin; lyrics by Ned Washington
70) "Stay Awake" from Mary Poppins (64) -- Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
(*) 71) "Alfie" from Alfie (66) -- Music by Burt Bacharach; lyrics by Hal David
(**) 72) “The Shadow of Your Smile” from The Sandpiper (65) – Music by Johnny Mandel; lyrics by Paul Francis Weber
(*) 73) "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me (77) -- Music by Marvin Hamlisch; lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager
(**) 74) "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow (2005) -- Music and Lyric by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard
(*) 75) "Calling You" from Bagdad Cafe (88) -- Music and Lyric by Bob Telson
(*) 76) "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" from Best Friends (82) -- Music by Michel Legrand; Lyric by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
77) "My Name is Tallulah" from Bugsy Malone (76) – Music and lyrics by Paul Williams
78) "Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast (91) -- Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Howard Ashman
79) "Little April Shower" from Bambi (42)-- Music by Frank Churchill, Lyrics by Larry Morey
80) “I Wanna Get Next To You” from Car Wash (76) – Music and lyrics by Norman Whitfield
81) "I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me" from Carrie (77) -- Music by Pino Donaggio, Lyrics by Merrit Malloy
82) “The Porpoise Song” from Head (68) -- Music and lyrics by Gerry Goffin & Carole King
83) “Darling Be Home Soon” from You’re A Big Boy Now (66) -- Music and lyrics by John Sabastian
(*) 84) "Miss Misery" from Good Will Hunting (97) -- Music and Lyric by Elliott Smith
85) “Love Me Tender” from Love Me Tender (56) – Music and lyrics by Elvis Presley and Vera Matson
86) "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" from Life of Brian (79) – Music and lyrics by Eric Idle
87) “How Deep Is Your Love?” from Saturday Night Fever (77) -- Music and lyrics by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, and Maurice Gibb
88) “Freddie’s Dead” from Superfly (72) – Music and lyrics by Curtis Mayfield
89) "Tell Me" from Electra Glide in Blue (73) – Music and lyrics by James William Guercio and Terry Kath
90) “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” from Help! (65) – Music and lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
(**) 91) "Streets of Philadelphia" from Philadelphia (93) -- Music and Lyric by Bruce Springsteen
92) “A Gringo Like Me” from Gunfight at Red Sands (63) – Music by Ennio Morricone; lyrics by Peter Tavis
93) “Silent Eyes” from Shampoo (75) – Music and lyrics by Paul Simon
(*) 94) “On The Road Again” from Honeysuckle Rose (80) – Music and lyrics by Willie Nelson
95) "I Can Change" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (99) -- Music and Lyric by Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman
96) "Purple Rain" from Purple Rain (84) – Music and lyrics by Prince
(*) 97) "Young at Heart" from Young at Heart (54) – Music and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and Johnny Richards
98) "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" from The Jungle Book (67) -- Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
(*) 99) "Live and Let Die" from Live and Let Die (73) -- Music and lyrics by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney
(*) 100) "Blazing Saddles" from Blazing Saddles (74) -- Music by John Morriss; lyrics by Mel Brooks
101) “Something in the Air” from The Magic Christian (69) – Music and lyrics by John Keen
102) “Trouble Man” from Trouble Man (72) – Music and lyrics by Marvin Gaye
103) “Special to Me” from Phantom of the Paradise (74) – Music and lyrics by Paul Williams
(*) 104) "That Thing You Do!" from That Thing You Do! (96) -- Music and Lyric by Adam Schlesinger
105) “The Shape of Things to Come” from Wild in the Streets (68) – Music and lyrics by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil
106) “She’s Only a Country Girl” from Payday (73) -- Music and lyrics by Shel Silverstein
107) “Let Get Together” from The Parent Trap (61) -- Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
(*) 108) "That's Amore" from The Caddy (53) -- Music by Harry Warren; lyrics by Jack Brooks
(*) 109) "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie (79) -- Music and Lyric by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher
(*) 110) “Jean” from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (69) – Music and lyrics by Rod McKuen
(*) 111) "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" from Don Juan DeMarco (95) -- Music and Lyric by Michael Kamen, Bryan Adams and Robert John Lange
112) “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (65) – Music and lyrics by The Bostweeds
(**) 113) "For All We Know" from Lovers and Other Strangers (70) -- Music by Fred Karlin; lyrics by Robb Royer (aka Robb Wilson) and James Griffin (aka Arthur James)
(*) 114) “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” from Thank Your Lucky Stars (43) – Music by Arthur Schwartz; lyrics by Frank Loesser
115) “Late in the Evening” from One Trick Pony (80) – Music and lyrics by Paul Simon
116) "Je T'aime Tant" from Before Sunset (2004) -- Music and lyrics by Julie Delpy
117) “Only a Northern Song” from Yellow Submarine (68) – Music and lyrics by George Harrison
118) “Live To Tell” from At Close Range (86) – Music and lyrics by Patrick Leonard and Madonna
(*) 119) "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" from Come to the Stable (49) -- Music by Alfred Newman; lyrics by Mack Gordon
120) “Lookin’ for Love” from Urban Cowboy (80) – Music and lyrics by Written by Wanda Mallette, Patti Ryan and Bob Morrison
(*) 121) "One More Hour" from Ragtime (81) -- Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
(*) 122) "I've Seen It All" from Dancer in the Dark (2000) -- Music by Björk; Lyric by Sjón Sigurdsson and Lars von Trier
123) “Car Wash” from Car Wash (76) -- – Music and lyrics by Norman Whitfield
124) “Don’t Box Me In” from Rumblefish (83) – Music and lyrics by Stewart Copeland and Stan Ridgway
125) “Call Me” from American Gigalo (80) – Music and lyrics by Giorgio Moroder and Deborah Harry
(**) 126) "Falling Slowly" from Once (2007) -- Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
127) “My Rifle, My Pony and Me” from Rio Bravo (59) – Music and lyrics by Dimitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Weber
128) “In My Own Way” from Shock Treatment (81) – Music and lyrics by Richard Hartley and Richard O’Brien
(**) 129) “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” from Dick Tracy (90) – Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
130) “Absolute Beginners” from Absolute Beginners (86) – Music and lyrics by David Bowie
131) “Stroll On” from Blow Up (66) – Music and lyrics by The Yardbirds
(**) 132) "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile (2002)-- Music by Eminem, Jeff Bass and Luis Resto; Lyric by Eminem
133) “Hairspray” from Hairspray (88) -- Music and lyrics by Rachel Sweet, Willa Bassen, and Anthony Battaglia
134) “Love Kills” from Sid and Nancy (86) -- Music and lyrics by Joe Strummer
135) “Truck Turner” from Truck Turner (74) – Music and lyrics by Isaac Hayes
(*) 136) “Down to Earth” from Wall-E (2008) – Music by Thomas Newman and Peter Gabriel; lyrics by Peter Gabriel
(**) 137) "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from Arthur (81) -- Music and Lyric by Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen
138) “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from The Breakfast Club (85) – Music and lyrics by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff
139) “Somebody’s Baby” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (82) – Music and lyrics by Jackson Browne
140) “He Needs Me” from Popeye (80) – Music and lyrics by Harry Nilsson
141) “Friends” from Friends (71) – Music by Elton John; lyrics by Bernie Taupin
142) “City of Dreams” from True Stories (86) – Music and lyrics by David Byrne
143) “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack (80) – Music and lyrics by Kenny Loggins
144) “Barbarella” from Barbarella (68) – Music and lyrics by Bob Crewe and Charles Fox
145) “Whistle While You Work” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (37) – Music by Frank Churchill; lyrics by Larry Morey
146) “Mysteries of Love” from Blue Velvet (86) – Music and lyrics by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti
147) “It’s In The Way That You Use It” from The Color of Money (86) – Music and lyrics by Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson
148) “Colors” from Colors (88) – Music and lyrics by Ice-T and Afrika Islam
149) “The Boys Are Back In Town” from 48 HRS. (82) – Music and lyrics by Brian O’Neal
150) “Cheer Down” from Lethal Weapon 2 (89) – Music by George Harrison; lyrics by George Harrison and Tom Petty

Thursday, March 19, 2009

13 VERY POINTLESS (BUT FUN) MOVIE LISTS

For the past year of this blog's life, I've included these lists as part of my ongoing sidebar features (which I change fairly often, though not as often as I'd like). For those who haven't noticed (and I don't blame you), here's some fun fer ya. We start with the most current list (retired as sidebar fodder--there's a new list up now, "The 10 Best Drag Performances"--as of this publication):

20 LITTLE MOVIES INSIDE BIGGER MOVIES
**Perhaps the most famous and significant of all of cinema's "little movies": the spoof of The March of Time newsreels that opens Citizen Kane.
**A lush film documenting Earth's former beauty guides Edward G. Robinson to death in Soylent Green.
**A sickening series of informercials is consumed by Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream.
**Already-dead people film other people's deaths in Dead and Buried.
**George Kennedy stars in the bad sci-fi movie that Albert Brooks and Bruno Kirby are editing in Modern Romance.
**Politically radical bank robbers film their own crimes in Network.
**That “I’ll buy that for a dollar” TV show in Robocop.
**Beregere (Gabrielle Haker) watches 8mm movies of jazz legend Dale Turner (Dexter Gordon) in Round Midnight.
**The brainwashing film Joseph Frady (Warren Beatty) subjects himself to in The Parallax View.
**Jack (John Travolta) crafts an astonishing film documenting the death of a senator in Blow Out.
**There's that lame 30s-era B-movie Karen Black drags her wanna-be boyfriends to see (because she’s in it) in The Day of the Locust.
**At the Clinton Theater, a doc(mock)umentary unspools about the life of master porn filmmaker Auturo Domingo in The Autuer.
**George C. Scott discovers his daughter is starring in porn loops in Hardcore.
**The series of films reviewed by the "Sneakin' Into The Movies" guys in the extended Siskel and Ebert spoof within Hollywood Shuffle.
**A very authentic-looking silent western takeoff opens Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
**The video—with bikini girls shooting off massive machine guns—that Robert De Niro Bridget Fonda and Samuel L. Jackson enjoy at the outset of Jackie Brown.
**The sweat-sodden wrestling film dailies the title character endures in Barton Fink.
**The Duck and Cover mockery in The Iron Giant.
**“Mant” (as well as “The Shook-Up Shopping Cart”) in Matinee.
**“See You Next Wednesday,” the sloppy sex movie seen in An American Werewolf in London.
TEN GREAT MOVIES ABOUT BIRDS
Bill and Coo (Dean Riesner, 48)
Chicken Run (Nick Park, 2000)
Continental Divide (Lawrence Kasdan, 81)
Fly Away Home (Carroll Ballard, 96)
Kes (Ken Loach, 69)
March of the Penguins (Luc Jacquet, 2006)
Paulie (John Roberts, 1998)
The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 63)
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (Judy Irving, 2003)
Winged Migration (Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud & Michel Debats, 2001)
TEN GREAT PRISON MOVIES
Birdman of Alcatraz (John Frankenheimer, 62)
Caged Heat (Jonathan Demme, 74)
Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg, 67)
Escape From Alcatraz (Don Siegel, 79)
I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy, 32)
Papillon (Franklin J. Schaffner, 74)
Scum (Alan Clarke, 79)
The Big House (George W. Hill, 30)
The Criminal Code (Howard Hawks, 31)
The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 94)

TEN GREAT SCREEN ANIMALS
DEER: The fawn (The Yearling)
HORSE: Black (The Black Stallion)
LIONESS: Elsa (Born Free)
LLAMA: Tina (Napoleon Dynamite)
ORANGATAN: Clyde (Every Which Way But Loose)
PARROT: Paulie (Paulie)
DOG: Old Yeller (Old Yeller)
CAT: Tonto (Harry and Tonto)
WOLF: Two Socks (Dances with Wolves)
ANN-MARGRET: Kelly Olsson (The Swinger)

TEN GREAT FICTIONAL MOVIE PRESIDENTS
Charles Durning as President David Stevens in Twilight's Last Gleaming
Donald Pleasence as The President in Escape from New York
Fredric March as President Jordan Lyman in Seven Days in May
Henry Fonda as The President in Fail-Safe
Jack Nicholson as President James Dale in Mars Attacks!
Jeff Bridges as President Jackson Evans in The Contender
Kevin Kline as Dave Kovic / President Bill Mitchell in Dave
Pepi Hermine as President Mimeo in Putney Swope
Peter Sellers as President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove
Polly Bergen as President Leslie McCloud in Kisses for My President

TEN GREAT SAN FRANCISCO MOVIES
Bullitt (Peter Yates, 68)
Dirty Harry (Don Siegel, 71)
Petulia (Richard Lester, 68)
San Francisco (W.S. Van Dyke, 36)
The Bridge (Eric Steel, 2006)
The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 74)
The Times of Harvey Milk (Robert Epstein, 84)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 58)
What's Up, Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 72)
Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)

TEN GREAT MOVIES WITH EXPLODING HEADS
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Speilberg, 2002)
Alien (Ridley Scott, 79)
Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 79)
Outland (Peter Hyams, 81)
Scanners (David Cronenberg, 81)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 91)
The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 80)
The Fly (David Cronenberg, 86)
The Thing (John Carpenter, 82)
JFK (Oliver Stone, 90)

TEN GREAT MOVIES WITH RADIO DJs AS MAIN CHARACTERS
American Graffiti (Wolfman Jack as himself)
American Hot Wax (Tim McIntyre as Alan Freed, and Jay Leno as Mookie)
Comfort and Joy (Bill Paterson as Alan "Dickie" Bird)
Do The Right Thing (Samuel L. Jackson as Mister Senor Love Daddy)
FM (Cleavon Little as Prince, Eileen Brennan as Mother, and Martin Mull as Eric Swan)
Play Misty For Me (Clint Eastwood as Dave Garver)
Pump Up The Volume (Christian Slater as Mark "Hard Harry" Hunter)
The Apostle (Rick Dial as Elmo)
The Warriors (Lynne Thigpen as D.J.)
Vanishing Point (Cleavon Little as Super Soul)


TEN MOVIES WITH GREAT SEX SCENES
Beatrice Dalle and Jean-Hugues Anglade in Betty Blue
William Hurt and Katherine Turner in Body Heat
Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgard in Breaking the Waves
Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in Don't Look Now
Anne Parillaud and Jason Scott Lee in Map of the Human Heart
Keanu Reeves, Chiara Caselli, and River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho
Peter North and Christi Canyon in Night Trips
Vincent Gallo and Chloe Sevigny in The Brown Bunny
Daniel Day Lewis, Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin in The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Jennifer Connelly and Billy Crudup in Waking the Dead

TEN GREAT MOVIES IN WHICH SOMEONE IS COVERED IN A MESSY GOO
**Ash (Bruce Campbell) gets a blood bath, and some rotting remains in the face, in The Evil Dead
**Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner) dog paddles in a river of chocolate in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
**Carol Ann (Heather O'Roarke) is covered in ectoplasm in Poltergeist
**Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is drenched in pig's blood in Carrie
**Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) is pelted with copious bird crap in High Anxiety
**Emil (Paul McCrane) is destroyed with a spray of nuclear waste in Robocop
**Ensign Pulver (Jack Lemmon) makes his way through a sea of soap suds in Mister Roberts
**Father Karras (Jason Miller) gets a face full of devil vomit in The Exorcist
**Jett Rink (James Dean) gets joyfully covered in oil in Giant
**The Ghostbusters (Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson) are slimed with marshmallow sauce in Ghostbusters

TEN DIRECTORS WHO'VE WRITTEN MUSIC OR LYRICS FOR THEIR MOVIES:
Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Changeling, Bridges of Madison County, Mystic River, Gran Torino)
David Byrne (True Stories)
David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me)
Jacques Demy (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg)
John Carpenter (Halloween, They Live, etc.)
John Sayles (Limbo, Honeydripper, Brother from Another Planet)
Ken Russell (Lisztomania)
Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark)
Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas)
Prince (Under the Cherry Moon, Graffiti Bridge)

TEN GREAT ATLANTA MOVIES
ATL (Chris Robinson, 2006)
Claire (Milford Thomas, 2001)
Driving Miss Daisy (Bruce Beresford, 89)
Drumline (Charles Stone III, 2002)
Sharkey’s Machine (Burt Reynolds, 81)
Marvin and Tige (Eric Weston, 83)
Sherman’s March (Ross McElwee, 86)
The Signal (David Bruckner, Dan Bush & Jacob Gentry, 2007)
Smokey and the Bandit (Hal Needham, 77)
Trespass (Walter Hill, 92)

TWENTY EXTRAORDINARY ACTS OF CINEMATIC SACRIFICE (SPOILERS ALERT!!)
**Bess (Emily Watson) goes to extraordinary lengths to save the life of her injured husband in Breaking The Waves.
**Robert Kinkaid (Clint Eastwood) and Franchesca (Meryl Streep) abandon their love, for the sake of her treasured family, in The Bridges of Madison County.
**Rick (Humphrey Bogart) sends his lover Elsa (Ingrid Bergman) away, all for the good of the allied war effort in Casablanca.
**Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon) gives his life to warn the people of Los Angeles, via live television, about a dangerous nuclear reactor in The China Syndrome.
**Johnny (Christopher Walken) exposes a presidential candidate he knows will lead the world into holocaust in The Dead Zone.
**Father Karras (Jason Miller) beats the devil out of a little girl (Linda Blair) and suffers the consequences in The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 73)
**A stage dresser (Tom Courteney) relinquishes his happiness all for the unrequited love of his boss, an elderly English actor (Albert Finney) in The Dresser.
**Two American parents (Anne Baxter and Thomas Mitchell) lose all five of their sons to WWII in The Fighting Sullivans.
**A dying Japanese bureaucrat (Takeshi Shimura) spends his final months, and his life savings, to build a children's park in Ikiru.
**At the end of his darkest hour, the whole town comes to George Bailey's aid at the end of It's A Wonderful Life.
**The aging comedian Calvero (Charlie Chaplin) saves the life of a suicidal ballerina (Claire Bloom) and denies his love for her so that she may marry a younger, more suitable man in Limelight.
**Tom (John Wayne), gives up his pride, his girl, and his hope of a happy life in order to pump up the reputation of the small-town lawyer (James Stewart) whom he knows will bring civilization to the West in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
**Jesus Christ (Willem Dafoe) resists the devil's promise of a normal man's life, and dies on the cross for the sins of humanity in The Last Temptation of Christ.
**Thomas More loses his life in steadfastly clinging to his strong sense of morality in A Man For All Seasons.
**A once-dirty cop (Treat Williams) gives up his lifelong profession and his much-loved partners in order to expose police force dirty-dealings in Prince of the City.
**Spock (Leonard Nimoy) dies from radiation exposure in order to rescue the Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
**The entire crew of a spaceship headed to a burning-out sun give their lives to restart it again, and in the process save humanity, in Sunshine.
**A battalion of Navy men embark on a mission they know will result in their deaths in They Were Expendable.
**Reverend Scott (Gene Hackman) performs one last act of selflessness in insuring the safety of the survivors of The Poseidon Adventure.
**On 9/11/2001, the passengers on Flight 93 perform an extraordinary act of heroism in order to stem further bloodshed in United 93.

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