I heard it through the movies…
Five Favourite Songs from Film Soundtracks.
In this the latest blog collaboration with Banzai Retro Club, we’re looking back at those songs that made those retro movie soundtracks so memorable. I was big soundtrack fan in the 1980s and collected those rather than regular music albums. Even now, I can only remember iconic songs if you mention the movie they were in rather than the album. Luckily, Darlin’ Husband is a film buff so he can relate to this quirk quite easily.
So it was difficult for me, in selecting just 5 from the enormous list of songs from movies made before 2000. So methodically, I excluded those from musicals, those much adored instrumental numbers and musical biopic films. So expect those songs in posts, on another day. I also excluded James Bond theme songs as so many good ones, they deserve a list on their own.
Here’s the final 5, in no particular order.
Harold and Maude (1971) – Cat Stevens, If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out
Harold & Maude – If you want to sing out, sing out – Ruth Gordon, nasdarovie, http://www.youtube.com
This black comedy is on my to watch and review this year. I promise. The film tells of Harold (Bud Cort), a 18-year-old who is obsessed with death, and his strong friendship and eventual relationship with 79-year-old, Maude (Ruth Gordon). The pair meeting at a funeral. She is a lovely wee happy-go-lucky character and her enthusiasm for life rubs off on him.
This Cat Stevens song is a fantastical tribute to her inspiring character, and was sung by Ruth Gordon in the movie. This scene combined with this uplifting song, demonstrating Maude’s personality perfectly. As both this song and the plot demonstrate how her enthusiasm for life is slowly transforming Harold. However this scene could have sounded completely different, as the original soundtrack artist was Elton John. He dropped out of the film and recommended Cat Stevens to replace him. With this song is one of Cat Stevens’ original pieces. The song also makes an appearance at the end of the movie. But how…check it out to find out.
Frankie Valli – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Conspiracy Theory), wooks on, http://www.youtube.com
I’m not a huge fan of Mel Gibson – long story – but this is definitely on the to watch list after rewatching this video. In which Mel kinda sings along to the track, in a kinda duet with Julia Roberts who’s lip synching it. With Gibson in a sensitive and sweet portrayal of Jerry (Gibson), a cabbie obsessed with conspiracies who publishes a newsletter about uncovering them to his five followers. He’s stalking and madly in love with Julia Roberts’ attorney Alice. She is trying to find out how her father was murdered. Alice knows Jerry and sees his theories as a wee bit crazy, but is unaware of his stalking tendencies. An encounter with leads to flashbacks for Jerry.. as it appears one of his conspiracies is true. And as his followers are murdered one by one, he asks for Alice’s help… as the bad guys target them.
Of course, this tune is the love theme, as love-lorn stalkers do get the girl in movies… (see Passengers (2016)). Gibson’s Jerry is much more likeable rather than Chris Pratt’s creepy character. And this song is again perfect for the movie, despite it sounding like a stalker’s anthem. There is a lovely chemistry between Gibson and Roberts, and it’s movie and tune, that makes me sob. Roberts does look more than pensive in most her shots. Gibson looks as vulnerable as Leonardo’s DiCaprio’s Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island (2010). With a similar questions raised about the leading characters mental health during the film. And there’s Patrick Stewart as a CIA psychiatrist for your mum. Or not, after this movie.
Big Chill Dance Scene (better quality), kagarris0n, http://www.youtube.com
This film, The Big Chill has one of my favourite movie soundtracks of the 1980s. But with songs from the 60s and 70s. The soundtrack included I Heard it Through the Grapevine (Marvin Gaye) to Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harem). The cast of this film was pretty fab too with Jeff Goldblum and Tom Berenger alongside Glenn Close, William Hurt and Kevin Kline. And more. The film tells how seven University friends, now baby boomers reunite fifteen years later at a friend’s funeral after his suicide (with this character, Alex played by Costner and his role on the cutting room floor, apart from the opening credits).
The group spend time together reminiscing, rebonding as past and present revelations are made. The film shows the camaraderie and friendship increase between them over a weekend. And in this scene with this tune, the cast dance together and you feel their natural rapport and friendship. This evidently much more than those with the full cast in another 80s ensemble movie, St Elmo’s Fire (1985). This may have been helped with the Big Chill cast living together for a short time before filming to promote this. Which could have backfired terribly, but all the cast report it as a positive experience.
Tootsie (1982) – Stephen Bishop, It Might Be You
Tootsie “It Might Be You” movie scene 1982, BaoziPork, http://www.youtube.com
Failed actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) gets a job on a daytime hospital soap, only after he masquerades as a middle-aged actress, Dorothy Michaels. This kinda sums up the comedy plot of Tootsie, however add to this the romantic complications when he falls for his co-star, single mum, Julie (Jessica Lange). As Dorothy, he also becomes an object of affection for his co-star John Van Horn (George Gaynes) and Julie’s father Les (Charles Durning).
This song is one of my favourite film ballads and it’s just soppy and lovely. The song accompanying a soft focus montage in the movie, it shows Dorsey’s growing romantic feelings for his soap co-star Julie. The lyrics and the stirring music accompanying them combine to make this one of my most much-loved tunes for this time. Making its inclusion in a taped compilation of movie tunes a must buy for me around this time. I’ve never heard of the man who sang it despite his numerous film appearances and movie musical contributions. And had mistakenly believed the Tootsie track to be 70s crooner, Barry Manilow – responsible for Foul Play‘s Ready to Take a Chance Again – for years. Despite the song being nominated for an Oscar.
Mermaids (1990) – Jimmy Soul, If You Wanna be Happy
Mermaids “If You Wanna Be Happy” ending movie scene 1990, BaoziPork, http://www.youtube.com
Mermaids has another great soundtrack including this tune, a 1963 hit. The comic story tells of an unconventional mum, Rachel Flax (Cher) to two young girls. Rachel uproots them constantly, as they move from town to town due to her disastrous love life. It’s a great coming of age movie, with Winona Ryder narrating as Cher’s 15-year-old daughter Charlotte. Charlotte wants to become a nun and disapproves of her mother’s antics. As she yearns for a normal life and the much older school bus driver Joe (Michael Schoeffling). And her mother finds love too with Lou (Bob Hoskins). However their lives become a wee bit more complicated… It also Christina Ricci as Charlotte’s 9-year-old sister, swimming obsessed Kate.
Although this song appears in the final scene of the movie, it shows, the three gals dancing away, with them happy as a family. The song also features in Chances Are (1989) and My Best Friends Wedding (1997), but it is Mermaids I remember it for. With this nice fun, chirpy song accompanying the ending of the film and this post.
And finally as with all these collaboration posts, I’ll add the links to the other Banzai Retro Club members podcasts and blog posts as I get them.
Banzai Retro Club ‘s podcast… Fave Retro Soundtrack Songs
Banzai Retro Club’s blog post… Top 5 Retro Movie Soundtrack Songs
Old School Evil… Top 5 Soundtrack Songs Pre-2000