Monday, November 2, 2015

Monday’s Music Moves Me: Movie Theme Songs


I think I misread the theme for today (chosen by Alex J. Cavanaugh). It was supposed to be “movie soundtracks,” but I was thinking “movie theme songs.” But then, theme songs are part of the soundtrack, so I’m in the clear.

Putting this playlist together, I realized that many movie theme songs have become standards, and many times the association with the movie is lost over the years. Not all of the choices I’ve made here are performed by the original artist or orchestra, often because I wasn’t able to find the original opening, and sometimes because the song as performed by another artist just sounds better, to me anyway. There’s no rhyme or reason to which songs are here, or the order in which they appear; I simply added them to the list as I thought of them. One final note: I had intended on adding the theme songs from The Beatles’ movies, but found they were blocked, so if you were counting on hearing “A Hard Day’s Night” or “Yellow Submarine,” sorry.

This is a pretty long playlist. Once I got going, I couldn’t stop…

  1. Charade – Henry Mancini: Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer wrote this for the 1963 movie, starring Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, and George Kennedy (who seemed to be in a lot of movies like this one in the Sixties).
  2. Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey: Written by John Barry, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the 1964 movie of the same name, starring Sean Connery, Honor Blackmon, and Gert Fröbe. I love Dame Shirley’s voice in this.
  3. On Green Dolphin Street – Vince Guaraldi: A bona fide jazz standard, I never knew it was a movie theme until I was watching TCM one afternoon and they ran the 1947 movie “Green Dolphin Street,” which starred Lana Turner, Van Heflin, Donna Reed, and Richard Hart. The theme was written by Bronislau Kaper and has been recorded by Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Grant Green.
  4. Invitation – Maynard Ferguson: Also by Kaper, the song was originally introduced in the 1950 movie “A Life Of Her Own” starring Lana Turner and Ray Milland. The 1952 movie starred Van Johnson, Dorothy McGuire, Ruth Roman, Louis Calhern, and Ray Collins, who went on to play Lt. Tragg in the “Perry Mason” TV series. This version by Maynard Ferguson was used as background music for Chicago TV station WFLD’s “Community Calendar,” a public affairs interstitial, as you’ll see in the video.
  5. Laura – Emil Newman: From the 1944 movie starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, and Dame Judith Anderson. It was written by David Raksin after director Otto Preminger rejected the idea of using Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady” as the theme.
  6. Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) – Antônio Carlos Jobim: Jobim and Luiz Bonfá wrote the music for the screen adaptation of Vincius de Moraes’s play Orfeu do Conceição, an adaptation of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The 1959 film starred Breno Mello, Marpessa Dawn, Marcel Camus (who also co-wrote and directed), Fausto Guerzoni, and Lourdes de Oliveira. Vince Guaraldi and his trio released Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus in 1962, and many of the songs are now bossa nova standards.
  7. Lara’s Theme – Maurice Jarre: From the 1965 movie “Doctor Zhivago” starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, and Alec Guinness, adapted from the 1957 book of the same name by Boris Pasternak. “Lara’s Theme” became an easy listening standard, and Jarre’s original score for the movie won a Golden Globe award.
  8. You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra: The theme for the 1967 James Bond adventure of the same name, starring Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi, and Donald Pleasence as Ernst Blofeld (the inspiration for Mike Myers’ “Doctor Evil” in the “Austin Powers” films). The title song was written by John Barry with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, and the title sequence starts with the “gun barrel” sequence and the “James Bond Theme” by Monty Norman, as has every Bond film since “Dr. No.” Screenwriter Roald Dahl discarded most of the plot of the original novel by Ian Fleming, calling it Fleming’s worst book and comparing it to a travelogue. He delivered a film similar to the other movies in the series, and called it his most satisfying screenplay.
  9. Airport Love Theme – Vincent Bell: From the 1970 adaptation of Arthur Hailey’s novel of the same name, which featured an all-star cast headed by Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, and George Kennedy. It was written by Alfred Newman (not to be confused with Alfred E. Neumann).
  10. Midnight Cowboy – Garry Sherman: Written by John Barry, from the 1969 film classic with Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. Jean “Toots” Thielemans plays the harmonica on this song.
  11. The Windmills of Your Mind – Dusty Springfield: This was written by Michel Legrand with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. It was sung by Noel Harrison for the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, and by Sting for the 1999 remake starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. Dusty Springfield’s cover of the song reached #31 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Easy Listening chart in 1969. Swing Out Sister has covered it; the cover can be found on 1996’s The Best of Swing Out Sister.

Okay, I got a little carried away, with over 45 minutes of music. Enjoy! That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for November 2, 2015.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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