Monday, November 05, 2012
Movie Monday: The Which Movie Songs are Your Favorites Edition
I didn't really intend on extending yesterday's Music Sunday discussion of music in movies into today's Movie Monday post. I really didn't. But last night, after I was finished writing yesterday's post and finished with dinner, but it was still just 8:30 p.m. and too early to go to bed (thanks, time change), I started looking at some lists over on the American Film Institute's website in preparation for today's post. And I found their list of America's Favorite Movie Music, "100 Years...100 Songs". It's an interesting list, with some entries that I wouldn't have expected.
The top ten, of course, is fairly predictable. For the most part. I was a little surprised that "Stayin' Alive", by the Bee Gees, from Saturday Night Fever (1977) ranked at number nine, above "The Sound of Music" from that 1965 film, which came in at number ten. Otherwise, there is nothing here that really surprises me. The full top ten list is as follows:
1. "Over the Rainbow", performed by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
2. "As Time Goes By", performed by Dooley Wilson in Casablanca (1942)
3. "Singin' in the Rain", performed by Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain (1952)
4. "Moon River", performed by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
5. "White Christmas", performed by Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn (1942)
6. "Mrs. Robinson", performed by Simon and Garfunkel in The Graduate (1967)
7. "When You Wish Upon a Star", performed by Cliff Edwards in Pinocchio (1940)
8. "The Way We Were", performed by Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were (1973)
9. "Stayin' Alive", performed by the Bee Gees in Saturday Night Fever (1977)
10."The Sound of Music", performed by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (1965)
As far as I'm concerned, the AFI got most of this part of the list correct, starting with number one. "Over the Rainbow" is the perfect song for Judy Garland's voice and for the movie, which is what a good movie song should be:
But, getting past the top ten, I found some songs on the list that I really didn't expect, although many of them make perfect sense to me as choices. The thing is, stuff that makes perfect sense too me doesn't always make any sense at all to anyone else.
Barbra Streisand, singing "Evergreen" along with some help from Kris Kristofferson in A Star is Born (1976) shows up at number 16 on the list. It didn't surprise me that the song is on the list; it functions perfectly within the movie. What surprised me is that it is just three spots below Streisand's highest song on the list, "People" from Funny Girl (1968), at number 13.
I'm not really sure why it surprised me that "Born to be Wild", by Steppenwolf and appearing over the opening credits in Easy Rider (1969) appeared on the list, at number 29. It certainly sets the tone for the movie that follows. I suppose I just wasn't expecting much in the way of hard rock on the list, especially that high up on the list:
I was surprised to find "Aquarius", from the film version of Hair (1979) on the list, and especially surprised to find it as high as it was, at the number 33 spot on the list. My surprise is not necessarily because it doesn't fit its spot at the beginning of the movie well, but because of the movie's sort of counterculture vibe. But, it is a superior performance, with a solo by Ren Woods:
One song that surprised me, but only in that it wasn't higher on the list, was "The Windmills of Your Mind", performed by Noel Harrison in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). It doesn't show up until number 57, even though it also serves the movie perfectly. There is an urgency in Harrison's performance of the song that fits the relationship between the characters played by Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, but it contrasts in just the right way with the scenes of McQueen flying a glider that it plays over in the film:
Putting songs into movies can be a tricky thing. Sometimes the choices work, as I think they do in all the instances I've shared here, and sometimes they just don't. There are no lists for that, as far as I'm aware, but you know those songs when you come across them in a film. This list from the AFI which, along with other lists, is available on their website, is a good way to find the ones that work, and work well.
There are, by the way, other lists on the AFI site that are worth exploring if you are a movie fan. There is a link at the beginning of this post to the AFI site.
So, which movie songs are your favorites?
UPDATE: I had included a link to the list, "100 Years...100 Songs", but it didn't work, so I removed it. You can get to the list by clicking on "Links" at the general site and then navigating from there.