Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Great (film) Debates vol. 75

Every once in a while, a film includes music. Sometimes... it's not bad.

What film/scene had the best use of music?



Panelist: BevfromNYC

Okay, it is a toss-up between “Jaws” and “The Exorcist”. Both still evoke terror every time I hear them. “Tubular Bells” just sends shivers down my spine and I still can’t sleep to this day when I hear it or see scenes from the movie.

And “Jaws”? Who can forget that “ba-dump……ba-dump……ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump” of the first scenes in “Jaws”. Even swimming in a lake where there will NEVER be a shark attack, I get nervous being in neck deep water. I just hear the music going through my head…

Panelist: AndrewPrice

The opening title sequence to Reservoir Dogs done to "Little Green Bag": LINK. This is uber-cool and has been parodied may times. It also defines what you will get in Tarantino's films from hereon out.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Right now, at the head of my list is the use of "On Raglin Road" in the death scene of Brendan Gleeson at the Bell Tower (In Bruges) It's poignancy is breathtaking. The song, imho one of the most beautiful love ballads of all time, it uses the words from a poem (Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away) by famed Irish poet Patrick Kavenaugh and sets them to a traditional 19th century Gaelic melody Fainne Geal du Lae, (Dawning of the Day.) I have seen it performed a cappella in an Irish bar, and it is haunting. The poem is about Dr.Hilda Moriarty who spurned Kavenaugh for the father of Irish actor Daragh O'Malley (Sgt. Harper.) This powerful scene is incredibly well acted by Gleeson, and made all the more powerful by the music. From the same film, the use of Franz Schubert's Der Leiermann (the organ grinder) from his famous song cycle Winterreisse is also amazing. It is used in the scene where Gleeson drags Colin Ferrell along to see famous paintings and is picture perfect for that moment.

Classical soundtracks are the best, and none are better than Kubrick's. 2001 A Space Odyssey uses the music of Richard (Also sprach Zaratrustra) and Johann Strauss (Blue Danube Waltz) to perfection. Then there is Barry Lyndon (back to Schubert again!) with the famous piano trio in E Flat.. Finally, though, for the western genre, the theme from The Big Country (Jerome Moross) is as memorable and effective as it gets.

Panelist: ScottDS

At the end of the day, I don't think any movie uses music as effectively as Jaws. John Williams' iconic score more or less helped save the movie - Spielberg couldn't use the mechanical shark as much as he would've liked so he depended on the music to add suspense where none would otherwise exist.

Panelist: T-Rav

Two answers, both a tip of the hat to Ridley Scott. For an overall film, I really like the musical score for Gladiator, which really hits all the right notes at all the right times, especially in the finale. As for a specific scene, though, I’d have to go with the climactic point in Blade Runner where Roy saves Deckard’s life. Something about the music there sends a chill down my spine every time I watch.

Comments? Thoughts?

77 comments:

Floyd R. Turbo said...

All those are great and of course Psycho, etc. I watched Zodiac again the other night and the opening murder scene with Hurdy Gurdy Man playing is quite effective -- soundtrack not score of course...

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Good movie, good soundtrack. And yes, Psycho has an excellent soundtrack. The shower scene in particular is deservedly famous!

Tennessee Jed said...

Floyd - both chilling. I was a little disappointed with the overall Zodiac film. It seemed to drag a bit as I recall, but there is no denying the opening sequence was chilling. Donovan ... who knew? :) And Psycho was perhaps the scariest movie ever with a soundtrack that only amplified that.

Jaws soundtrack was really effective, too. I just said Psycho as the all time leader in scaring the crap out of me. But, Jaws is right there with it.

Andrew - interesting with the Reservoir in particular, and QT in general. I'll have to check them out while focused specifically on musical impact. The fact I didn't think about those films in that regard probably hints at a certain subtlety-- a good thing do doubt.

I do love the classics, though and the films I mentioned are ones I had recently screened. A coincidence in effecting my choices when I wrote up my response. I doubt it very much (l.o.l.)

K said...

The opening scene of "Thief" - Tangerine Dream OST music.

The Blue Danube Pan Am Spaceliner scene from 2001.

The "We'll Meet Again" closing credits for Dr. Strangelove.

The "Nutcracker" animation in Fantasia.

Futile Escape (Aliens Soundtrack) - James Horner - not a great piece of music but it underwrites the scene quite well.

Also from Horner, the Apollo 13 score, esp the launch scene.





Dave Olson said...

You could mention almost anything from the John Williams canon and not go wrong. (Well, maybe not his work on Gilligan's Island, but his opening theme for season 3 of Lost in Space was better than any of the S3 episodes.) In fact, the only good parts of Phantom Menace were "Duel of the Fates" and the music for the final celebration.

The first soundtrack I ever bought was "Star Trek 2". The Mutara Battle was about as good as it gets. And Horner liked his "Prefix Countdown" so much, he ripped it off for the "Punch it, Bishop!" scene in "Aliens". (Yeah, I know the story: he was under a time crunch and Cameron was being a dick.)

Pulp Fiction had a great soundtrack, and made perfect use of "Son of a Preacher Man". But if I go to hell, I'll ask Tarantino why he had to go and ruin "Stuck in the Middle With You" in Reservoir Dogs. I can't hear that without seeing Michael Madsen dancing around the warehouse with a straight razor.

shawn said...

The music Jerry Goldsmith did for the original Alien trailer still haunts me to this day. Brilliant.

And it can be seen and heard here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HjwbnhVnDM

T-Rav said...

I agree, the music for Alien is pretty creepy, and cool.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Ry Cooder's work in The Long Riders is good. Anytime roots music is needed he is the "go to" guy.

Music so good it almost redeems a craptastic movie? Kronos Quartet and Mogwai in The Fountain. Awesomely awesome soundtrack. WTF?!? movie.

The music is so good I wonder if a differently edited version of the movie might be out there somewhere.

Also... in Peter Weir's Fearless the final plane crash scene that explains how Jeff Bridge's character got there is quite effective and the music is beautiful... Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, second movement... "LENTO SOSTENUTO TRANQUILLO MA CANTABILE" It is an achingly beautiful piece of music.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, In my opinion, Tarantino was solely responsible for the revival of 70s music in the 1990s with the way he used it to heavily and so well throughout his early movies.

AndrewPrice said...

K, Great choices! I especially like the use of "Blue Danube." That was truly the perfect choice for that scene.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave, I think of that scene too when I hear "Stuck in the Middle," but I don't mind. It works for me.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, Alien had great music. It really fit well and is still feels unique.

Here's your link: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Shouldn't you be studying? Your professors called and said they were making the test 12% harder just for kicks!

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I agree completely about The Fountain. The music is fantastic and it is almost enough to get me to watch the film, except that the film is just awful. As you correctly put it, it's a WTF film?

Outlaw13 said...

The use of "Singing in the Rain" for "A Clockwork Orange"

Any of the musical numbers in "Team America", particularly, THIS ONE

BIG MO said...

Aside from the entire score for The Empire Strikes Back -- a masterpiece -- one of the most effective pieces of music is the opening sequences of Basil Poledouris' score for 1982's Conan the Barbarian. The whole score, in fact, is fantastic and far overshadows the film.

Also great: Danny Elfman's Batman score, particularly the cue for Attack of the Batwing as Batman stops Joker's attempt to poison Gotham.

Finally, though I don't remember the composer, the barn-raising sequence in Harrison Ford's Witness is scored -- and filmed -- beautifully.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, Kubrick has made some excellent choices in many of his films.

AndrewPrice said...

Big MO, The Conan score is fantastic. It's one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

I always liked the use of Boccherini's Minuet in The Lady Killers (the original). I guess I'm biased though because I learned that piece on the violin when I was younger.

Backthrow said...

Ennio Morricone's score for THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY --the memorable themes for each of the three main characters, and the final three-way showdown...

And especially Morricone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST score --when the little boy runs out of the house seconds after the massacre of his family by Henry Fonda and his goons, only to slam face-first into Morricone's electric guitar Sting of Doom (tm), with the foreboding orchestral music swelling then subsiding, as Fonda's shocking decision to shoot the lad is punctuated by a muted, distant toll of a bell, truly casting Fonda as a malevolent angel of death. Charles Bronson's eerie harmonica theme, most notably when his character's recurring flashback is finally revealed in full. Claudia Cardinale's 'Jill's Theme/Jill's America' theme, some of the most beautiful music ever composed for film, perfectly underpinning her character's beauty, hopes and melancholy.

John Barry's ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE score, the title instrumental theme enveloping and propelling Bond through two amazing ski chases, among many other outstanding musical moments in the film.

Tennessee Jed said...

Floyd - love the Long riders. I have both "I am a good old rebel" and "Seneca Square Dance." Another very effective piece was
Ai Du" a duet between Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure from their album "Talking Timbuktu." This song was used for the seduction of Diane Lane in the film "Unfaithful."

Anon - Luigi Boccherini is one of my favorites. You reminded me of his piece "A Night in Madrid" that was used so effrfectively in the soundtracl "Master & Commander."

Tennessee Jed said...

Maurice Jarre did the soundtrack work for Witness, my favorite Peter Weir and Harrison Ford film ;)

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that ain't funny. I originally thought my mid-term essay for one class was supposed to be 5-6 pages; looked at it yesterday, and turns out it's more like 15+. Oops.

And I saw that professor on the way to church this morning. Should've prayed for a lightning bolt. :-/

T-Rav said...

Incidentally, while I don't know about the whole movie, I think the score for Indy's truck-chasing scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best put together. Freakin' awesome.

Tennessee Jed said...

Another great use of music is the soundtrack for the film and television series "Friday Night Lights." Most of the music is done by an Austin based band called "Explosions in the Sky." They feature 3 telecasters and a set of drums, and weave some incredible melodies and dynamic changes. A few years back, I went on a tour of my ancestors grave sites throughout the northeast and going back in our family to the 17th century.

Tennessee Jed said...

... and played their "songs for my fathers" a very emotive kind of music.

Kenn Christenson said...

The screechy strings used in the scenes with the Joker in "The Dark Knight" really added to the sense that just about anything could happen - and none of it would be good.

And in the "odd combinations the work department:" The Dickies' "Banana Splits" song in "Kick-Ass." Pretty cool combination of music and mayhem. :)

Kenn Christenson said...

...and, then, there's one of the creepiest musical performances on camera - the "Dueling Banjos" in "Deliverance." The scene really set up the odyssey this group of thrill-seekers were about to face.

Tennessee Jed said...

Kenn - "The Dickies" Banana Splits from Kick-Ass. Excellent!

Tennessee Jed said...

The scene was creepy in Deliverance, but the song is actually up-lifting. I kind of thought that whole movie was a big cheap shot at Appalachia myself.

Anonymous said...

Backthrow's suggestion of Once Upon a Time in the West and Barry's music from On Herajesty's Secret Service are two of the best. I also like the music from The Incredibles, Monster's Inc., Planet of the Apes, The Godfather, and Master and Commander.

Tennessee Jed said...

There is much amazing soundtrack work being done with film and television. The Swedish electronic artist Fever Ray has done some nice work with pieces like "The Wolf" and most recently "If I Had a Heart" on Fox's "The Following."

Tennessee Jed said...

Apart from the music, the opening battle sequence from Master & Commander is unbelievable. When played through a first rate system, the DTS HD lossless soundtrack on the blu-ray puts you right on the ship, and reminds you a sea battle is still a very real battle. The soundtrack is great because of it's diversity. Everything from Yo Yo Ma to the Chieftains.

Tennessee Jed said...

Backthrow - those were all great soundtracks you mentioned. Certainly, "The Good, the Bad ..." was iconic for my generation. Everybody was "singing" that theme and going for those horrible, short little foult tasting perogi's. ;)

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - I agree the truck scene from Raiders is magnificant, but can't for the life of me remember the music accompanying it. Hope all goes well with your mid-term.

T-Rav said...

Jed, I agree. What's so creepy about "Dueling Banjos"? (Of course, I would probably also identify with the hillbillies in that movie, so I may not be the best judge.)

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - Team America is SUCH a masterpiece. Of course freedom isn't free is pretty figgin' great, too.

Tennessee Jed said...

vis-a-vis Tarantino. Don't forget all that good Telecaster surfing music, and, of course, the 88's.

Tennessee Jed said...

I always like James Newton Howard's work in "Restoration." It was a nice blend of classics from composers like Handel as well as some from Howard himself. Another in the same vein is Patrick Doyle's score for Henry V, particularly the music accompanying Henry's St. Crispin's Day speech.

Jason said...

One of my favorites would have to be Trevor Jones's score from "The Dark Crystal." Simply spectacular stuff. One of the most memorable scores I've ever heard.

And then there's Limahl's iconic (if you're a child of the 80s) "Neverending Story" from the movie of the same name. :)

PikeBishop said...

"Manhunter:" Inna gadda davida playing as the Tooth Fairy is chasing Joan Allen's blind character as she hides from him, while Graham approaches the house. Wow!

Anonymous said...

Chariots Of Fire sprang to mind first, it's an all time classic. Then the scene from Gallipoli where Mel Gibson is running through the trenches to try to stop the charge, that is amazing.

Of course as mentioned Jaws and Physco are classics, I really like Tarantino's use of music in all his movies, he is one of the best at it. I also agree with Ennio Morricone and that Team America was great (I liked the South Park musical as well).

I also have to agree with TJ that the music from Friday Night Lights was great all over and
I love Explosions In The Sky, great band.

I would also mention the Bond theme and of course the brilliance of Star Wars, the music from both movies is instantly recognisable.

Scott.

Tennessee Jed said...

Jason - as a non-child of the 80's, I am, sadly, unfamiliar with either. But your own enthusiasm for them portends something pretty darned good.

Tennessee Jed said...

Pike - I was in college when In-a-goda-davida was released. It was iconic, but had been so overplayed back in tje 60's to early 70's that it didn't capture me as much as it might have otherwise.

AndrewPrice said...

"The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" has an excellent score as well. Morricone is fantastic.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The entire score is excellent. I used to have it on tape until it wore out.

Also, as for praying for lightening, I will say what Homer Simpson said when he caught Bart praying that God would strike down his enemies... "You do your own dirty work, young man!" :D

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, Oh yeah, "Dueling Banjos." That one not only defined the movie, it defined an entire culture. Yikes! That and "squeal like a pig, boy!"

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, My favorite Barry piece is The Black Hole.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, I haven't seen The Dark Crystal in twenty years. I keep meaning to watch it again, but never get around to it. It's interesting though how much of that movie I remember.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I've missed that one.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I thought the music in South Park was pretty fantastic actually. I love "Blame Canada." :)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Tarrantino had excellent taste in music, that's for sure.

Jason said...

AndrewPrice, I love the theme from The Black Hole. Awesome stuff!

Outlaw13 said...

Ride of the Valkyries scene from "Apocalypse Now"

Dave Olson said...

John Barry is an under-rated genius. When people think of film composers they usually name the big ones like John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith. If they're film buffs (and credit-watching buffs) they may know names like Alan Silvestri, Michael Kamen, or --shudder-- Danny Elfman. John Barry gets lost in the shuffle, which is odd since he did all the James Bond movies through the 80s. Even when the movies were mediocre (Black Hole, The Deep) or crap (Raise the Titanic), the music was always very good.

Tennessee Jed said...

Dave - I find it hard to "underrate" a man with four or five academy awards. He is a major talent to be sure.

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - another classic to be sure. Just the whole Duval character is one of the best.

tryanmax said...

I am, of course, biased toward cartoons. As far as that goes, the Disney Renaissance was almost entirely comprised of animated musicals and produced some of the most recognizable songs of the period. While my personal favorite happens to be The Lion King, I think objectively Beauty and the Beast is a better musical in terms of the musical numbers. I also have to nod to Oliver and Co. which, while generally considered pre-Renaissance, served as the proof-of-concept picture that made the Renaissance possible, and it also includes some big names including Huey Lewis, Billy Joel, and Bette Midler.

Also, speaking of cartoons, if you have an extra 75 minutes in the next couple of days, you should watch The Secret of Kells before the next Toon-arama. There's no reason not to, it is currently free on Hulu and is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Happy St. Pat's Day!

Anonymous said...

Pikebishop beat me to 'Manhunter,' though I'm much more of a fan of the film's original score and other songs. ("In-a-godda-da-vida" is too long and repetitive for me.) IMH, er, uh, blasphemy, I'd call it the best of the Hannibal Lector films.

I'd also throw in the lesser-seen Disney Cold War spy flick, 'Condorman.' Instead of something dreary or all-important, it's more adventurous as a comic book writer accidentally confuses the KGB into thinking he's an agent and the CIA is forced to recuit him for a mission. The music adds to excitement and, I think, helps the audience feel that they're riding shotgun through the action scenes.

And to go along with T-rav, I have to cite an animated film as well. I have to go with 'Pinocchio.' Having listened to the soundtrack itself, it's amazing how much the music alone can convey. It's easy to picture the scenes just by the music. And, of course, this is the film that gave us Cliff Edwards singing "When You Wish Upon A Star."
(FYI: This film won both Best Original Score and Best Song at the Oscars in 1940. This wouldn't happen for Disney again until 'Mary Poppins' in 1964 and 'The Little Mermaid' in 1989.)

-Rustbelt

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, That's a great soundtrack. I'd love to see the movie remade, but them keep the soundtrack for the most part -- especially the intro theme.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, That's one of those epic moments on film that everyone knows even if they never saw the movie. Truly iconic.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave and Jed, I think Dave means that Barry's name never comes up when people list the top 2-3 composers, even though it should.

Tennessee Jed said...

Rustbelt - 'Manhunter" was the second of Thomas Harris' books to be made into a movie (Black Sunday being the first.) It was definitely filmed in the Michael Mann of the 80's style (e.g. Miami Vice/Hans Zimmer style.) And it worked really well, I think. William Peterson long before he hit the CSI lotto. And the guy that played Dolarhyde surfaced as an alcoholic preacher in the series Hell On Wheels. I liked it a lot, having read the book Red Dragon and seen the movie long before "Lambs" hit the scene.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Beauty and the Beast is an excellent musical. My favorite Disney for music though is Jungle Book.

I look forward to this week's Toonarama!

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, I don't think I know Condorman. It doesn't ring any bells at least.

Tennessee Jed said...

Tryanmax - you are absolutely on the money regarding the animated musical resurrecting Disney's fortunes. The Little Mermaid, Lion King etal almost always had a song up for an oscar, and those were movies you could watch and enjoy with kids and grandkids.

Tennessee Jed said...

As Dave mentioned, there were a lot of mediocre movies, even if the scores were great. I don't know, but maybe that has something to do with it. It no doubt helps to have a great score and a blockbuster film. Of course, isn't that always the way with art? :)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

You had to ask the film music question on the weekend I was unavailable?! :-)

It seems all the major stuff has been covered and I don't have much more to add.

For you, here's a list of cue samples from Intrada's recent Condorman soundtrack release. I had never heard of the movie either but you can't go wrong with Henry Mancini!

For Jed, here's the music that accompanies the truck chase in Raiders.

I also have to differ with Dave (slightly) - I don't think John Barry is underrated BUT he does seem to get lost in the shuffle and I think it's because, in addition to the Bond films and The Black Hole, he also scored a ton of movies without geek appeal, i.e.: movies that don't get dissected to death!

AndrewPrice said...

It was intentional Scott. I didn't want you hogging the discussion. ;)

Anonymous said...

Jed, I haven't seen 'Black Sunday' yet. I'll put that on the 'to do' list.

You're right about 'Manhunter's' style. It's about as 80's as a film can get. But unlike the other 'Lector' movies, it's shot more like an investigative thriller than a horror movie. (Which, I think, is to its advantage.)

And the guy who played Dolarhyde, Tom Noonan, was terrific. Instead of being a generic, in-your-face 'I'm so conflicted' type of bad guy, he comes as pathetic/pitiable while being equally (if not more so) intimidating, dangerous, and unforgivable.

And Peterson is perfectly cast as Will Graham. (Ed who?)

-Rustbelt

Anonymous said...

Andrew,

'Condorman' can be hard to find. Disney hasn't shown it since the 80's, probably because it has scenes of gunplay, death threats, violent car stunts/crashes, a body count, a disrupted wedding, gun fu, knife fu, laser fu...(I must've watched waaaay too much 'Monstervision with Joe Bob Briggs on TNT' back in the 90's). Plus, the film holds nothing back about the KGB being the bad guys.

I know it had an early VHS release, but that's about it. (The movie came out in 1981.) It occasionally shows up on Youtube.

It stars Michael Crawford- the Phantom himself- as a comic book artist who agrees to do a routine dropoff for a CIA friend in Istanbul. He has a little too much fun playing spy, convincing his Russian contact (Barbara Carrera... hubba, hubba...)that he's the real deal. Later, she asks the CIA to have him help her defect. Having little wiggle room, they do so- even supplying him with his personally-designed comic book equipment! The film then follows their exploits and our hero (and, by extension, us)live out his fantasy of being a real-life superhero, all the while trying to get out of Europe while evading the forces of her former KGB boss (Oliver Reed).

Yeah, there was a time when Disney made films like these. Fewer PC concerns. More fun. (With a dash of Reagan-esque acknowledgment that the USSR was, indeed, the evil empire.)

-Rustbelt

Anonymous said...

Ah, heck.

I found a trailer for 'Condorman' on Youtube. (Not sure of it's official or fan-made.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo5LZmx9Vrg

-Rustbelt

K said...

Anon: "Condorman" was made during the "Morman mafia" period at Disney. Unfortunately, they also ran the company into the ground and Micheal Eisner was asked to come over from one of the other major studios to take over and fix it - whereupon he turned the studio into a left wing multinational media corporation while running what was left of Disney - the animation department and the Parks - into the ground.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, Thanks for the link: LINK. I'll get it out. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, Yikes! That led me to this... Star Crash.

It looks like a cross between Buck Rogers, Clash of the Titans, Barbarella, and a whole lot of really, really bad things. It's worth checking out. Christopher Plummer makes an appearance. LOL!

Voz said...

The Pink Panther theme!!

AndrewPrice said...

Good call Voz.

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