Thursday, April 20, 2006

Great musical moments in movies not involving musicians

Wherein I'm totally stealing the "5 For the Day" idea from Matt Zoller Seitz

My theme, more like an unformed idea at this exact moment, is that there are certain musical moments in movies that stand out. These are performances not by musicians, or by people pretending to be musicians, or a particularly apt soundtrack moment. Instead, it's a moment where the actor becomes the music and creates an unforgettable scene. Basically, musicals don't count. As I'm sure that's very unclear, how about a couple example of what I don't mean. Take the movie The Commitments; great movie, great music, but it's all about people in a band. I thought about John Cusack in Say Anything; but as iconic as Lloyd Dobler and his boom box is, he's not doing enough to raise it above a soundtrack moment, so not on the list. I also can't include Austin Powers singing "It's a Hard Knock Life' because it's a music video in the middle of the movie.

Maybe I should just get to the ones I did put on the list.
  1. John Cryer in Pretty in Pink. Duckie sliding into the record store and lip-synching to "Try a Little Tenderness" is a show-stopping, scene-stealing, stand ovation moment. I went right out and bought an Otis Redding compilation. That he didn't get the girl is a cinematic crime.
  2. Timothy Hutton in Iceman. An interesting movie, not a great one. A prehistoric man is found frozen and he's able to be unfrozen alive and studied. Hutton plays an anthropologist. The musical moment occurs when Hutton and the caveman are trying to communicate, First the caveman sings and Hutton tries to join in. Then Hutton begins singing Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" and the caveman starts vocalizing. Should be incredibly corny, but it works.
  3. Keith Coogan in Cousins. I can't stand the original French version of this movie, but this version with Ted Danson and Isabella Rosellini I have a soft spot for. Coogan helping his grandfather (Lloyd Bridges) get ready for a date to Otis Redding's "Love Man" is great enough to raise it above the soundtrack moment it is.
  4. Tim Robbins in Bull Durham. Another Otis Redding moment. Nuke Laloosh trying to sing "Try a Little tenderness" with the lyrics: young girls do get wooly and Crash yanking the guitar out of his hands.
  5. Robert Shaw in jaws. After the U.S.S. Indianapolis story, he breaks into "Show Me the Way to Go Home" and the others join in. Then the shark attacks.

There's five. I'm sure I'm missing a bunch.

Update Pooh adds three more. I haven't seen 1 and 3, so I'll assume they fit my vague criteria. Cadence is a definite keeper. Teaching Charlie Sheen to step is the only reason to watch that movie.
  1. Either the "Ayatollah of Rock-and-Rollah" or the "Bionic Marine" scenes in Heartbreak Ridge. My affection for that movie defies rationality.
  2. Larry Fishbourne et al doing Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang" in Cadence.
  3. Or and actual good movie, Almost Famous. No, not the "Tiny Dancer" scene, but the one right near the end when "Tangerine" kicks in while they're on the bus. Kills me every time.

8 Comments:

Blogger XWL said...

Dude, Keith Coogan tried to steal my girlfriend while we were both at Samohi.

(he was unsuccessful)

4/21/2006 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger XWL said...

And one more comment, The end of Dr. Strangelove should probably be on this list, also the Ride of the Valkyries from Apocalypse Now if you include classical.

I should probably just do my own post, rather than trying to tell you how you should have done your post.

4/21/2006 12:59:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Those are great uses of music, but I think they need to be on their own list. I'm looking for actors doing something with the music, not just excellent editing to a song. The Keith Coogin shouldn't be on the list, as it isn't an interaction with the music. But I spazzed (fuck the British) trying to come up with five.

I'd have included Kurt Russell singing to his wife in Best of Times if I could only remember the song.

There's probably some dance moments that could be included. The problem is staying away from movies that are musical in nature.

4/21/2006 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Today's download (free) - go get this Stan Kenton version of Ride of the Valkyries.

If reader_iam stops by, I won't be surprised if she owns this.

4/21/2006 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger reader_iam said...

; )

4/21/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Pooh said...

I have 2 from bad-to-mediocre movies and 1.5 from a good one:

1. Either the "Ayatollah of Rock-and-Rollah" or the "Bionic Marine" scenes in Heartbreak Ridge. My affection for that movie defies rationality.

2. Larry Fishbourne et al doing Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang" in Cadence

3. Or and actual good movie, Almost Famous. No, not the "Tiny Dancer" scene, but the one right near the end when "Tangerine" kicks in while they're on the bus. Kills me every time.

4/21/2006 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Pooh said...

I can't believe I forgot the most organic use in a non-musical movie (Almost Famous basically counts as musical) in recent times: "Time is On My Side" in Fallen.

4/24/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger hollywoodkids said...

Dude, I did not try to "steal" anyone's girlfriend. I may have "spent some time" with "some of the girls" in Samo-hi, but that's it!

I recommend Elisabeth Shue, from the beginning of "Adventures in Babysitting", singing "And then he kissed me".

How about Tom Cruise in "Risky Business"?

Isabella Rossellini in "Blue Velvet"?

Mathew Broderick in "Ferris Bueller"?

And finally, how about George Clooney in "Brother, where are thou?"?

(Notice the tricky use of the double question marks)

7/31/2006 03:53:00 AM  

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