Thursday, January 18, 2007

10 Film Music Moments

In the Guardian today, Peter Bradshaw, inspired by the new Rocky movie (and yes, when I went to Philadelphia, I jogged up those steps, humming that theme), lists 10 great film music moments. Bradshaw includes obvious classics such as the Jaws and James Bond themes, but I thought I'd try to come up with another 10 myself (avec YouTube links where poss).

So, in no particular order:

1. Psycho, Bernard Herrman

No list of great film composers could be complete without mention of Bernard Herrman. As well as scoring Taxi Driver, he collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on many films, the most famous of which is probably Psycho. The score is absolutely outstanding, with the main theme, that plays as Marion Crane drives to the Bates Motel one of the best-known in the history of cinema. It's scary, edgy, different, and although the film might not have advanced the understanding of mental health around the world, you'll never forget the music, or trust a shower curtain again.

2. High Noon, Dmitri Tiomkin

This is Tony Benn's favourite film. Notwithstanding that, it is an outstanding piece of work - groundbreaking in terms of its real-time plotting (all the action takes place over 90 minutes) and the anti-McCarthyist undertones (who will stand with Will Kane against the bad guys?) as well as its music. It was the first Western to use a theme song, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, which was probably never bettered.

3. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Ennio Morricone

Another western, another of the all-time great composers and scores. The howl of the coyote, the crack of the whip, the stamp of the boot. Suspense heaped upon suspense. What more can I say?

4. Manhunter

In this eighties classic by Michael Mann, the Thomas Harris novel, Red Dragon, gets its first cinema treatment. I reckon this film is at least as good as the Silence of the Lambs and this is partly due to the music. The final scene, where the killer and William Peterson's cop have their showdown to Iron Butterfly's In-a-gadda-da-vida, is memorably brutal.

5. Some Like It Hot

Ok, something a bit more lighthearted: I watched Some Like it Hot for the first time this Christmas (yeah, I know, where have I been?). I hadn't realised quite how beautiful Marilyn Monroe was when she sang "I Wanna Be Loved By You". There's nowt more sexy than that.

6. Rushmore

One of my favourite films, this, and from a director (Wes Anderson) who has a great ear for a soundtrack. I could choose almost any scene, but here's a great one featuring the Who's "You Are Forgiven". Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzmann are a businessman and a schoolboy competing for the same woman.

7. Footloose

More fluff, but who doesn't like this scene? Kevin Bacon and the late Chris Penn practise their dance steps to Deniece Williams' "Let's hear it for the boy". Go to any small town in the States and you'll find city boys teaching their country cousins how to strut their funky stuff on the basketball court or in the bleachers.

8. Halloween, John Carpenter

One of the best horror films of all time, John Carpenter directed and wrote the music for Halloween. The soundtrack also features "Don't Fear the Reaper", but I think the main theme is as chilling as any around. Jamie Lee Curtis, in the wardrobe, stalked by Michael Myers. She shoots him, he falls out of the window, she looks, he's gone!

9. Fargo, Carter Burwell

Another dark film, another moody score, another shower curtain: this time from Carter Burwell and the Coen Brothers. Evidence that a lot of the best classical music these days arrives as film scores, rather than your concert hall Harrison Birtwhistle stuff.

10. Lawrence of Arabia, Maurice Jarre

Although not as famous as his son, Jean-Michel, Maurice Jarre wrote the most parodied film score ever - wonderful music to match David Lean's astonishing visuals. I can't cross a desert, or even walk past a sandpit, without humming the theme to myself.


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Aloysius Snuffleupagus said...

Yeah, you fat bastard Chris.

You're forgetting:

a) Team America. Fuck yeah.
b) George's answering machine from Seinfeld.
c) Anything involving Chico Marx. Pure genius.
d) Rainbow Connection, by Kermit the frog from The Muppet Movie.
e) Something I can't think of right now. But it's good.