I can barely watch 70s and 80s movies because of the obligatory insertion of numerous pop tunes. Hard to believe how utterly annoying and distracting they typically are.
I saw both Easyrider and Midnight Cowboy the night they both debuted in Westwood (the upscale residential area near UCLA where movies often premiered in the 60s and 70s).
Of course, not only would both become huge — if somewhat unlikely — hits, their mega-hit status would all but ensure countless marketer-mashes of inappropriate or clumsily chosen music wedded with typically formulaic hollywood drivel.
Unfortunately, the marketers missed the fact that it was probalby more the unexpectedly contrarian charms of those movies that sold audiences on them, rather than the post-Graduate soundtracks dominated (like the enormously popular Graduate) by pop tunes.
To my way of thinking, movie music should serve the movie — not the marketing agenda of some multi-national megacorp looking to pump up ancillaries.
That said, the brain-dead, soulless lumps of nescience we laughingly describe as the movie-going public sucked it all up like so much high fructose corn syrup, one horrible movie wedded to one annoying soundtrack after another until I could barely stand to go into a theater.
In the online conversation that got me thinking about all this, someone mentioned that a shining exception to distracting pop tunes in movies was the truly beloved Bogart-Bergman vehicle, Casablanca, and the song, “As Time Goes By.”
The saving grace in Casablanca is that the song is performed onscreen (or a good semblance of it, anyhow), and in a very human, real-feeling manner that completely fits the plot and the song’s place in it.
You can see the wedding of music and movie done right in this clip from the movie at YouTube [of course, it may be gone by the time you get there, that’s how it goes in the netherworld of online IP]. You’ll see Sam and Ilsa during the first performance of the song, ending when Bogie’s character comes in.
Then, in this particular clip, someone has made an edit and we go into a visual montage from the movie and stills of the radiant Bergman, with Frank Sinatra singing the song from a later recording. (Feel free to come back to this page while you listen to Frank’s fine but still not-quite-there performance.)
But the first sequence from the movie shows how great music can be when it’s really married to the movie.