What would the film experience be without a memorable soundtrack that sets the mood, pumps up the action and evokes nostalgic memories?
As I started writing “Jammin’ at the Movies – Music that Makes the Movies” I realized there were far too many films to note in one post, so these are a few others that make my list of movie soundtracks that are synonymous with the film itself.
“Pulp Fiction”, “Forrest Gump”, and “Saturday Night Fever” are true American classics and so are their soundtracks!
Let me know some of your most notable in the comments!
The idea of musical accompaniment has been around since silent films but with the advent of sound in the 1920’s, filmmakers were able to have direct control over the soundtrack as a device to manipulate the audience’s emotions.
The first film to use a completely original score was written by composer Max Steiner for the classic ‘King Kong’ (1933).
Imagine Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” without those driving Bernard Herrmann violins and strings during the shower scene and the ominous “dun-dun-dun” that alerted the audience to the arrival of “Jaws” thus evoking all kinds of fear. With the Soundtrack Album, audiences have the freedom to listen to and relive the memories of their favorite films at any time.
In developing his film projects Director, Quentin Tarantino approaches the movie process in this way:
“One of the things I do when I am starting a movie, when I’m writing a movie or when I have an idea for a film is, I go through my record collection and just start playing songs, trying to find the personality of the movie, find the spirit of the movie. Then, ‘boom,’ eventually I’ll hit one, two or three songs, or one song in particular, ‘Oh, this will be a great opening credit song.” (Tracks and Fields)
“Pulp Fiction” (1994), “Forrest Gump” (1994), and “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) are 3 of my favorite films that demonstrate the impactful relationship between the storyline and the music.
“Pulp Fiction”(1994) is the coolest film and soundtrack ever. QuentinTarantino (Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) certainly had his finger on the pulse of the vital connection music plays in conveying the attitude of this movie and put together the perfect soundtrack to complement the mood.
First of all, I would love to hang at Jack Rabbit Slims. I love all things 60’s and between the cars and the celebrity impersonators, how fun! Second, this is how you dance cool. I remember all the back in the day dances like the twist, the jerk, and the batman.
The album reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200, while Urge Overkill’s cover of the Neil Diamond song “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” peaked at No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Billboard chalked up MCA’s compilation to identifying the market niche: “Pulp Fiction…successfully spoke to those attuned to the hip, stylized nature of those particular films.” The eclectic “mix-and-match strategy” is true to the film.
“In some cases, like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, which were not geared toward any specific demographic, the soundtracks were still very focused albums,” said Kathy Nelson, senior VP/general manager at MCA Soundtracks. “In both cases, the body of work — both the music and the film — has a specific personality.” (Wikipedia)
Trivia – revitalized the career of its leading man, John Travolta, who received an Academy Award nomination, as did co-stars Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman.
Academy Award-winning film “Forrest Gump” (1994) starring Tom Hanks and based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom, will always have a special place in my heart. The genuine spirit and remarkable journey of Forrest make you root for him.
The time setting of the ’60’s was perfect with the politics of the day and the Vietnam War being the volatile flashpoint of the decade.
The 32-song soundtrack from the film was released on July 6, 1994, and re-creates the angst of a generation and is perfect for fusing the film with the troubled times.
With the exception of a lengthy suite from Alan Silvestri’s score, all the songs are previously released; the soundtrack includes songs from Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Byrds, The Doors, The Mamas & the Papas, The Simon & Garfunkel, and Buffalo Springfield among others.
Music producer Joel Sill reflected on compiling the soundtrack: “We wanted to have very recognizable material that would pinpoint time periods, yet we didn’t want to interfere with what was happening cinematically.”
The soundtrack reached a peak of number 2 on the Billboard album chart and went on to sell twelve million copies and is one of the top-selling albums in the United States. (Wikipedia)
Saturday Night Fever
The mother of all movie soundtracks, Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track skyrocketed The Bee Gees and their music to the top of the charts with their timeless love ballads and energizing disco hits like the title song, “Staying Alive”.
From the 1977 hit film starring John Travolta, the album was certified 15× Platinum for shipments of over 15 million copies. The album stayed atop the album charts for 24 straight weeks from January-July 1978 and stayed on Billboard‘s album charts for 120 weeks until March 1980. In the UK, the album spent 18 consecutive weeks at No. 1.
The brothers wrote the songs “virtually in a single weekend” at Château d’Hérouville studio in France. Barry Gibb remembered the reaction when Producer Robert Stigwood and music supervisor Bill Oakes arrived and listened to the demos:
“They flipped out and said these will be great. We still had no concept of the movie, except some kind of rough script that they’d brought with them.” The album has been added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress for being culturally significant. (Wikipedia)
Even more, than the incredible music, John Travolta blew me away with his club-worthy dance moves. Who knew the kid from the television show “Welcome Back Kotter” could bust a move!
Trivia – John Travolta’s mother Helen and sister Ann both appeared in minor roles in the beginning of the film. Travolta’s sister is the pizzeria waitress who serves him the pizza slices (and delivers the first dialogue), and his mother plays the woman to whom he sells the can of paint (after being late).
If you haven’t already, check out these rockin’ flicks. Perfect for a musical binge-worthy night!