Silver Dagger

Matt Zoller Seitz over at Salon has a fantastic slideshow up about songs that are inextricably tied to certain scenes in movies. It’s fantastic because it’s fantastic, but it’s also fantastic because of slide #21. I’m strangely proud because Matt used my observation about the music choices as his launching pad.

THE CONVERSATION WILL NEVER END. It’s still going on, by the way. People are still chatting in that post Matt links to.

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11 Responses to Silver Dagger

  1. Rob says:

    That’s a pretty good list. Lots I’m not familiar with so I have some films I have to catch up on. Of course, it’s a subjective list so here are three of my minor but also subjective quibbles. :)

    I would have chosen Little Green Bag from Reservoir Dogs over Stuck in the Middle with You. While we’re on Tarentino, I’m kinda surprised Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell from Pulp Fiction didn’t make the list. Finally, for pure movie magic, Elton John’s Tiny Dancer from that fabulous bus scene in Almost Famous is about as good as it gets.

  2. Rob says:

    Tarantino, he meant to say. :(

  3. sheila says:

    Unfortunately, most of the comments over there are quibbles, instead of talking about what is there. Of course it’s subjective. I enjoy it because of that!

    I’d love to make my own list – I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read Matt’s piece.

    I’m just glad DOGFIGHT made the cut. It’s a bizarre choice – nobody else would have put it on there – but it’s perfect. The music is so much a part of that movie!

  4. Rob says:

    I should have read more of the comments. All of my quibbles were brought up. Speaking of what is there, I can’t quibble with his choice for the top spot because I loved the music even though I loathed the film. Kubrick was love/hate with me but he always, always had great music in his films. Loved Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket, hated 2001 and Eyes Wide Shut.

  5. sheila says:

    Rob – ha, I’m the opposite. Loved 2001 and Eyes Wide Shut, and can’t bear Clockwork Orange. I’m okay with Full Metal Jacket, though.

    No, the comments are pretty terrible over there. Just all “How could you forget this” “How could you forget that”. Kind of a boring way to go through life, but that’s always been one of my pet peeves with responses to lists. There are some really good comments, and good additions – people adding their own lists – but there’s just “This list is totally not relevant because MY FIRST CHOICE was not mentioned.”

  6. dorkafork says:

    I had to laugh at a comment over there that talked about the “Love scene in ‘A Clockwork Orange'”. Uh… “love” scene? I don’t think that’s the best adjective to use there.

  7. Bruce Reid says:

    Since Matt himself allows a “joint property” entry, some of these songs spark off more than one movie association for me. I’m not offering these as corrections (impossible to do with a topic so personal; churlish to attempt on a discussion so fun), just places where Matt and I might be dancing to the same drummer, but on vastly different soundstages.

    “Jump Into the Fire” is the pulse of Goodfellas’s daylong descent through hell, fair enough, but it fits equally for that strange, hilariously awkward scene in Real Life where Grodin’s daughter is overdramatizing for the cameras and slinks vampishly toward her “lover.”

    All due respect to both Dirty Dancing and Casino, hearing Mickey & Slyvia (and I’m a huge Bo Diddley fan, so I hear it a lot) always brings Badlands’s dance by headlights to mind. “COME here, loverboy!”

    Three men having left the constraints of family and obligation behind, boisterously running through a drunken a cappella “Show Me the Way to Go Home?” I’d say Jaws only ties with Husbands here.

    This might be a cheat, but “Living for the City” was beautifully quoted in The Cosby Show, of all places, in tribute to the multifaceted genius of its writer. After learning they’re going to meet Wonder, the kids run off excitedly singing his latest hit, “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” The wife smiles indulgently at their exuberance, before beaming and twirling away to the tune of “Isn’t She Lovely.” Dad pauses awhile, chuckles at such silliness, then struts off chanting “Living for the City” to himself. Quite charming how each family member has their own touchstone, quite frank how even such a symbol of buppie contentment at Cliff Huxtable instantly summons up Wonder’s epic saga of justice denied for his signature tune.

    I know it was only used for the ironic connection to The Graduate, but Kingpin’s appropriation of “The Sound of Silence” is too queasy and hilarious to exclude on such a technicality.

    “We’ll Meet Again” also brutally caps The Singing Detective, this time as promise of future misery, a personal apocalypse delayed but not avoided.

  8. Bruce Reid says:

    No, wait, the dance by the car in Badlands is to “A Blossom Fell.” “Love Is Strange” scores their woodland idyll. Gah, shows me to try and one up Matt Seitz.

  9. sheila says:

    Bruce – wow, fantastic. It’s so cool to see the same song in different ways. I especially love that you mention Husbands – I had forgotten that that song was used.

  10. sheila says:

    If I were writing a list (and looks like I might have to, since Matt’s post sent me spinning) I would include James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”, as played in Running on Empty – the family and Martha Plimpton (their guest) clean up after dinner, and that song is playing on the record player – and slowly, gradually, everyone gets into it, until the dishwashing is abandoned and everyone gathers in the living room for an impromptu dance. It’s all done in one take – the entire scene – which is extraordinary – there are FIVE PEOPLE in the frame at all time, one of the reasons why the scene is so effective – we are watching a spontaneous event that is actually occurring – no cuts, no closeups – it makes it feel 100% organic. I have seen that movie so many times and I am still noticing moments I have never seen before. The song is then brought back in the devastating last shot of the film, and then, hauntingly, as the screen goes to black, we hear them all singing together the line “But I always thought that I’d see you again …” – with an echo on it.

    I grew up listening to James Taylor from my parents’ record collection. But ever since the first time I saw Running on Empty, I have never heard the opening strains of that song without thinking of that scene.

    I’ve been meaning to write about Running on Empty for some time. I think it’s a perfect movie. But it’s only perfect because each tiny scene along the way is perfect. Every. Single. Scene. HARD to do. And that scene with the family washing up and dancing around wearing birthday crowns is so full of joy, and yet so sad at the same time – with the young love blossoming over in one corner, and the older middle-aged love dancing over to the left – and you feel the danger surrounding this fragile group, and there are all kinds of complicated feelings attached to each character.

    Slam dunk, Mr. Lumet, in every respect.

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