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Favorite Use of a Song in a Golden Era Movie

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Fading Fast, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Classical music turned up in cartoons and radio shows for one reason -- it was cheap. Public domain was the shoestring producer's friend.

    A while back some obsessives went to the trouble of tracking down and documenting the *exact recordings* used on "The Lone Ranger," and determined that the specific version of "The WIlliam Tell Overture" that was used was recorded in Camden, New Jersey on April 11, 1927 by the Victor Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Rosario Bourdon. It was Take 9 of the session, matrix number BVE-16014, and was released as Victor record number 20606.


    Imagine what would have happened if some poor soul had dropped that record.
    triple-d and vitanola like this.

  2. ⇧ So many wonderful things come out of frustrating limitations. It's possible that with an unlimited budget, cartoons would have created even better accompanying music, but the classical music they used worked wonderfully overall and create a fun blend of high-brow and work-a-day art. And for commoners like me, it was a great introduction to classic music without even knowing it and that I wouldn't have gotten elsewhere.

    Separate thought: When I started this thread, I told my girlfriend that I expected you or Vitanola to post something about the accompanying music they used to play live in the theaters during some silent films and to have an example of an outstanding matching of a song or music piece with a film that made the song or piece insanely popular in that era. I have no idea if this happened (I know next to nothing about silent films), but mentioned to her that if it did, one of those two will know the story with all the appropriate background information.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
  3. Well, one of the most famous pieces of film music composed in the silent era was from composer Joseph C. Briell's score for "The Birth of a Nation." It was rare at that time for a picture to go out with a fully-composed score, but given the epic nature of the film, D. W. Griffith went to the extra expense of commissioning one. Some of it consisted of quotes of existing classical works -- the "Ride of the KKK" at the end of the film was accompanied by Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" -- but the score also contained original music. The most notable such piece was the love theme for the characters of Elsie Stoneman and Bill Cameron, which was published separately under the title "The Perfect Song."

    Flash ahead fourteen years and in the offices of radio station WMAQ in Chicago, a conference is underway to select a piece of theme music for a WMAQ feature that will be going over the entire NBC Blue network in a few days. Several ideas are thrown out and rejected until the station's musical director Joseph Gallicchio suggests a piece he had played on the air earlier that day. He steps to the piano and plays a chorus of "The Perfect Song." Everyone agrees that it's a good choice, with some thinking it sounds familiar, but not quite placing where they've heard it before, and the decision is made. On August 19, 1929 Gallicchio's string quintet plays "The Perfect Song" to introduce the program to the network -- and from then on, Briell's composition will be known forever after as the theme for "Amos 'n' Andy." Some have tried to read racial commentary into this, given the source of the music, but the fact is that it was chosen purely by the serendipitious fact that Gallicchio had played it once before on the morning of that meeting.

    triple-d, vitanola and Fading Fast like this.

  4. Holy Cow, that's a much, much better story than I even expected. My God, some coincidences could never be written as fiction - they are only believable because they actually happened. You, once again, outdid yourself. Kudos!
    vitanola likes this.
  5. It gets better. In 1941, the networks got into a licensing dispute with ASCAP over royalties on broadcast music, and as of January 1st of that year, all ASCAP compositions were banned from network broadcasting. That meant most programs had to scramble to find new theme songs. It turned out that a public-domain composition by the Italian composer Gaetano Braga, "La Serenata," began with the exact same sweeping four-note phrase as "The Perfect Song," so "La Serenata" or as it's also known "The Angels' Serenade," opened "Amos 'n' Andy" until the dispute was resolved. Nobody knows for sure if Briell actually plagiarized Braga in writing the song in the first place, but the circumstantial evidience suggests so.
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  6. Just amazing and, boy, nothing changes. All from memory, but when Huey Lewis was at the peak of his fame in the '80s, the producers of "Ghostbusters" asked him to write a theme song for the movie. He declined as he was already writing the music for "Back to the Future." The producers hired Ray Parker Junior to write the song in the "Huey Lewis" style (as it came out later in a suit).

    Parker wrote it - the song sounds very Huey Lewis like - it was hit, Lewis sued Parker, they settled out of court and Lewis made a great comment later that, in the end, even though he wasn't for sale, they kind did buy him because they got his sound (via Parker) and he (Lewis) got paid (via the suit).
  7. Another one I just thought of, "Moon River" in breakfast at Tiffany's.

    It plays an integral role in the movie (1) by showing Holly Golightly's tender, sad side versus the hard-edged New Yorker we had seen up until she sings it and (2) as the leitmotif throughout reminding us that this is not really a glitzy or "fun" New York movie like "A Touch of Mink."

    Not at the level of "As Time Goes By" and "Casablanca," but definitely a song immediately identifiable with a movie and a movie that wouldn't have been the same without the song.

    triple-d likes this.
  8. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Just found this great thread!

    I"d nominate the use of the Joseph C. Smith Orchestra's 1920 Victor waxing of "Hindustan", which plays such an important role in the sardonic DeMille romantic comedy "Why Change Your Wife?" as to almost be a fourth leading actor (the other three being Gloria Swanson, Tommy Meighan and Bebe Daniels).
    LizzieMaine likes this.
  9. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    "Laura" as featured in, you guessed it, Laura. This is my very favorite film noir and I've lost count of how many times I've watched it.
    Fading Fast likes this.
  10. I knew you wouldn't let me down.
  11. 52Styleline

    52Styleline A-List Customer

    The Zither music in "The Third Man" is highly evocative of the movie's theme. The ending particularly so.

  12. Can't believe I forgot this one - but yes, perfect use in a movie of a bit-obscure music style. But everything in that movie - camera angles, lighting, music, pacing - is thoughtfully and impact-fully done.

    Many years later, "Jaws" used its "duunnn dunnn... duuuunnnn duun... duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn dunnnn" music in a somewhat similar and effective manner.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
    vitanola likes this.
  13. AdeeC

    AdeeC Practically Family

    So many great songs have featured in films from the Golden Era. Mack the Knife sung by Ernst Busch from the 1931 German film THE THREE PENNY OPERA is one of the most impressive and creepiest at the same time. This scene from the film opening shows Mack the Knife stalking two women whilst a street singer sings about his notoriety.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
    vitanola likes this.
  14. HadleyH1

    HadleyH1 Practically Family

    Great songs everybody thank you! ^^^

    'The Shining" comes to mind among others...... the genius of Stanley Kubrick...why do geniuses have to die? oh well

  15. Unfortunately, I can't find any clips online but the song Midnight, The Stars & You was also used in a nightclub scene in the 1934 movie adaptation of Babbit which starred Guy Kibbee.
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  16. A touch out of the GE and a cheesy movie, but the use of the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" for the funeral scene in "The Big Chill" is an outstanding match of song, movie and theme.

    (starts about 30 seconds in)
    EmergencyIan likes this.
  17. Probably only squeezing in under the broadest definition of the Golden Era, but what the heck, "To Sir, with Love" is a song perfectly aligned to its movie. And it's all there in the title - "To Sir, With Love."

    Troubled youth from London's poor East End with a full-on defiant attitude toward social norms and conventions buck hard and then come around to their teacher's admonitions that adulthood requires truth and respect - both given and received, when earned - to survive and (maybe) thrive in life.

    Many examples, struggles and battles ensue, but one word says it all - he's "Sir -" but not because he demanded it (he did), but because they came to see it, to believe. He taught them that and they loved him for it.

    "To Sir, With Love" is the shortest, most perfect summary of the movie.

    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    EmergencyIan likes this.
  18. Bugguy

    Bugguy One of the Regulars

    Ha! I just posted the Third Man Theme as the No. 1 song on my birthday.
    Fading Fast likes this.
  19. An acquaintance of mine refers to the 1920s and '30s music that I love as "cartoon" or "Little Rascals" music. :p
    LizzieMaine likes this.
  20. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman sing In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening from Here Comes The Groom (1952)


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