Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me has a fun theme from this week’s Spotlight Dancer Alana Mautone (Ramblin’ with AM). She wanted us to focus on Movie and TV Theme Songs. I know what a fun theme this is because my 2016 A-Z Challenge theme was Classic TV Show Theme Songs and Intros.
Since I already did a fairly extensive compilation of Classic TV Show Theme Songs, I decided to focus this one of MY FAVORITE MOVIE THEME SONGS!
Here is my playlist of my favorite theme songs from some of my favorite movies. Of course there’s some extensive information about the movies and their associated theme songs. Yesterday I had decided that I just didn’t have time to “go deep” and put together the kinds of detailed posts that I usually do but when I sat down to start putting it together I just couldn’t help myself. I haven’t gone to bed yet and hopefully this is worth it. Enjoy!
EASY RIDER – “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf
Easy Rider is a 1969 American independent road drama film written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda, and directed by Hopper. Fonda and Hopper played two bikers who travel through the American Southwest and South carrying the proceeds from a drug deal. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood era of filmmaking during the early 1970s.
A landmark counterculture film, and a “touchstone for a generation” that “captured the national imagination”, Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle. Real drugs were used in scenes showing the use of marijuana and other substances.
Easy Rider was released by Columbia Pictures on July 14, 1969, grossing $60 million worldwide from a filming budget of no more than $400,000. Critics have praised the performances, directing, writing, soundtrack, visuals, and atmosphere. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998.
The Film’s Plot
Wyatt and Billy are freewheeling bikers. After smuggling cocaine from Mexico to Los Angeles, they sell their haul and receive a large sum. With the money stuffed into a plastic tube hidden inside the Stars & Stripes-painted fuel tank of Wyatt’s California-style chopper, they ride eastward aiming to reach New Orleans, Louisiana, in time for the Mardi Gras festival.
During their trip, Wyatt and Billy stop to repair one of the bikes at a farmstead and have a meal with the farmer and his family. Later, Wyatt picks up a hippyish hitch-hiker, and he invites them to visit his commune, where they stay for the rest of the day. The notion of “free love” appears to be practiced, with two of the women, Lisa and Sarah, seemingly sharing the affections of the hitch-hiking commune member before turning their attention to Wyatt and Billy. As the bikers leave, the hitch-hiker gives Wyatt some LSD for him to share with “the right people”.
Later, while riding along with a parade in a small town, the pair are arrested for “parading without a permit” and thrown in jail. There, they befriend ACLU lawyer George Hanson, who has spent the night in jail after overindulging in alcohol. George helps them get out of jail and decides to travel with Wyatt and Billy to New Orleans. As they camp that night, Wyatt and Billy introduce George to marijuana. As an alcoholic and a “square”, George is reluctant to try it due to the gateway drug theory but quickly relents.
Stopping to eat at a small-town Louisiana diner, the trio attracts the attention of the locals. The girls in the restaurant think they are exciting, but the local men and a police officer make denigrating comments and taunts. Wyatt, Billy, and George decide to leave without any fuss. They make camp outside town. In the middle of the night, a group of locals attack the sleeping trio, beating them with clubs. Billy screams and brandishes a knife, and the attackers leave. Wyatt and Billy suffer minor injuries, but George has been bludgeoned to death. Wyatt and Billy wrap George’s body in his sleeping bag, gather his belongings, and vow to return the items to his parents.
They continue to New Orleans and find a brothel George had told them about. Taking prostitutes Karen and Mary with them, Wyatt and Billy wander the parade-filled streets of the Mardi Gras celebration. They end up in a cemetery, where all four ingest the LSD the hitch-hiker had given to Wyatt and experience a bad trip.
The next morning, as they are overtaken on a two-lane country road by an old pickup truck, the passenger in the truck reaches for a shotgun, saying he will scare them. As they pass Billy, the passenger fires, and Billy has a lowside crash. Wyatt rides down the road towards the pickup as it makes a u-turn. Passing in the opposite direction, the passenger fires the shotgun out the window. The gunshot is shown as a red blotch that fills the screen, followed by a reverse cut of the riderless motorcycle, flying through the air before landing and becoming engulfed in flames without Wyatt clearly visible.
FUN FACT: According to screenwriter Terry Southern’s biographer, Lee Hill, the part of George Hanson had been written for Southern’s friend, actor Rip Torn. When Torn met with Hopper and Fonda at a New York restaurant in early 1968 to discuss the role, Hopper began ranting about the “rednecks” he had encountered on his scouting trip to the South. Torn, a Texan, took exception to some of Hopper’s remarks, and the two almost came to blows, as a result of which Torn withdrew from the project. Torn was replaced by Jack Nicholson, whom Hopper had recently appeared with in Head (along with another Easy Rider co-star, Toni Basil). In 1994, Jay Leno interviewed Hopper about Easy Rider on The Tonight Show, and during the interview, Hopper alleged that Torn had pulled a knife on him during the altercation, prompting Torn to sue Hopper successfully for defamation.
Easy Rider was the third highest-grossing film of 1969, with worldwide gross $60 million, including $41.7 million domestically in the US. Along with Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, Easy Rider helped kick-start the New Hollywood era during the late 1960s and 1970s. The major studios realized that money could be made from low-budget films made by avant-garde directors. Heavily influenced by the French New Wave, the films of the so-called “post-classical Hollywood” came to represent a counterculture generation increasingly disillusioned with its government as well as the government’s effects on the world at large, and the Establishment in general. Although Jack Nicholson appears only as a supporting actor and in the last half of the film, the standout performance signaled his arrival as a movie star, along with his subsequent film Five Easy Pieces in which he had the lead role. Vice President Spiro Agnew criticized Easy Rider, along with the band Jefferson Airplane, as examples of the permissiveness of the 1960s counterculture.
The film’s success, and the new era of Hollywood that it helped usher in, gave Hopper the chance to direct again with complete artistic control. The result was 1971’s The Last Movie, which was a notable box office and critical failure, effectively ending Hopper’s career as a director for well over a decade.
Roger Ebert added Easy Rider to his “Great Movies” list in 2004.
Easy Rider soundtrack: The movie’s “groundbreaking” soundtrack featured The Band, The Byrds, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Steppenwolf. Editor Donn Cambern used various music from his own record collection to make watching hours of bike footage more interesting during editing. Most of Cambern’s music was used, with licensing costs of $1 million, triple the film’s budget. he film’s extensive use of pop and rock music for the soundtrack was similar to what had recently been used for 1967’s The Graduate.
Bob Dylan was asked to contribute music, but was reluctant to use his own recording of “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, so a version performed by Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn was used instead. Also, instead of writing an entirely new song for the film, Dylan simply wrote out the first verse of “Ballad of Easy Rider” and told the filmmakers, “Give this to McGuinn, he’ll know what to do with it.” McGuinn completed the song and performed it in the film.
Originally, Peter Fonda had intended the band Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young to write an entirely original soundtrack for the film, but this failed to materialize for two reasons. For one, cutter Donn Cambern edited the footage much more closely to what was only meant as temptracks than was customary at the time, which led to everyone involved finding them much more suited to the material than they had originally thought. On the other hand, Hopper increasingly got control over every aspect over the course of the project and decided to throw CSNY out behind Fonda’s back, telling the band as an excuse, “Look, you guys are really good musicians, but honestly, anybody who rides in a limo can’t comprehend my movie, so I’m gonna have to say no to this, and if you guys try to get in the studio again, I may have to cause you some bodily harm.”
The soundtrack to this movie is a favorite of mine, which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.
FOOTLOOSE – “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins
“Footloose” is a song co-written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins. It was released in January 1984 as the first of two singles by Loggins from the 1984 film of the same name (the other one being “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man)”). The song spent three weeks at number one, March 31—April 14, 1984 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and was the first of two number-one hits from the film. Billboard ranked it at the No. 4 song for 1984.
The song was very well received, and is one of the most recognizable songs recorded by Loggins. When the American Film Institute released its AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs, “Footloose” reached the 96th position. The song was covered by country music artist Blake Shelton for the 2011 remake of the 1984 film.
It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 1985 ceremony, losing to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from The Woman in Red.
The single version is slightly shorter in length compared to the album version. It begins with a soloed guitar track instead of a drum intro, and features more prominent backing vocals in the mix, particularly towards the end of the song.
Footloose is a 1984 American musical drama film directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which, as a result of the efforts of a local minister (John Lithgow), dancing and rock music have been banned.
The film is loosely based on actual events that took place in the small, rural, and religious community of Elmore City, Oklahoma.
The Film’s Plot
Ren MacCormack, a teenager raised in Chicago, moves with his mother to the small town of Bomont to live with his aunt and uncle. Soon after arriving, Ren befriends Willard Hewitt, and from him learns the city council has banned dancing and rock music. He soon begins to fall for a rebellious teenage girl named Ariel, who has an abusive boyfriend, Chuck Cranston, and a strict father, Shaw Moore, who is a reverend of the local church.
After trading insults with Chuck, Ren is challenged to a game of chicken involving tractors. Ren wins when his shoelace becomes stuck and prevents him from jumping from the tractor. Reverend Moore distrusts Ren, and he grounds Ariel, forbidding her to see him. Ren and his classmates want to do away with the no-dancing law and have a senior prom. He drives Ariel, Willard, and Ariel’s best friend, Rusty, to a country bar about 100 miles away from Bomont to experience the joy and freedom of dancing, but once there, Willard is unable to dance and gets into a jealous fight with a man who dances with Rusty. Later, Ren teaches Willard to dance.
Ren decides to challenge the anti-dancing ordinance so that the senior class can hold a senior prom. He goes before the city council and reads several Bible verses to cite scriptural support for the worth of dancing to rejoice, exercise, or celebrate. Although Reverend Moore is moved, the council votes against Ren’s proposal. Vi, Moore’s wife, is supportive of the movement and explains to Moore that he cannot be everyone’s father and that he is hardly being a father to Ariel. She also says that dancing and music are not the problem. Moore feels betrayed that even his wife does not believe in him even though she assures him that she always did, telling him, “Shaw, it’s 20 years now I’ve been a minister’s wife. And I’ve been quiet, supportive, unobtrusive; and after 20 years I still think you’re a wonderful, wonderful preacher. You can lift a congregation up so high they have to look down to see Heaven. But it’s the one-to-one where you need a little work.”
Despite further discussion with Ren about his own family losses in comparison to Moore’s losses and Ariel’s opening up about her own sinful past, even going so far as to admit that she has had sexual relations, Moore cannot bring himself to change his stance. His son Bobby was killed in a car crash while returning from a night of dancing, resulting in Moore’s arranging to ban music and dancing in the community. However, he has a change of heart after seeing some of the townsfolk burning books that they think are dangerous to the youth. Realizing the situation has gotten out of hand, Moore stops the book-burning, rebukes the people, and sends them home.
The following Sunday, Moore asks his congregation to pray for the high school students putting on the prom, which is set up at a grain mill just outside the Bomont town limits. Shaw and Vi listen outside, dancing for the first time in years. Chuck and his friends arrive and start a fight with Willard, who with Ren knocks them out. Ren, Ariel, Willard, and Rusty rejoin the party and happily dance the night away.
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER – “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees
Why it struck a chord: Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother, there’s no doubt you’ve gotten your strut on to this song at some point. Though the Gibb brothers’ ”You Should Be Dancing” was meant to be Tony Manero’s crowning moment, the infectious falsetto hook and hip-shakin’ beat of ”Stayin’ Alive” ultimately rocketed Fever‘s iconic soundtrack to the top of the 1978 Billboard Hot 200.
Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American musical drama film directed by John Badham. It stars John Travolta as Tony Manero, a working-class young man who spends his weekends dancing and drinking at a local Brooklyn discothèque; Karen Gorney as Stephanie Mangano, his dance partner and eventual confidante; and Donna Pescow as Annette, Tony’s former dance partner and would-be girlfriend. While in the disco, Tony is the champion dancer. His circle of friends and weekend dancing help him to cope with the harsh realities of his life: a dead-end job, clashes with his unsupportive and squabbling parents, racial tensions in the local community, and his general restlessness.
The story is based upon a 1976 New York magazine article by British writer Nik Cohn, “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night”; in the mid-1990s, Cohn acknowledged that he fabricated the article. A newcomer to the United States and a stranger to the disco lifestyle, Cohn was unable to make any sense of the subculture he had been assigned to write about; instead, the character who became Tony Manero was based on an English mod acquaintance of Cohn.
A huge commercial success, the film significantly helped to popularize disco music around the world and made Travolta, already well known from his role on TV’s Welcome Back, Kotter, a household name. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, featuring disco songs by the Bee Gees, is one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time. The film showcased aspects of the music, the dancing, and the subculture surrounding the disco era: symphony-orchestrated melodies; haute couture styles of clothing; pre-AIDS sexual promiscuity; and graceful choreography. The sequel Staying Alive (1983) also starred John Travolta and was directed by Sylvester Stallone, but received less positive reception. In 2010, Saturday Night Fever was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
FUN FACT: The song has also saved countless lives. “Stayin’ Alive” was used in a study to train medical professionals to provide the correct number of chest compressions per minute while performing CPR. The song has close to 104 beats per minute, and 100–120 chest compressions per minute are recommended by the British Heart Foundation and endorsed by the Resuscitation Council (UK). A study on medical professionals found that the quality of CPR is better when thinking about “Stayin’ Alive”. This was parodied in the Season 5 episode of comedy series The Office “Stress Relief” and the song itself was used in a season 11 episode of the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy in 2015.
On 15 June 2011, the song was featured in a Hands Only CPR PSA campaign video from the American Heart Association and featured actor and medical doctor Ken Jeong in the classic John Travolta outfit from Saturday Night Fever. Vinnie Jones stars in a UK version of this CPR video in association with the British Heart Foundation shown on TV in January 2012.
THE GRADUATE – “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel
The Graduate is a 1967 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols and written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. A bildungsroman (which, in literary criticism, is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood (coming of age), in which character change is extremely important) that follows its protagonist’s transition into adulthood, the film tells the story of 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross).
The film was released on December 22, 1967, received positive reviews and grossed $104.9 million. With the figures adjusted for inflation the film’s gross is $770 million, making it the 22nd highest-ever grossing film in North America. In 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Initially, the film was placed at number 7 on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies list in 1998. When AFI revised the list in 2007, the film was moved to number 17. The Graduate won the Academy Award for Best Director for Nichols and was nominated in six other categories, making it the last film so far to win Best Director and nothing else.
The Film’s Plot
Benjamin Braddock, aged twenty-one, has earned his bachelor’s degree from Williams College and has returned home to a party celebrating his graduation at his parents’ house in Pasadena, California. Benjamin, visibly uncomfortable as his parents deliver accolades and neighborhood friends ask him about his future plans, evades those who try to congratulate him. Mrs. Robinson, the neglected wife of his father’s law partner, insists that he drive her home. Benjamin is coerced inside to have a drink and Mrs. Robinson attempts to seduce him. She invites him up to her daughter Elaine’s room to see her portrait and then enters the room naked, making it clear that she is available to him. Benjamin initially rebuffs her but a few days later after his scuba demonstration on his birthday, he clumsily organizes a tryst at the Taft hotel.
Benjamin spends the remainder of the summer drifting around in the pool by day, purposefully neglecting to select a graduate school, and seeing Mrs. Robinson at the hotel by night. He discovers that he and Mrs. Robinson have nothing to talk about. However, after Benjamin pesters her one evening, Mrs. Robinson reveals that she entered into a loveless marriage when she accidentally became pregnant with Elaine. Both Mr. Robinson and Benjamin’s parents encourage him to call Elaine, even though Mrs. Robinson makes her disapproval clear.
Benjamin takes Elaine on a date but tries to sabotage it by ignoring her, driving recklessly and taking her to a strip club. After Elaine runs out of the strip club in tears, Benjamin has a change of heart, realizes how rude he has been to her, and discovers that Elaine is someone with whom he is comfortable. In search of a late-night drink they visit the Taft hotel but when the staff greet Benjamin as “Mr. Gladstone” (the name he uses during his rendezvous with Mrs. Robinson) Elaine correctly guesses that he has been having an affair with a married woman and accepts his assurances that the affair is now over. To preempt a furious Mrs. Robinson, who threatens to tell Elaine her version of their affair, Benjamin tells Elaine that the married woman was her mother. Elaine is distraught and returns to Berkeley. Benjamin pursues her there and tries to talk to her. She reveals that her mother’s story is that he raped her while she was drunk, and refuses to believe that it was in fact her mother who seduced Benjamin. After much discussion over several days, Benjamin begins to make inroads with Elaine. However, Mr. Robinson arrives at Berkeley after learning about the affair, confronts Benjamin at his rooming house, and threatens to put him behind bars if Benjamin sees his daughter again. Mr. Robinson then forces Elaine to drop out of college and takes her away to marry Carl, a classmate with whom she had briefly been involved.
Returning to Pasadena in search of Elaine, Benjamin breaks into the Robinson home but encounters Mrs. Robinson. She tells him he will not be able to stop the wedding and then calls the police claiming that her house is being burgled. Benjamin visits Carl’s fraternity brothers who tell him that the wedding is in Santa Barbara, California that very morning. He rushes to the church and arrives just as Elaine is married. He bangs on the glass at the back of the church and screams out “Elaine!” repeatedly. After a brief hesitation, Elaine screams out “Ben!” and starts to run toward him. A brawl ensues as guests try to stop Elaine and Benjamin from leaving together. Elaine manages to break free from her mother, who then slaps her. Benjamin manages to keep the guests at bay by jamming a large cross into the doors of the church. Both he and Elaine then run into the street to flag down a passing bus and take the back seat. Although initially elated at their victory, the pair become increasingly uncomfortable as they journey towards an uncertain future.
The Music: The film boosted the profile of folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel. Originally, Nichols and O’Steen used their existing songs like “The Sound of Silence” merely as a pacing device for the editing until Nichols decided that substituting original music would not be effective and decided to include them on the soundtrack, an unusual move at that time.
According to a Variety article by Peter Bart in the May 15, 2005, issue, Lawrence Turman, his producer, then made a deal for Simon to write three new songs for the movie. By the time they had nearly finished editing the film, Simon had only written one new song. Nichols begged him for more, but Simon, who was touring constantly, told him he did not have the time. He did play him a few notes of a new song he had been working on; “It’s not for the movie… it’s a song about times past—about Mrs. Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff.” Nichols advised Simon, “It’s now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt.”
On the strength of the hit single “Mrs. Robinson”, the soundtrack album rose to the top of the charts in 1968. However, the version that appears in the film is markedly different from the hit single version, which would not be issued until Simon & Garfunkel’s next album, Bookends. The actual film version of “Mrs. Robinson” does appear on The Graduate soundtrack LP.
THE WAY WE WERE – “The Way We Were” by Barbra Steisand
Why it struck a chord: This 1973 ode to nostalgia is a bona fide tear-jerker that dares you not to cry while listening to it. Streisand’s ageless voice and the evocative lyrics tell a story of love lost but not forgotten. ”Scattered pictures” and ”misty water-colored memories”? Pass the tissues!
The Way We Were is a 1973 American romantic drama film starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford and directed by Sydney Pollack. The screenplay by Arthur Laurents was based on his college days at Cornell University and his experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
A box office success, the film was nominated for several awards and won the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for the theme song, “The Way We Were,” It ranked at number 6 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions survey of the top 100 greatest love stories in American cinema. The Way We Were is considered one of the greatest romantic movies ever. The soundtrack album became a gold record and hit the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 while the title song became a million-selling gold single, topping the Billboard Hot 100 respectively, selling more than two million copies. Billboard named “The Way We Were” as the number 1 pop hit of 1974. In 1998, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and finished at number 8 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema in 2004. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts
Even if you have seen the movie, it’s probably been a long time ago, like me. I enjoyed reading through this Plot found on Wikipedia. It was almost as if I was watching the movie again: I could see the various scenes as I read each sentence. So I decided to share the movie plot here:
Told partly in flashback, it is the story of Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford). Their differences are immense: she is a stridently vocal Marxist Jew with strong anti-war opinions, and he is a carefree WASP with no particular political bent. While attending the same college, she is drawn to him because of his boyish good looks and his natural writing skill, which she finds captivating, although he does not work very hard at it. He is intrigued by her conviction and her determination to persuade others to take up social causes. Their attraction is evident, but neither of them acts upon it, and they lose touch after graduation.
The two meet again towards the end of World War II while Katie is working at a radio station, and Hubbell, having served as a naval officer in the South Pacific, is trying to return to civilian life. They fall in love despite the differences in their background and temperament. Soon, however, Katie is incensed by the cynical jokes Hubbell’s friends make at the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and is unable to understand his indifference towards their insensitivity and shallow dismissal of political engagement. At the same time, his serenity is disturbed by her lack of social graces and her polarizing postures. Hubbell breaks it off with Katie, but soon agrees to work things out, at least for a time.
When Hubbell seeks a job as a Hollywood screenwriter, Katie believes he is wasting his talent and encourages him to pursue writing as a serious challenge instead. Despite her growing frustration, they move to California, where, without much effort, he becomes a successful screenwriter, and the couple enjoy an affluent lifestyle. As the Hollywood blacklist grows and McCarthyism begins to encroach on their lives, Katie’s political activism resurfaces, jeopardizing Hubbell’s position and reputation.
Alienated by Katie’s persistent abrasiveness, and even though she is pregnant, Hubbell has a liaison with Carol Ann, his college girlfriend and the divorcee of J.J., his best friend. After the birth, however, Katie and Hubbell decide to part, as she finally understands he is not the man she idealized when falling in love with, and he will always choose the easiest way out, whether it is cheating in his marriage or writing predictable stories for sitcoms. Hubbell, on the other hand, is exhausted, unable to live on the pedestal Katie erected for him and face her disappointment in his decision to compromise his potential.
Katie and Hubbell meet by chance some years after their divorce, in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Hubbell is with some stylish beauty, and apparently content, is now writing for a popular sitcom as one of a group of nameless writers. Katie, now remarried, invites Hubbell to come for a drink with his lady friend, but he confesses he cannot. He does inquire how their daughter Rachel is doing, just to ascertain that Katie’s new husband is a good father, but shows no intention to meet his daughter.
Katie has remained faithful to who she is: flyers in hand, she is agitating now for “Ban the bomb”, the new political cause. Their past is behind them and all the two share now (besides their daughter, Rachel) is a missing sensation and the memory of the way they were.
LOVE STORY – “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story: Love Story instrumental theme by Henry Mancini and the lyrical version by Andy Williams
“(Where Do I Begin?) Love Story” is a popular song published in 1970, with music by Francis Lai and lyrics by Carl Sigman. The song was first introduced as an instrumental theme in the 1970 film Love Story after the film’s distributor, Paramount Pictures, rejected the first set of lyrics that were written. Andy Williams eventually recorded the new lyrics and took the song to number nine on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 and number one on their Easy Listening chart.
Love Story is a 1970 American romantic drama film written by Erich Segal, who was also the author of the best-selling novel of the same name. It was produced by Howard G. Minsky and directed by Arthur Hiller and starred Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, alongside John Marley, Ray Milland, and Tommy Lee Jones in his film debut in a minor role.
A tragedy, the film is considered one of the most romantic by the American Film Institute (#9 on the list) and is #37 in the list of highest-grossing films in Canada and the United States. It was followed by a sequel, Oliver’s Story (1978), starring O’Neal with Candice Bergen.
The Film’s Plot
Oliver Barrett IV is the heir of an American upper-class East Coast family attending Harvard College, where he plays ice hockey. He meets Jennifer “Jenny” Cavalleri, a quick-witted, working-class Radcliffe College student of classical music; they quickly fall in love despite their differences.
When Jenny reveals her plans to study in Paris, Oliver is upset that he does not figure in those plans. He proposes, she accepts, and they travel to the Barrett mansion so she can meet Oliver’s parents, who are unimpressed with her and judgmental. Later, Oliver’s father tells him that he will cut him off financially if he marries Jenny. After graduation Oliver and Jenny marry nonetheless.
Without his father’s financial support, the couple struggle to pay Oliver’s way through Harvard Law School; Jenny works as a teacher. Oliver graduates third in his class and takes a position at a respectable New York City law firm. They are ready to start a family, but fail to conceive. After many tests Oliver is told that Jenny is terminally ill.
Oliver attempts to live a “normal life” without telling Jenny of her condition, but she finds out after confronting her doctor. Oliver buys tickets to Paris but she declines to go, wanting only time with him. To pay for Jenny’s cancer therapy, Oliver seeks money from his estranged father, who asks if him if he has “gotten a girl in trouble.” Oliver simply says yes, and his father writes a check.
From her hospital bed, Jenny makes funeral arrangements with her father, then asks for Oliver. She tells him to not blame himself, insisting that he never held her back from music and it was worth it for the love they shared. Jenny’s last wish is made when she asks him to embrace her tightly before she dies. As grief-stricken Oliver leaves the hospital, he sees his father outside, having rushed to New York City from Massachusetts as soon as he heard the news about Jenny and wanting to offer his help. Oliver tells him, “Jenny’s dead,” and his father says “I’m sorry,” to which Oliver responds, “Love– Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Oliver walks back alone to the outdoor ice rink, where Jenny had watched him skate the day she was hospitalized.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM – This entry is a soundtrack as opposed to a theme song. Although this particular soundtrack depicts the film’s theme incredibly well. This may sound odd but Requiem for a Dream is one of my favorite films. And the musical score has much to do with that. The theme of the movie overall is very dark and the music just pulls you deeper and deeper into the story. It’s ominous, especially with the strings. The story delivers to us a front row seat to the raw reality of our flawed human condition and how we can become enslaved by our own thoughts and dreams, and how, in turn, those dreams can ultimately destroy our sense of self and render us helpless. There are no happy endings in this story. It’s disturbing on so many levels. The soundtrack is brilliant in how it grips you and won’t let you go, long after the credits roll. As dark as that sounds, this is one powerful movie where the storyline, the actors and the music work together flawlessly. You’ll be thinking and feeling this movie for quite a while. To me, it was gripping. Kudos to the story and the acting but it was the music that made this film so hard to shake, in my opinion. So that’s my review. Let’s dive in here and see what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The soundtrack was composed by Clint Mansell with the string ensemble performed by Kronos Quartet. The string quartet arrangements were written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang.
Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 American psychological drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Hubert Selby, Jr., with whom Aronofsky wrote the screenplay.
The film depicts four different forms of drug addiction, which lead to the characters’ imprisonment in a world of delusion and reckless desperation that is subsequently overtaken by reality, thus leaving them as hollow shells of their former selves.
Requiem for a Dream was screened out of competition at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival and received positive reviews from critics upon its U.S. release. Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
The Film’s Plot:
During the summer in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, widow Sara Goldfarb spends her time watching electrifying infomercials. Meanwhile, her son Harry occasionally pawns her cherished television to fund the recreational drug use of his best friend Tyrone and his loving girlfriend Marion.
After Sara receives a call that she has won a spot on a television game show, she becomes excited about attending it in her fancy red dress she used to wear with her husband. However, she is very disappointed to learn that she no longer fits into it. After failing a strict diet, an unscrupulous physician prescribes her a regimen of weight-loss amphetamines. She begins losing weight, while becoming manic.
Harry and Tyrone dream of becoming big drug dealers, having all the drugs and money they need, and at first their small-time dealing business thrives. Harry and Marion are deeply in love, and Harry tells her that he will soon have enough to launch the clothing design business she desires. Sara and her friends wait expectantly every day for the game show invitation to arrive. Harry stops by to give his doting mother an impressive television, but when he implores her to get off the amphetamines, she confesses that the only thing she has to live for anymore is the dream of looking glamorous on a television stage, and the extra attention she receives now from her friends.
As Sara’s tolerance for the amphetamines increases, she craves the high she once had, while becoming frantic about the invitation. When she increases her dosage she develops amphetamine psychosis. When Tyrone is arrested, Harry has to use most of their earned money to post bail. The local supply of heroin becomes restricted, and they are unable to find any for either use or sale. Eventually, Tyrone hears of a large shipment coming, but the price is doubled and the minimum high. Harry, desperate, suggests Marion ask her psychiatrist for money in exchange for affection; she does so at great cost to her romance. When the drug buy goes bad, Harry returns empty-handed to Marion, who is desperate for heroin, and they argue. He departs after giving her the number of a pimp who trades heroin for sex. Harry and Tyrone decide that to put their business back on track, they will drive to Florida to buy directly from the wholesaler there.
After a series of horrifying hallucinations, Sara flees her apartment for the office of the casting agency in Manhattan, to confirm when she will be on TV. She is taken away by ambulance and committed to a psychiatric ward where she is subjected to degrading treatments. When none work, the physician induces a barely lucid Sara to approve electroconvulsive therapy.
Driving to Miami, Harry and Tyrone visit a hospital because of Harry’s increasingly infected needle injection sites. The doctor notices the symptoms of drug abuse, and Harry and Tyrone are arrested. Back in New York, Marion has sex with the pimp to get heroin. Recognizing her addiction, he entices her with a bigger score of heroin if she returns that weekend for a party.
In the climax, Tyrone does hard labor in jail while being taunted by guards and suffers from drug withdrawal; Harry’s infected arm is amputated; Sara undergoes violent electroshock therapy; and Marion is humiliated as the subject of sexual acts at the pimp’s sex party.
When Sara’s friends come to the hospital to visit, they are distraught by her almost vegetative state. Harry wakes crestfallen after the amputation, knowing that Marion will not be visiting him. Tyrone suffers in the prison workhouse remembering his childhood when he was with his mother. Marion lies on her sofa comforted by the heroin she injected, clutching the large bag she earned. That night, Sara dreams she wins the grand prize on a show hosted by her favorite TV host, with Harry as the guest of honor.
FUN FACT: Requiem for a Dream was only Clint Mansell’s second score – after Darren Aronofsky’s first film, Pi – but the instantly classic ‘Summer Overture’ theme became one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of music in the last ten years. At turns innocent and spooky, sad and tubthumping, it fits the youthful and tragic tone of Aronofsky’s critically-acclaimed drug abuse drama exquisitely and would later be rearranged into the tense orchestral theme for the unforgettable The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers trailer.
PHILADELPHIA: “The Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen
Why it struck a chord: The Boss’s (Bruce Springsteen) gritty song about desolation was a pitch-perfect accompaniment to the eye-opening 1994 film about one man’s battle against HIV-AIDS. Springsteen’s heart-wrenching lyrics — ”voices of friends vanished and gone” — capture the plight of Tom Hanks’ character Andrew Beckett as he grapples with his identity and mortality
Philadelphia is a 1993 American drama film and one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.
Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 66th Academy Awards for his role as Andrew Beckett in the film, while the song “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Nyswaner was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, but lost to Jane Campion for The Piano.
The Film’s Plot
Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters
Andrew Beckett is a senior associate at the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia. He hides his homosexuality and his status as an AIDS patient from the other members of the firm. A partner in the firm notices a lesion on Beckett’s forehead. Although Beckett attributes the lesion to a racquetball injury, it indicates Kaposi’s sarcoma, an AIDS defining condition.
Shortly thereafter, Beckett stays home from work for several days to try to find a way to hide his lesions. While at home, he finishes the paperwork for a case he has been assigned and then brings it to his office, leaving instructions for his assistants to file the paperwork the following day, which marks the end of the statute of limitations for the case. Later that morning, he receives a call asking for the paperwork, as the paper copy cannot be found and there are no copies on the computer’s hard drive. The paperwork is finally discovered in an alternate location and is filed with the court at the last possible moment. The following day, Beckett is dismissed by the firm’s partners.
Beckett believes that someone deliberately hid his paperwork to give the firm an excuse to fire him, and that the dismissal is actually as a result of his diagnosis with AIDS. He asks several attorneys to take his case, including personal injury lawyer Joe Miller. The homophobic Miller appears to be worried that he could contract Beckett’s illness. After declining to take the case, Miller immediately visits his doctor to find out if he could have contracted the disease. The doctor explains that the routes of HIV infection do not include casual contact.
Unable to find a lawyer willing to represent him, Beckett is compelled to act as his own attorney. While researching a case at a law library, Miller sees Beckett at a nearby table. After a library employee stares down Miller, presumably because Miller is black, a librarian approaches Beckett and announces that he has found a book on AIDS discrimination for him. As others in the library begin to first stare uneasily, the librarian suggests Beckett to go to a private room. Feeling discouraged by the other people’s behavior and seeing the parallels in how he, himself has been unfairly treated, Miller approaches Beckett, reviews the material he has gathered, and takes the case.
As the case goes before the court, the partners of the firm take the stand, each claiming that Beckett was incompetent and that he had deliberately tried to hide his condition. The defense repeatedly suggests that Beckett brought AIDS upon himself by having gay sex, and is therefore not a victim. In the course of testimony, it is revealed that the partner who had noticed Beckett’s lesion, Walter Kenton, had previously worked with a woman who had contracted AIDS after a blood transfusion and so should have recognized the lesion as relating to AIDS. According to that partner, the woman was an innocent victim, unlike Beckett, and further testified that he did not recognize Beckett’s lesions. To prove that the lesions would have been visible, Miller asks Beckett to unbutton his shirt while on the witness stand, revealing that his lesions are indeed visible and recognizable as such.
Beckett eventually collapses during the trial. After Beckett is hospitalized, another partner, Bob Seidman, who noticed Beckett’s lesions confesses that he suspected Beckett had AIDS but never told anyone and never gave him the opportunity to explain himself, which he regretted very much. During his hospitalization, the jury votes in Beckett’s favor, awarding him back pay, damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages, totaling over $5 million. Miller visits the visibly failing Beckett in the hospital after the verdict and overcomes his fear enough to touch Beckett’s face. After Beckett’s family leaves the room, he tells his partner Miguel that he is ready to die. At the Miller home, Joe and his wife are awakened by a phone call from Miguel, who tells them that Beckett has died. A memorial is held at Beckett’s home following the funeral, where many mourners, including Miller, view home movies of Beckett as a happy child.
Philadelphia earned mostly positive reviews from critics, with Hanks and Washington receiving wide praise for their performances, and garnering a 78% approval rating at online movie critic site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. In a contemporary review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars and said that it is “quite a good film, on its own terms. And for moviegoers with an antipathy to AIDS but an enthusiasm for stars like Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, it may help to broaden understanding of the disease. It’s a ground-breaker like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), the first major film about an interracial romance; it uses the chemistry of popular stars in a reliable genre to sidestep what looks like controversy.”
Christopher Matthews from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote “Jonathan Demme’s long-awaited Philadelphia is so expertly acted, well-meaning and gutsy that you find yourself constantly pulling for it to be the definitive AIDS movie.” James Berardinelli from ReelViews wrote “The story is timely and powerful, and the performances of Hanks and Washington assure that the characters will not immediately vanish into obscurity.” Rita Kempley from The Washington Post wrote “It’s less like a film by Demme than the best of Frank Capra. It is not just canny, corny and blatantly patriotic, but compassionate, compelling and emotionally devastating.”
The Theme Song
“Streets of Philadelphia” is a song written and performed by American rock musician Bruce Springsteen for the film Philadelphia (1993), an early mainstream film dealing with HIV/AIDS. Released as a single in 1994, the song was a hit in many countries, particularly Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and Norway, where it topped the singles charts.
The song was a critical triumph and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song and four Grammy Awards, Song of the Year, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo, and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television. In 2004 it finished at #68 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.
The music video for the song, directed by Jonathan Demme and his nephew Ted Demme, begins by showing Springsteen walking along desolate city streets, followed by a bustling park and schoolyard, interspersed with footage from the film. After a quick shot of Rittenhouse Square, it ends with Springsteen walking along the Delaware River, with the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in the background. Tom Hanks is also visible as the lead character he plays in the film, looking on as Bruce begins the final verse.
FUN FACT: The vocal track for the video was recorded live during the shooting, using a hidden microphone, to a pre-recorded instrumental track. This was a technique, appropriate for emotionally intense songs for which conventional video lip-syncing would seem especially false, that John Mellencamp pioneered in his 1985 “Rain on the Scarecrow” video, and that Springsteen himself had used on his 1987 “Brilliant Disguise” video. Springsteen would go on to use the same technique in his “Lonesome Day” video in 2002.
THE BREAKFAST CLUB – “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds
Why it struck a chord: It was the story of a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a criminal, and one extraordinary day that would change their lives forever. Asking, ”As you walk on by, will you call my name?” the Scottish rockers’ 1985 track captured the fleeting impressions formed in high school that, 20 years later, were more meaningful than you realized at the time.
The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes, starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. The storyline follows five teenagers, each members of different high school cliques, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a strict disciplinarian.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on February 7, 1985. Universal Pictures released the film in cinemas in the United States on February 15, 1985. It received critical acclaim and earned $51.5 million on a $1 million budget. Critics consider it one of the greatest high school films of all time, as well as one of Hughes’ most memorable and recognizable works. The media referred to the film’s five main actors as members of a group called the “Brat Pack.”
The title comes from the nickname invented by students and staff for morning detention at New Trier High School, the school attended by the son of one of John Hughes’ friends. Thus, those who were sent to detention before school starting time were designated members of “The Breakfast Club.” In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Here is a 25th Anniversary Breakfast Club cast interview from ABC News:
And here is another cool video I found on YouTube: For the 30 Year Anniversary, here are 10 Movie Secrets about The Breakfast Club:
Also in 2015, the film was digitally remastered and was re-screened throughout 430 theaters in celebration of its 30th anniversary.
FAME – “Fame” by Irene Cara
Why it struck a chord: Sometimes you just want to dance in the street. Though Cara’s other famous theme song ”Flashdance…What a Feeling” had the same souped-up synthesizer trills, the optimism of youth wins out for ”Fame.” Remember!
Fame is a 1980 American teen musical drama film directed by Alan Parker, and written by Christopher Gore. It chronicles the lives and hardships of students attending the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, (known today as Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School), from their auditions to their freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years.
Producer David De Silva conceived the premise in 1976, partially inspired by the musical A Chorus Line. He commissioned Gore to write the script, originally titled Hot Lunch, before selling it to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). After he was hired to direct the film, Parker rewrote the script with Gore, aiming for a darker and dramatic tone. The script’s subject matter received criticism by the New York Board of Education, which prevented the production from filming in the actual High School of Performing Arts. The film was shot on location in New York City, with principal photography beginning in July 1979 and concluding after 91 days. Parker encountered a difficult filming process, which included conflicts with U.S. labor unions over various aspects of the film’s production.
MGM released Fame using a platform technique which involved opening the film in several cities before releasing it nationwide. The film grossed $21.2 million in North America against a production budget of $8.5 million. It received a mixed response from reviewers who praised the music, but criticized the dramatic tone, pacing and direction. The film received several awards and nominations, including two Academy Awards for Best Original Song (“Fame”) and Best Original Score (Michael Gore), and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song (“Fame”). Its success spawned a media franchise encompassing several television series, stage musicals and a remake released in 2009.
BORN FREE – “Born Free” is a popular song with music by John Barry, and lyrics by Don Black. It was written for the 1966 film of the same name and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Lyricist Don Black managed British singer Matt Monro at the time, and he and Barry asked him to record the song for the film’s soundtrack. The producers of the film considered the song uncommercial, however, and deleted it from the print shown at its Royal Command premiere in London. When Monro, who attended the event, made Black aware of the edit, they successfully lobbied the producers to restore it. Monro’s interpretation appeared over the closing credits in a shortened version recorded especially for the film, which enabled it to qualify for the Academy Award. Monro’s complete commercial recording was released on the film’s soundtrack album and became the singer’s signature tune for the remainder of his career.
Born Free is a 1966 British drama film starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Joy and George Adamson, a real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya. The film was produced by Open Road Films Ltd. and Columbia Pictures. The screenplay, written by blacklisted Hollywood writer Lester Cole (under the pseudonym “Gerald L.C. Copley”), was based upon Joy Adamson’s 1960 non-fiction book Born Free. The film was directed by James Hill and produced by Sam Jaffe and Paul Radin. Born Free, and its musical score by John Barry, won numerous awards.
When George Adamson is forced to kill a lion, after the lion kills a native villager, and then George kills a lioness out of self-defense, he brings home the three orphaned cubs she had been trying to protect. The Adamsons tend to the three orphaned lion cubs to young lionhood, and, when the time comes, the two largest are sent to the Rotterdam Zoo, while Elsa the Lioness (the smallest of the litter) remains with Joy. When Elsa is held responsible for stampeding a herd of elephants through a village, John Kendall, Adamson’s boss gives the couple three months to either rehabilitate Elsa to the wild, or send her to a zoo. Joy opposes sending Elsa to a zoo, and spends much time attempting to reintroduce Elsa to the life of a wild lion in a distant reserve. At last, she succeeds, and with mixed feelings and a breaking heart, she returns her friend to the wild. The Adamsons then depart for their home in England; a year later they return to Kenya for a week, hoping to find Elsa. They do, and happily discover she hasn’t forgotten them and is the mother of three cubs. The Adamsons made an agreement not to handle the cubs, in contrast to the way they did with Elsa.
The film reunited the real life couple Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna as a couple first seen together in The Smallest Show on Earth in 1957.
George Adamson served as chief technical advisor on the film and discusses his involvement in his first autobiography, Bwana Game (UK title, 1968), known in the US as A Lifetime with Lions.
According to Ben Mankiewicz, who introduces the film on Turner Classic Movies, they used mostly wild lions and interviewed over 3,000.
The making of the film was a life-changing experience for actors Virginia McKenna and her husband Bill Travers, who became animal rights activists and were instrumental in creating the Born Free Foundation.
One of the lions in the film was played by a former mascot of the Scots Guards, who had to leave him behind when they left Kenya. The producers also acknowledged the help received from Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the Game Department of Uganda.
I’ll end today’s Movie themed post with my very favorite MOVIE SOUNDTRACK, one that was so popular it had several incarnations ending with the latest, a Deluxe Edition, containing 38 songs! Can you guess what it is? This is super easy for folks who know me and know my personality, my musical tastes and my penchant for “living in the past”, although I prefer to call it nostalgia. Okay, give it a shot. Take a guess. I’ll scroll down to give you time to guess. Be a sport and leave me your guess in the Comments section.
My favorite soundtrack comes from one of my very favorite films:
THE BIG CHILL
The Big Chill is a 1983 American comedy-drama film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams. The plot focuses on a group of baby boomers who attended the University of Michigan, reuniting after 15 years when their friend Alex commits suicide. Kevin Costner was cast as Alex, but all scenes showing his face were cut. It was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina.
The soundtrack features soul, R&B, and pop-rock music from the 1960s and ’70s, including tracks by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Rolling Stones, and Three Dog Night.
The Big Chill was adapted for television as the short-lived 1985 CBS series Hometown. Later, it influenced the TV series thirtysomething.
Richard Corliss of Time described The Big Chill as a “funny and ferociously smart movie,” stating:
“These Americans are in their 30s today, but back then they were the Now Generation. Right Now: give me peace, give me justice, gimme good lovin’. For them, in the voluptuous bloom of youth, the ’60s was a banner you could carry aloft or wrap yourself inside. A verdant anarchy of politics, sex, drugs and style carpeted the landscape. And each impulse was scored to the rollick of the new music: folk, rock, pop, R&B. The armies of the night marched to Washington, but they boogied to Liverpool and Motown. Now, in 1983, Harold & Sarah & Sam & Karen & Michael & Meg & Nick–classmates all from the University of Michigan at the end of our last interesting decade–have come to the funeral of a friend who has slashed his wrists. Alex was a charismatic prodigy of science and friendship and progressive hell raising who opted out of academe to try social work, then manual labor, then suicide. He is presented as a victim of terminal decompression from the orbital flight of his college years: a worst-case scenario his friends must ponder, probing themselves for symptoms of the disease.”
Roger Ebert gave the film two and a half stars out of four and said,
“The Big Chill is a splendid technical exercise. It has all the right moves. It knows all the right words. Its characters have all the right clothes, expressions, fears, lusts and ambitions. But there’s no payoff and it doesn’t lead anywhere. I thought at first that was a weakness of the movie. There also is the possibility that it’s the movie’s message.”
If you haven’t seen this film, find a way to! But in case you don’t get a chance, this plot summary pretty much lays it all out for ya. Note: Spoilers below~
Harold Cooper (Kevin Kline) is bathing his young son when his wife, Sarah (Glenn Close), receives a phone call at their Richmond home telling her that their friend, Alex (Kevin Costner), has committed suicide by slashing his wrists in the bathtub of their vacation house in South Carolina, where he had been staying.
At the funeral, Harold and Sarah are reunited with college friends from the University of Michigan. They include Sam (Tom Berenger), a famous television actor now living in Los Angeles; Meg (Mary Kay Place), a chain smoking former public defender who is now a real estate attorney in Atlanta and wants a child; Michael (Jeff Goldblum), a sex-obsessed People magazine journalist; Nick (William Hurt), a Vietnam War veteran and former radio host who suffers from impotence; Karen (JoBeth Williams), a housewife from suburban Detroit who’s unhappy in her marriage to her advertising executive husband, Richard (Don Galloway). Also present is Chloe (Meg Tilly), Alex’s much younger girlfriend.
After the burial, everyone goes from the cemetery to Harold and Sarah’s vacation house, where they are invited to stay for the weekend. During the first night there, a bat flies into the attic while Meg and Nick are getting reacquainted. Sam later finds Nick watching television, and they briefly talk about Karen. The two then go into the kitchen and find Richard making a sandwich, and the three make small talk which turns into a discussion about responsibility and adulthood. At the end of the discussion, Richard states, “Nobody said it was going to be fun. At least, nobody said it to me.”
The next morning Harold and Nick go jogging. Harold tells Nick that his running shoe company is about to be bought out by a large corporation, and that he’s about to become rich. Harold confides in Nick that Sarah and Alex had an affair five years earlier. Nick comforts Harold by saying, “She didn’t marry Alex.”
Richard returns home to look after his kids, but Karen decides to stay in South Carolina for the weekend. Nick, Harold, Michael and Chloe go for a drive (while “Good Lovin'” by the Rascals plays on the car radio), while Sam and Karen go shopping. Meg reveals to Sarah that she wants to have a child, and that she is going to ask Sam to be the father, knowing now that Nick can’t. Out in the countryside, Harold listens to Michael’s plans to buy a nightclub. Chloe takes Nick to the abandoned house that she and Alex were going to renovate. She tells him that he reminds her of Alex, to which Nick replies, “I ain’t him.”
During dinner, Sarah starts tearing up over Alex as the group talks about him. Harold puts “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by the Temptations on the stereo, and everyone dances while cleaning up the dishes. While the others sit around and smoke marijuana, Meg asks Sam to father her baby, but he declines.
The next morning Nick, Sam and Harold go jogging, and the subject of Alex’s suicide comes up again. Harold’s surprise arrives: sneakers for everyone to wear during the upcoming Michigan football game. The group, minus Nick, watches the game on TV, while Sarah tells Karen about her brief affair with Alex and how it affected their friendship negatively.
During the game, Michael offers to father Meg’s child, alluding to the fact that they had sex in college during the March on Washington. At halftime, Chloe, Sam, Harold and Michael go outside to play touch football. Nick returns, with a police car following him. The officer says that Nick ran a red light and was belligerent, but says that he will drop the charges if Sam would hop into Nick’s Porsche as his TV character, J. T. Lancer, always does. Sam is unsuccessful and hurts himself, but the officer drops the charges anyway and apologizes to Harold.
Karen later tells Sam that she loves him, wants to leave Richard and live with Sam and her two sons. When they kiss, Sam pulls away and tells Karen not to leave Richard, as she will regret it in the long run. He confesses that it was “boredom” that caused his own marriage to fail, and he doesn’t want her to make the same mistake. Karen feels misled and angrily storms into the house.
Harold is on the phone with his daughter, Molly, and lets Meg talk to her. Observing their interaction on the phone, Sarah decides to let Harold impregnate Meg, but does not tell him yet.
The group once again discusses Alex. Nick says, “Alex died for most of us a long time ago,” but Sam disagrees and leaves. Karen follows him, and the two have sex outside. Sarah tells Harold about Meg’s situation, while Chloe and Nick go to bed together, even though he warns her of his condition. Meg and Harold then have sex – she says “I feel like I got a great break on a used car” – while Michael and Sarah joke around and interview each other with a video camera.
In the morning while Karen is packing her clothes, she subtly tells Sam that she has decided to stay with Richard. At the breakfast table, Harold reveals that Nick and Chloe will be staying in the guest house for a while so they can renovate the old abandoned house. Sam and Nick then make up from their argument the night before. Nick gives Michael an old clipping of an article he had written about Alex, which Alex had saved. At the end of the movie, Michael states, tongue in cheek, “Sarah, Harold. We took a secret vote. We’re not leaving. We’re never leaving.” They all laugh and “Joy to the World” plays as the credits roll.
Here’s a link to The Big Chill Soundtrack – Deluxe Edition. Enjoy!
Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy. Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.