Thursday, February 21, 2013

Discuss: Movie Themes of the 1970's


Doug:  Instrumentals or with vocals (Blondie's Call Me from American Gigolo?) -- all are fair game today!





41 comments:

david_b said...

70's Movie themes were awesome, the biggest change in sci-fi themes was Lucas going with the older, grander symphony march for 'Star Wars' than the then-recent trend of electronic music.

Love both Larson's Galactica theme and Goldsmith's Trek-TMP themes as well. William's Superman theme ROCKS.

I find the best Bond themes came out both in the 60s and 70s, loving both 'Nobody Does it Better' and 'Live and Let Die'. 'For Your Eyes Only' was sweet, but misses out on being truely memorable, like the ones I mentioned or obviously 'Goldfinger'.

(Another pesky glance at Wikipedia for ol' David B..: "Call Me" wasn't released until 1980..)

Matt Celis said...

Star Wars and Superman spring to mind, both are played at the carousel at Balboa Park. Are they both John Williams?

Godfather was great.

Matt Celis said...

Can't believe I forgot Shaft and Superfly.

david_b said...

Matt, OMG.., I FINALLY watched Shaft in it's entirety last year, the movie was awesome.

Loved the theme, it's CLASSIC.

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, I'm with Matt and david_b on the Shaft theme. Can anyone say this isn't the best movie theme song ever? And the entire soundtrack to Superfly is fantastic - Curtis Mayfield hit that one out of the park.

Also loved the main theme at the start of The Warriors. A jazzy instrumental piece that can be enjoyed on its own, but which also sets up the mood for one of the coolest movies ever made. Joe Walsh's In the City over the closing credits was another stroke of musical genius as well - a real fitting bookend to the movie.

I also love the main theme for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Again, a wonderful orchestral piece that captures the spirit and grandeur of Star Trek. Like it even better than the theme to the original series.

Karen said...

And Star Trek the Next Generation "stole" the Star Trek The Motion picture theme to use as their show's main theme - I think sometimes that is forgotten.

Matt Celis said...

never seen the Warriors, I wonder if I can youtube the theme music.

Doug said...

Two emotionally-charged themes:

The Exorcist scares the heck out of me.

Love Story makes me want to cry.

Great call on both Shaft and on Joe Walsh's In the City as sort of an ending theme song.

Doug

Matt Celis said...

I was once given the movie soundtrack and when I played it I thought, "What's the Pepsi Generation theme song doing on here?" Didn't remember it was from the movie.

My 3-year-old son sings it with Doo-doo-doo-DOOs.

Edo Bosnar said...

Matt, you can listen to the Warriors main theme here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydL3svXFQ84.
And do yourself a favor: see the movie.

Karen, didn't forget that fact at all. I think it was actually a good move. Why not use that awesome theme?

By the way, does anybody remember the disco version of the Star Wars theme? Take a listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWRWYYt47RI.

J.A. Morris said...

It wasn't new, but Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" was all over the 70s because of its use in 'The Sting'.
I always dug the main title from 'Fantasm' even if today it sounds like a poor man's Exorcist theme.

And I wrote on my blog last year that the best thing about the 'Halloween' movie franchise was its music.

http://holidayfilmreviews.blogspot.com/2012/10/halloween-1978.html

Karen said...

Oh Edo, I didn't mean to imply YOU had forgotten that fact! Just some folks have. I saw Shatner get up and give Patrick Stewart grief over it once, sadly my aging brain cells no longer recall the venue, but it was rather hilarious.

I listen to a lot of soundtracks when I am writing (no words!) and one that I enjoy a great deal is The Omega Man, that somewhat cheesy Charlton Heston flick. It's by Ron Grainer. But I can't say that the main theme is as strong as any listed here. But overall it's a really great album, very heavy 70s vibe.

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, don't worry, it's not like I'm not offended or anything. And that Shatner/Stewart thing indeed sounds funny - it's probably on YouTube somewhere, but you'd probably have to wade through hours of convention panels and whatnot to find it.

J.A. - good call on The Entertainer. The soundtrack to The Sting is another personal favorite of mine.

Matt Celis said...

Does Exorcist count? The music is Tubular Bells and wasn't done for the film.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Some other notable themes --

The Godfather -- That one sends shivers up the spine. I once saw Slash play it live during the Guns n' Roses days...

Chinatown -- Often overlooked, this one is an lush, romantic and mysterious as they get...

Blazing Saddles -- "He rode a blazing saddle/ He wore a shining star..." Sung by Frankie Lanie. That's as authentic as filming the movie in Deadwood, Texas...

Superfly -- I have this one in my car and listen to it whenever I drive through a city.

Saturday Night Fever -- Staying Alive!" Dated, yes, but nothing reflects its era quite so well...

david_b said...

Inkstained..:

BLAZING..?!? What a magnificent old-school movie theme. I wrote about the inside scoop back on the Saddles column last year.

I don't know if Rock movie soundtracks count, but 'Tommy' is pretty awesome. Not movie theme music, per se, but as noteworthy as "Stayin' Alive" I'd suppose.



("Hmmm, just wonderin' how long it'll be before someone mentions both 'Convoy' and the Smokey/Bandit theme.." Huge hits as well..)

Mike said...

The 1970's (before John Williams) makes me think cool and funky. One of the best film composers of this time period IMO was Lalo Schifrin. In the 70's he gave us 2 of my all-time favorites: Dirty Harry (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDKRD2q3bYo) and Enter the Dragon (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcLD_nLp-bg). Both Dirty Harry and ETD pretty much started a whole new franchises of action movies in the US -- the disgruntled "bad" cop, and Kung-fu action.

Bruce said...

Nothing new to add, but the two that stand out in my mind are "Shaft" and "Stayin' Alive" (from Saturday Night Fever). Both conjure up distinct images of a certain era.

It probably doesn't hurt that Saturday Night Fever led to an unforgettable issue of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man. Who didn't love the Hypno-Hustler? :)

William said...

My biggest comment on this topic would be to lament that fact that they just don't make awesome movie themes anymore. Why not? They all seem so boring and generic these days.

We never get classic and enduring themes like Star Wars, Superman, Indian Jones, or even Chariot's of Fire. There have been a lot of opportunities lately that really missed the mark, like all the recent super hero movies for example. None of them have had a theme that I can really remember at all.

The best was probably the main score for the Rami Spider-Man movies, but even that was pretty weak compared to the classic Superman theme.

Matt Celis said...

Even worse are films using repurposed pop songs in hopes of shifting units of soundtracks.

Doug said...

I don't know if it's the film's theme, but Dueling Banjos creeps me out every time I hear it. Anyone seen Deliverance?

No canoe trips for me -- those hillbillies did for the woods what sharks did for the beach.

Shuddering Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Funny, Doug, the Dueling Banjos doesn't creep me out at all; quite the contrary, I think it's an awesome piece of music.
But Deliverance is indeed a pretty disturbing movie, although I can't watch that really awful scene without laughing a bit - this is because back in college there was this Australian grad student living in my dorm whose favorite American movie was in fact Deliverance. He would often - in his thick Aussie accent - quote that famous line, "Squeal like a piggy for me!" Needless to say, this provoked much laughter from the rest of us...

Doug said...

Edo --

Your story has made the song more tolerable for me. That would indeed be hilarious to hear that accent over that line!

But still not the movie. Although Burt Reynolds is a bad dude with the bow at the end of that particular scene!

Doug

david_b said...

"Yeahhhh, after watching that movie, it sure seemed like eons since Jed, Jethro and Ellie May relaxed around the ceee-ment pond.."

Bruce said...

Totally agree, William. Movies today lack those instantly identifiable theme songs that so many films in the '70s and '80s seemed to have.

I do love Adele's theme song from "Skyfall." But that's the exception to the rule.

Doug said...

As a total aside (and mainly because there's no place else to put this), the poll this week is interesting. At this point there have been 26 people cast their opinions, yet no romance has been well-liked by more than 7 voters.

OK, back to movie themes.

Doug

david_b said...

Nice try on the aside, sir.

However, the mention of hot romance after the imagery of 'Deliverance'...?


Ick.

Inkstained Wretch said...

While Dueling Banjos is indeed a great piece of music, it isn't really the film's theme. It is just a piece of piece of music featured in the film, though I admit the distinction is a subtler one and most people associated one with the other...

Mike, good call on Lalo Schifrin. He came up with some cool stuff, none better than the original theme to Mission: Impossible. That soundtrack is definitely worth owning.

Garett said...

I don't know if musicals count, but Jesus Christ Superstar gets my vote. Love "What's the Buzz"--my band plays it live.

Superman theme used to run through my head as a kid, pumping me up! Nobody Does It Better--good one David B mentioned.

J.A. Morris said...

Speaking of John Williams, is there anyone who hasn't heard this great song sung to the tune of his various movie themes?
"John Williams Is The Man":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk5_OSsawz4

Anonymous said...

Wow, great topic for a post! I think the 70's was the last decade for great movie or TV themes in general. The 80's sucked a lot of life out of music in general in my opinion, and that extended to all facets.

Every Bond theme was fantastic throughout the 70's up until Moooraker in '79, which was just so-so. That's a better average than the films themselves.

The black exploitation era of the early 70's coincided with what, in my opinion, was the most innovative period for black american music in history. For the first time in history, Black America could sing about a wide range of subject matter, and have a chance at getting a hit. And not just an R & B hit, either. Lyrics ranged from political manifestos to slice-of-life stories to romance (or just sex). And they used the widest palette of sounds possible. Wah wah, fuzz, soaring strings, horns, moogs, slap bass...you name it. It all petered out into mediocrity once disco took over.

Shaft & Superfly, which are the cornerstones, are also just the tip of the iceberg. I would also add "Are You Man Enough?" from Shaft In Africa, Trouble Man and Across 113th Street. The music production is so expansive, that these songs soundl wide-screen.

James Chatterton

Matt Celis said...

Didn't he also do Manfrom UNCLE? That's one of my favorite TV themes.

Anonymous said...

For me it was all about John Williams' incredible Star Wars theme - all you had to do was close your eyes when you heard that score, and you knew you were in the world of Star Wars. Simply unforgettable, even after all these years.

- Mike 'what's a Harlem shake?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Tony said...

Another great movie song, written by the Gibb brothers "Grease"

humanbelly said...

Forgotten John Williams movie theme-- from a rather failed Spielberg film:

The March from 1941 (or The 1941 March-- something like that).

If it had been attached to a better film, I think it would have rivaled the theme from Bridge Over River Kwai ("Colonel Bogey March"). It's just about the most joyfully, exuberantly, unapologetically upbeat composition I've ever heard. It makes me grin like an idiot and spontaneously march around, waving my arms in the air. (Kind of rough on my kids if this happens in public. . . ).

HB

Graham said...

"Theme from Shaft" was the best of the 70's, maybe one of the best ever. The man who came up with that "Waka Waka" guitar, Charles "Skip" Pitts, passed away last spring, but he got a lot of mileage out of that riff over the years.

Lots of great theme songs on other movies of that type, "Superfly" (Curtis Mayfield), "Across 110th Street" (Bobby Womack), etc....as has been noted.

Matt Celis said...

Isn't that 110th Street?

Matt Celis said...

Heck, I forgot to mention james brown and his soundtrack for Black Caesar. Great album.

Here's a dime, boy/Give me a shine, boy

Redartz said...

Tony- Good call on "Grease"! Frankie Valli aced that tune. It always brings to mind the funky animated opening sequence to the film.

Then there was Maureen McGovern and "The Morning After", from "The Poseidon Adventure". I was hooked on all those 70's 'disaster movies' , but none of the other such films had such a memorable theme...

Garett said...

How about Flash Gordon by Queen? It's 1980. They tried something different than the Star Wars type themes that were popular at the time (which are great--Indiana Jones, Superman, etc). Also love the tempo change to rock ballad in the middle: "Just a man, with a man's courage..." Here's Queen recording it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv7HNAtCH74

Also they had one of the great end songs in movies, with "The Hero" over the final credits:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbIWNlEPJ2c
Love when those drums kick in, and the raw, live sound of it! Also the lyrics:
"So you feel that you ain't nobody
Always needed to be somebody
Put your feet on the ground
Put your hand on your heart
Lift your head to the stars
And the world's for your taking

So you feel it's the end of the story
Find it all pretty satisfactory
Well I tell you my friend
This might seem like the end
But the continuation
Is yours for the making"

vancouver mark said...

Shaft was the best, no doubt.

Also really liked the overture and most of the music from Jesus Christ Superstar.

But for pure OOMPH of a powerful 70s opening theme, how about the intro sequence of Clockwork Orange??
As Trinidad Mike said, all you had to do was close your eyes and hear it, and you knew you were in that other world.

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