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UFA MOVIE POSTERSA look at the early one sheets from the longest standing film studio in Germany.

THE LANGUAGE OF NOIRWe celebrate tough talk from the best of Hollywood’s gritty crime dramas.

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HOLLYWOOD POSTCARDSTen vintage postcards revealing the glories of Southern California's movie mecca.

MAJOR FILMS, MINOR GAFFESTwenty-five mistakes in some of the greatest movies ever made.

GEORGE GERSHWINTen classic songs as seen on the silver screen.

GREAT ENDINGSA memorable tussle in Death Valley caps Erich von Stroheim’s broken classic.

10 GREAT POSTERSOur look at striking works of art that just happen to sell movie tickets.

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SCREEN TESTSAudition footage from Monroe, Dean, Brando and others.

MOVIE MOMENTS THAT MAKE LIFE WORTH LIVINGOur collection of ten little moments of breathtaking beauty, expert craftsmanship and happy accidents that rank as our favorites.

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JOHN QUALENFive of our favorite performances from the character actor’s lengthy career.

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MICKEY ROONEY’S BEST
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PUBLICITY PHOTOS
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ELVIS PRESLEYFive essential films for the Elvis movie fan.

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BILL GOLD’S MOVIE POSTERSOur salute to the legendary graphic artist, including 25 of his posters for some of the most famous movies ever made.

BEAUTIFUL MENFilm giants Cary Grant and his ilk will have to wait. Here we look at ten not-so-obvious choices—actors blessed with incredible good looks, if not legendary status.

BEAUTIFUL WOMENTen of the most physically stunning females to grace the silver screen.

FOOTBALLFive classic films where gridiron shenanigans drive the plot. 

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FRED ASTAIREFive lively numbers from the peerless hoofer.

THE ROAD TO HELEN LAWSONJudy Garland, Susan Hayward and the bumpy road Valley of the Dolls producers experienced in casting an important role in a truly lousy film.

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FOX THEATEROur fond look back at one of San Francisco’s grandest movie palaces.

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THE BAND WAGONNanette Fabray recalls a glaring mistake in the 1953 classic musical.

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DESIGNS ON FILMA handsome volume by author and designer Cathy Whitlock chronicles the history of Hollywood set design.

REBECCAFive screen tests for Hitchock’s 1940 classic, with comments by David O. Selznick.

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PRESTON STURGESSnippets of dialogue from six of the writer/director’s best films.

ANSELMO BALLESTEROur gallery of ten striking one sheets from the Italian poster artist.

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JOSEPH L. MANKIEWICZSmart dialogue from the Oscar-winning screenwriter.

DESERT NOIROur report from this year’s Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs.

RED DREAM FACTORYWe profile eight films from a unique Russian-German film studio of the twenties and thirties.

« 25 Great Silent Movie Posters | Main | Plunder Road (1957) »
Thursday
Feb252016

12 Great Movie Songs of the 1960s

In the films of the sixties—musically speaking—Natalie Wood felt pretty, kitten whiskers made Julie Andrews feel good, Rex Harrison pondered the ability to speak rhinoceros and Shirley MacLaine was at times a brass band, a clarinet and a harpsichord. Outside the realm of show tunes, however, certain stand-alone movie themes reflected songwriters’ talent for capturing the spirit of the movies they were attached to.

Here are a dozen of our favorites―hit recordings from sixties films by the likes of The King, four lads from Liverpool, three gals from Detroit and a composer named Bacharach at the top of his game.

“Alfie”
Alfie (1966)
Music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David
Performed by Cher
Burt Bacharach once called this song his personal favorite, though it was not heard at all on the soundtrack when the movie was released in the United Kingdom. Hal David took Michael Caine’s line from the film―”What’s it all about?”―as his beginning lyric, and the two prepared the ballad for British singer Cilla Black as a promotion tool prior to the film’s UK release in March of 1966. For the American release five months later, the tune was heard over the closing credits, this time sung by Cher. Cher’s version peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1966, bested the following year by Dionne Warwick’s version, which hit number 15.

“Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Blue Hawaii
(1961)
Written by George David Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore
Performed by Elvis Presley
It’s a straightforward ballad effectively delivered in a simple scene. In Blue Hawaii, Presley plays Chad Gates, back in the Aloha State after a stint in the army and now working as a tour guide. At one point in the movie, he stops by the birthday party being held for his girlfriend’s grandmother, presents her with a music box he got during the service and begins to sing along with the gift’s melody, which was based on “Plasir d’Amour,” an 1780 composition by Jean Paul Égide Martini.

“Come Saturday Morning”
The Sterile Cuckoo
(1969)
Music by Fred Karlin, lyrics by Dory Previn
Performed by The Sandpipers
The mellow intonations of The Sandpipers sets the mood for the wistful story to follow, that of a young, awkward and ultimately doomed romance between two upstate New York college students. Pookie (Liza Minnelli) and Jerry (Wendell Burton) represent the Opposites Attract theory of amorous coupling—she’s outgoing and goofy, he’s straight-laced and quiet (not to mention arguably the most patient man in Pookie’s orbit). The Alan J. Pakula-directed drama received Oscar nominations for Best Original Song and Best Actress (Minnelli), winning nothing but critical acclaim, decent box office and a hit recording.

“Georgy Girl”
Georgy Girl
(1966)
Music by Tom Springfield, lyrics by Jim Dale
Performed by The Seekers

The girl of the title is a hopeful, awkward and dumpy Lynn Redgrave who envies the swinging lifestyle of her London flat mate Meredith (Charlotte Rampling) and pines for Jos (Alan Bates), Meredith’s boyfriend. The Seekers performed three versions of the top ten song—for the opening credits, the closing credits and for radio play—all with slightly different lyrics. It was nominated for the Best Song Oscar, edged out by “Born Free.”

Goldfinger”
Goldfinger
(1964)

Music by John Barry, lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
Performed by Shirley Bassey

Before she sang the title tunes for Diamonds are Forever (1971) and Moonraker (1979), Shirley Bassey wrapped her bold, brassy voice around the lyrics to Goldfinger‘s theme song. It would be the third film in the James Bond series to hit the big screen, this time with a plot involving a gold magnate, a skirt named Pussy Galore and some complicated jazz involving Fort Knox. In the recording studio, Bassey performed the song while the opening titles were rolling, nearly passing out while holding the final note as the credits kept coming.

“The Happening”
The Happening
(1967)

Music by Frank De Vol, lyrics by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland
Performed by The Supremes

Unfortunately, the popularity of the film did not match the popularity of the title tune. The comedy, about a kidnapping where no one cares enough to pay the ransom, bombed at the box office, while the Supremes enjoyed their tenth number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100. This would mark the last chart topper Florence Ballard would record with the group. Producer Barry Gordy shortly thereafter replaced her with Cindy Birdsong, a singer with Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles.

“A Hard Day’s Night”
A Hard Day’s Night
(1964)
Written by John Lennon

Performed by The Beatles

The title comes from a Ringo Starr malapropism. “We went to do a job,” Starr explained, “and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day, I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day...’ and I looked around and saw it was dark, so I said, '...night!' So we came to A Hard Day's Night.” Once the movie title was settled on, Lennon, McCartney and a little bit of George Harrison went to work to build a song around it. It was completed in one evening and played for producer Walter Shenson the following morning in their dressing room.

“Mrs. Robinson”
The Graduate
(1967)
Written by Paul Simon
Performed by Simon & Garfunkel

The original subject of the song was not the movie’s Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) but Eleanor Roosevelt and was a work in progress when director Mike Nichols first heard it. Paul Simon argued to director Mike Nichols, who wanted the soundtrack full of Simon & Garfunkel songs, that it was about the past—Joe DiMaggio and Eleanor Roosevelt and all that—and was not right for the movie. Nichols disagreed, decisively declaring to Simon, “It's now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt." A section of the tune was used for the soundtrack; more lyrics were added later when it came time for the duo to record the single.

“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
(1969)
Music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David
Performed by B.J. Thomas
Onscreen, the song accompanied a very famous bicycle ride by Paul Newman; offscreen, it hit number one on the charts. From creation of the theme song to its eventual success, it was a rather bumpy road, especially for B.J. Thomas. Ray Stevens was first offered the song and turned it down. Bob Dylan was reportedly offered the song as well, but also declined. When third choice Thomas stepped into the recording booth, he was still suffering the effects of a recent bout of laryngitis. Burt Bacharach’s dissatisfaction with the first six takes likely did not help Thomas’s situation, but by the seventh take, Bacharach was pleased and the song was in the can, at least for the movie soundtrack. The single was recorded at a later date, with Thomas’s voice restored to its full capacity.

“Theme from ‘Valley of the Dolls’”
Valley of the Dolls
(1967)
Music by André Previn, lyrics by Dory Previn

Performed by Dionne Warwick

Yep, it’s a terrible movie, but one with a choice theme song gracefully delivered by Dionne Warwick. The song originally intended for the movie, helpfully titled “Valley of the Dolls,” was written by The Four Seasons’s Bob Gaudio and the woman ultimately responsible for this cinematic potboiler, original sinner and author Jacqueline Susann. (The Arbors recorded the Gaudio/Susann song in 1968.) Though Warwick sang the replacement theme over the film’s credits, Dory Previn sang it on the soundtrack album due to a contractual dispute involving Warwick.

“To Sir With Love”
To Sir With Love
(1967)
Music by Mark London, lyrics by Don Black
Performed by Lulu
British pop star Lulu recorded the smash hit with The Mindbenders, who also acted in the film about an idealistic teacher (Sidney Poitier) in charge of a group of tough kids from a working-class neighborhood in London. The singer’s recording stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks and became the number one song of 1967.

“What’s New, Pussycat?”
What’s New, Pussycat? (1965)
Music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David
Performed by Tom Jones
The title allegedly stems from how Warren Beatty, whose playboy lifestyle was the basis for the film, addressed his girlfriends. Penned by Woody Allen, the movie was to star Beatty and, if Beatty had gotten his way, his then-romantic partner Leslie Caron. The producers went with Capucine instead, Beatty dropped out and Peter O’Toole stepped in to costar with Allen (in his first movie) and Peter Sellers.

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