Top 6: Uses of Music In Non-Musicals

Posted in Top 6 at 4:59 am by Sam

Our Top 6 list for Episode 19 is about uses of music in non-musicals. It’s a wide-open field, as virtually every single film makes use of music, often in a number of different ways. Sam narrowed down the field by excluding all soundtrack music from consideration: in his list, the music all comes from within the story.

What are some of your favorite musical moments from non-musicals?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. “La Marseillaise,” from Casablanca (1942)
  2. “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  3. “Gonna Fly Now,” Rocky (1976)
  4. “Tiny Dancer,” Almost Famous (2000)
  5. The climax of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
  6. “Ride of the Valkyries,” from Apocalypse Now (1979)
  1. “On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” from Way Out West (1937)
  2. “La Marseillaise,” from Casablanca (1942)
  3. The crescendo in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  4. “Anything Goes” in Mandarin, from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
  5. “Put the Blame On Mame,” from Gilda (1946)
  6. “Dueling Banjos,” from Deliverance (1972)


  1. Grishny (156) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 8:17 am

    It’s 7:00 AM Tuesday morning. I haven’t listened to the new AMT or the T6L yet, but I thought I’d go ahead and post my list before leaving for work. I’ll be listening to the new episode in its entirety on my way to work, as usual.

    I had a lot of fun with this list, especially since it was rather open-ended and I happen to be a fan of movie soundtracks. I have movie soundtracks for movies I haven’t ever seen. I had quite a long list of possibilities drawn up to cull my six favorites from. Anyway, here is my list:

    1. “Surprise Attack” from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This movie has always been my favorite of the Trek franchise, and one of my favorite aspects of the movie is the great soundtrack by James Horner. This track in particular does exactly what it should; builds suspence prior to the revelatory moment, and then carries you along with the battle at break-neck speed, only slowing down for those relatively calm moments where Admiral Kirk is plotting his couterattack. Great use of music in a movie.

    2. “I’ve Got You Babe” from Groundhog Day. It’s kind of a quirky choice, but I just loved how it was used in the film to show Bill Murray’s increasing annoyance and despair at his situation.

    3. “Imperial March” from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. I’ll be surprised if this, or at least something from a Star Wars film, or at least something by John Williams, doesn’t make one of your lists. This is the defining song for Darth Vader, and I especially appreciate how it was used during Vader’s death scene with Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi.

    4. “O Danny Boy” from Miller’s Crossing. I chose to ignore Ferrick’s rule and put a Coen Brothers selection in my list. I thought about using “Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby” from O Brother, but I this use of music has stuck in my mind more than anything from any of their other films. It seems like a really strange song to have playing during a gangland mafia boss’ retaliatory rampage with a tommy gun, but somehow it created the perfect atmosphere for the scene, for me.

    5. “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2. Hurray! A good song from a Toy Story movie that’s not by Randy Newman! (I only said that for Stephen’s benefit.) The song perfectly fits the mood of the scene it’s used in, and I would say even helps to create that mood, which is what good movie music should do. Every time I watch this part of TS2, I get that same melancholy, slightly-depressed feeling. The song really works.

    6. “Catch Me If You Can” from the movie of the same title. This is the opening credits music, and if you’ve seen CMIYC, you know that the opening of the movie isn’t live action but an animation. But the music and the animation work together perfectly to give the viewer a sense of what this movie is going to be about. The song has a “furtive” quality that totally prepared me for the plot of the movie.

  2. Stephen (221) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Grish: If it’s a good song in a Toy Story movie, then it’s obviously not Randy Newman.

  3. Sam (405) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 10:19 am

    “When She Loved Me” wasn’t sung by Randy Newman, but it was written by him. And yeah, it’s an incredible moment in the movie. Very, very powerful. It’s probably the best scene in the whole movie, really.

  4. Grishny (156) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 10:31 am

    Interesting, I didn’t know that. I just assumed that Sarah McLachlan had written it, since she sang it and she’s a singer-songwriter.

    Now that I’ve listened to the show, I’m a little embarrassed at how shortsighted my list was. I need to see more movies. Especially older ones. I wish I could say that I listened to your lists and kept saying “oh yeah, I should have thought of that,” but it was more like “huh. I never would have thought of that,” or “huh. I’ve never even heard of that.”

    I did like Sam’s #3 though.

  5. siochembio (82) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 11:02 am

    What about “La Marseillaise” from “Grand Illusion?” They did it first, after all.

    I’ve always considered Kubrick a genius at picking music to go with his films, referencing your 2001 picks here. Rossini’s Overture to La Gazza Ladra in A Clockwork Orange is a bizarre enough combination to make it fit absolutely perfectly, along with the middle section of the finale of Beethoven’s 9th. Plus, y’know, “Singin’ In The Rain.”

  6. Sam (405) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Grish: Your list was very good. I particularly liked your #2, which is just wonderful.

  7. Grishny (156) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for the nod. I still have a bad case of list-envy, though. I already know I’m probably not even going to have my own list for next week; I’ve not been able to think of more than one example so far…

  8. Rifty (64) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    I was thinking about it over the week, and what I came up with was:

    6. Ghost

    Unchained Melody, cause I’m an idiot.

    5. Frequency

    I really liked the movie Frequency, and there’s a scene in it where Dennis Quaid is investigating what he thinks will probably turn out to be a murder scene. There’s a record playing in the background, and the music is skipping. I wish I could remember the song, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen the movie that I can’t, but it’s just a good scene, with one of the (in my opinion) best ways to establish that something is very VERY wrong.

    4. Mystery Science Theater 3000: Outlaw

    Do MST3K episodes count, since they’re 2 hours long, and feature a movie inside them? if so, my #5 is “Tubular Boobular Joy,” from the Outlaw episode. This song made me just about fall out of my seat the first time I heard it I was laughing so hard, and everytime I recovered enough to listen, I just lost it all over again.

    If MST3K DOESN’T count, then I’m going to go with the song “UHF” from the Weird Al movie of the same name.

    3. The Wedding Singer

    Say what you will about Adam Sandler (and I’ll say a lot, of quite a different opinion from others) but I liked the Wedding Singer. Not so much the 80’s soundtrack, but it’s a great movie. It’s funny, and it’s not TOO shmaltzy.

    At the end, Robbie Hart sings a song that he wrote over the intercom of an airplane to Julia: “I wanna grow old with you” which I’ve always loved.

    The arrangement of this song for the broadway musical is even better, and sung by Stephen Lynch to boot.

    2. The Cantina Band (Star Wars: A New Hope)

    Either tune they play. The first, just because you can’t do-do-do it without getting it stuck in someone’s head (you’re thinking about it right now, and it’ll probabbly be stuck there) and the second, just because when they start to play it, you hear all the creatures in the Cantina roar, like they’re cheering because it’s a big hit, which I’ve loved ever since I was a little kid. (Fun factoid: the second song is, for whatever reason titled “Mad About Me.”)

    1. Kill Bill, Vol 1

    The whole thing.

    Right at the beginning, as Elle Driver walks into the hospital where The Bride is in a coma, she’s whistling a tune, which just perfectly captures the scene.

    The shrieking guitar chord as The Bride encounters one of her nemeses (from Ironside, I think).

    The Rearrangement of Rimsky-Korokov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,”

    The techno as O-Ren and her entourage enter the House of Blue Leaves

    and of course,

    The 5, 6, 7, 8’s. They just rock.


  9. siochembio (82) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I had to make two lists. (there be spoilers too)

    Basically, I decided that traditional orchestral scores composed specifically for movies were out, but the use of pre-existing music for a movie was in, mostly because some of the most amazing film moments I’ve seen were with certain classical music pieces and the piece adds so much to the scene. I didn’t want to exclude them. So one of my lists is called “Pieces as Soundtrack in a Scene.”

    And here’s that list:

    6. Clair de Lune, Debussy, “Ocean’s 11,” scene in front of the fountains
    Debussy’s stuff is very quiet, calm, and beautiful, and it’s a brilliant, self-reflective choice for the scene showing the heisters after they’ve pulled off the impossible. Rather than merely high-fiving one another and doing stupid celebratory dances, it works much better that they’re all so happy that they are simply filled with wonder and amazement. The music conveys this very, very well.

    5. Piano Concerto No. 2, Rachmaninoff, “Brief Encounter,” pretty much the whole movie.
    For a movie that deals with unconsummated passion, the quiet power and understated turbulence that is the Rach’s 2nd concerto is ingenious for this.

    4. Piano Concerto No. 3, Rachmaninoff / Gloria in Excelsis, Marshall, “Shine.”
    The Third is alternately triumphant and horribly, horribly depressing, so it’s perfect for a movie about a mentally imbalanced pianist, never mind the fact that it’s the piece he feels he NEEDS to play (thanks a lot, Dad). And the Gloria is nothing short of exuberant (it’s the scene where he’s jumping naked on the trampoline, I believe).

    3. Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling, Tex Ritter, “High Noon.”
    Okay, so I cheated a little, because I’m almost 100% certain this was written specifically for the film, but it’s so perfect. The singer sounds so forlorn and the clippity-clop song emphasizes the passage of time that you can’t help being drawn further into the story every time you hear the song.

    2. Overture, La Gazza Ladra, Rossini / Mvt 4, Symphony No. 9, Beethoven, “A Clockwork Orange.”
    The first piece is used in the scene where they’re creeping up on the house they’re going to rob, and the second is (more obviously) when Alex is strapped into the chair and they’re forcing him to watch violent films. In the first case, Rossini’s stuff is largely happy and farcical. The juxtaposition of farce with the robbery-turned-rape ratchets up the perversity of the scene. Kubrick could have had a sinister song here - it’s a very sinister scene, after all - but he chooses a piece that represents extraordinarily broad comedy. Brilliant.
    The second piece, I’m actually referring to a very specific part of the last movement of the ninth. Kubrick was very very smart to use this passage and NOT the extraordinarily well-known “Ode to Joy” chorus. The piece Kubrick uses is about (and I use that term VERY roughly) 8 minutes into the movement, and there’s a tremendous sense of anticipation in it. It’s the beginning of about a three to four minute crescendo in the movement, and it’s a distortion of the Ode to Joy theme. It’s this distortion that Kubrick is clearly going for - and as we slowly recognize that it’s more or less the tune for Ode to Joy, the perversity (again) of the scene grabs so much more power.

    1. Humming Chorus, Madame Butterfly, Puccini, “Heavenly Creatures,” the scene right before the girls kill the mother. Jackson films this scene in slight slow motion, and the quiet build of the lullaby theme accompanies the girls as they go about their day, nerves building up until the moment of truth. The poignancy of this scene is off the charts, as the daughter offers her mother the last pastry and tells her to “treat herself.” You see glimmers of sympathy in their actions, and this sympathy is echoed ten-fold in the music. The fact that they go through with their plans, then, is even more horrifying. It’s a wonderful, wonderful contrast, and one of my all-time favorite movie scenes ever, full-stop.

  10. siochembio (82) said,

    February 6, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Second list - Songs IN a film (sung by the actors, etc.)

    6. Sweet Caroline, Beautiful Girls, bar scene
    I really don’t know why this movie is as overlooked as it is, because I think it has one of the most honest portraits of male friendships I have ever seen committed to film. Anyway, this scene is great, because the characters have their guards down at the bar and are just singing along with their buddy’s piano-playing. And they just get so INTO the song.

    5. A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow, A Mighty Wind, final performance of this song.
    Yes, there’s a lot of music in this movie, but it’s not REALLY a musical, if for the fact that the actors didn’t dub their songs in a studio. Anyway, admitting that silly things can make me cry, this scene ALWAYS brings a tear to my eye. The song itself is just beautiful, and the tension mounting as to whether or not Mitch and Mickie will kiss is more than palpable. When they DO kiss and finish the song, there is so much emotion, so many emotions being resolved, in the rest of the song, that it’s just… great.

    4. Caleigh scene, I Know Where I’m Going!
    There are a number of traditional Scottish songs in this scene. It’s the main character’s first real glimpse of real Scottish people - she’s been more or less confining herself to her rich English friends in the area, and the hero insists on bringing her to the servants’ caleigh. She is amazed by the traditional music and the dancing and the singing, and of course, she falls in love a little more with the dashing but poor Laird of Kiloran (the hero). And the audience does, too. :D

    3. Flight of the Bumblebee, Rimsky-Korsakov, “Shine,” the bar scene.
    The amazement and shock as Geoffrey Rush silences an entire rowdy pub with about 65 seconds of piano-playing is such a pinnacle of the film. I could watch this scene over and over and over again.

    2. Fall In Love Dear Maiden, Ikiru, both scenes.
    The same song, the same character singing the song, and achieving monumentally different effects. In the first, his face is written with sadness as he sings this song, drunk, in a bar. It’s the first time I think he actually realizes the enormity of his situation. It’s so sorrowful. The second time he sings it (or hums it), there is such joy in him. Yes, he’s not long for this world, but he feels satisfied, he is full of life, he has contributed, and he is happy. It has such a different meaning. Both scenes are immensely beautiful, but the second is just epic.

    1. The Faithful Hussar, Paths of Glory, final scene.
    Whoever ISN’T incredibly moved by this scene clearly has no heart. A frightened German captive is forced to sing to a room full of jeering, drunken French soldiers in a bar during WWI. Slowly, they recognize her small and plaintive tune and start humming along. Some start crying. In a matter of seconds, the weariness of the war is written throughout the entire room, and we discover (through Kirk Douglas) that these soldiers must soon be sent back to the front. Kubrick didn’t do “emotional” all that often, but this scene is simply astounding in its power, and it is entirely centered on a song, a song that reminds the soldiers of home, of a time before the war, of life.

    Personal note: I also immensely agree with The Marseillaise scene in Casablanca, and all of the music from 2001, but I wanted to pick something you guys didn’t.

  11. Sam (405) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 12:54 am

    sio: Wow, those are fantastic lists. Great thoughts, well written. Some are from scenes I have to see again, but the Paths of Glory pick is so great I really wish I had thought of it when I was composing my own list for the podcast. It would have made the cut, easy. It’s one of the all-time greatest movie scenes. A strange one, though, because at first it felt to me like it belonged in some other movie. It was only upon reflection that I realized that not only did it very much belong in that film, but the train of thought helped me see everything that had come before it in a whole new light. It’s really quite remarkable.

  12. Stephen (221) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Rifty: The song Daryl Hannah whistles near the start of Kill Bill is the theme from the movie Twisted Nerve, composed by the great Bernard Herrman.

    And the jazz version of Flight of the Bumblebee is actually the theme from the show Green Hornet.

    I agree that the film has great music. I would say Tarantino is one of the better directors out there when it comes to repurposing pop music for his films.

    Also, siochembio, didn’t we mention that the scene in Casablanca is a lift from Grand Illusion? If I didn’t I meant to. But I prefer Casablanca’s version of that scene; as great as Illusion is, it doesn’t quite have the power of the latter movie.

  13. Ferrick (140) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Ok, I’ll try to keep this as concise as possible. Here are some of the ones that popped into my head last week and a couple that came to me after hearing your lists and reading these comments. Some of these I would pare down more because they are too much soundtrack and not enough in the story. But they stick out to me, nonetheless.

    And, Grish, the Ferrick rule was just for Stephen and Sam because the Coens and Tarantino kept jumping in my head, too.

    The first one I thought of was O Brother, Where Art Thou. I guess some might say it is a musical but the songs aren’t random or song as dialogue and the music is a character in the movie. I could pick many moments from it.

    High Fidelity: I didn’t much like the movie but when they put the Beta Band on in the store to prove that a person would ask about what was playing, it was pretty slick.

    Blues Brothers: I love this movie and it is probably too much musical but the scene with James Brown at the church is the best.

    Raising Arizona: After stealing the diapers, a random chase scene with a yodeler joins in. Hilarious.

    Ferris Bueller: My all time favorite soundtrack and it was never released as an album. I would choose either the scene at the museum with an instrumental version of “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths or the scene at the end where Ferris is racing his dad home and “Dance of the Swivelheads” by The English Beat is frantically playing.

    2001, same scene.

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The theme is iconic.

    Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill: The music adds so much to these films.

    My Best Friend’s Wedding: There are two scenes where characters basically sing songs that normally would be used as background/soundtrack music but they work seemlessly with the plot. I only really remember one or two other scenes from this movie.

    Spinal Tap: Stonehenge, for one.

    Good Morning Vietnam: What a Wonderful World. It always gets me.

    Finding Forrester: I just love the way music is used in this movie.

    I love the Imperial March pick. I think Close Encounters better fits the spirit of this topic but I have to mention Jaws just because.

    And I can’t think of one scene but Duets popped into my head, too.

  14. Stephen (221) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 11:27 am

    I almost included two bits from Jaws. One would be the first appearance of the theme, and the other is the night before the final confrontation with the shark, when they’re below decks, comparing shark stories, and end up singing — only to be interrupted by the shark’s reappearance.

  15. Heather (11) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 11:56 am

    siochembio: I also loved the use of Debussy’s Clair de Lune in Ocean’s 11. I made myself re-learn it after seeing the movie. Its contemplative tone works really well in that scene.

  16. Sam (405) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Just to be needling and technical, Ferrick, it’s the Coens and Robert Altman that we kept seeming to include in every Top 6 list a while back. Tarantino certainly does appear a good amount for how few films he’s ever directed, though.

  17. SplishFish (29) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Hi there, long time reader of RinkWorks and first time poster. I love music, so this top 6 list inspired me to sign up.

    I’m not as well versed in movies as most of you are, so I’m just putting in my choices for scenes where the music affected me emotionally - I’m not going for significance or influence.

    1. “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good The Bad and The Ugly. It’s the scene where Tuco is running through the graveyard looking for the name on the marker where the gold is supposed to be buried. As he picks up speed the camera begins panning faster and faster creating a blur and the music continually crescendos and becomes more and more turbulent. The music and camera work create a frenzy of sound an images and it all stops abruptly when he sees the marker. The soundtrack for this movie is well worth listening to on its own.

    2. Last march of the Ents scene from LOTR: Two Towers. After Treebeard sees the destruction Sauruman has made to the forest and calls the Ents to march on Isengard, the boy’s choir comes in. This is my favorite single scene from all three LOTR movies, mostly because of the choir piece.

    3. “Mad World” from the end of Donnie Darko. The lyrics fit so perfectly with the movie: I find it kind of funny/I find it kind of sad/The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I ever had. The toned-down remake creates a bittersweet (but mostly bitter) mood that totally sums up the emotions of the movie and the main characters. (I mention that this version is a remake because the song was written by Tears for Fears and had quite a toe-tapping beat originally.)

    4. From the Truman Show, the scene near the end where Truman is trying to escape on the boat and the TV producers are trying to drown him. It’s a subtle score, but creates a huge amount of tension. Even after seeing the movie half a dozen times it still makes me feel anxiety for the character. If I can add another scene from this movie; when he finally reaches the studio wall, all other ambient sound falls back and its just some light but melancholy music as he first touches the literal edge of his world and then starts beating on the wall.

    5. From Zulu, where the Zulu warriors are engaging in a bit of psychological warfare to taunt the British into attacking. They are chanting and rattling their shields, then the British start to sing, and continue to sing even as the Zulus begin their charge. In some ways it’s similar to “La Marseillaise,” from Casablanca, except that these guys are in actual battle and the stakes are much higher. In the commentary for LOTR:TTT, Peter Jackson mentions Zulu as a template for the battle of Helm’s Deep. The sound of Zulu chanting is also used in Gladiator in the battle with the barbarians in Germania.

    6. “The Feeling Begins” from the beginning of The Last Temptation of Christ. It’s a wonderful blend of traditional Middle Eastern themes and modern rock elements. The music is often tense and atonal, describing the tortured depiction of Christ. This soundtrack is another that I recommend listening to on its own. It’s Peter Gabriel, “Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ.” The only reason I didn’t fill up my entire list with selections from this soundtrack is because Gabriel took extra time and added tracks that are not in the movie or re-recorded/mixed existing tracks.

    About your original rules, where would something like Pink Floyd’s The Wall fit in? Is it considered a musical?

  18. Sam (405) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Splish: Aargh. Like other choices in this thread, your #5 from Zulu makes me want to go rewrite my list. That scene was so, so, so great.

    I like Tears for Fears — one of the best pop bands of the era — but they botched “Mad World.” Despite writing the song, I don’t think they understood what it was. I found the melody and lyrics compelling, in a melancholy sort of way, but I never much liked the song, due to its wonky orchestration. But I don’t think the fashions and mindset of the 80s were right for such a reflective downer of a song anyway. So it makes sense that its own creators misunderstood what to do with it.

    When I first heard the Michael Andrews/Gary Jules remake, it took me a while to place it, it was so evocative and haunting and unlike the original song. There is something about it that sticks in the head and is very stirring.

    Interestingly, though, there are two versions on the single: one without a beat, and one with a very subdued beat. That’s virtually the entire difference. The one with the beat, subdued though it may be, has practically none of the effectiveness of the one without it. I don’t like it at all. It goes to show how delicate the song is, and why an 80s pop band, however good they might have been, probably never could have made it work.

  19. siochembio (82) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Stephen - yeah, sorry about that. I was so excited about the topic that I rushed to reply without listening to the entire podcast first. Stoo-pid.

    A few other choices that I’ve thought of:

    The whistling at the beginning of “Bridge on the River Kwai.”
    The tap-dancing scene in “Young Frankenstein.”

    I was recently fortunate enough to catch a screening of Abel Gance’s “Napoleon” from 1927 with a score written by Carmine Coppola in 1981. I must say, that film had probably the most INAPPROPRIATE use of music I have ever heard. In the scene that depicted the gritty Battle of Toulon (which Napoleon won, of course), Coppola very foolishly uses the second part of Beethoven’s piece “Wellington’s Victory.” “Wellington’s Victory” was written by Beethoven out of spite at NAPOLEON, and depicts his defeat at Waterloo in the first half, and the glorious return of Wellington to England in the second half. It was completely idiotic to use a piece about NAPOLEON’S DEFEAT in a piece of film that glorifies Napoleon. It disrespects both the composer and the director. I was so angry and aghast that it took me entirely “out of the film.” At intermission, I had to call my sister (who is also familiar with the Beethoven piece) and vent.

    The movie was great, but I simply cannot forgive something like that in the score.

  20. SplishFish (29) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    The original Mad World is an interesting juxtaposition of “heavy” lyrics and up-tempo music. It’s one of those songs that sound like one thing but are really another once you actually listen to what it’s about. Kind of like Born in the USA is not complementary at all once you get past the chorus.

    I agree that the remake is far superior. I’m don’t know why they even bothered with the alternate back-beat version. As you say, it doesn’t add anything and even detracts from it.

    Zulu is one of my all-time favorite movies. The scene where the Zulus walk away is also quite stirring. (Notice that I don’t say “retreat” because the Zulus did not loose, they just decided that the fight was not worth it.)

  21. Ferrick (140) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Good choice on Mad World. And interesting note about it, from IMDb, ‘Richard Kelly’s original choice for the music to be played over the final sequence was U2’s “MLK.” After difficulties obtaining the rights to the song, it was decided to use Gary Jules’ cover of the Tears for Fears song “Mad World” instead.’

    MLK’s lyrics would work well there (Sleep. Sleep tonight. And may your dreams be realized…) but I can’t imagine anything but Mad World there. And I had never thought about it like Sam has but it is one of my least favorite Tears for Fears songs but I’ve always liked it enough.

  22. Ferrick (140) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Splish: I almost mentioned the graveyard scene from TGtBtU specifically but didn’t know the exact music used there. Thanks for noting that. Great scene.

    And I can’t remember, when the three of them face off in the graveyard, do they use much music or is it more subdued. I’m thinking of just drums, for some reason.

  23. Ferrick (140) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Sam: Now that you mention Altman, I have to include “Suicide is Painless” from MASH.

  24. SplishFish (29) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Ferrick: My copy of the soundtrack lists “The Trio (Main Title)” as the last piece for Good Bad Ugly. However, the movie cut/remixed it.

    The record version follows an ABAB form: low guitar followed by trumpet/full orchestration, then back to low guitar and finales with full orchestration and trumpet. IIRC, the movie version just uses the low guitar. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it. I will have to watch it again to be sure.

    I prefer the record version myself, otherwise I probably would have mentioned the showdown scene.

  25. Ferrick (140) said,

    February 7, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Stephen: I’m glad you picked a scene from Almost Famous even though it wasn’t the one I would have picked (if I had remembered). For years, I felt that the Led Zeppelin song, “Bron-Yr-Aur,” should be used on a soundtrack but figured that Zep would never let it happen. Then I saw Almost Famous and a great movie was made even better when they used that song towards the end when William is back home. Using Zeppelin is obvious but picking an instrumental for this scene is perfect.

  26. Nevermore (17) said,

    February 8, 2007 at 2:20 am

    SplishFish: I love your choice of Last March of the Ents from “The Two Towers.” I agree that it is one of the most powerful scenes in the entire trilogy. Not only does it perfectly compliment the mood of the scene, but it’s a powerful piece of music in its own right. In fact, I often just listen to the soundtrack with Last March on repeat.

    I seem to be stuck on a Lord of the Rings tangent, but I think that Evenstar, also in TTT, heard when Elrond predicts Arwen’s bleak future is a powerful moment. The music has that really melancholy and regretful tone that suits the scene perfectly.

    I can’t think of any others off the top of my head right now, but they’ll come to me eventually.

    18 weeks, 6 days to go…

  27. Grishny (156) said,

    February 8, 2007 at 10:14 am

    The Gondorian theme music that plays during the lighting of the beacons in Return of the King is pretty powerful music.

    The music for Shelob’s Lair sounds like something right out of a horror movie.

  28. Ferrick (140) said,

    February 9, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    “Beautiful Boy” being sung/signed in Mr. Holland’s Opus.

    “Doo Wah Diddy” marching sequence in Stripes.

    “Johnny B. Goode” in Back to the Future.

  29. Andy (13) said,

    February 19, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    I was going to mention the Beta Band song from High Fidelity, but I see that I was beaten to it.

    I have two contemporary uses that need to be mentioned.

    1. Stuck In The Middle With You from Reservoir Dogs - Mr. Blonde is casually going about torturing the cop while thoroughly enjoying this song which is playing on the radio. Also, when he goes outside to get something from the trunk of his car (gasoline?) it fades into the background, then gets louder again when he comes back inside. I am really surprised no one else mentioned this!

    2. Sister Christian by Night Ranger from Boogie Nights - During the climactic scene, Alfred Molina puts on his “mix tape” and is getting really into this song which is blasting on his expensive stereo. Meanwhile, the asian guy is setting off firecrackers and everyone is strung out on coke and everyone knows everything will eventually blow up, but they don’t know when. This is actually one of the most tense scenes I have ever experienced. I don’t remember exactly what happens next, but I seem to remember the tape stops playing when it gets to the end and the abrupt end to the music is very jarring.

    A other honorable mentions
    - The Irish folk song (New York Girls) being sung in a bar in Gangs of New York
    - The end of Layla played during the scene in Goodfellas where all the bodies are being found
    - The Eagles song playing on the radio in a cab in Big Lebowski that causes the Dude to get thrown out after saying that he HATES THE F***ING EAGLES!
    - Michael Bolton’s rap during the opening scene of Office Space
    - “I gave my love a chicken, it had no bone…” from Animal House before Bluto smashes the guitar
    - Also from Animal House, Otis Day and the Knights - Shout
    - Tommy Boy: their inability to sing along with The End Of The World…by REM
    - The song Buffalo Bill listens to in Silence of the Lambs (later parodied in Clerks II)
    - Seu Jorge’s very odd Portuguese David Bowie covers from The Life Aquatic


  30. Stephen (221) said,

    February 19, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    I thought of the Mr. Blonde scene from Reservoir Dogs, as I too love the way the music cuts out when he goes outside, and is still going when he walks back in. Everytime I step outside of a room that has loud music playing, I think of that scene. It’s a weidly effective way of illustrating the idea that the world is still happening around this terrible act of violence — that this sort of thing could be happening near us and we’ve never notice.

    I could really have given Tarantino every slot in this list if I wanted to.

  31. Ellmyruh (20) said,

    March 4, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Belatedly, as usual… Now I need to see Goodfellas.

  32. siochembio (82) said,

    March 30, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Just saw Kon Ichikawa’s “The Burmese Harp,” and I had to add it as an honorable mention to this list. Besides convincing me further that Japanese cinema from the fifties rocks out hardcore, it had beautiful, wonderful scenes full of singing and music - the most notable tune being “There’s No Place Like Home,” which, apparently, is also a Japanese ballad.

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