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Music and the Movies

by admin

Tonight is music’s night as the red carpet is rolled out for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. 

Just like the best duets, music and the movies have been harmonizing since the very first films came to life on screen. Even silent films had a soundtrack.

Think about it — what would The Godfather be without the haunting overture, or Star Wars without the Imperial March? Music builds excitement and anticipation, heightens the fear factor of an already scary scene, and has the ability to make even the most stoic among us unexpectedly tear up. Music sets the tone and evokes emotion in a way that even the best cinematography can’t do alone. 

For some thoughts on the power of music in film, we turn to our Director of Programming and self-proclaimed music obsessive Clayton Bushong who, before joining The Picture House, spent over 20 years in the music industry. Here’s his take on some of film’s most memorable musical moments:

“Obviously, Stop Making Sense is the best concert film of all time. Fortunately, the Talking Heads are finally getting the recognition they deserve with a Lifetime Achievement Award at tonight’s ceremony after being snubbed by the Grammys for years (only two nominations and no wins ever).”

“As far as the best general use of music in a film, it’s hands down Fast Times at Ridgemont High. One of the producers of the film was legendary rock manager Irving Azoff, who ended up heading MCA Records. At the time, he was managing a number of the artists featured on the quintessential soundtrack. Azoff had the unique gift of a strong vision and great ear that helped make Fast Times an enduring classic.” 

“My absolute favorite usage of music in a movie is in Silence of the Lambs when Catherine Martin, the senator’s daughter, is rocking out to Tom Petty’s American Girl while driving down a dark Memphis highway alone, late at night. She’s singing at the top of her lungs and drumming to the beat on her steering wheel without a care in the world, completely unaware that she is about to be abducted by the perverse serial killer Buffalo Bill. The way the innocence and celebration of the song combine with the foreshadowing in Petty’s lyrics to set up the rest of the movie is just brilliant.”

Don’t forget to tune in to our virtual Marquee Night next Saturday, March 20th as we honor the multi-talented, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony award-winning actress, singer, and producer, and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award, Golden Globe, and two time Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo, who lights up the stage and screen with her acting and powerful voice.