Here’s my third foray down memory lane, it’s time for the glam eighties! There are so many TV shows from that decade that I watched and liked but the following are the ones I consider most iconic. As usual they are listed in chronological order.
Magnum P.I. – theme by Ian Freebairn-Smith, Mike Post, Pete Carpenter (1980)
Mustachioed, manly Tom Selleck driving a Ferrari and helping people in Hawaii… what’s not to like?!
Hill Street Blues – theme by Mike Post (1981)
The daily life of a police department with its ups and downs. Quirky, relatable characters and interesting stories made for a solid, quality procedural cop show.
Fame – Fame, Irene Cara (1982)
“You got big dreams, you want fame? … Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying. With sweat.” Lydia Grant is not kidding and all the students at the NYC High School for the Performing Arts know it.
Knight Rider – theme by Stu Philips and Glen A. Larson (1982)
An A.I. on a car that helps the hero fighting for justice… how cool was that!
Miami Vice – theme by Jan Hammer (1984)
Another manly man on a Ferrari, no wait… two of them, and in Armani suits, fighting crime… even better! Bonus: an alligator as a pet on a sailing boat.
Great villains are even better and far more memorable with an iconic theme. This is a list of my favorite entrances of Big Bad with amazing personalised soundtrack.
1. Jaws – theme by John Williams (1975)
Two notes by John Williams and you get a panic-inducing appearance of a “sea monster”. We need a bigger boat!
2. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Imperial March by John Williams (1983)
Again John Williams works his magic and make the arrival of evil personified in the Star Wars saga foreboding and menacing. Such anger, young Skywalker.
3. Once Upon a Time In the West – Man with The Harmonica, Ennio Morricone (1968)
Dusters flapping in the wind, the bad guys show themselves like the four horsemen (after killing a whole family) and then do one more heinous act. All this happens to the unforgettable sound of Morricone’s music.
4.The Third Man – Harry Lime theme by Anton Karas (1949)
A nice contrast between the darkeness of the scene and a happy and light music, it makes for a truly iconic introduction!
5. The Departed – Gimme Shelter, The Rolling Stone (1969)
Scorsese really likes Gimme Shelter, I think he uses it in another couple of films as well. Anyway Nicholson’s monologue and walk to the notes of the Stones is awesome.
Bonus for a laugh:
Face/Off – Hallelujah from the Messiah, George F. Handel (1742)
John Woo gives us Handel, white doves and a manic Nick Cage in an over-the-top scene. He’s dressed like a priest and gropes a choir girl…evil!
Time for another trip down memory lane, this one is back to the seventies. The following intros are from some of my favorite shows of that period (again in chronological order).
M.A.S.H. – Suicide is Painless, Johnny Mandel (1970)
Humour in wartime and Alan Alda: great way to pass the time. The theme brings back so many memories. (The actual song starts at 1:08 of the video)
Kung Fu – theme by Jim Helms (1972)
Wandering the American West and relying only on your fighting skills still feel pretty awesome, but never forget: patience grasshopper!
Happy Days – theme by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox (1974)
What’s cooler than being cool? The Fonz, of course!
Starsky & Hutch – Gotcha, Tom Scott (1975)
Well, for many year a Ford Gran Torino (red with a white swoosh, clearly) has been my favorite car. Clint Eastwood might agree, even if not with the colour preference.
Streets of San Francisco – theme by Patrick Williams (1976)
I was used to a regular dose of car chases on up and down the hills of San Francisco… kind of Bullitt on a low budget.
Charlie’s Angels – theme by Dominik Hauser (1976)
The first time I saw ladies taking the lead and kicking some asses, without ruining their fabulous hairdos I might add.
Handsome but penniless Tom Ripley (Delon) has been tasked by wealthy Mr. Greenleaf to bring back home to San Francisco his wayward son Philippe (Ronet), who is gallivanting around Italy. Philippe is living large with his girlfriend Marge (Laforet) in Naples and the audience finds Tom tagging along and being Philippe’s buddy and occasional virtual punching bag. Philippe is good looking, viveur and self-confident, his money gives him the freedom that Tom doesn’t have. It’s obvious since the beginning that Tom is both attracted to and envious of Philippe, we can see him clearly thinking: ” I can be like him, I just need money!”. On the other hand, Philippe is intrigued by Tom’s many talents but repulsed by his lowly social standing and the creepy vibes he gives off. Tom’s meekness and subservient attitude seems to excite Philippe’s mean streak to the point that even Marge takes Tom’s defense. The tension gradually builds up while the strain on the relationship between these three characters grows, all in great contrast with the beautiful scenery of Southern Italy. This adds a somewhat sinister twist to reassuring surroundings and the scenes on the sailing boat become almost claustrophobic. As Tom’s hope of obtaining the reward Philippe’s father has promised fades, his fantasies of riches and easy life coalesce into a much darker plan to gain what he wants. The second half of the film revolves around Tom’s schemes and maneuvers to keep his dream alive, not letting anything gets in his way. Clement adapts skillfully this story of envy, deceit and delusion of grandeur based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. His expert use of the blazing white and blue of Italian summer and the lovely settings in Naples and Rome brings an additional layer to the unfolding drama. The cast delivers solid performances, Alain Delon is a perfect embodiment of Tom with the right mix of charm and slyness. The only point that raised involuntary laughters was Marie Laforet’s crying scene, similar to every display of sorrow by any Disney princess. This is a very minor flaw that doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the film. In comparison to the more recent adaptation, this is a far superior movie with a better and more convincing casting. Dazzling —7.5/10
Here’s another round of unexpected dance scenes: funny, heart-warming, intriguing or slightly disturbing, to each his own. Again, late sixties/seventies/early eighties music is a very popular choice as perfect soundtrack to these scenes, most of the songs were already quite famous before these films came out but they are now even more so. So, without further ado, this is my second list of favorites.
Beettlejuice – Day-O (The Banana Boat song), Harry Belafonte (1956)
Guess what happens if ghosts hijack a dinner party and they have a penchant for Caribbean music? Well, the result is pretty hilarious.
Pride – Shame, Shame, Shame, Shirley & Company (1975)
The comment of Jonathan Blake (Dominic West) at the end of the scene says it all: “God, I miss disco!”
Little Miss Sunshine – Super Freak, Rick James (1981)
Olive’s (Abigail Breslin) dance routine might be a shocker to the pageant judges but it was a loving effort made by her grandfather… even if it’s not age appropriate. The family joins in to show support and that is what’s important!
Michael – Chain of Fools, Aretha Franklin (1968)
After Pulp Fiction it seems that John Travolta has to have a dance number to show off his skills. On the captivating notes of Aretha’s Chain of Fools he shakes, rocks and rolls and become a veritable magnet for all the women in the room.
Reservoir Dogs – Stuck In The Middle With You, Stealers Wheel (1972)
Mr. Blonde’s iconic routine before starting torturing the unlucky cop.
The lastest film by Paul T. Anderson is somehow a crossover between The Big Lebowski and Chinatown. This slightly surreal and meandering story starts like a classic noir: an ex-flame comes back into Doc Sportello’s (Phoenix) life asking for help. Our hero is a private detective with glorious sideburns and a penchant for smoking pot. His ex, Shasta (Waterston), once a flower child with the same proclivities, has since moved on to greener pasture: her current lover is a real estate magnate. After her cryptic visit, Shasta disappears and Doc begins a strange journey following weird clues, stumbling on the kidnapping of said magnate, searching for a phantom ship and dealing with all sorts of crazies. He’s helped by faithful friend and lawyer Sauncho (Del Toro), deputy district attorney and occasional lover Penny (Whiterspoon) and he ends up making common cause with Dirty-Harry like detective Bigfoot Bjornsen (Brolin). Set in 1970, this strange and rather convoluted tale, based on the eponymous book by Thomas Pynchon, might be slow-burning and very unlike Anderson’s previous film (The Master) but it’s captivating to follow. Doc is an oddball character and, most of the time, he’s stoned but, improbable as it may seem, he also pretty good at his job. In addition there’s Bigfoot, he starts out as a “benevolent nemesis” or “evil guardian angel” to Doc, but he reaches an understanding with him after their investigations cross path. In a way, Bigfoot has similar traits to Doc: loner, determined and capable (with a visceral hate for hippies but that’s just a colorful side of his persona). This film with its eerie atmosphere and intricate plot turns out to be more a character study on acid and it really works due to the superb performances of Phoenix and Brolin. Anderson has managed again the difficult task of keeping the viewer engaged with a star-studded, 2.5 hour-long movie based on a pretty wacky premise: chapeau! The cast in general is rather spectacular: curious, unexpected cameos and intriguing portrayals, it is clear that there’s a sure hand at the helm. The soundtrack and the photography complement the story and contribute greatly to the bizarre feeling that pervades the film throughout. Anderson’s style might not be everyone’s cup of tea and this film is even stranger than his usual fare so consider yourself warned. Mesmerizing –9/10