47 years old is only a few weeks away, and here I am with more posts to do to accomplish this large but ultimately frivolous exercise. Today we talk about a few examples where enjoyable films have been derailed, at least for the moment, but what I can only term as bizarre outbreaks of song and music.
(Incidentally, this is #39 in a series of 47 posts about movies, with topics selected by my friend, each given to me after the previous one is written. For more information, check out #1 here.)
Maybe there’s more than three, based on one’s opinions of various musical styles (does a Bryan Adams song playing heavily on the soundtrack constitute a bizarre musical interlude?) but I’m limiting myself to three because that’s what I can think of right now.
Can You Read My Mind?
Movie: Superman, the Movie (1978 – directed by Richard Donner)
Lyrics: Leslie Bricusse
Music: John Williams
Performed by Margot Kidder
So, to be fair, Can You Read My Mind? was pulled from Superman, the Movie before it was finished, apparently because director Richard Donner didn’t like it. Unfortunately, it was replaced by an instrumental version of the song accompanied by Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) reciting the lyrics as a poem. It comes during the sequence where Lois interviews Superman for the first time, and then accompanies him on a flight. It’s awkward and dated and makes the whole scene a bit laughable. It’s hard to tell if it would have been better if they’d just used the song. The idea was for Margot Kidder herself to sing it, I don’t know if that was the problem. It was later recorded by Maureen McGovern, which you can hear on this video, and decide for yourself.
Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head
Movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969 – directed by George Roy Hill)
Written by Hal David & Burt Bacharach
Performed by B.J. Thomas
For the most part, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a bit of an American classic – the story of two old West outlaws and their crimes and misadventures. It’s got comedy, it’s got drama, it’s got adventure, it’s got tragedy, and it features good performances from Paul Newman (typical) and Robert Redford (my favorite of his). It also spends several weird minutes in which Paul Newman impresses Robert Redford’s girlfriend (played by Katharine Ross) by doing goofy trick on a bicycle, while Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head plays on the soundtrack. The easy listening / soft rock Raindrops is a strange fit for the movie, and it’s all the stranger for this bizarrely jolly vaudeville-style interlude in the middle. Though the song actually won an Oscar, it’s still the movie’s biggest speed bump in the movie, and by it’s most dated part. You can watch it on youtube here.
Movie: Return of the Jedi special edition (Originally 1983, Special Edition in 1997 – directed by Richard Marquand)
Written & Arranged by Jerry Hey
Performed (fictionally) by Max Rebo Band
So, in 1997, all three original Star Wars movies (at the time, that was all the Star Wars movies) were re-released in the cinemas as “Special Editions” – with all sorts of new effects, shots, and even scenes added. It was all a mixed success, with some of the changes making the films more fun, and others eliciting controversy. In my opinion, the additions to Return of the Jedi were for the most part the most seamless – making the Sarlacc more threatening, adding additional moments of celebration upon the Empire’s defeat. But the exception…is Jedi Rocks. When the band at Jabba’s palace begins to sing this whiny, high-pitched disco number, all we could is stare at it and wonder “What in the name of Blue Milk & Bib Fortuna is that?!” Supposedly, the song is more timeless than what the movie originally had. I can’t really remember what it used to sound like, but the replacement is terrible. It’s a wonder that this doesn’t get the same sort of derision from fans as Jar Jar, Midi-chlorians, and the rest. Have a look at the scene here.
Also: I guess I could have included the strange Dwarf song from the first Hobbit film, though I’m told that’s actually in the book, and I suppose we shouldn’t punish that film for at least doing a few things that are similar to the book. And though it was bizarre, I liked the musical interlude in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, as it fit the personality of the movie. That’s where we really see that Buckaroo Banzai and his friends aren’t just scientists and inventors, they are also rock stars.