Category Archives: Film / Tv / Theater Review

Song of the Day #1851

Song of the Day: Barefoot in the Park (“Main Title”), music by Neil Hefti, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, opens this hilarious 1967 comedy starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. On this date in 1919, my mother was born; this was one of her favorite films. She’d become convulsed with laughter especially in scenes featuring Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee, Mildred Natwick, as Fonda’s mother, Ethel Banks. Natwick (who, like Redford, appeared in the original 1963 Neil Simon Broadway production) delivers some of the best lines in the film—after climbing umpteen flights of stairs to reach her daughter and son-in-law’s quintessential New York apartment [see Robert Osborne’s intro on YouTube]: “I had to park the car three blocks away. Then it started to rain so I ran the last two blocks. Then my heel got caught in a subway grating. When I pulled my foot out, I stepped in a puddle. Then a cab went by and splashed my stockings. If the hardware store downstairs was open, I was going to buy a knife and kill myself.” Or: “I feel like we’ve died and gone to heaven—only we had to climb up” [YouTube link]. Or this one [YouTube link], where the climb nearly brings mother Banks to her knees. Or this one where she goes down the stairs [YouTube link]. Mom has been gone since April 1995. But her memorable, uproarious laughter was so infectious that it brought as many laughs to her family as did the things that tickled her. Check out the opening theme to this comedy classic [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1850

Song of the Day: The Watermelon Woman (“Another Day”) [YouTube link] features the words and music of Ed Baden Powell, Kwame Kwaten, Sarah Webb, Steve Marston, and Kathy Sledge, who delivers this R&B track with gusto on the soundtrack to this 1996 landmark film in New Queer Cinema. Sledge, the youngest and founding member of Sister Sledge, can also be heard in this house-inflected Hands in the Air Remix of the song (not to be confused with the classic Stevie Wonder track, which Sledge has covered [YouTube links].)

Song of the Day #1849

Song of the Day: The Good Son (“Opening Credits”) [YouTube link], composed by Elmer Bernstein, is from the Ian McEwan-penned 1993 thriller starring Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin (not the relatively innocent “Home Alone” kid here!). The film harks back to a 1956 film, “The Bad Seed,” with a different ending, for sure. The score is among the best aspects of the movie!

Song of the Day #1848

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur (“Conflict”) [YouTube link], composed by Oscar-winner Miklos Rozsa for the 1959 Best Picture, which won a record 11 Academy Awards, highlights the confrontation between the Jewish Prince Judah Ben-Hur (played by Oscar-winner Charlton Heston) and his Roman boyhood friend Messala (played by Golden Globe-winner Stephen Boyd), a conflict that reaches its apex in an epic chariot race for the cinematic ages (check out an excerpt here—spoiler alert! [YouTube link]). It’s a tradition of sorts to post a cue from my favorite score from my favorite movie on this date. And today, the Prime #17th Annual Film Music February Meets The Prime #17th of February! I was actually born on this day (Wednesday), on this date, back in 1960. Since it’s not yet 4:27 pm ET (the time of my birth), call me 61*. Either way, I’ll always be younger than this film!

Song of the Day #1847

Song of the Day: Mickey One (“Mickey’s Theme”) [YouTube link] is from the soundtrack to this 1965 neo noir crime drama, composed by Eddie Sauter and Stan Getz. The score reunited these two giants, who gave us the sublime 1961 jazz orchestral masterpiece, “Focus” [YouTube link]. Just breathtaking …

Song of the Day #1846

Song of the Day: Soul (“Born to Play”) [YouTube link], composed by Jon Batiste, is just one of the many swinging tracks from this 2020 Disney-Pixar animated film. The original motion picture soundtrack features ambient, new age selections by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails fame. “Music From and Inspired by Soul,” on which this piece can be found, was released on vinyl, with jazz compositions and arrangements by Batiste. It’s a fun film with a kaleidoscope of musical sounds.

Song of the Day #1845

Song of the Day: Dear Heart (“Main Theme”), music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, is from the 1964 film of the same name, starring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page.  This Oscar-nominated song is ever-so-appropriate for Valentine’s Day. But I also dedicate it to my sweetheart friend, Mimi Reisel Gladstein, who celebrates her birthday today, and who has been calling me her “dear heart” practically from the beginning of our friendship in the 1990s. A happy and a healthy birthday, dearest Mimi! And a Happy Valentine’s Day to all who love. Check out the original recording and renditions by Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Al Martino, and Bobby Vinton [YouTube links].

Better Call My Cousin Vinny

I don’t care what your political persuasion is; the reference to one of my all-time favorite comedies gave me a chuckle. Where’s My Cousin Vinny and Mona Lisa Vito when you need them?

Courtesy of Bramhall’s World (New York Daily News, Feb.11, 2021)

Song of the Day #1843

Song of the Day: The Russia House (“Soundtrack Suite”), composed by Jerry Goldsmith, ends our four-day salute (within our Film Music February tribute) to one of the greats of the “art of the score.” This suite derives from the 1990 film based on the novel by John Le Carre (who died in December 2020), starring Sean Connery (who died in October 2020). Back in 2008, I highlighted the soaring love theme to this film (“Alone in the World” [mp3]—delivered with perfection by my sister-in-law, Joanne Barry, accompanied by jazz guitarists Jack Wilkins and my bro, Carl Barry). Interestingly, the main theme owed its origins to earlier work that Goldsmith had done for “Wall Street” (1987) and then, for “Alien Nation” (1988)—both times, rejected! This profoundly moving jazz-infused score, which features the virtuoso saxophonist Branford Marsalis throughout, is a testament to Goldsmith’s genius.