Films + Songs, Vol. 1

When I listen to music, I can’t help picturing mini-movies in my head, visuals to match the song’s mood or lyrics. Sometimes songs even remind me of films I’ve seen, parallels drawn between a line or two and a particular character or scene in a movie. I was recently listening to Pandora and pondering the film equivalents of my favorite ’80s pop hits when an idea hit me: Why not share some of these song/film connections?

In the interest of creating a blog series out of this idea, I decided to put my whole music library on shuffle and write down the first five songs that played, matching them to films along the way. Here is Volume 1 of TMP’s new series, “Films + Songs.”

Escape Me Never (1947) + “Sweet Dreams” by Patsy Cline
Ida Lupino’s role in Escape Me Never is that of Gemma, a woman who is smitten with a man (Errol Flynn) who doesn’t deserve her affection… or return it. They actually marry in the film, so the song doesn’t fit them perfectly (“I should know I’ll never wear your ring,” Cline sings). But their marriage is very one-sided. Sebastian crushes on another woman and focuses on his music career, while Gemma remains devoted to him. You deserve better, girl! Ditch the fool and move on!
Key lyrics: “Why can’t I forget the past, start loving someone new… instead of having sweet dreams about you?”

Mogambo (1953) + “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby” by Skeeter Davis
Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner spar over their mutual affection for Clark Gable in Mogambo, a fiery love triangle. This song matches the perspective of both women. I’m not sure they’d ever borrow clothes or jewelry from one another as the friends in the song do — maybe out of necessity, since they’re on a research safari, haha. But the tension between them is palpable, with their matching “That man is mine!” attitudes.
Key lyrics: “Keep your hands off my bay-ee-a-by! I ain’t gonna tell you but one more time. So, keep your hands off my bay-ee-a-by! Girl, you get it through your head. That boy is mine.”

Invisible Invaders (1959) + “Invasion” by Eisley
This one’s a little bit of a cheat. “Invasion” was inspired by Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Invisible Invaders is a similar film. “Invasion” could easily be likened to many a ’50s sci-fi film, but since Invisible Invaders has been one of my favorite discoveries of the genre, I always think of it when I hear this song. Eisley’s lyrics allude to an alien invasion in which human bodies are taken over, and Invisible Invaders deals with aliens taking over the bodies of Earth’s deceased. An eerie song for an eerie film!
Key lyrics: “And they will try to make us forget ourselves, one by one, one by one. Call me crazy, but they are after us, one by one, one by one.”

Gone With the Wind (1939) + “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra
I’ve come to think of “That’s Life” as Scarlett O’Hara’s theme song. Her life is a genuine roller coaster, but she somehow always finds a way to take advantage of her circumstances. No matter what happens to her, she finds some way to pick herself up, dust herself off, and make the best of it. She may not do so happily, but she inevitably manages to bounce back. “After all, tomorrow is another day!” The song is a bit more optimistic in tone than the character, but the melodrama of it all certainly suits her — “I’m gonna roll myself up in a big ball, and diiiiiie!”
Key lyrics: “I’ve been up and down and over and out, and I know one thing: Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race.”

Barefoot in the Park (1967) + “Say You’re Sorry” by Sara Bareilles
I don’t know the story behind this song. Sara Bareilles could have written it when she was 10,000% done dealing with a recently-minted ex and genuinely just wanted an apology, to wash her hands of the relationship. But I’ve always interpreted the song as the story of a relationship that doesn’t have to end, and instead is ending by choice, due to disagreement and misunderstanding. Barefoot in the Park‘s central couple is on the brink of divorce due for just those reasons: petty bickering and minor differences. They love each other, but she’s free-spirited and he’s more cautious. How can it work? By the end of the film they come to realize that their differences aren’t as, well… different as they thought, leading to a better understanding of each other.
Key lyrics: “It’s not the curtain closing causing us to call it a day. I wanna walk away, too, but I want you to say you are sorry. I’m not the one who went and made a mistake. I wanna walk away, too. But I want you to say you are sorry.”

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  1. Pingback: July 2016 in Film | The Motion Pictures

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