Monday, July 15, 2013

A Banjo, A Nightclub and An Offer You Can't Refuse

1972 spanned our junior and senior years at Vanderbilt. At the movies, the memorable music that the top films generated that year might be summed up best as a banjo, a nightclub and offer you can't refuse.

THE GODFATHER was the box-office leader of 1972. It remains one of the highest grossing films of all time. I can remember the line to buy tickets at the old Tennessee Theatre (no Fandango or on-line purchases in those days). It snaked all the way down Church Street and 6th Avenue in downtown Nashville, well more than several blocks.

Named the second-greatest film ever (behind CITIZEN KANE) by the American Film Institute, it won the Best Picture Oscar and spawned two highly successful sequels in the years to come.  It was also named to the National Film Registry in 1990 for preservation by the Library of Congress.

The movie's music won a Grammy for Best Original Score, but, according to Wikipedia was disqualified for an Oscar because one of the songs closely resembled another piece the author (Nino Rota) had composed earlier. Ironically, the score for GODFATHER II did later win an Oscar with the same music.

Regardless, the movie's theme song remains unmistakeable even when you hear it over four decades later.....

CABARET was another box office smash movie in 1972. Based on the Broadway play of the same name, it portrayed the seedy, sometimes bizarre nightclub life in Berlin just before the Nazis came to power in the early 1930s.

It won 8 out of the 10 Oscars it was nominated for that year (but not Best Picture which went to THE GODFATHER). CABARET did win for Best Original Score as composed and written by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Their theme song for "Cabaret" is #18 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Years...100 Songs.

AFI's rating of Greatest Musicals lists CABARET #5 and #63 overall in their estimation of 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.

Another film preserved on the National Film Registry in 1995, the movie was a star vehicle for both its major actors, Joel Gray (who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar) and Lisa Minelli (who was named Best Actress for her performance).

Here they are in the movie as the theme first came on the screen and into immortality. After all, we already knew from our years at Vanderbilt, especially on the weekends: "What good is sitting all alone in your room?"....

Our final movie for 1972 is DELIVERANCE. A thriller film made long before the horror flicks of a later era, it was based on the 1970 novel of the same name by James Dickey.

Preserved by the Library of Congress in 2000, it will always be known for its "dueling banjos" and a few other scenes we'd just as soon not discuss. It was a scary flick as I recall it.

The song was written by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith. Recorded by Eric Weissburg and Steve Mandrell, it went to #2 on the Billboard charts for four weeks in 1973. It als won a Grammy.

Here's the "dueling" scene from the movie itself....

One more year to go in our review of great movies, great music from the years we were together at Vanderbilt. Next's 1973.


Anonymous said...

We also heard James Dickey read his poetry at the old law school. Beth O'Shea

Anonymous said...

RE: Shaft. One movie theme that I will never forget ... at least the bass line. My next-door neighbors in Lupton must have had their speakers in their closet, which shared a wall with ours. Full volume, all hours: Duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-BOOM! Duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-BOOM!
RE: Deliverance. James Dickey also came to my freshman English class to read just to the 10 of us. Memorable!