10 of the Best: Movie and Music Scene Collaborations

Posted October 10, 2013 by Jake Morris in Movies

Welcome to the first addition of ’10 of the Best’, a new weekly top 10 article that I will be dishing out on, yep you guessed it, a weekly basis. The first entry for this new weekly column is going to focus on the the best film scenes that feature music directly in the scene.
None of those scenes with music placed over the top, I’m talking scenes that are directly or indirectly affected by the music being played around them.

Obviously this is just my opinion and one of the reasons why I state it is just ten of the best as opposed to thee best. If you want to share what your list would be, then hey, sound off in the comments, send a tweet to the We The Nerdy twitter account or wherever else you feel like expressing your opinion. It’s just a bit of fun, so read on and I hope you enjoy not only this entry, but future top 10s as well.

So without further ado…


 Star Wars episode VI: Return of the Jedi: Lapti Nek – Max Rebo Band

Everyone has heard of Max Rebo, right? The galactic jizz-wailer band (no that is not a spelling mistake and no I did not make it up…) who are famous across the galaxy. Members of the band include the blue keyboardist Max Rebo, lead singer Sy Snootles and woodwind player Droopy McCool. If those aren’t names of Grammy worthy musicians then I don’t know what are…
We meet the trio playing an upbeat tune in Jabba’s palace accompanied by a dancing green slave and a crowd of familiar faces. The music is so groovy that even Jabba sways to the beat, and if you squint ever so carefully, you can see a Carbonite Han gently twitching at the thought of missing a tune that could bring peace and prosperity to the galaxy.
Unfortunately the original version isn’t available on the current releases of the film but we can all sit and relax knowing that somewhere among the stars, Max Rebo and his cohorts soothe a crowd full of bounty hunters, weird insect creatures and perhaps even a Wookie.


The Warriors: Nowhere to Run – Arnold McCuller

Before David Patrick Kelly’s Luther screeched out the infamous words that would go onto transcend the medium, there was already a prominent character in the film. The radio-DJ, played by Lynne Thigpen, is a role that has also gone on to become iconic.
With Thigpen’s smooth nonchalant delivery of lines and sporting wordplay, the picture was also given an in-film soundtrack that the DJ would introduce after giving an update on The Warrior’s current status. Nowhere to Run was seen as a main song for the film, mainly due to it being apart of a transitional section of the movie. It fitted perfectly. The Warriors were being hunted, rival gangs were seeing red and death was on the agenda, yet a slick and relaxed song accompanied their journey through town before meeting the Turnbull A.C. gang.
This is two opposite ends of the spectrum colliding in a great way; panic and calm meeting in the middle and providing a memorable piece of cinema.


500 Days of Summer: There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths

This is most likely the shortest and most recent scene to feature on the list, and despite there being some rather famous omissions, within the context of the film and the simplicity of it, including it was an easy choice.
Tom played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt is infatuated with Zooey Deschanel’s enigmatic Summer. From early on Tom is infatuated with her, but it is nothing more than a crush… But this scene where Summer walks in to the elevator to overhear Tom’s music blasting out (has his doctor not warned him of the dangers of listening at a high volume?) is when he falls somewhat madly in love with her. Everyone has had those moments where the person they like, likes stuff you also have an interest in, well, Tom sorta falls hook line and sinker for it.
The memorability of it is made all the more better by how natural both characters appear. You could even swear that they were not acting… Ah Morrissey, in all of your melancholy, you still find a way to bring us all to a frenzy.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Twist and Shout – The Beatles

Who hasn’t, at some point or another, wanted to be Ferris Bueller? John Hughes’ brat pack films have gained cult status and Matthew Broderick’s shenanigans as the titular hero have become stuff of legend, including many spoofs in other movies.
Ferris was the guy who everyone wishes they were like as a kid. Confident, self-assured and enough panache to take down the Spanish armada. What was most charming about good ol’ Ferris? He always, always, always got away with it. Throughout the entire movie, he is never caught to a point that he gets into trouble. That’s every kid’s dream. The sequence with Twist and Shout encapsulates this in the best possible way. He is out there in broad daylight, miming a classic song surrounded by hundreds of people yet not once does he worry about the repercussions. The scene is fun in its purest form. Dancing and singing without a care in the world… Now tell me that you don’t get all warm and fuzzy inside when watching it.


Boogie Nights: Sister Christian – Night Ranger

When creating a period piece, it is imperative that the film has components that make the viewer know exactly what decade or century they are being transported to. Boogie Nights, set in the 70s and 80s, relied heavily on the soundtrack. The music had to fit the atmosphere of the party setting that accompanied, what is now known as, the ‘golden age’ of the porn industry.
Dirk Diggler is the stud who has taken the world of pornography by storm but as the film progresses, young Dirk falls on harder times (no pun intended). Now broke and unable to find work, he rallies together with his pals Reed Rothchild and Todd Parker, as they attempt to make a few bucks in a drug deal. What follows is an amazing sequence with Alfred Molina’s drug dealing character Rahad Jackson. Molina’s role is outlandish, a dealer who clearly neglects the rule of ‘Don’t smoke your own’ but provides vast entertainment as his psychotic demeanour meets musical appreciation.
As one of the finest choices for any film scene, we get a Rahad Jackson air-keyboard in the build up to the chorus followed by a daring sequence in which he threatens to shoot himself. Dirk and Reed’s expressions are priceless as they sit, full of nerves, realising this is not the world they signed up for. A true masterpiece.


Once Upon a Time in the West: Harmonica’s Theme

This Western epic arrived in cinemas a couple of years after Sergio Leone had wrapped up his ‘Man With No Name’ trilogy and having the job of following up such a classic trilogy is no easy feat. However, Once Upon a Time in the West went onto become a classic in its own right and to this day is seen as perhaps the greatest western ever produced.
The film is notable for a few things; Henry Fonda’s turn as a villain for which he wasn’t known for portraying before this film, the sweeping Spanish vistas and the iconic eerie Harmonica theme.
The theme, named after the protagonist played by Charles Bronson, was almost like an old west audible version, of the Bat-signal. Once that tune was heard, everyone knew that Bronson’s character was there to bring forth some smith and western dealt revenge. Harmonica’s use of the song hearkens back to his first meeting with Fonda’s Frank character as a child, and was used as a haunting reminder as to why he wanted the man dead.
When you first see the three men at the station followed by the tune, it sends a chill down your spine. A piercing sound that whistles across the sandy landscapes revealing Harmonica waiting for them. This was the definitive display of tension and build-up from Leone.


Back to the Future: Johnny B. Goode – Marty McFly and the Starlighters

The song performed by Marty at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance was in reality, performed by Mark Campbell and Tim May. Why does Michael J. Fox’s guitar playing look so legit, you ask? Because he was taught the chords in production by Tim Hanson. So if you ever get to hang out with Fox, put it on your bucket list to ask him to play the song.
The neat part of this scene is the small references to historical events, which is where the Back to the Future franchise excels most. Seeing the little phone call from Starlighter member Marvin Berry to his brother Chuck is a cool little nod to the future recording of the song by Chuck Berry. Most interesting is that this scene was originally meant to be cut from the film as director Robert Zemeckis felt it detracted from the movie’s story. Thankfully the film’s editors were sure that it should be included, and the rest is history.
I mean, how could you cut that performance when Michael J. Fox is so obviously having an absolute blast playing a classic in front of his on-screen mum and dad? They didn’t appreciate it all that much though, but like Marty said; “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet… But your kids are gonna love it.”


Titanic: Nearer, my God, to Thee – Boat Musicians

What can be said about Titanic that hasn’t been said thousands of times before? Both the ship and the film have become legendary, with one costing a fortune and another accumulating a fortune at the box office. The tragedy of the Titanic is something that will never be forgotten, and in some cases, rightly so. Many tales have been told of the passengers aboard the Titanic and among those told, the actions of the musicians is one of the most famed stories.
Throughout the boats journey, the musicians played handfuls of songs to bring joy to those travelling on the maiden voyage. In the film, these characters become a focal point of many of the grand scenes. In essence they brought the film to life especially when the scenes are filled with naturally unlikeable upper-class passengers. The actions towards the end however are what summarises the magnificent nature of these musicians.
As Titanic begins to sink, the band go their separate ways, but after reconsidering, they decide to stay and play music to calm the passengers. It’s a beautifully destructive moment as they perform ‘Nearer, my God, to Thee’, a song they supposedly played in real life, with a montage of tragic scenes showing the fate of several passengers.
Their real life counterparts; Theodore Brailey, Roger Bricoux, John Clarke, Wallace Hartley, John Hume, Georges Krins, Percy Taylor and John Woodward are considered heroes of Titanic’s final night above water, and if this scene doesn’t pull on your heartstrings then I don’t know what will.
Apologies for the bad quality in the video, it is the only one available.


American Psycho: Hip to be Square – Huey Lewis & The News

Paul Allen might have been able to get a reservation at Dorsia, but it is Patrick Bateman who earns a place on this list. Straight from the pages of Brett Easton Ellis’ book, the seemingly ‘boy next door’ Patrick was thrust upon us by Mary Harron’s direction and Christian Bale’s perfect portrayal.
It is rather fitting that Patrick Bateman be handed a spot on this list, considering his love for both music and film. His many monologues in the film serve as a peculiar but comical purpose in driving each scene forward and there is one, maybe two, that live on in infamy as absolute show stealers. You see, Patrick appears as a regular guy, a yuppie, but normal nonetheless. He likes fine tailoring, exquisite cuisine, the best in 80s pop music, frequent cocaine binges and occasionally dabbles in murder. He’s a duck in a pond, essentially, calm on the surface but underneath, those legs are kicking a mile a minute and it is Paul Allen who brings out the true fury in Patrick.
Among his monologues is his professed love for Huey Lewis & The News, which unfortunately for Paul, is a cue for near death education. The finest liqueur in one hand, and a shiny new axe in the other, this is just the icing with Hip to be Square serving as the cherry. That merry upbeat pop song serves as a bumper for the sadistic actions that Patrick dishes out. It is comedy at its darkest hour but completely and most definitely a moment that shall live long in the memory of film fans everywhere.


Reservoir Dogs: Stuck in the Middle With You – Stealers Wheel

Arguably Quentin Tarantino’s greatest movie. Blessed with a simplicity that made for such a compelling masterstroke of dialogue and character, Reservoir Dogs told the story of a heist gone wrong and the path to destruction for a group of criminals. Tarantino is known for carefully crafting each scene within his movies, giving the impression that his films are built on the idea of smaller films within one giant puzzle. His earlier films were more raw, and the torture scene featuring Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde and hostage, police office Marvin Nash was a perfect example of this.
The scene works so well because the viewers know Mr. Blonde is a psychopath, the rest of the crew know he is a psychopath, but Tarantino gives it a fluffy edge to begin with. The choice of song makes a cold Mr. Blonde now more of a colourful persona. He’s having a great time. He has stuck on his favourite radio station, and within the blink of an eye, it’s a character moment that only Tarantino knows how to weave. The brutality of it all is over layered with a song that when looked at at face value, is just a pleasant tune. However if you listen to the lyrics it almost coincides with that of both men involved… The first two verses almost describing the thoughts of Marvin and Mr. Blonde. Whether that was intentional from Tarantino, it doesn’t really matter. As film fans will almost always have this scene playing in their head whenever Stealers Wheel’s catchy classic is played and that is when you know the musical choice for a scene is a perfect collaboration.

I hope you have found some form of enjoyment from reading this here article, and return next week for the next top 10. Oh and I also want to give thanks to Sam Attridge for the charming little banner he created for this and future articles.

Until next time…

About the Author

Jake Morris

When is Deadman going to get a film? Never, you say? Well, I'm just going to sit here and sulk. Comics, films, stuff... I like it aaaaall.