Posts Tagged ‘Dirty Dancing’

I’m always tickled when Little Magazine asks me to create a music playlist for them. Given a general theme, I begin compiling an overflowing list of possibilities, eventually seeking guidance from my taskmistress – often at 1am – in reference to the maximum number of songs that she will allow. Yet the stress of choosing and rating and sorting and resorting is a cakewalk compared to the stomach-punching anxiety that comes with permanently deleting a song. Every time I cut a song, a jukebox fairy dies.

The springtime playlist that I composed for Little Magazine provided an opportunity for a thorough review of my library; the hefty number of film and television soundtracks found in my archives was quite a shock to . . . well . . . no one. Typically I stay away from the alcohol when I write, but this lovely glass of Sofia Coppola rosé and I decided today to reveal our top-ten favorite movie soundtracks. Since we’re breaking our “no alcohol” rule, we came up with a few others to compensate:

1) We’re leaving out musical scores – not to be sniffed at, but we’d have to include all of our favorite Disney movies; Hitchcock would be all over the place (minus The Birds, of course); Jaws would have to be included in order for us to post this list guilt free; and Moonstruck . . . oh, Moonstruck.

2) We’re leaving out the musicals – way too easy, and way too hard. You want me to compare A Star Is Born to Cabaret? Too treacherous a road.

3) We’re leaving out words and phrases like “best” and “all-time greatest,” not because we’re ashamed of our choices, but because we’re afraid of you flinging disgusting objects in our direction (yes, I’m looking at you).

4) Sofia and I fought over this one – although not a musical, The Skeleton Twins (2014) may not be included just because of this magical moment:

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10) O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

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Despite two attempts, the deep, devoted love that so many feel for this Coen brothers film never blossomed in me, but I do find that Harry McClintock’s “Big Rock Candy Mountain” slips easily into many a playlist. And it must be the banjos of this bluegrass soundtrack that transport me immediately to the first few moments of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.

 

9) The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

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After a binge watching of Ugly Betty, I came to the realization that “Save the Best for Last” should be played at least once a day. No offence to the drag queen hidden in the shadows of the closing credits, but I would have teared up if Vanessa Williams had made an appearance in this wickedly fun film. “Sometimes the snow comes down in June; Sometimes the sun goes round the moon” – poetry at its finest.

 

8) 200 Cigarettes (1999)

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This cinematic masterpiece became the bible of one of my most treasured of friendships. Tunes of the sun-setting 1970s meet those emerging in the early 1980s, and together they skip down the streets of Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. Watch for an Oscar-snubbed Martha Plimpton – she’s ferocious, and she knows just it takes to make a pro blush.

 

7) Mermaids (1990)

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Take it from me, she’s a better catch – outshining the original, Cher’s version of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” opens this assortment of classics, closing with Jimmy Soul’s “If You Wanna Be Happy.” A matchmaking service for ugly girls could never be played on the PC iStations of today.

 

6) Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Bless Mr. Tarantino’s dark and bloody heart for introducing Dusty Springfield to a generation that may have never had the pleasure.

 

5) Dirty Dancing (1987)

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You’ll find a decent amount of overlapping with the tunes from Mermaids, but seriously, what’s with the music industry? This nostalgic treasury should have launched Patrick Swayze’s singing career. Keep your eye out for one of Mom’s personal favorites – the cover of “You Don’t Own Me” by The Blow Monkeys changes absolutely everything about Lesley Gore’s original.

 

4) Footloose (1984)

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With Sammy Hagar’s “The Girl Gets Around” blasting underneath me, I have no doubt that I could stand between two cars and play chicken with an 18-wheeler . . . and win. Please note that this soundtrack should be played only on cassette tape in a silver boombox and while wearing red boots.

 

3) The Big Chill (1983)

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Speaking of cassette tapes, when we were kids we drew a happy face on the side of the tape we liked and a frowning face on the other. Side “A” of The Big Chill ended with Three Dog Night “Joy to the World,” and Side “B” closed with “Tell Him” by The Exciters. The Big Chill was all smiles on all sides.

 

2) The Graduate (1967)

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“Put it in the pantry with your cupcakes.” I never knew – is that a dirty line? I’ll always take the side of the character in a leopard coat, but when Simon and Garfunkel generate an emotional apathy within Benjamin, my allegiance to Mrs. Robinson begins to crumble.

 

1) Dick Tracy (1990)

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Square jaw; ooo such a handsome face. Madonna’s I’m Breathless album not only blessed the world with the dance floor (and my kitchen floor) classic “Vogue” but also scored Stephen Sondheim an Academy Award for the song “Sooner or Later.”

Beauty’s where you find it:

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“Suitable only for adults,” the poster tells us with a bright red sticker…

Surely I can’t go so far as to say that nothing offends me, but I believe I have a pretty high tolerance when it comes to the deliciousness of “line crossing” in films. Few and far between were the taboos of my childhood, so my exposure to the R-rated was rarely limited. As a result, the evils of the adult world were never as enticing to me as they were to those whose parents were forbidding pop culture left and right. After a healthy meal with the family, we’d grab our Oreo ice cream and enjoy a fine viewing of the brilliant (yet often dirty) TV show Soap, or we’d revisit John Belushi and his raunchy pals in Animal House (1978). But trust me, I always made it to kindergarten the next day with a good night’s sleep under my belt.

It is because of this high tolerance to film impurity that I was so fascinated by my reaction to Peyton Place, nominated for nine Academy Awards. My knowledge of Lana Turner was mostly limited to the rumors of her supposed discovery in Schwab’s drug store and the story of her daughter fatally stabbing one of Miss Turner’s boyfriends. About a month ago, I watched The Bad and the Beautiful, just to get a taste of a name I’ve known my whole life but never really had a chance to follow. The DVD had a special featurette on Miss Turner and mentioned that Peyton Place was her one and only Oscar nomination. That and the fact that the film had inspired a soap opera of the same name had me running to my queue the next day.

The dirty little stories of a small town are some of the most enjoyable for me — the characters and their prim and proper surfaces remind me of the parents who were telling my friends not to watch Animal House or Dirty Dancing. In a darkly humorous way, it was always those holier-than-thou parents who ended up having a boyfriend on the side or wound up in jail for embezzlement . . . protest too much, perhaps? That may be part of why I love the times when I’m able to see through the curtain, both on and off the screen. So you can imagine my surprise when the sex, gossip, violence, and intolerance that run through Peyton Place were a bit shocking to me.  Aside from the length, however (it runs a bit over two and a half hours), there is very little I would change . . . I guess I never understood why people didn’t enjoy being shocked!

As the years fly by, it seems like movies are trying to one-up each other with the sex and violence — with which I have no problem! Until I began Peyton Place, the issue for me was that general shock value was all but gone . . . I’m here to tell you where you might find it again if you’re searching. Rather than thinking “I can’t believe what I just saw,” I spent much of Peyton Place thinking “I can’t believe what they just alluded to!” I never really noticed until now that the conservative part of my brain takes over when I’m watching one of my beloved old movies, and that enjoyable shock value returns to the screen. Topics such as terminating a pregnancy, murder, rape, the existence of illegitimate children, and teenage sex that may or may not have occurred after skinny-dipping certainly made my jaw drop in the context of 1950s film.

Maybe we haven’t been completely desensitized after all — thank you, Peyton Place!

Add it to your queue.