What ever happened to great movie themes?

ExodusIn yesterday’s post I paid tribute to the – well, the magnificent theme from the movie The Magnificent Seven. Which got me thinking about movie themes in general. And actually (believe it or not), about the popular midcentury piano duo Ferrante and Teicher. But I’ll get to those gentlemen in a minute.

Here’s the main thing I was thinking: Where have all the great movie themes gone? I mean, back in the years when I was growing up at the Manse – that would be the 1960s and early 1970s – the airwaves were crammed with great movie themes: Exodus, Love Story, Georgy Girl, A Hard Day’s Night, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), To Sir With Love, Goldfinger… Good lord, the list goes on and on.

Meanwhile, what do we have these days when it comes to movie themes? Forgettable ditties about cartoon princesses, or cartoon animals, or cartoon monsters, inevitably sung by Elton John or Randy Newman. What are we coming to, people? Has the world gone mad?

Let’s remind ourselves of the days of great movie themes, shall we? And I think we should let Ferrante and Teicher take us along for at least part of the ride.

I guess I think rather fondly of Ferrante and Teicher (whom you can read all about here) because for some unknown reason we had a lot of their records when I was a kid at the Manse. And while they played all manner of songs in their rather bombastic (sorry, guys) grand-piano style, movie themes seemed to be a particular speciality. And one of their huge hits was the amazing theme song from Exodus; while the original soundtrack was performed by the London Sinfonia, Ferrante and Teicher’s version went to No. 2 on the pop charts. And I just happen to have a video of it! So let’s listen (and watch), shall we?

And here are Ferrante and Teicher playing another of the era’s great movie themes, the one from Midnight Cowboy:

And this one, which I know they were known for, but which I have to say I would classify under “Full-Bore Elevator Music.” It’s the theme from The Apartment:

But I think we have to conclude our ruminations on the era of great movie themes sans Messrs. Ferrante and Teicher. Because I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the greatest and most haunting movie theme of them all is this one, in its original version:

And that, people, should be a reminder to us all that once upon a time great music was almost routinely written for movies. While I can think of precisely one great movie theme that emerged after my Manse years (though in 1977, so just barely after; my family moved away from Queensborough in 1975), that’s pretty much it. Still, since it’s pretty great, we’d better have one final listen. And while we’re at it, let’s raise a collective toast to perhaps The Last Great Movie Theme:

4 thoughts on “What ever happened to great movie themes?

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