Sunday Serenade Respite: Movie Opening-Title Music

April 18, 2021

Once again, another intermission from the frightfully tedious news cycles screaming ugly scenarios ad infinitum seemingly crafted by Rod Serling with a collaboration effort from Kurt Vonnegut. However, no one, really, could have thought this shit up, though, a load of people have tried, and got it wrong.

This recess from that blare is a look at music of films seen in my youth, grade-school times mostly, and opening title arrangements, often also the theme of the movie’s subject, and usually sets the tone and pace of the film to come. In the old days it was fairly normal with the main title and acknowledgment of director/producer/writer/performers, etc., but nowadays movies are not so simplistic — here’s looking at you, “Memento.”

I’ve always been a movie nut. Beginning at an early age — sitting in tons of Saturday-afternoon matinees in the early 1950s started the fascination which carries over to the now.  However, that type life might have come to an end thanks to the pandemic, and for the first time in more than 65 years, theater-going could be a hazard — last movie I saw in a theater was Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” in late December 2019, pre-pandemic. Fitting, though, maybe my last movie-theater visit was a most-excellent bit of cinema.
Economics is not fantasy — as made manifest by the announcement last week of the closing of 300 ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters here in California. A harbinger of things to come, but still a sad, disheartening bummer.

Anyway, a couple of years ago (and change), I posted in detail about my lifelong obsession with movies (and as it is with a shitload of other people, too) and the piece was plotted by the influence of three films seen at three different intervals as a kid.
Today’s first bit of music comes from David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962 — but I saw in a theater in 1964), and the opening music (the whole sountrack, really) most-perfectly matches the awesomeness of the movie. ‘Lawrence‘ in that trio of movies was sandwiched between “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” (1958 — I saw it upon release at one of those Saturday-afternoon matiness); and “Blow Up” (1966 — saw it on its initial US run as a high school senior in 1967).

Familiar for the time, all the epcs (‘Lawrence‘ was four hours long — I saw it three times in a month) also carried an ‘Overture,’ which kind of set the character/mood of the movie. Music by that prolific composer, Maurice Jarre, who not only wrote music for epics like ‘Lawrence,’  but ‘regular‘ movies, too, like “Ghost” (1990),and “Jacob’s Ladder” (1990).
The Overture:

And the opening-credit, main-title music for ‘Lawrence.’
Peter O’Toole played TE Lawrence, killed shortly in an accident after fueling his motorcycle, as depicted in the sequence, the film is a giant, epic flashback — this one of the most-inspiring stretches of music ever:

And then, Daviid Lean’s next film, “Doctor Zhivago” (1965 — first saw it in a massive theater in Philadelphia on a field trip from a south Jersey high school in 1966). Maurice Jarre composed this one, too.
Zhivago‘ also had an Overture, “Lara’s Theme.”
Opening main-title music really hit the frame-of-mood for tsarist/revolutionary Russia (filmed in Spain, though):

Next, the two Beatles’ movies, “A Hard Day’s Night,” and “Help.”
I saw “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964 during its initial theater release — it was like attending one of their concerts, screaming all through.
George falling down on the sidealk within seconds — just for the giggles:

And “Help,” released the following year (saw it in the summer of ’65):

A classic twist to science fiction, Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968  — saw it that summer at a Cinerama-theater in New Orleans, what a trip):

Next up, way-popular title music from “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” (1966 — saw it on initial release) Music by another prolific composer, Ennio Morricone, who died just last year.
Now synonymous with Italian-made, so-called ‘spaghetti westerns‘ from the 1960s/70s:

And a bonus track, a more-recent opening music from “La La Land” (2016 — saw it on Amazon Prime a couple of years ago). Although I’ve only seen the entire movie through just once (way-sad, Mia and Sebastian get what they want, but not love), I’ve viewed this sequence a shitload of times — makes an old guy want to dance like Fred Astaire:

And cut…

(Illustration found here).

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