I love movies. Not as much as I love books, but both are a means of escaping from life into another one for just a little while.
Saturday Night Fever came out in 1976 and became a pop culture phenomenon, and with good reason. I did see this movie in the theater despite the fact that it was rated R and I was only twelve years old. Back then nobody really paid much attention to checking ID and if you looked old enough, you got in. Mercifully I didn’t understand much beyond John Travolta! Dancing! Although I will say that when I saw the movie again as an adult I was a bit shocked at all the subtleties that went right over my head.
Anyway, SNF opened with a shot of John Travolta walking down the sidewalk carrying paint to Stayin Alive by the Bee Gees. You Should be Dancin‘ and Night Fever kept the beat moving on the (lighted) dance floor, and How Deep is Your Love served as the sweet romantic ballad accompanying the love story (which I really didn’t get at the time). More Than a Woman was another fantastic song in this movie – so fantastic that it was offered up by both Tavares and the Bee Gees.
Two years later, John Travolta was back on screen in another blockbuster movie musical called Grease. The big chart toppers in that movie were Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted to You (which I sang over and over into my tape recorder, thoroughly convinced that I sounded just like Olivia Newton-John. I totally didn’t.), and You’re the One That I Want. I saw that movie without my parents too, but I was a little older and this time I *understood* the innuendo. My favorite song was Beauty School Dropout and Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee. That’s not surprising when you remember that I love a good dose of irony and farce, plus I’m a big Frankie Avalon fan. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but the two leads in Grease were in their twenties when the movie was filmed and Rizzo was 33 at the time! I want their makeup artists.
Two adorable (or irritating, depending on your viewpoint) little tunes that I loved back then were You Light Up My Life (by Debby Boone) and the Theme from Ice Castles (by Melissa Manchester). And Ice Castles also had another one of my favorite things: Robby Benson.
I could include all the music from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which came out in 1975, but the movie didn’t hit my radar until the 1980s.
Elton John was the Pinball Wizard in Tommy, a movie I’ve never seen. Paul McCartney & Wings told us we should Live and Let Die in the title theme from the Bond movie and Carly Simon said Nobody Does It Better in a later Bond movie. Rocky Balboa soared to Gonna Fly Now, and Bette Midler gave us the sobfest The Rose. I did not know this, but the song Sky High by Jigsaw was used in a movie. I’m so glad because I wanted to include it but wasn’t sure where to fit it in. Barbra Streisand sang The Way We Were and Evergreen. And finally, Maureen McGovern gave us hope that there would be a Morning After when the Poseidon sank. My parents took to me to see The Poseidon Adventure at least two or three times and frankly, it was pretty scary for a 3rd or 4th grader but I love Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters for some reason.
I’d like to end with a song that we sang in my high school choir that has stuck with me ever since: The Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie. It may not be easy being green, Kermit, but you make being a green rock star look easy. And you’re way more wholesome than Tony Manero and company.