Here are some random annotations of memorable moments in films from the 1980s. No reason, except that I’ve been listening to the music a lot! In many cases I’ve picked out songs which are not necessarily the tracks one might immediately associate with each film; for example, I’ve deliberately not picked “Don’t you forget about me” (Breakfast Club), “Nothing’s gonna stop us now” (Mannequin) or “I’ve had the time of my life” (Dirty Dancing).
Make sure you’ve got speakers or headphones to hand when playing these clips: turn it up as loud as you dare.
Let’s start with “The Breakfast Club” (1985). In this slow-burning cult classic, the gradual development of the characters makes the film special. It’s all dialogue and there’s very little action, the exception being the following scene where the teenagers finally let their frustrations out, dancing to the song “We are not alone” by Karla DeVito.
On to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) which has lots of action. In direct contrast to the previous film this clip is a quieter, thoughtful interlude in an otherwise lively production. Our main characters are taking a contemplative timeout in an art museum where they view exhibits by (amongst others) Picasso, Matisse, Rodin and Gauguin. The music is by The Dream Academy: a wonderfully atmospheric instrumental cover of The Smiths’ “Please, please, please, let me get what I want”.
The final section where Cameron is staring at the little girl in Georges Seurat’s painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” was explained by director John Hughes: “The closer he looks at the child, the less he sees. [...] I think he fears that the more you look at _him_ the less you see.”
The most famous scene in “Mannequin” (1987) is when Jonathan and the mannequin (Kim Cattrall) dance around the inside of the department store to the poptastic “Do you dream about me?” by Alisha. There’s nothing deep about this, it’s just fun!
“Pretty in pink” (1986) is one of a handful of films to star Molly Ringwald (see “The Breakfast Club” above), but the far more memorable aspect of it to me is Jon Cryer’s magnificent portrayal of Duckie. The closing scene where he mouths “Moi?” and breaks the fourth wall to raise an eyebrow to the audience is delicious. The clip below isn’t directly from the film, but is a composite comprising various scenes taken from entire film. However it is accompanied by “If you leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark which was the song actually playing in the film proper during said ‘eyebrow’ moment.
Everyone knows “I’ve had the time of my life” from “Dirty dancing” (1987) and the bit where he lifts her up; but this is a more subtle scene with, in my opinion, a far better song. Here we have “Hungry eyes” by Eric Carmen:
No nostalgic rummage through the 1980s would be complete without the classic “boombox scene” from “Say anything…” (1989). For the uninitiated, our hero John Cusack playing Lloyd Dobler is trying to win back his girl Diane Court. To do so, he turns up outside her house and plays Peter Gabriel’s “In your eyes” on a ghetto-blaster (as we’d call it back then), held high above his head. It’s surprisingly hard to find a good clip of this online, but this is what I’ve found. Jump forward to 1 minute 43 seconds on this clip:
This particular scene has been repeated, spoofed and recreated by many different people. Although not quite in keeping with the rest of this post and I’m not sure I should really link to this (and I’m certainly not going to embed it in my post) but Glee did a reasonably faithful version of it here which gives you a longer bite at the song.
“Cocktail” (1988) is my penultimate choice. It has a great soundtrack but I’m not going to choose any of the songs you’ll have heard of. Not “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, not “Hippy Hippy Shake” by Georgia Satellites, not “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys, not “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard, not even “All shook up” by Ry Cooder or … and it goes on. My choice here is the track used to start the film: “Wild again” by Starship. I can’t find a clip which is just the opening, but someone has uploaded the entire film: the action kicks off just a few seconds in…
If you remembered to stop after the first four minutes of the above and haven’t been distracted watching the whole film, then we can move on to my final choice, “The Lost Boys” (1987), which has another great soundtrack. The classic song is “Cry little sister” by Gerard McMann. It’s played on several occasions during the film, here’s a clip from the opening credits:
There are many other films with great soundtracks, or even with just the odd great song, that I could have included (I’m thinking “Top Gun”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, “Back to the Future”, …), but I could never compile a complete list. Perhaps I’ll do a Part 2 one day.
Hope you enjoy watching/listening to these clips as much as I enjoyed compiling them!