The American Film Institute released its list of their picks of
the 100 Best Movie Songs. Their stated criterea focused on the impact
the song had, both on the movie it appeared in and on American culture. Such lists always
spark some controversy, especially when they come from influential and respected organizations
like the AFI. We certainly have issues with several of their choices and since the
institute president invited commentary and discussion in the broadcast on CBS television,
we thought we'd take her up on the offer. So here we present the AFI's top 100 Movie
Songs of All Time, with our review of both the original movie and its music, as well as
what we thought of the AFI's ranking.
Glaring omissions? Oh, we've got our ideas on that, too. Like the theme from
the classic musical "Hello Dolly!" But there are others, as well.
The AFI ranked the film version of the Broadway musical "South Pacific", but not "Oklahoma!" or "Carousel"?
I won't even mention "Aquarius" from "Hair". "Raindrops" from "Butch Cassidy", but not "The Entertainer" from "The Sting"?
The banal theme from "Rocky" but not the wonderfully outrageous "Time-Warp" from Rocky Horror Picture Show?
And at long last will we ever see the soundtrack from "Ishtar" released? I'm serious! The
masterfully funny songs by Elaine May and Paul Williams from that movie are priceless, and throngs of movie fans continually
scour the Internet for a glimpse of this mythical product. "I can see her standing by
the backroads of my mind. She cracks her knuckles and the scar that's on her knee won't
go away!" Telling the truth can indeed be dangerous business. And, while I appreciate Henry Mancini as
much as anyone, why "Days
of Wine and Roses"?? Why, oh Why?? A more banal example of the effects of
the Dreaded Percy Faith Syndrome you'll never find. And where was the theme from "The Pink
Panther"???? That may have been Mancini's crowning acheivement in movie scores, even
though it was an instrumental (and thus disqualified, but still…). And
they pick "Luck Be A Lady" from "Guys and Dolls" just because it's sung by
Marlon Brando over the wittier, snappier, and infinitely more memorable "I Got The Horse Right Here"
featuring "The Voice" Frank Sinatra and the inimitable Stubby Kaye, or "The Oldest Established
Permanent Floating Crap Game in The World". I'm sure you have favorites that didn't make the
AFI's list, too. But we present our comments on the AFI's picks in hopes of stimulating
your interest in music in the movies.
See the complete List of AFI's Top 100 Movie Songs
Just for the record, here is my personal list of a few truly memorable songs that the AFI might well have included…: