CineSavant Column

Saturday February 9, 2019


Fun things first: I hoped that my little piece on ‘Tie-In Movie Novelty Songs’ in the February 4 CineSavant Column would elicit some responses, and several did come in, with suggestions that I’d heard of and others I hadn’t. Some have come with links!

To recap, last Tuesday Bill Shaffer started things going with

Jack The Ripper  by Nino Tempo & Pete Rugolo. I offered up
North to Alaska  and
Sink the Bismarck  by Johnny Horton, plus
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by Gene Pitney,
Have You Heard of Bonnie and Clyde?  from a WB promotional record and
The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde  by Georgie Fame.

Here’s what came in:

‘efelesijr’ had no links, but mentions several Tie-ins of which I am unaware: “1) Vaughn Monroe did a Hercules tie-in song on RCA Victor. 2) Judy Harriet did a Goliath and the Barbarians tie-in called Goliath for American-International records, though the song is about a high school boyfriend who is as tall as a tree or some such. AIP also put out singles such as Bucket of Blood/The Leeches and Horrors of the Black Museum/The Headless Ghost.” (I can’t figure exactly what those might have been, though.)

Earl Baucom found a couple of those A.I.P. tunes, and more: The Nightmares’ Oooh I’m Scared from Horrors of the Black Museum uses Ross Bagdasarian-style tricks. The Headless Ghost is by The Nightmares as well. The Brides of Dracula apparently had an official tie-in called Dracula Cha Cha Cha, words and music by Rod McKuen (!), performed by Bob McFadden. Earl also sends along a similar Italian precursor, Dracula Cha Cha Cha from Bruno Martino. Yikes! (Although the Italian lyrics are pretty cute.)

Edward Parker Bolman suggested two tie-ins, with links: The White Suit Samba is an extrapolation of a goofy musical sound effect for Alec Guinness’s miracle fabric lab apparatus in a prominent Alexander MacKendrick movie. Also Anthony Restaino’s sleazy instrumental The Web from an endearing, heartwarming faith-based family classic. The song’s in the movie so technically it doesn’t qualify… but it’s a very cool song.

Todd Everett came through as well, with links to 1) Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte by Patti Page (Was that not sung in the movie? That’s also a technical disqualifier, but in the interest of encouraging entries I include it… 2) Restless Kid by Ricky Nelson, says, Todd, was originally to be sung in Rio Bravo, but was rejected in favor of My Rifle, My Pony and Me sung by Martin and Nelson and written by Paul Francis Webster and Dmitri Tiomkin; followed by the teen idol’s reading of the PD Cindy. Finally, 3) Todd’s wildest link is to Thunderball, but by Johnny Cash, not Tom Jones. It’s the least appropriate thing I’ve ever heard, unless you re-write Thunderball as a sequel to Blazing Saddles… but it is said to have been a real contender.

Finally, Bill Shepard names one we should have thought of immediately — Phil Harris’s The Thing from 1950. Is it a Tie-in to the Howard Hawks movie?  The title words are not really mentioned in the song, which appears to have no direct relation — except everybody seems to associate the two. Bill writes,

“I’ve always associated the novelty song with the movie, which came out shortly afterwards. Wikipedia says: The song aired on radio concurrently with a series of teaser ads which ran weekly in Collier’s promoting Howard Hawks’ science fiction movie, The Thing from Another World (released April 6, 1951). While the song had no connection with the movie, some suspect it was a clever marketing tool to increase interest in seeing the film.”

So there’s no relationship, except the one we choose to believe in?

Meanwhile, back in the land of revival screenings, Gary Teetzel alerts me to some attractive restoration screenings, a mini-festival, in fact. The 2019 UCLA Festival of Preservation screens from February 15 to 17 at the Billy Wilder Theater in the Hammer Museum in Westwood. The full list includes plenty of features, newsreels, silent oddities, noir rescues, animation, Laurel & Hardy, TV jazz performances, and an interesting-sounding 1944 item about a political refugee, A Voice in the Wind, which uses the haunting musical piece The Moldau, often excerpted in movies.

Of course, the title that grabs us genre fans the most is the elusive, legendary 1934 Mexican horror film from Fernando de Fuentes, La fantasma del convento. I’ve only seen ragged snippets… and how many Mexican films from that era even survive in screenable copies?

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson