If you want to listen to me playing and talking about some of my all-time favourite movie themes, taking in the full-length versions of the main title songs from everything from sixties spy thriller weird-outs and foreign language psychedelic crime capers to eighties video shop-straddling action comedies and ill-advised big-screen adaptations of hit television series, then join me for a Bank Holiday Blockbusters special on Noisebox Radio, where you will find all of the above and more – including, just possibly, some thoughts on the quality, variety and astronomical expense of cinema snacks. Expect music from and thoughts about James Bond, Michael Caine, The Guardians Of The Galaxy, Russ Meyer, the Dalek movies, John Barry, British Horror and Cleo Laine And Johnny Dankworth amongst others, not to mention adverts for a worrying amount of local businesses where let us just say you would not exactly touch the carpets with your bare hands in a hurry.
You can listen to the full show using the player above or, if you’re a subscriber to my Patreon, you can get an exclusive download version of the full show here. Meanwhile, if you want to know more about the various movie themes and indeed movies played in it…
Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom
The main title song – beating out Nik Kershaw’s putative submission which later ended up on his album Radio Musicola – from Running Scared, a 1986 action comedy starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines as a pair of detectives who have one last big drug bust-related arrest to make before they can retire and plough their savings into a beach-themed bar in Florida. Along with Spies Like Us, Mannequin and The Goonies, Running Scared is one of those eighties movie themes that poses an existentially troubling metanarrative conundrum with the promo video, as Hines and Crystal are seen in character, in costume and on set larking around with Michael McDonald as he performs it, throwing exactly where the movie ends and the real world begins into question. A substantial hit at the time and one that local commercial radio stations kept pressing into first-thing-in-the-morning service for years afterwards as a way of attempting to put a spring into the step of weary commuters and tardy schoolchildren, but surprisingly, despite its ubiquity in the latter half of 1986, it mysteriously failed to find its way onto the latest volume of MCA Records’ favoured compilation series, Hits 5. Although you can find out much more about everything that did find its way onto Hits 5 here…
A-ha – The Living Daylights
Theme from the Timothy Dalton-introducing 1987 James Bond movie of the same name, and while this will doubtless be considered a contentious standpoint by many, Bond Themes were honestly never better than when John Barry was being grouchily forced to work against his musical inclinations with a pop act determined to do things their own way rather than with ‘classy’ musicians who basically just did what he asked them to; an opinion that that is arguably proved to be entirely correct by A View To A Kill, Live And Let Die and the fact that there can scarcely be anyone reading who does not consider the existence of rejected themes by Alice Cooper, Pet Shop Boys and The Beach Boys that never even got anywhere near John Barry to be almighty missed opportunities. Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of Hits 5, A-ha had a song on that too… but which one? Well, you can find out here…
The Bostweeds – Run Pussy Cat
Theme from Russ Meyer’s 1965 shlock masterpiece about a trio of murderous go-go dancers on the run across the desert in a hot rod, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. The single version of the song – released on Meyer’s wife Eve’s record label, and one of only three singles released by the mysterious garage psych outfit, one of which was a not especially well rated cover of Bob Dylan’s She Belongs To Me – inexplicably omitted the second verse, which is as good enough an excuse as any to use the version taken directly from the movie’s soundtrack, complete with the deliciously camp ‘women might strike back’ spoken intro and Tura Satana laughing demonically all over it. If you want to know more, you can hear me chatting about my love of Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! on Perfect Night In here, and about the direct influence that it had on S Club 7’s rock’n’roll-themed time travel movie Back To The ’50s – no, really – here.
Max Frost And The Troopers – The Shape Of Things To Come
The campaign song of fictitious pop star turned teenage presidential hopeful Max Frost from 1968’s Wild In The Streets, one of many satirical works of the time such as D.C. Comics’ Prez which explored the chaos that was liable to erupt if one of those pesky ‘youths’ found their way into the White House. This of course would never and could never be allowed to happen, and America enjoys a successful and unblemished record of selecting their Commander-In-Chief on an entirely sensible basis. Although unlike several fictional characters – as that’s the only logical explanation for them – Max Frost didn’t make a real-life bid for the presidency, the song itself did become a hit single, and was quickly covered by both George Benson and, before they came up with the idea of stamping their feet and wearing top hats with mirrors on them, Slade.
The Turtles – A Guide For The Married Man
The Happy Together hitmakers belt out the theme song for a 1967 movie in which Walter Matthau decides that the older straight-laced businessmen in their suit and tie types deserve a slice of this ‘permissive society’ action, and starts devising schemes for the successful having of affairs which, in an unexpected nod to morality, never quite seem to work out in the adulterer’s favour. It really is exactly what you’re imagining. Meanwhile, The Turtles found themselves inside the White House as guests of Tricia Nixon and… well, that’s none of your nose. Ahem.
Billie Hayes, Jack Wild And Martha Raye – Zap The World
The assembled contestants in a spell-based talent show for hallucinogenically-made up witches in 1970’s Pufnstuf – a big-screen variant of the eye-hurting television series based around evolutionary offshoots of The Banana Splits H.R. Pufnstuf – essay their prize-chasing hexes before a suitably impressed Boss Witch, although this version from the soundtrack album is actually a whole verse longer than the one seen on screen – the plot changed during the movie’s edit and Jimmy was no longer covertly posing as a witch by this point, so Jack Wild’s verse had to be abruptly removed.
Mama Cass – Different
Another number from Pufnstuf, as the Creeque Alley hitmaker steals the show as Witch Hazel, a deliciously bitchy diva who appropriately steals the witch-smackdowning show with this epic slice of bubblegum pop, which you may think bears more than a passing resemblance to Make Your Own Kind Of Music, but – let’s be honest about this – Pufnstuf had a much better ending than Lost. And it was set on a magic island too.
Tubby Hayes – Voodoo
The heavyset Brit-Jazz firebrand and late-night early BBC2 mainstay leads his band through a spooky stomper as Roy Castle pays the onstage price for playing the forbidden music in one of the segments in 1985 horror anthology Dr. Terror’s House Of Horrors – the same movie that has popular disc jockey Alan Freeman as a man trying to halt the relentless march of some vines in his garden that refuse to stop growing by, erm, smoking his pipe at them. You can keep your Human Centipede, thanks.
John Barry – A Man Alone Part 3
Breakbeat-festooned jazzed-up variant of the main title theme from The Ipcress File, Michael Caine’s debut outing as gourmet-on-a-budget uncouth spy Harry Palmer, whose attitudes towards Europe were it has to be said slightly at odds with those of the attick-locked actor who portrayed him. The Ipcress File was invariably front and centre in all of those unofficial late-night ‘mini-seasons’ of Michael Caine’s sixties movies that the BBC used to run in the week before Christmas, which you can read much more about in Can’t Help Thinking About Me, available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here,
The Malcolm Lockyer Orchestra – The Eccentric Dr. Who
It was pretty much par four the course that any halfway popular UK television show of the fifties and sixties would inspire its own big-screen spinoff, and Doctor Who was no exception, inspiring feature films based on the first two Dalek stories that upped the production values, threw in a dazzling amount of colour, and recast Doctor Who as an eccentric human scientist played by Peter Cushing who just happened to have invented a time machine in his back yard. Starting with 1965’s Dr. Who And The Daleks – which this is the main theme from – the Dalek movies come in for a lot of very unfair stick now but let’s be fair, whatever your position on them they are at least better than The Rings Of Akhaten. There were quite a few singles based on the hugely successful in their time movies, in fact, including one by Roberta Tovey in character as Susan, featuring a b-side with lyrics that are frankly better glossed over now. Incidentally, this actually is called The Eccentric Dr. Who – Daleks And Thals, as I just mistakenly announced it as on air, is the title of the pretty much identical b-side. You probably won’t be enormously surprised to discover that there is a huge feature on the Dalek movies in Not On Your Telly, available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.
Scott Walker – The Rope And The Colt
The existentially troubled baritone camps it up Cajun-style for theme from little-seen Spaghetti Western Cemetery Without Crosses, taken from an incredibly rare single that has now been more or less officially erased from his discography because some incredibly boring people don’t consider it to be deep and pretentious enough to meet their sensibilities. They do own Scott Walker after all, don’t you know, and not the millions upon millions of teenage pop fans and housewives who bought his records at the time. As you may well have gathered, this is a subject that I have plenty more to say about, and indeed did say plenty more about it here.
The American Breed – The Brain
Long-forgotten garage-psych types who did the original and very very different version of Bend Me Shape Me team up with composer Georges Delerue for the theme from a truly unhinged 1969 French crime comedy starring David Niven as a criminal mastermind who is so clever that whenever he comes up with an especially dastardly scheme, his brain becomes so heavy that his head tilts to one side, ably assisted by memorably monickered star in his homeland ‘Bourvil’. More memorable still are the bizarre transatlantic-meets-cross-channel procession of bewildering phrases masquerading as lyrics, with their references to ‘an IQ like an Einstein’ and how ‘they’ would ‘like to try to brainwash The Brain for good things instead’. Incidentally, The Brain was one of my choices when I appeared as the guest on Looks Unfamiliar, which you can listen to here.
Johnny Dankworth And Cleo Laine Featuring David And Jonathan – Modesty Blaise
Monica Vitti stars as the original psychedelic spy, haring across Europe with a trail of casually-sexed men in her wake as she backflips through a procession of optical illusion-festooned corridors in search of some stolen diamonds in this little seen 1966 mirror-effect masterpiece. David And Jonathan, in case you were wondering, had a handful of hits including a cover of The Beatles’ Michelle, before going on to become early seventies chart-hogging songwriters Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook. Incidentally, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine did absolutely tons of equally belting movie soundtracks around this time, which you can find out a lot more about here.
Christophe Beck – Tales To Astonish
Time for a trip into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the wild surf-Mariachi theme from Scott and Hope’s inconveniently size-changing biotech suit-bound snogging in cupboards as the worlds of adult dating and industrial sabotage collide in Ant-Man And The Wasp – a movie that had I much more to say about on my Marvel Cinematic Universe podcast It’s Good, Except It Sucks here.
The Sneepers Featuring Zardu Hasselfrau – Guardians Inferno
A mirrorball-tastic Disco Sci-fi stomp from a troupe of glittery revellers who you cannot help but notice bear more than a passing resemblance to The Guardians Of The Galaxy fronted by a rapping David Hasselhoff. If you want to know what it’s all about, then rather than hassling The Hoff, have a listen to me chatting about Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 here.
Quincy Jones – Getta Bloomin’ Move On!
That song from The Italian Job, although this is a little different to the version you’ll find on the soundtrack album – it’s a completely different take as used over that literal cliffhanger ending, with an otherwise unheard verse and a completely different ending where the Farfisa organ appears to start giving out while everyone else can’t quite work out how to finish. The Italian Job, of course, has one of the best endings of anything ever – and you can read why I think this is the case and about the nine others that make up my top ten of the best ever endings here.
Buy A Book!
You can find much more about my love of the less critically lauded corners of cinema, from Michael Caine and Elvis Presley movies to creaky old sci-fi and ‘Video Nasties’, in my book Can’t Help Thinking About Me, a collection of columns and features with a personal twist. Can’t Help Thinking About Me is available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.
Alternately, if you’re just feeling generous, you can buy me a coffee here. I’ll even allow one from one of those coffee chain outlets you get inside coffee chain outlets in cinema foyers, though I’d prefer a Dr. Pepper really.
If you’re looking for more tales of moviegoing mayhem, you can follow my look back at Empire‘s 1995 list of The 100 Greatest Films Ever Made here, and find out what it was like to watch Jailhouse Rock in a cinema full of elderly Elvis Presley fans who had lost none of their capacity for dancing in the aisles in 62-39 Was His Number here, what it was like to not see A Clockwork Orange in a cinema in Do Not Viddy This, My Brothers! here, and why I love Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 so much in Some Unspoken Thing here.
It’s Good, Except It Sucks, a movie by movie and television series by television series hurtle through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, blasts off here.
© Tim Worthington.
Please don’t copy this only with more italics and exclamation marks.