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Movies and Music

Updated: Feb 8, 2019

When the weather outside is frightful, it's awfully nice to curl up and watch a good movie.

Recently, while flipping through the channels, we caught the 2010 remake of True Grit. While I maintain the opinion that nothing can hold a candle to the John Wayne original, I must admit the music in the remake was quite good. Throughout the movie, strains of the hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" are played, and as the credits roll, we hear Iris Dement singing the hymn in her unique, folksy style. The piece really stuck with me, and so I finally decided to record it. They say the best way to "unstick" a song from your head is to play it through. :)

Here, I'm playing the Lorie Line arrangement of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." I kept the vocal line more traditional, though I borrowed a few of Iris Dement's lilt-y inflections.

Music is just about as important as the plot of any movie. It sets the mood, provides foreshadowing, and builds drama like nothing else. The swell of a string orchestra puts the swoon in a romance. Foreboding music is what makes us shriek, "Don't go in there!" to a character in a horror movie. Music equals emotion, plain and simple.

Today, I'm going to share my favorite movie music from non-musical movies. (If I were to start going on about My Fair Lady ,The Phantom of the Opera, or Singin' in the Rain, we would be here all day. Though of course I highly recommend those as well!) While compiling this list, it really began to take on a life of its own. Every few minutes, I would remember another title and think, "Well, I just have to include that one too." Before I knew it, there were well over ten movies to discuss, and I didn't want to write it all in one big, overwhelming post. Long story short, I've decided to break it into a series. This post will feature Wars and Westerns. A following post I might call Romances and the Rest, as a catchall category of sorts.


  • Flags of Our Fathers - There is a wonderful variety of music in this war movie produced by Clint Eastwood. John Philip Sousa marches, big band swing, classical works by Haydn and Mozart, and original compositions by Eastwood himself. (Bet you didn't know he wrote music!) In particular, I love the simple piano line in his composition,"Platoon Swims."

  • Patton - The highlight of Patton's main theme is an echoing trumpet fanfare, which sounds both grand and austere.

  • Saving Private Ryan - "Hymn to the Fallen" by John Williams is such a moving piece. This past fall, the Dudley Birder Chorale performed this at our Veteran's Day concert. In our first dress rehearsal with the orchestra, I had tears streaming down my cheeks as I sang. "Hymn to the Fallen" doesn't have words, and it doesn't need them. Just pure choral vowels floating above the movement of the orchestra. Simple, beautiful, and heartbreaking.


  • The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - From the iconic whistle at the opening credits, to the gunshot percussion and coyote-like yodeling, this is a brilliantly crafted Western score. "The Ecstasy of Gold," an incredible operatic composition by Ennio Morricone, is played during the final scene. There's a reason it has 14 million hits on YouTube.

  • High Noon - This black-and-white classic stars Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" is sung throughout the entire movie. You might think you would tire of it.. not so. The lyrics so perfectly and subtly express the story-line.

  • Rio Bravo - I've mentioned before that I'm a little crazy about Dino music, which means I'm going to rave about any movie that Dean Martin stars in. In Rio Bravo, he sings a couple of duets with Ricky Nelson - the traditional American tune, "Cindy," and an appropriately Western song called, "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me." (I listen to this one a lot. It's on my Dean Martin Platinum Collection!)

Before I sign off, I want to ask you all, "What are your favorite movie songs?" I'd love to hear from you and incorporate your ideas into the next Music and Movies post!

'Til next time,



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