Glenn here. I watched a lovely documentary last night called Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love. And oh, what did he did! The film screened this last weekend in New York (I admitted got my weekends wrong and thought it was this coming weekend), but screens on PBS at the end of the month. Hamlisch died last year at the age of 68 and, if you remember, Barbra Streisand performed a lovely memorial to him at this year's Oscar ceremony. I believe his last piece of original film work was the score for Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra. Since we're fans of lists and Marvin Hamlisch, let's take a look at his top ten movie moments.
10. A Chorus Line
As long as you don't really tamper with the songs too much, it's really hard to ruin a film adaptation as much as A Chorus Line did. The film has its virtues, but Richard Attenborough's direction is not amongst them. No, but what remains of the original stage show is still poignant, moving stuff and Hamlisch's Tony-winning score is still excellent. Even Oscar-nominated addition "Surprise Surprise" is kind of fun even if somewhat out of place.
9. "I Finally Found Someone" from The Mirror Has Two Faces
For all of this grandly, egotistically absurd film's faults - and, boy, does it have them! - I actually kind of like that Streisand went about making a romantic comedy for mature audiences. Topped off by this song that is so remarkably unhip in every way, I still can't help but enjoy it. My favourite line is, indeed, "My favourite line, was 'can I call you someone?'" I like that it speaks to the weariness of later-in-life love, which is a rare thing to see or hear about.
Considering Dori Berinstein managed to get Barbra Streisand for What He Did For Love, I'm surprised they didn't mention this one.
8. The Sting adapted score
There really are some scores that are so intrinsically linked to their films that it's impossible to think of one without the other. To prove how much times have changed, Hamlisch's slight reworking of ragtime classic "The Entertainer" went to no. 3 on the US Billboard chart. Of course, that was a time when film music, including instrumentals, were common place on music charts, but that's still wild, isn't it?
6. The Informant! original score
How this deliriously joyous score didn't land an Oscar nomination is beyond me. Surely one of the better cases of The Golden Globes sometimes knowing what's what (see also their nomination for Matt Damon in Soderbergh's delightful absurdist comedy).
5. "Nobody Does it Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me
Still one of the best James Bond themes and very deserving of its Oscar nomination. And, really, it should have won, having lost out to "You Light Up My Life". Blegh.
4. Sophie's Choice original score
We all know this film will forever have a place in film history due to Meryl Streep's performance, but can we get some love for Hamlisch's original score? Truly one of the most beautiful pieces of film music I can recall. "Love Theme"! "Train Ride to Brooklyn"! "Ample Makes This Bed"! So many pieces of composing that are every bit as powerful. Scores this classical don't seem to get much favour these days, but I could listen to this for hours.
3. "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" from Ski Party
Oh do not act like your toes don't dap and your head doesn't bop when you listen to Leslie Gore's infectiously addictive pop ditty plays.
2. Oscar night, 1974
Hamlisch is one of only ten people to win three Oscars in a single night. "It's positively obscene!" What made these three wins - two for The Way We Were and one for The Sting - so great is that not only were they all deserved, but that Hamlisch is just so gosh darn entertaining. He was giving hilarious Oscar speeches long before Meryl Streep. I live for his acceptance speech for the song, "The Way We Were", and the priceless reactions of Liza and Barbra in the audience. If I had any ability at making gifs I would make that moment into one and watch it on a loop for all of time. The first video even includes Cher! What a gay ol' time these videos are.
Edit: The ever-talented Jason performed a technical miracle and made a gif. My life is over.
1. "The Way We Were" from The Way We Were
It's a cliche by now, but gosh Barbra Streisand cooing her way through this Oscar-winning song is just heaven. Is there anything more that even needs to be said? No, I don't think so.
Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love screens on PBS on 12/27 and will be on DVD in January.