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Are there any mediocre films that have become better films due to an excellent musical score? -- Fabian Castro Movies are probably the ultimate fusion art form, so it's no surprise that some of the great ones have drawn a healthy degree of passion from the mythical surge of their soundtracks. I'm thinking of The Godfather, Gone With the Wind, A Clockwork Orange, Psycho, Titanic. The films that have attained classic status more or less because of their soundtracks are rarer, but I would offer two examples -- and please don't send me hate mail on the first one. Breakfast at Tiffany's, much as I adore it, probably wouldn't have come close to winning the popularity it has were it not for the sublime wistfulness of Henry Mancini's ''Moon River.'' Like the memory of a lost lover who keeps calling you back (at least, in your fantasies), it's a song that expresses, with far more eloquence than anything in the script, the Audrey Hepburn character's sweet, sad yearning for a home that might release her from her Tiffany dreams. If I had to choose the ultimate cinematic mood enhancer, however, it would have to be Michel Legrand's heartbreaking theme for the 1964 French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Arguably the greatest swoon of melancholy nostalgia ever composed for a movie, it's the one soundtrack that can reduce me to a teary wreck during the opening credits. The film itself scarcely reaches that level of pop tragedy. Yet each time Legrand's so-happy-to-be-sad theme music comes on...get out your handkerchiefs.

Can you think of a film where you would rather have seen the bad guys win? -- Yoni Glatt In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris, for all of Matthew Broderick's quizzical charm, is played as such a smug and self-aggrandizing petty fascist that I was eager to see Jeffrey Jones' principal sentence him to a year's detention. Also, by the end of Armageddon, I was rooting for that asteroid to hit the earth.

Originally posted Feb 13, 2004 Published in issue #751 Feb 13, 2004 Order article reprints
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