Rest in peace, Johnny Mandel: “Suicide is Painless” (1970)

Award-winning composer Johnny Mandel passed away on Monday at the age of 94. A classically-trained musician, Mandel was responsible for a wide variety of movie soundtrack music. His first notable work was 1958's I Want to Live!, which earned him three Grammy nominations. Mandel was no stranger to the Grammys; he was nominated for a … Continue reading Rest in peace, Johnny Mandel: “Suicide is Painless” (1970)

The Graduate at 50: Simon and Garfunkel, “The Sounds of Silence” (1965)

(Fun fact: that leg belongs to Linda Gray, or so she claims.) Every semester, in every class I teach, I save time on the last day for a lecture I call "So, What Didn't I Teach You?" It's an opportunity for students to question me about anything that they were expecting to cover in the … Continue reading The Graduate at 50: Simon and Garfunkel, “The Sounds of Silence” (1965)

But if you try sometimes: The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1968)

(Above: Alex's funeral in The Big Chill, which many people picture when they hear this song.) I was fifteen years old in 1984 when my family rented a copy of The Big Chill. We loaded it into the ginormous VCR that sat atop the television, dragged the cable for its remote to the couch, and … Continue reading But if you try sometimes: The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1968)

“Who own the Chiefs?” Maxine Nightingale, “Right Back Where We Started From” (1976)

(Above: Jim Carr, about to be schooled on various hockey penalties.) Forty years ago this weekend one of my favorite films of all time made its premiere.  Slap Shot is, in a variety of ways, offensive.  It's also hilarious. Director George Roy Hill took a cast of legit stars (Paul Newman, Strother Martin) and unknowns … Continue reading “Who own the Chiefs?” Maxine Nightingale, “Right Back Where We Started From” (1976)