Actors singing creepy songs, the 50’s and 60’s
When I think of a lullaby, I get warm fuzzy visions of a baby in swaddling clothes being rocked to sleep as mother sings a safe and comforting song. Well I did until I recently watched the remastered version of Rosemary’s Baby. So what kind of a lullaby do your sing to your baby knowing he or she is the spawn of Satan? I’m glad you asked.
Today I’m blogging about songs in scary film soundtracks that were performed by actors in the same film. Personally I love this practice and to me it adds yet another layer of delicious creepiness to the scary movie genre. Mia Farrow (so cute) the lead actress in the movie Rosemary’s Baby (1968) sings through the opening scene and there is little doubt that her song is a foreshadow of things to come. The song is creepy in the context in which it’s sung and placed in the film and it also relates to Rosemary’s mental state which will slowly begin to unravel. The composer is Krzysztof Komeda.
By the way, I highly recommend watching the film again or for the first time if you haven’t already done so. A wonderful film from start to finish and no flashy special effects to get in the way. I think the film is more about the reproductive rights of women and misogyny and the whole Satan thing is kind of the B story.
Next up is “ Pretty Fly “ from “ The Night of the Hunter “ made in 1955. The song is sung by the character Pearl, a young girl who along with her little brother are relentlessly pursued by Robert Mitchum who aims to kill them as they are witnesses to murder. This is a very creepy film and Mitchum sings the traditional hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” throughout the film as if he were the grim reaper.
“ The film’s score, composed and arranged by Walter Schumann in close association with Laughton, features a combination of nostalgic and expressionistic orchestral passages. The film has two original songs by Schumann, “Lullaby” (sung by Kitty White, whom Schumann discovered in a nightclub) and “Pretty Fly” (originally sung by Sally Jane Bruce as Pearl, but later dubbed by an actress named Betty Benson “
And last but certainly not least, “ O Willow Waly “ from the 1961 film. “ The Innocents “
“ The Innocents is a 1961 British supernatural gothic horror film directed and produced by Jack Clayton, and starring Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave and Megs Jenkins. Based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the plot follows a governess who watches over two children and discovers that the house is haunted by ghosts and that the two children are being possessed. The title of the film was taken from William Archibald’s stage adaptation of James’ novella. Falling within the subgenre of psychological horror, the film achieves its effects through lighting, music and direction rather than conventional shocks. Its atmosphere was created by cinematographer Freddie Francis, who employed deep focus in many scenes, as well as bold, minimal lighting. It was partly shot on location at the Gothic mansion of Sheffield Park in Sussex. “
Isla Cameron, Anna, imitated a child’s voice and sang the traditional song “Oh, Willow Waly”. The composer Georges Auric incorporated her singing into the orchestral soundtrack. I couldn’t find a video from the film but I did find this version with the lyrics. Is it just me or have we all heard a very similar song in a movie released just recently? Or maybe it was just a bird mimicking a song, like a mockingjay! Ha ha
That was a brief look at the 50’s and 60’s, next blog I’ll delve into the 70’s.
Bye for now.