Monday, September 21, 2009

Themes like old times

If you were a fan of Easy Listening radio during the '60s and '70s, you couldn't avoid the musical stylings of Ferrante & Teicher. And, really, you wouldn't want to. The piano-playing duo recorded scores of LPs and charted several hit singles, running the gamut from Broadway standards to light classical works, but they remain most fondly memembered by movie buffs for their classy recordings of themes from The Apartment, Exodus, Midnight Cowboy, Pieces of Dreams, A Man and a Woman, Live for Life and dozens of other films. Louis Teicher passed away in August 2008. Over the weekend, Arthur Ferrante joined his fellow keyboardist in that great music hall in the sky.

For me, Ferrante & Teicher symbolize an era in movie-musicianship when a picture's title tune might prove more memorable -- and, through heavy rotation on Easy Listening radio, more enduring -- than the picture itself. Indeed, I wonder how many people even know that "Pieces of Dreams" -- also recorded by such notables as Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis and Shirley Bassey -- actually was a movie theme. For the record: It was an Oscar-nominated song composed by no less than a luminary than Michel Legrand for a long-forgotten 1970 flick starring Robert Forster as a Catholic priest undergoing a crisis of faith, and Lauren Hutton as a beautiful social worker who leads him into temptation. To be fair, I haven't seen the movie since its original theatrical release, so I can't say for certain whether it deserves its obscurity. But, hey, it obviously did a lot more for Ferrante & Teicher than it did for Forster or Hutton, right?

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