The opening scene – which movies have the best musical starts?

Like the first 30 seconds of a pop song, it’s the bit that lures you in. Sure, there’s enough mid-movie classics to stick in your memory – like the Layla/Goodfellas mash-up or the breathless Bowie scene in Inglourious Basterds – but what about the tunes and their accompanying visuals that grab you before you’ve even started […]

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Like the first 30 seconds of a pop song, it’s the bit that lures you in. Sure, there’s enough mid-movie classics to stick in your memory – like the Layla/Goodfellas mash-up or the breathless Bowie scene in Inglourious Basterds – but what about the tunes and their accompanying visuals that grab you before you’ve even started your popcorn? Here’s a selection of our faves, some chosen by us and some by PB readers inc JBW, littlejoemag, HC, ECB and ivy_trellis.

1. Jackie Brown – we’ve come to expect something big from Quentin every time we sit down to watch one of his masterpieces, and sure enough he always delivers, but surely the beautifully calm airport walk, tracked to Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street, is his best.

2. Blow – Scorsese would have been proud of how the Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knocking  was used in the opening credits of Ted Demme’s drug kingpin movie.

3. Velvet Goldmine – much misunderstood, loved and hated, this Bowie ‘biopic’ divided both fans and critics. But you can’t argue with its sense of style, even if the American view of early 1970s England is a little overdone. A little Eno gets the film off to a flyer, with Needle in the Camel’s Eye from his 1973 masterpiece Here Come the Warm Jets.

4. Staying Alive – the greatest contribution to cinema that anyone called Stallone has ever made. No, not that chump Sly, who wrote this movie, a so-bad-it’s-good sequel to Saturday Night Fever (Satan’s Alley: best Broadway musical title ever), but his lesser-known brother Frank, who came up with the slice of 80s genius that opens it.

5. Live and Let Die – you can’t have a countdown like this without a Bond film. And that’s hard going, considering the nailed-on classics that have been part of the series. We almost chose The Spy Who Loved Me (for the Union Jack parachute/ Nobody Does It Better combo), and you can’t beat a bit of Shirl, but in the end Macca won out…

6. Flash Gordon – we need not explain why this cult classic is being included. The entire movie is filled with top tunes but you can’t beat the opening…

7. Trainspotting – a movie we all watched and obsessed over in the 90s, it’s aged very well indeed. And to think, Iggy’s apex of cool has now plummeted to a man doing insurance ads.

8. Dog Day Afternoon – Elton made a string of absolutely brilliant albums in the early 70s, the best of which was Tumbleweed Connection. Here’s a track from it opening Sidney Lumet’s one-of-a-kind gay bank heist drama…

9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show – as a teenage rite of passage, it’s never been bettered. Sing with me, Michael Rennie was Ill the Day The Earth Stood Still…

10. Apocalypse Now – surely one of the greatest opening scenes of all time. A hellish two year shoot, a near-fatal heart attack for Martin Sheen, some predictably insane Brando behaviour, and The End at the beginning. Unbeatable.

Also

Gremlins/Baby Please Come Home, The Hunger/Bela Lugosi’s Dead, Shaft/Theme From Shaft, Saturday Night Fever/Staying Alive, Se7en/Closer, Mean Streets/Be My Baby.

Do you think these should be included? Or something else? email hello@popbitch.com

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