(Milton is a songwriter, singer and bandleader & touring musician from New York. He wrote and performed the score for David Holbrooke’s 2008 HBO film, “Hard as Nails”)
Q: Which song do you think is most inextricably linked to a film or vice-versa?
M: “Over the Rainbow” Wizard of Oz, “As Time Goes By” Casablanca. I don’t think any two songs will ever be as connected to their films as those two. Also…Wes Anderson is my hero of our time of connecting wonderful songs to wonderful moments on film, enriching them both, and there are at least 10 such songs that come to mind from his films.
Q: Which musical do you love that might surprise people?
M: There’s a rather awful old heist comedy film called “Double Dynamite” from 1951 in which Groucho Marx co-stars and does a duet with Frank Sinatra. I’m a freak for unsuccessful old black and white movies and I’ll watch anything Groucho ever did. Just the ridiculousness of the whole outing is good enough for me.
Q: If you could pair up any two singers, living or dead, in a musical, which two would it be and what kind of movie?
M: Did Kenny & Dolly ever do a movie? They would have been great. Great singers that ooze personality. I don’t know if they could act, but if Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell could have done a movie in the 60’s that would have been a killer too.
Q: Which song in a film has had the biggest impact on you personally, and why?
M: Well probably any of the Beatles songs in Yellow Submarine. I saw that movie when I was about 5 or 6 years old and all I wanted to do was to live in the world of those wonderful songs with those wonderful guys. That’s pretty much defined my whole life. As far as a song in a movie flooring me, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” in Spike Lee’s Malcom X was the first song that came to mind. I think that was the first time I ever heard that song. I don’t think anyone could ask for more in a song. It made me ache in my chest when I first heard it. The story of a person struggling. One of the most beautiful voices to ever sing a song in the English language, pouring his heart out in his own composition, very shortly before he himself would meet an outrageous, tragic, violent death, almost as if he knew it.
Q: If you could remove any song from any film what would it be?
M: I’m trying to think of a song whose presence I really hated in a movie. In old Hollywood they used to make some very ill-suited actors sing. But I kind of love those moments. You ever see John Wayne dubbed singing in one of his early cowboy movies? …So ridiculous that it’s wonderful. The voice is so obviously not his.
Q: If you could have one prop from any film what would it be?
M: I’d take the red balalaika from Dr. Zhivago. It’s rare and beautiful and it embodies the poetic muse as it gets passed down through the story.
#DFNYFocus is a new series from Daily Flick NY focusing on the personal film tastes of Screenwriters, Directors, Producers and other individuals working in the film industry