Here’s Johnny … and Molly

Sloan Wilson’s novel A Summer Place came out in 1958; it became a movie in 1959, written and directed by Delmer Daves. IMDb sums it up tersely: “A self-made businessman rekindles a romance with a former flame while their two teenage children begin a romance of their own with drastic consequences for both couples.” Molly and Johnny (Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue) were the teens in question, and Max Steiner, who scored the film, wrote a brief theme for the two of them.

And that theme, recorded by Percy Faith and a band of studio pros in late ’59, became the single biggest hit of 1960, spending nine weeks at #1:

I love this little bit of orchestral fluff unreservedly; during the 1980s I actually pestered a record-company exec on CompuServe after hearing that they might include it in an upcoming compilation. (Which they did.)

Steiner’s main-title theme, inevitably, was forgotten. This suite from the soundtrack leads off with that theme. And if it seems a bit odd to you that a movie theme, and a secondary movie theme at that, would long outlast the movie itself, well, how many of you have seen Unchained lately?

4 comments

  1. fillyjonk »

    14 March 2018 · 9:07 pm

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who loves that piece :)

  2. McGehee »

    14 March 2018 · 11:37 pm

    I heard a sung version — Andy Williams, I think. Didn’t care for it even half as much as I’ve liked the instrumental from the first time I heard it.

  3. Roger O Green »

    15 March 2018 · 8:44 am

    That song was MASSIVE when we were growing up! a few years later, when radio was playing off to the news at the top of the hour, it was still being played.

  4. nightfly »

    16 March 2018 · 3:48 pm

    I too love the song. It’s lovely and gentle… and quite at odds with the dramatic theme of the movie.

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