The Rolling Stones, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ in ‘Mean Streets’ (1973)
Elvis Presley, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ in ‘Jailhouse Rock’ (1957)
Bob Dylan, ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ in ‘Don’t Look Back’ (1967)
Chuck Berry, ‘You Never Can Tell,’ in ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)
Cat Stevens, ‘Trouble’ in ‘Harold and Maude’ (1971)
Another seven you should see, at least in YouTube shorts:
Jimmy Cliff, ‘The Harder They Come’ in ‘The Harder They Come’ (1972) The movie that inspired much interest in reggae music, along with Bob Marley records. It’s a tough movie to watch at times, with the impoverished, rising talent Jimmy Cliff being taken advantage of by the record company.
Alan Price, ‘O Lucky Man’ in ‘O Lucky Man’ (1973) The former Animals keyboardist, Alan Price, (who you can see complaining about it to Dylan in a ‘Don’t Look Back’ scene) wrote and performed in a movie score right up there with ‘Harold and Maude.’ The movie was a sequel to another dark and strange movie from 1968 that also starred Malcolm McDowell, entitled ‘If.’
The Doors, ‘The End’ in ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979) The Vietnam War picture starts with an infamous opening sequence where Martin Sheen drunkenly punches a mirror in his hotel room and watches his hand bleed, which he smears over his face and body. You get the impression you’re going to be seeing a lot of blood and darkness, which is definitely the case.
Public Enemy, 'Fight the Power' in 'Do the Right Thing' (1989) While released five years later, ‘Pulp Fiction’ is credited with opening the door to daring, unconventional pictures, but this one already had a lot to do with it; along with Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Sex, Lies and Videotape’ that same year. The movie shows the racial powder keg that can erupt in neighborhoods like Brooklyn. It starts off the with the hip hop classic setting the tone for opening credits as Rosie Perez dances through it.
David Bowie, ‘Heroes’ in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ (2012) This is one of the best uses of a song I’ve ever seen in a movie, with a carload of high schoolers racing through a highway tunnel with the song playing full blast. ‘Harry Potter’ icon Emma Watson, then a few years older, stands up in the back of the pickup as they drive through the tunnel with the song soaring – and makes you wonder if Watson will be flying away like a bird.
Derek and the Dominoes, ‘Layla’ in ‘Goodfellas’ (1990) I won’t go into the details, but you get to hear the closing instrumental coda to the rock classic as the camera pans over a montage of made guys and their women murdered in the Mafia tradition. It’s one of several unforgettable music moments in another classic Martin Scorsese picture.
‘Time Warp’ from ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ (1975) Going to watch a midnight movie showing of this campy cult musical is a must-do, but don’t let the fans get to you. Yes, they will be standing up close the screen in mimicked outfits shouting out words – to the extent that you occasionally won’t be able to make out what’s being said on the screen. But that’s okay. Songs like ‘Time Warp’ rock hard, and each member of the movie cast plays it up perfectly. You can’t miss this one, even if you need to watch it on your home theater.