Advertisement

Nine times Aretha Franklin's voice made iconic movies even better

Nine times Aretha Franklin's voice made iconic movies even better
Aretha Franklin's music was featured in several beloved films — and lifted them to higher ground. (Al Goldis / Associated Press)

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who died Thursday, had a vast reach that stretched well beyond popular music and onto the silver screen.

Her songs have appeared in more than 200 films and TV shows, often making them that much better.

Advertisement

Here are nine movies that feature Franklin’s scene-stealing vocals, including one especially essential on-screen appearance.

“Think” from “The Blues Brothers”

Franklin made her acting debut as Mrs. Murphy in 1980’s “The Blues Brothers.” She sang a few hits for the film and its sequel, “Blues Brothers 2000,” but in the original, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, she burns up the screen with an unforgettable rendition of “Think” alongside backup singers and real-life sisters Erma and Carolyn.

“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” from “The Big Chill”

In a movie known for its stellar soundtrack and Michigan characters, of course Franklin’s voice would make an appearance. The iconic song appears during one of the more unconventionally emotional scenes where wife Sarah (Glenn Close) gives permission to her husband, Harold (Kevin Kline), to father their friend Meg’s (Mary Kay Place) child.

“Respect” featured in “Forrest Gump” and “St. Elmo’s Fire”

There may be no song more well-known than Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” It appeared in more than a dozen movies but was perhaps used best in “Forrest Gump” when Forrest (Tom Hanks) and Bubba (Mykelti Williamson) meet Lt. Dan Taylor (Gary Sinise) in Vietnam, and in ’80s Brat Pack classic “St. Elmo’s Fire.” The hilarious scene includes a jam session featuring the group’s most cynical member, Kevin Dolenz (Andrew McCarthy), and his trusted bongo set — hat and glasses included.

“Baby I Love You” in “Goodfellas”

Director Martin Scorsese is well-known for making particular use of music in his work, and this song was hand-picked by Scorsese for the 1990 film starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. While the song plays during one gruesome scene we learn that, “Janice can do whatever she wants to do, you got it?”

“Rock Steady” in “Crooklyn”

Spike Lee uses this Franklin hit for a brief scene of joy in which the Brooklyn-based family dances along to “Soul Train.” The popular song also appeared in “Making Mr. Right,” “Doctor Dolittle” (1998), “High Fidelity,” “Gracie” and “Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself.”

“Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves” in “The First Wives Club”

Nothing screams girl power better than a song belted by Franklin and Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox. That made this ’80s power jam a perfect fit for the happy ending of “The First Wives Club,” where three ex-wives (Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton) open a crisis center for women after taking down their cheating ex-husbands.

“One Step Ahead” in “Moonlight”

Advertisement

Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award-winning best picture was one of the most talked about movies of 2016 (and 2017 thanks to the infamous Oscars envelope snafu). While the acting and filmmaking were memorable, repeated use of an Aretha Franklin song also stood out. “One Step Ahead” specifically plays in the diner when Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) reunites with Kevin (André Holland) in the final chapter of the film.

“Ain’t No Way” featured in “Girls Trip”

This soulful slow burn hits hard during the 2017 breakout comedy starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Tiffany Haddish. The song is heard following the flossy posse’s big blowup, when Sasha (Latifah) decides to make her social media apology. In real life, the tune was written for Franklin by her youngest sister, singer-songwriter Carolyn.

Advertisement
Advertisement