“Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” Song of the South (1946): No doubt most people at Disney would like to send every copy of this splashy musical about a merry slave plantation into the sun. Unfortunately, it contains one of the company’s most beloved songs. Whoops! Disney did rerelease its most notorious film in theaters in 1986 (in part to promote the upcoming Splash Mountain ride), and it’s available on home video just about everywhere except for America.
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973): No one saw Sam Peckinpah’s devastatingly grueling anti-Western when it was released (in gouged form), but it wasn’t completely unloved. Star Kris Kristofferson was nominated for a BAFTA while a Grammy nomination went to its ethereal soundtrack, done by co-star Bob Dylan. His work, including one of his most beautiful tunes, atones for his “acting,” his appearance being the producers’ idea, not Peckinpah’s, who was so divorced from popular music he assumed Dylan’s last name was spelled “Dillon.”
“You Light Up My Life,” You Light Up My Life (1977): Wait, there’s a movie, too? And one possibly even more gross than the song it birthed?
“Against All Odds,” Against All Odds (1984): Taylor Hackford’s loose reworking of Out of the Past did alright at the box office. But it didn’t do nearly as well as its soundtrack, which features if not the greatest breakup song then the greatest got-dumped song, every line a dagger in your broken heart. It began Phil Collins’ strange trend of recording monster hits for not-very-successful movies: Next came “Separate Lives” for White Nights (also by Hackford) and his cover of “Groovy Kind of Love” for Buster, which would have been his acting breakthrough had anyone seen it.
“I Just Called to Say I Love You,” The Woman in Red (1984): Gene Wilder’s rom-com about him macking on Kelly LeBrook would likely be lost to history had it not had the smarts to contain a rare bum Stevie Wonder hit.
“Tears in Heaven,” Rush (1991): What’s sadder? A movie about narcs (Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Patric) becoming junkies? Or a song about Eric Clapton’s dead 4-year old son? Humanity decided only one could be a sensation.