You don't hear a lot of Beatles music in modern movies, unless you are a movie like Across the Universe, which is structured around Beatles classics. Maybe it's because Ferris Bueller's Day Off poisoned the well. John Hughes's epic anti-school comedy has a showstopping musical number set to The Beatles' 1963 earworm Twist and Shout, but we are learning -- thirty years later -- that changes Hughes made to the song pissed off executives at EMI. Music supervisor Tarquin Gotch explains:
We paid EMI a huge sum of money at the time --- I think it was $100,000. But [EMI execs] weren't happy, because the song was fucked with: Brass was added in the editing room because there was a brass band [in the film]. When you saw the band playing and you're hearing 'Twist and Shout,' it would've been weird if you didn't hear any brass, so they added it in. I don't know if the Beatles weren't happy, or if EMI wasn't happy, but somebody wasn't happy: You're not supposed to fuck with the music.
He's right. I don't even know if I noticed the horns in the original parade sequence, but you can hear them clear as a bell -- of a horn -- around the 1:10 moment of this incredibly famous scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off:
Apparently the Beatles had no problems with that incredible impromptu dance that broke out on the steps near Ferris' performance. Seriously, what were those folks doing? Waiting for someone to play Twist and Shout? How long had they practiced that precision routine?
The same interview, with Yahoo Movies, confirms how challenging it can be to obtain Beatles music for use in one's movie. Yes, Tarquin Gotch confirms that they had to drop $100,000 just on the rights to use Twist and Shout in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. But what I love is that he also had alternatives picked out for John Hughes just in case the Beatles deal fell through. For all we know, Ferris could have been dancing on a parade float to the beats of Herman's Hermits or The Searchers -- British bands who were relative unknowns at the time -- if EMI played hardball.
Good thing Gotch kept that idea of adding horns under wraps until AFTER the movie came out!
Ferris Bueller's Day Off has been celebrating its 30th birthday all year, returning to movie theaters for one night only, and finally releasing its soundtrack after a three-decade wait. Would the parade scene have been the same without the music of The Beatles?