Nine Movies Named After Roy Orbison Songs

Only the Lonely

The late great Roy Orbison experienced two waves of popularity: the first in the late '50s/early '60s, when he established himself as a dramatic (if not exactly hunky) singer/songwriter who effortlessly mixed pop, country, blues, and even opera together and emerged with his own distinctive sound; the second after decades of general neglect, when David Lynch used Orbison's "In Dreams" for his groundbreaking 1986 film Blue Velvet. Hipsters championed Orbison's music after seeing the film, and the last few years of his life were happy and productive. Following Orbison's death, his hits were not only incorporated into more soundtracks, some films were even named after them.

  1. Pretty Woman. The 1990 film that made Julia Roberts a household name was originally a bleak drama called $3000. When Disney rejiggered it as a feel-good romantic comedy, they figured the audience-friendly title of Orbison's classic (actual title: "Oh, Pretty Woman") would be a better fit. Song used in the movie? Yep.
  2. Only the Lonely. This innocuous rom-com from 1991 had one of the stranger couplings in recent memory: John Candy and Ally Sheedy. It was produced by John Hughes, who had given those two actors a lot of work. Song used in the movie? Yep.
  3. Running Scared. Orbison's Bolero-like love song was used as the title for this so-so 1986 cop buddy movie starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. Song used in the movie? Nope.
  4. In Dreams. Intermittently interesting filmmaker Neil Jordan got the idea from Blue Velvet and decided to name a whole movie after Orbison's song, in this case a 1999 misfire starring Annette Bening as some sort of psychic and Robert Downey Jr. as a serial killer. Song used in the movie? Yep.
  5. Love Hurts. Back we go into the realm of the romantic comedy, this one a forgotten 1990 Jeff Daniels vehicle. The song itself, written by Boudleaux Bryant, enjoyed more popularity during the 1970s when the rock band Nazareth covered it. Song used in the movie? Nope.
  6. Blue Bayou. This list is getting increasingly esoteric. Blue Bayou was a 1990 TV movie starring Alfre Woodard. I doubt anybody has even seen this, but there it is on the IMDb. The classic song, one of Roy's best, was obviously better served by its Linda Ronstadt cover, as well as its namesake restaurant at Disneyland. Song used in the (TV) movie? No idea, but I'm guessing not.
  7. Candyman. Though the Clive Barker-written cult horror hit more likely owes a debt, if any, to the song made popular by Willie Wonka, Orbison was there first with his bluesy, vaguely raunchy tune – and he even had the decency to separate "candy" and "man" with a modest space. Song used in the movie? Nope.
  8. Crying. Let's give a special mention to one of Orbison's most beloved hits, "Crying". Although no film has yet come out that bears this specific title, the whole saga came full circle when David Lynch used the song, in Spanish, in 2001's Mulholland Drive. In an interview, Lynch admitted that he had originally wanted to use "Crying" in Blue Velvet but, while in New York's Central Park, he heard "In Dreams" on somebody's boom box and decided to use it instead. But Lynch always loved "Crying", and finally came back to it. Harmony Korine, one of Lynch's spiritual children, also used "Crying" in a similarly ironic moment in his divisive film Gummo.
  9. The Fastest Guitar Alive. Let's end this list with a movie that was actually a Roy Orbison vehicle! This silly 1967 Western/musical was Orbison's one and only starring role. Alas, Orbison didn't pursue acting after the film flopped. But it sure sounds like a curiosity. Song used in the movie? You bet your sweet ass it is!