Self-involved corporate raider Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) has recently split up with his girlfriend. Seeking directions to the Beverly Hills Hotel, he makes the acquaintance of free-spirited hooker Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) and decides to put her on a 3,000-dollar retainer as his "date." He Cinderellarizes her by bankrolling a full wardrobe and cosmetic makeover. Of course, the setup will be strictly platonic. A disarming modern-day fairy tale, Pretty Woman was the picture that made Julia Roberts a superstar. As charming as she is in her "giggling" sequences, Roberts' best scene is her triumphant return to a posh Rodeo Drive shop where she'd been previously snubbed. Keeping Pretty Woman afloat throughout is the buoyant direction of Garry Marshall and the always welcome presence of Marshall's stock company of actors, including Hector Elizondo as a stuffy but golden-hearted concierge. Pretty Woman began its life as a much darker story of prostitutes and homicidal drug dealers, but more box-office-savvy heads ultimately prevailed.
Forrest Gump (1994) is one of the most successful films ever made, winning Tom Hanks his second successive Best Actor Oscar (he won the previous year for Philadelphia) as well as claiming the Best Picture Oscar and many other awards and nominations, including several for music. A unique fable of American life from the 1950s to the 80s, the film blends comedy, drama, war, romance and groundbreaking special effects into a social and political portrait of the passing years, all seen through the eyes of the intellectually challenged but immensely likeable Forrest Gump. The soundtrack is a double album featuring 31 classic pop tunes plus a suite from Alan Silvestri's rich orchestral music, represented more completely on the companion score album. Opening with Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog", this is a fine anthology of three decades of American music, taking in everything from Joan Baez's "Blowin' In The Wind" to Aretha Franklin's "Respect", The Mammas and The Papas' "California Dreamin'" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson". Here also is Scott McKenzie with "San Francisco", plus Jefferson Airplane, the Supremes, Lynyrd Skynrd and many more. Like American Graffiti (1973), this is one of the great pop soundtracks, happily at home in just about any music collection.
English listeners went mad for Katie Melua with the release of her debut album in late 2003. Issued domestically in June 2004, Call Off the Search posits the lovely Melua pristinely in between pop, adult contemporary, and traditional American musical forms, with savvy marketing handling the finishing touches. (Think Norah Jones.) It's a comfortable, lightly melodic affair that drinks red wine safely in the middle of the road. Raised in Soviet Georgia and the United Kingdom, Melua has a beguiling accent that colors the ends of her phrases, adding character to her velvety, if occasionally only satisfactory singing voice…
A Special Part of Me is an album by American pop singer Johnny Mathis that was released in January 1984 by Columbia Records. It made its first appearance on Billboard magazine's Top LP's & Tapes chart in the issue dated March 10, 1984, and remained there for 19 weeks, peaking at number 157. It also made it to number 45 during a three-week run on the UK album chart that began on September 15 of that year.