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"Ben"

July 7, 2009

There’s no point in ignoring the posthumous Michael Jackson mania sweeping Movietown today. So, here’s a creepily sentimental movie moment with a lot of poignant subtext which also happens to feature the late singer’s first solo hit. “Ben” was a sequel to the earlier “Willard” which was remade in 2003. I’ve seen neither film, but they were horror flicks featuring nasty but (I guess) lovable killer rats. It looks like the first film tried to combine “Psycho” and “The Birds,” but “Ben” appears to be going for something more like “Rattie Come Home.”

The song, by Walter Scharf and Don Black, was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe, and there’s no denying the awe-inspiring vocal abilities of the eleven or twelve-year old Jackson. He sells the song with delicacy and emotion, and it saves the final scene below. However, it probably helped with the Top 40 success of the song that most listeners had no idea it was about a rat.

Embedding has been disabled, but YouTube also has a powerful video of Jackson performing the song on the Oscars in 1973.

(Also posted at Premium Hollywood.)

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