I would like to follow in the loud footsteps of Jack Foley.
March 1, 2009 6:07 PM   Subscribe

What are some films with great work by a Foley artist?

I am looking for films with sensitive sound design, especially with regard to small environmental sounds--the clink of a glass set on a table.

I'll be making a small film in the future, and I would like to absorb some examples of great work.
posted by Tufa to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
No Country for Old Men
It lost the sound Oscar to the Bourne Supremancy...damn shame
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:16 PM on March 1, 2009

Batman: The Dark Knight (Joker's "pencil trick" clip here) has really smart sound design for performance. The mic on Heath Ledger is cranked way the hell up so you can hear his breathing and mouth noise (spit pops, tongue moving, etc) really clearly, which makes the character feel like he's standing way too close to you and gives the viewer a subconscious sense of crazed danger.

Down With Love (some spoilers in that clip) has really slick orchestral scoring- almost every little gesture the actors make is underscored with a plink of music. It's quite stylized, but the principle could be applied to a more naturalistic project.

Renting movies that were nominated for the Academy Award for Sound Mixing would also be a good way to find more movies with inspiring audio work. Probably the more recent ones are the best, as technology allows for more sophistication and subtlety. But then again, movies form the 1970s, like Jaws, sometimes have totally kickass sound.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:33 PM on March 1, 2009

Be sure to watch this.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:36 PM on March 1, 2009

Any Walter Murch film, e.g. The Conversation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:56 PM on March 1, 2009

This is maybe a little more exaggerated than what true foley is, but have you ever watched Bill Nye episodes? I swear, if I could get a job doing sound for a show like that, I would move to Seattle (or wherever) in a split second. The show is amazing - little sounds to every motion and action throughout the show, like it's a real life cartoon. Just take a look through this playlist to get an idea of what I'm talking about, especially in the sections where Bill is explaining new concepts, like this clip.
posted by niles at 7:14 PM on March 1, 2009

The sound design/foley work in Gus Van Sant's Elephant completely blew me away.
posted by General Zubon at 8:41 PM on March 1, 2009

When I belonged to the Boston chapter of the AES back around 1984/85, they had a screening of Silverado, which I believe won some award for it's foley work.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:48 PM on March 1, 2009

Foley is a part of sound design. But not all sound design is foley. The note above about Heath Ledger's mic is great sound design, but not foley. On the other hand, the brilliance of No Country for Old Men had a lot to do with foley. The scene with Chigurgh in the hallway on the hardwood floor should be studied in Movie Sounds 101.

You could always go back and study Foley's actual films. He used to say that different women in film had different walks, so he would use different spike heels.

I always thought Poltergeist had great foley. The scene with the maggots and the steak, where the guy tears his face off, was particularly good. And say what you will about this guy's films, they always sound great.

Another scene that always gets mentioned for foley is the shower scene in Psycho.

Other good foley, IMO, can be found in Outland and Alien. Both sci-fi films had a real sense of "futuristic industrial."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:53 PM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Who Framed Roger Rabbit features excellent Foley work. I'm pretty sure this Spiderman 2 dvd features a section on the outstanding Foley work that went into the film.
posted by cyphill at 9:38 PM on March 1, 2009

WALL-E got an Oscar nomination for sound, FWIT. The DVD includes a feature on the sound design. I was surprised by how much was created with physical sounds.
posted by orme at 5:54 AM on March 2, 2009

El Topo, the cult 1970s surreal masterpiece, has absolutely no sound recorded on location. All the sound effects and dialogue were dubbed later. I don't know if it counts as sensitive, but it's absolutely crazy; a mourning woman screams with the cries of a bird, men dub the voices of female characters.

There's a great scene in the commentary where, as we listen to the creaks and squeaks of dead bodies swinging from rafters,* Alejandro Jodorowsky explains how Gonzalo Gavira used a bag of literal trash to create sound effects.

There's also a pretty sweet special feature on the Special Edition Disney DVD (OMG I HOPE THEY HAVEN'T LOCKED IT IN THE VAULT YET!) of Sword in the Stone about the sound engineers of early Disney cartoons; they take you into this warehouse filled with hinges and rain machines and all sorts of crazy contraptions.

*I hope this doesn't count as a spoiler; it happens about 5 minutes in, and believe me, it's no secret that people die violent deaths in El Topo.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:35 AM on March 2, 2009

Believe it or not, Final Destination has awesome foley and sound design work (especially because the sounds are often a character in their own right).
posted by biscotti at 9:15 AM on March 2, 2009

Once Upon a Time in the West.

(pm'd you with this since it's kind of late in the game)
posted by nosila at 8:47 AM on March 3, 2009

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