There are few things better than escaping the sub-zero temperatures with a bowl of popcorn and a good movie or series. Netflix has some pretty specific categories and recommendation algorithms, but something tells me that it doesn’t have a section for movies or shows with prominent clarinet solos in the story line or soundtrack. So, I’ve gone ahead and put together a list for your viewing pleasure!
- Arthème Swallows His Clarinet (1912) – Equally bizarre and funny, this silent film unveils one of clarinetists’ greatest fears!
- We Make Music (1942) – This German musical comedy features part of the Stamitz clarinet concerto.
- Song of the Thin Man (1947) – This crime thriller features Buddy Hollis, a jazz clarinetist.
- The Man in the Raincoat (1957) – This French-Italian film has Fernandel playing clarinet.
- Jaws (1975) – A deleted scene shows a beginning clarinetist at a music store.
- The Eiger Sanction (1975) – Clint Eastwood has a great line, “Of course you may have trouble playing the clarinet for a while” after stepping on someone’s hands.
- Manhattan (1979) – What better way to start a movie than with our famous clarinet solo in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue?
- Vabank (1981) – Polish comedy with some great jazzy clarinet solos.
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) – It has the classic “never had a lesson” scene.
- Home Alone (1990) – There’s a clarinetist in the polka band towards the end of the film.
- Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995) – Check out the inspirational clarinet scene.
- Benny & Joon (1993) – Great film, great clarinet music!
- Beyond Silence (1996) – Jenseits der Stille is the German film about a young girl with deaf parents who plays clarinet and goes to a conservatory in Berlin.
- l’Homme est une femme comme les autres (1998) – Music performed by the talented Giora Feidman.
- The Terminal (2004) – Here’s my performance of this great solo. If you love the music, you can buy John Williams’ “The Tale of Viktor Navorski.”
- The Good Life (2008) – This Chilean film (La Buena Vida) features Luis Rossi playing clarinet.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Theme (2016) – J.K. Rowling + clarinet solos = bliss.
Television Shows & Other Series
- Star Trek – Harry Kim plays clarinet in many of the episodes throughout the series.
- Leave it to Beaver “Music Lesson” (1958) – Beaver lies about making the school band and carries his clarinet to school every day so his family won’t find out.
- Barney Miller (1975-1982) – Hal Linden performed clarinet in an episode.
- Cheers (1982-1993) – The theme song and closing credits have a jazzy clarinet solo.
- The Cosby Show “Play It Again, Vanessa” (1984) – Vanessa learns to play the clarinet.
- Diagnosis Murder (1993-2001) – The theme song features Dick Van Dyke “playing” clarinet.
- Midsomer Murders (1997-present) – The haunting theme features the unusual combination of bass clarinet and theremin.
- Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants (1999-present). Can you even call yourself a clarinetist if you aren’t familiar with Squidward? (Fun fact: in the French version of Spongebob, Squidward’s name is Carlo Tentacule.)
- Arthur “Brother, Can You Spare a Clarinet?” (2001) – Binky waffles over auditioning for the Young Person’s Orchestra, and another character practices her Stradivarius (???) violin.
- 30 Rock (2006-2013) – Lots of the soundtrack includes clarinet and bass clarinet.
- Inspector Lewis “The Gift of Promise” (2011) – The theme song for each episode (by Barrington Phelong) has a beautiful clarinet melody. In this episode, a teenage girl performs the Mozart Concerto and is an important character.
- NCIS “Musical Chairs” (Season 17, Episode 8) – A clarinetist from the elite Navy band is murdered by a poisoned reed. (Maybe he practiced too much altissimo?)
Instances of Mozart’s clarinet music (because it’s apparently an overwhelming favorite and warrants its own category) :
- Soylent Green (1973) – Kegelstatt Trio in the famous eating scene.
- American Gigolo (1980) – Concerto
- M*A*S*H “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” (1983) – Quintet at the end of the final episode (Fun fact: Alan Alda’s wife is a clarinetist – he met her while she performed the Quintet)
- Out of Africa (1985) – Concerto
- Ironweed (1987) – Concerto, mvt II
- Columbo “Uneasy Lies the Crown” (1990) – Quintet
- The Transporter (2002) – Concerto
- 27 Dresses (2008) – Concerto, mvt II
- The King’s Speech (2010) – Concerto
- Chrisley Knows Best (2014-present)- snippets of the Concerto throughout various episodes
I haven’t seen all of these films, but I’ve collected the titles over the years based on friends’ recommendations. By no means is this a comprehensive list, so be sure to leave a comment with more films and series so I can add them to the list!