Today in ’66: Otis Redding Released the Single That Gave Jon Cryer an Iconic ‘80s Movie Moment
53 years ago today, Otis Redding released the second single from his album COMPLETE & UNBELIEVABLE: THE OTIS REDDING DICTIONARY OF SOUL, and while the song was a decent hit on the Billboard Hot 100, it became the stuff of legend with a little help from the silver screen.
Written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly, and Harry M. Woods, âTry a Little Tendernessâ was first recorded way back in 1932, when the Ray Noble Orchestra released it as a single with Val Rosing on vocals. It would later also be recorded by Bing Crosby and Three Dog Night, but it was a few years prior to the latterâs take on the track that Otis Redding did his version, a.k.a. the one thatâs arguably the most iconic of all time.
Various versions of âTry a Little Tendernessâ have been featured in a number of films over the years, including Dr. Strangelove and The Commitments, but today weâre focusing on the one that introduced most children of the â80s to both the song and the work of Otis Redding.
Yes, thatâs right: weâre talking about when Jon Cryer lip-syncs it in Pretty in Pink.
In an interview with The A.V. Club, Cryer offered up the story of how he learned about the songâs selection for that scene in the film and why his unbridled performance caused a schedule change in the filmâs production.
âOkay, first of all, I had become fairly well known in my group of friends for doing a somewhat uncanny Mick Jagger impression, so that was my background in lip-synching. We had talked about me doing that, but Howie wanted to do something a little more devotional, something that was a little more about being into someone, because the Rolling Stonesâ stuff is often a lot more ironic and detached than that. So Howieâs dad was in the music business for many years and had a lot of connections, and Howie said, âWhat do you think about doing an Otis Redding song?â And I said, âWhich one?â I knew âDock Of The Bay,â but I didnât know a lot of his songs. And he said, âWell, thereâs a song called âTry A Little Tenderness.â Iâll play it for you.â My first reaction was, âThis is really long!â It has this whole long opening that they ended up cutting. But I thought, âOkay, this is a different way to go.â I love the song. I mean, you just canât listen to that and not be amazed by the song.
âSo Howie suggested that I get together with a choreographer, Kenny Ortega, who has gone on to be wildly successful. Actually, he did a lot of iconic dance work in the â80s; he did Dirty Dancing. So he and I got together one night and came up with some fun stuff to do, but we kept it very loose. And we showed it to Howie the next day, in the actual location, and Howieâs face just fell. And so did Lauren Schuler Donnerâs, who was the producer. Iâd finished it, and I was huffing and puffing like at the end of Riverdance, my arms outstretched. But they just seemed crestfallen. So I said, âWhatâs the matter?â And Howie said, âOh, no, itâs great,â but in this very offhand manner. Then he said, âThe problem is, I have to shoot it.â I said, âThatâs a problem?â He said, âYeah, because we only slated half a day, and thatâs gonna take a couple of days.â So he and Lauren huddled, and I heard much muttering between the two of âem, and they agreed to change the schedule. This was in the first week of Howieâs first major gig as a director. So he basically agreed to put himself behind schedule the very first week, thus making him behind the eight ball for the whole rest of the shoot, in order to get that scene. At the time, I didnât realize that was a really gutsy thing to do. But I think it paid off for the movie.â
For more information, click the buttons below: