“He Needs Me” was originally composed for Robert Altman’s 1980 musical version of “Popeye.” The film is hit or miss, but the scene where Duvall’s Olive Oyl sings this lovely song to Robin Williams’s Popeye is definitely the highlight of the film.
Cut to 2002. Altman acolyte and heir P.T. Anderson is putting together “Punch Drunk Love,” his follow-up to the brilliant “Magnolia.” “Punch Drunk Love” is a wonderfully bizarre, disturbing, and moving love story that plays like Sam Peckinpah directing “When Harry Met Sally.” Anderson appropriated “He Needs Me” (with the assistance of his frequent music composer Jon Brion) for a pivotal scene where Adam Sandler (in a rare, but terrific dramatic role) flies to Hawaii to woo Emily Watson’s character. It was a great choice.By the way, if you haven’t seen “Punch Drunk Love,” please do yourself a favor and see it. It’s not your typical love story, but it’s funny, disturbing, and life-affirming all at the same time. The scene where Sandler’s character forcefully confronts the criminal who’s been ruining his one chance at happiness with the line: “I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine” always brings a lump to my throat. A great scene from a great film.