Gene MacLellan song makes appearance in Hollywood film

Colin MacLean
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Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman play the two leads in the film “Prisoners,” now playing at Empire Theatres Studio 5 in Summerside.

SUMMERSIDE – Local moviegoers who’ve gone to see the new Warner Bros. flick “Prisoners,” may have noted a Prince Edward Island connection.

Island songwriter and musician Gene MacLellan’s famous song “Put Your Hand in the Hand,” performed by “Ocean,” can be heard playing in the first scene of the movie.

Want to hear the song? Click HERE!

See the trailer and more HERE.

This was surprising, to say the least, for Gene’s daughter, Catherine MacLellan, another noted Island singer and songwriter. 

She only heard about the song’s appearance in the movie when contacted by the Journal Pioneer.

“That’s crazy! And very cool,” said Catherine.

She explained that while the rights to her father’s famous songs are still owned by his family, the marketing and sale of it is controlled by EMI Music in the United States.

Gene, who was originally from Quebec, passed away in Summerside in 1995.

To hear her dad’s song in such a prominent Hollywood film is very unusual, said Catherine.

“It used to happen more often,” she explained.

“Like, every once in a while you’d find out that somebody like Ricky Skaggs was going to cover one of his songs – but its definitely slowed down over the last few years, especially in the American market.”

However, she added that her dad’s songs are actually becoming more popular with young Canadian musicians.

“In the Canadian scene it seems more young people are covering my dad’s songs. I hear a lot about that. But as far as movie placements – not a lot of that happens.”

“Put Your Hand in the Hand,” was recorded in the early 1970s and is an anthemic pop/gospel song.

It, along with many of MacLellan’s body of work, has been covered by countless artists like Elvis Presley and Anne Murray and has remained popular even after all these years.

A quick YouTube search for this song’s title returns more than 14,000 hits – many of them of people singing their own versions.

Catherine said she’s always glad to see her dad’s musical legacy live on.

“It’s never strange to hear that somebody is covering him, it’s always exciting. And it’s very unusual that it would be placed in such a mainstream movie. But it’s exciting, it’s good to know that they can still use his music,” she said.

Catherine also said she now has a mission.

“I’m definitely going to go see the movie,” she laughed.

“Prisoners” stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Terrence Howard.

And while Gene’s song is light and uplifting – this movie is not.

“Prisoners” is a psychological thriller and the story involves the disappearance of two young girls, a detective’s efforts to find them and the extreme, sometimes violent, efforts their fathers go through to find them.

The film entered theatres about a week ago and has garnered some very favourable reviews.



Organizations: Warner Bros., Journal Pioneer, EMI Music

Geographic location: Hollywood, SUMMERSIDE, Prince Edward Island United States Quebec

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