In this second installment of my irregular new series looking at the early career of some iconic composers, we take a look at some more of the more obscure works written by the legendary Ennio Morricone. This group of reviews look at fifteen scores Morricone wrote in 1966 and 1967, including several outstanding jazz and pop pieces, war moves and historical drama, and more of his groundbreaking spaghetti western scores, one of which features one of the most iconic musical primal screams in cinema history!



Mi Vedrai Tornare is an Italian romantic drama directed by Ettore Maria Fizzarotti, which marked the acting debut of the enormously popular pop singer Gianni Morandi, who had a chart hit in Italy with a song of the same name. The film sees Morandi playing Gianni Aleardi, a young sailor enrolled in the Italian Navy, who meets and falls in love with Princess Liu (Elisabetta Wu), a beautiful Japanese girl who returns his affections despite being involved in arranged betrothed to an oriental nobleman living in Rome.

The score’s main theme, “You’ll See Me Return,” is a lightly romantic rock/pop piece led by marimbas and xylophones, underpinned by lush strings, a cooing vocalist, and a contemporary drum kit rhythm section. There is also a lovely (if somewhat stereotypical) Japanese inflection to the theme’s chord progressions, clearly alluding to the national origin of the lovely leading lady. It’s a lightweight theme, really little more than extended instrumental, but it certainly proves that Morricone is adept as writing and arranging music successfully in literally dozens of different styles.

The score for Mi Vedrai Tornare has never been released on CD; there was a 10-minute 45RPM vinyl album released in Italy in 1966 featuring Morricone’s main theme, Morandi’s famous song, and two variations of another song, “La Fisarmonica,” written by Luis Baclov and performed by Morandi, but that’s it. However, the main theme from Mi Vedrai Tornare can be found on the comprehensive 15-CD compilation Ennio Morricone: The Complete Edition, released by GDM Music in 2008.

Track Listing: 1. You’ll See Me Return (2:37), 2. Mi Vedrai Tornare (written by Luis Bacalov, performed by Gianni Morandi) (2:36), 3. La Fisarmonica (written by Luis Bacalov, performed by Gianni Morandi) (2:52), 4. La Fisarmonica – Instrumental (written by Luis Bacalov) (2:52). RCA Records PM-45-2246, 10 minutes 57 seconds.



Svegliati e Uccide, known as Wake Up and Die in English-speaking territories, is an Italian crime drama directed by Carlo Lizzano, starring Robert Hoffmann and Gian Maria Volontè. The story is based on the life of the real-life Italian criminal Luciano Lutring, who was known as “the machine-gun soloist” (“il solista del mitra”) because he kept his weapon of choice hidden in a violin case. Lutring carried out hundreds of robberies in France and Italy during the sixties before being captured during a robbery in Paris in 1966 and subsequently being sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Morricone’s score is notable for its use of an unusual sampled machine gun sound effect under the music, clearly alluding to Lizzano and his famous nickname. The rest of the music offers the genesis of the familiar contemporary crime-thriller sound he would employ frequently throughout his career; the main theme features low, jazzy pianos offset against funky bass flutes, electric guitars, growling brass, and a rock drum kit percussion section, before becoming more elegiac and elegant in its second half through the inclusion of an operatic female soprano vocal.

Several other cues also leave greatly positive impressions, including “Un Uomo Solo,” the lonely secondary theme for Lutring; and the action sequence “Una Troma a Dallas,” which explodes into a chaotic frenzy of throbbing trumpets, Hammond organ, piano, and vocals. The score also spawned a hit song, “Una Stanza Vuota,” performed by Lisa Gastoni.

The best release of the soundtrack is the 2012 release on GDM Records, which builds on the previous various LP and CD relasesd with extra tracks and bonus cues, and is re-mastered for better sound. The main theme from “Svegliati e Uccide” can also be found on the comprehensive 15-CD compilation Ennio Morricone: The Complete Edition, released by GDM Music in 2008.

Track Listing: 1. Una Stanza Vuota #1 (performed by Lisa Gastoni) (2:39), 2. Un Uomo Solo (1:58), 3. Colpo Alla Gioielleria #1 (1:26), 4. Una Stanza Vuota #2 (1:51), 5. La Prima Vittima (2:22), 6. Sul Lago di Lugano (1:45), 7. Svegliati e Uccidi #1 (2:29), 8. La Donna di Un Fuorilegge #1 (0:37), 9. Una Stanza Vuota #3 (1:43), 10. Una Tromba a Dallas #1 (2:49), 11. Svegliati e Uccidi #2 (2:08), 12. Svegliati e Uccidi #3 (1:48), 13. Una Stanza Vuota #4 (performed by Lisa Gastoni) (2:32), 14. Svegliati e Uccidi #4 (2:20), 15. La Donna di Un Fuorilegge #2 (2:01), 16. Una Stanza Vuota #5 (1:45), 17. Svegliati e Uccidi #5 (1:21), 18. Colpo Alla Gioielleria #2 (1:10), 19. Svegliati e Uccidi #6 (1:59), 20. Una Stanza Vuota #6 (0:54), 21. Svegliati e Uccidi #7 (1:24), 22. Una Stanza Vuota #7 (1:05), 23. Svegliati e Uccidi #8 (1:33), 24. Svegliati e Uccidi #9 (1:07), 25. Una Tromba a Dallas #2 (1:56), 26. Una Stanza Vuota (Versione Singolo) (performed by Lisa Gastoni) (2:38). GDM Music 7117, 47 minutes 20 seconds.



Agent 505: Todesfalle Beirut is a pan-European German-language spy thriller written and directed by Manfred Köhler. It stars Czech actor Frederick Stafford as Richard Blake, an Interpol agent using the code name Agent 505, who is sent by his bosses to Beirut, Lebanon, to battle a mysterious criminal known as the Sheik, who plans to destroy the city by dropping radioactive mercury on it. The film, which also stars Geneviève Cluny, Chris Howland, and Willy Birgel, is clearly influenced by the James Bond franchise, with From Russia With Love and Goldfinger having been in cinemas during the previous two years.

The finale cue, “Agente 505 Missione Compiuta,” contains the best performance of the score’s recurring main theme, a sexy and stylish trumpet refrain with a 1960s jazz vibe, underpinned by a bombastic percussive kick. The score also contains a fair amount of more progressive free-jazz, often including throbbing electric and acoustic guitars, as well as some quite exciting action music (“Agente 505 in Azione”) and a more sultry variation on the main theme that features whistling, muted trumpets, and brushed snares.

The best release of the soundtrack is the version which came out in 2007 on the GDM Music label, which pairs just over 30 minutes of score from Agent 505: Todesfalle Beirut with selections of music from the score for the 1963 film Il Successo. The main theme can be found on the comprehensive 15-CD compilation Ennio Morricone: The Complete Edition, released by GDM Music in 2008.

Track Listing: 1. La Trappola Scatta a Beirut – Titoli (1:30), 2. Inseguimento (1:35), 3. Relax Per Un Agent Segreto (2:08), 4. La Trappola (2:02), 5. Baci Dopo Le Palottole (1:17), 6. Agente 505 in Azione (2:22), 7. In Piscina (3:40), 8. Inseguimento Secondo (2:57), 9. Languidamente (2:25), 10. Missione Pericolosa (3:28), 11. Attesa e Fuga (2:06), 12. Tramonto Su Beirut (1:11), 13. Inseguimento Terzo (1:30), 14. Agente 505: Missione Compiuta (4:53). . GDM Music 4012, 33 minutes 04 seconds.



Uccellacci e Uccellini, known in English as The Hawks and the Sparrows, was a critically acclaimed Italian drama, the fourth film directed by the great Pierpaolo Pasolini. The film is a ‘neo-realist’ drama starring the popular Italian comic-actor Totò as a man who, while roaming the neighborhoods within and the countryside around Rome with his son, encounter various people, each of whom represent a political aspect of Italian society. The film is a harsh and biting criticism of post-WWII capitalism that looks at themes of religion, poverty, social inequality and injustice, and the disenfranchisement of minorities; and which draws inspiration for the fable about two Franciscan friars, who are bid by St. Francis to preach the Gospel to hawks and sparrows in a futile attempt to get them to live side by side in harmony.

Morricone’s music is beautiful and tragic, overflowing with haunting string melodies and stirring thematic ideas that appear to have their roots in sacred church music, but is brief, with just 16 minutes of original score in the final cut of the movie. One theme in particular, “S. Francesco Parla Agli Uccelli,” Father Francesco Speaks to the Sparrows, is a stunningly realized string lament which cleverly juxtaposes the scenes of hardship and societal deprivation against beautiful, uplifting orchestral passages. In addition, the film’s opening titles feature a vocal performance by the popular Italian cantuatore singer Domenico Modugno.

My recommended release of the score for Uccellacci e Uccellini is the 2006 GDM Music release, which presents the complete 16-minute score for Uccellacci e Uccellini with music from the 1997 film Cartone Animati. Music from the film can also be found on the comprehensive 15-CD compilation Ennio Morricone: The Complete Edition, released by GDM Music in 2008.

Track Listing: 1. Uccellacci e Uccellini – Titoli di Testa (performed by Domenico Modugno) (2:26), 2. Aforismi (1:53), 3. Teatrino all’Aperto (1:09), 4. Nidi di Rondine (1:03), 5. Scuola di Ballo Al Sole (2:36), 6. S. Francesco Parla Agli Uccelli (1:27), 7. Il Corvo Professore (1:00), 8. Teatrino all’Aperto (0:42), 9. Scarpe Rotte (1:44), 10. Uccellacci e Uccellini – Strumentale (0:46), 11. Funerale (1:12), 12. Uccellacci e Uccellini – Titoli di Coda (0:40). GDM Music 7038, 16 minutes 38 seconds.


EL GRECO (1966)

El Greco is an Italian drama biopic directed by Luciano Salce which tells the life story of master painter Doménikos Theotokópoulos, better known as El Greco, who created multiple masterpieces of renaissance art during the late 16th century. The film stars Mel Ferrer in the title role, with supporting performances by Rosanna Schiaffino and Adolfo Celi, and specifically concentrates on the period of El Greco’s life when he was based in Toledo, Spain, receiving commissions from King Philip II.

The score’s spectacular opening sequence is “Exultate Deo,” a celebratory, resounding fanfare for voices, trumpets, and piano chords, which bookends a stirring, elegantly romantic theme for strings and soft chorus worthy of a sweeping historical drama like this. Morricone’s allows his main to develop throughout the score, offering several beautiful variations, including the tender “Invocazione,” the restrained “Angoscia a Ricerca,” and the stunningly beautiful “Follia e Amore,” the latter of which represents the romantic relationship between El Greco and his beloved Jeronima de las Cuevas.

There’s also a great real of quite flamboyant renaissance-inspired festival music that captures the pageantry and artistic progressiveness of Europe during the period, some liturgical church music for pipe organ (“Rituale”), and even something approaching an action cue in “Per Archi,” which features some furious string writing.

The score for El Greco has been released several times on LP and CD; the most comprehensive release is the 2007 release from GDM Records, which showcases almost an hour of score with re-mastered sound. The main theme from El Greco can also be found on the comprehensive 15-CD compilation Ennio Morricone: The Complete Edition, released by GDM Music in 2008.

Track Listing: 1. Exultate Deo (2:20), 2. Invocazione (3:12), 3. Festa #1 (3:26), 4. Angoscia a Ricerca #2 (2:40), 5. Nascondersi (1:22), 6. Festa #2 (0:13), 7. Rituale (1:35), 8. Angoscia e Ricerca #2 (2:38), 9. Un Suono Lontano #1 (0:56), 10. Angoscia Ericerca II (2:38), 11. Festa #3 (1:17), 12. Invocazione Seconda (1:53), 13. Alleluia Alleluia (1:47), 14. Per Archi (1:20), 15. Asperges Me (1:12), 16. Nascondersi (#2) (0:51), 17. Angoscia e Ricerca #3 (1:03), 18. El Greco Quartetto (1:22), 19. Canti, Part 1 (3:37), 20. Canti, Part 2 (2:43), 21. Unus et Trinus (Conclusione) (3:18), 22. Un Suono Lontano #2 (1:20), 23. Angoscia a Ricerca #4 (3:58), 24. Follia e Amore (2:38), 25. Discesa (1:18). GDM Music 7046, 50 minutes 37 seconds.



A very important and critically acclaimed Italian neo-realist war film, The Battle of Algiers was documentary specialist Gillo Pontecorvo’s first success at making narrative films; it told the story of the war between France and Algeria in the late 1950s and early 60s, when Algerian separatists were fighting for independence, and waged a guerrilla war against the French government in the streets of that country’s cities. The film starred Jean Martin as Coloniel Mathieu, the head of the French battalion in Algiers, and Saadi Yacef as Djafar, the leader of the group of insurgents. The film was enormously successful, receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Foreign Language Film.

Much of the film is scored naturalistically with traditional North African drumming and manipulated sound effects designed by director Pontecorvo himself, but Morricone did write around 40 minutes of traditional score, His most notable contribution is the stark, militaristic main title theme, “Algeri 1 Novembre 1954,” an aggressive and slightly chaotic piece that pits a relentless snare drum tattoo against rolling pianos, martial trumpets, and intensely rendered woodwinds, capturing the danger and hostility that spilled over from the souks and casbahs and into the forefront of Algerian society at that time.

The best release of the score is the 2015 release from Quartet Records, which features the complete score digitally enhanced with cleaned-up sound, and presented in a handsome collectors edition package.

Track Listing: 1. Algeri: 1 Novembre 1954 (2:28), 2. Rue de Tebes (2:49), 3. Giugno 1956: Gli Attentati (1:25), 4. Il Bastone e la Carota (Marcia) (3:02), 5. Il Dolore Sulla Casbah (0:55), 6. Tema di Ali (3:12), 7. Luglio 1956: Gli Attentati (3:24), 8. Matrimonio Clandestino (2:22), 9. Gennaio 1957: Accerchiamento Della Casbah (1:17), 10. Le Torture (3:15), 11. Algeri: 1 Novembre 1954 (1:22), 12. Cospirazione (2:51), 13. Pace Apparente (3:09), 14. Cospirazione Seconda (1:59), 15. Tema Di Ali (3:56), 16. Fine Della Battaglia (3:07). Quartet Records QR-193, 40 minutes 33 seconds.



Un Uomo a Metà is an Italian drama film directed by Vittorio de Seta, which stars Jacques Perrin as Michele, a failed writer who, while incarcerated in a mental health clinic, looks back on his life to try to find the origin of his mental problems, including his controlling mother (Lea Padovani), his selfish brother (Gianni Garko), and his numerous failed relationships with women. The film was a critical success, with Perrin winning the Best Actor award for his performance during the 1966 Venice Film Festival.

Morricone’s score for Un Uomo a Metà comprises just one single piece, a 23-minute composition entitled Requiem Per Un Destino, which explores Michele’s damaged psyche and troubled past through a series of expressive, impressionistic orchestral and choral passages, usually written for overlapping layers of strings. One sequence – “Accettare, Comprende, Quest il Senso, il Segreto” – is especially noteworthy for the way the different parts of the string section shift against each other, sometimes tonally beautiful, sometimes uncomfortably dissonant.

Considering it’s nature as a one-movement score, the music for Un Uomo a Metà has been included many times on different compilations and releases over the years. The 2012 release from GDM/Legend presents the score in stereo, and with improved sound quality, for the first time, and pairs it with Morricone’s music from the 1968 film Ecce Homo.

Track Listing: 1. Requiem Per Un Destino (23:08). GDM/Legend 4217, 23 minutes 08 seconds.



One of the most popular spaghetti westerns of the 1960s, Navajo Joe was directed by Sergio Corbucci and stars a young Burt Reynolds as the titular character, a Native American warrior on a quest or vengeance after his tribe is massacred by a gang of white outlaws led by the ruthless Duncan. Having tracked the gang to a town, Esperanza, Joe finds out about Duncan’s plan to hijack a train full of money, and offers to protect the townspeople by killing Duncan and his men; however, Joe faces a great deal opposition from the residents, especially the town doctor Lynne, who convinces everyone not to trust a ‘redskin,’ and who is secretly in league with Duncan for a share of the money.

Ennio Morricone’s main thematic idea is one of his most famous –  a wild, insanely creative march for strings, electric guitar, and tribal percussion, enlivened by some utterly bonkers vocal effects including shouting, pseudo-Gospel wailing, literal screaming, and a choir chanting both Navajo Joe’s name, and many of his positive characteristics (ever so bold, and so on). The second most important piece is the stark, imposing “A Silhouette of Doom,” which acts as a recurring motif for Duncan and his men, and  layers low-end piano clusters against bold timpani strikes, severe trumpet whole notes, searching strings, screeching woodwinds, and more of those iconic vocals.

These two themes dominate the score, with multiple variations of both ideas throughout (the dreamily slow version in “Joe’s Departure” is interesting), but other pieces stop the score from becoming monotonous: on the one hand, there are a few cues of rambunctious saloon music featuring honky-tonk pianos and banjos, while on the other hand you get a track like the beautifully introspective and calming “The Demise of Father Rattinan” with it’s sensitive acoustic guitars, lyrical oboe, and cooing vocals.

After many years of incomplete and inconsistent releases, the complete score for Navajo Joe was released in 2007 by producer Lukas Kendall on his Film Score Monthly label, featuring cleaned-up sound, a more sensible running order, and handsome production values including liner notes from Italian film music expert John Bender and film director Jim Wynorski.

Track Listing: 1. Navajo Joe (Main Title) (2:50), 2. A Silhouette of Doom (2:54), 3. Duncan’s Plan (0:31), 4. The Peyote Saloon (2:32), 5. Wiping Out the Town (0:41), 6. The Road to Esperanza (Main Title/Navajo Joe) (1:54), 7. The Engineer’s Harmonica (0:09), 8. Duncan’s Wild Bunch (Goodbye to Brother Jeffrey) (0:27), 9. Train Massacre (0:42), 10. Fear and Silence (1:49), 11. A Dollar a Head (2:20), 12. Joe’s Departure (End Title/Navajo Joe) (2:14), 13. An Indian Story (Healing the Wound) (2:01), 14. Ride Into Town (1:49), 15. But Joe Say No (1:20), 16. To Intermission (0:38), 17. Torture (The Bandit Gets the Train) (2:01), 18. Navajo Harmonica, Part 1 (0:40), 19. Navajo Harmonica, Part 2 (0:48), 20. The Navajo Escapes (1:38), 21. A Bad Childhood (0:26), 22. Joe and His Woman (1:07), 23. The Horses Set Free (0:48), 24. The Demise of Father Rattigan (The Demise of Barbara) (2:56), 25. From Esperanza (To Esperanza) (1:47), 26. Over the Mountain (1:13), 27. The Search for Joe (1:05), 28. The Confrontation/The Return of Joe (1:53), 29. After the End (2:16), 30. Main Title (Film Version) (3:01) BONUS, 31. Raw Hides and Dead Hides (1:20) BONUS, 32. Fear and Silence (1:49) BONUS, 33. The Navajo’s a Prisoner (1:40) BONUS, 34. Navajo Joe Medley (2:06) BONUS, 35. Sadness (0:33) BONUS. Film Score Monthly FSMCD 10-14, 53 minutes 58 seconds.



Another acclaimed spaghetti western, La Resa dei Conti was directed by Sergio Sollima and starred Lee Van Cleef as ageing bounty hunter Jonathan Corbett, who is tasked by a railroad tycoon named Brokston to capture and/or kill Mexican bandito Cuchillo, who has been accused of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl. However, Corbett is not as reliable as he used to be, and Cuchillo evades him, forcing Brokston – who has stakes his future political career on Cuchillo capture – to send a second bounty hunter to take out Cuchillo and, if necessary, Corbett as well. The film co-starred Walter Barnes, Tomas Milian, and Gérard Herter, and was acclaimed by film critics such as Leonard Maltin as one of the finest spaghetti westerns, second only to Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy.

Morricone’s score is another one of his experimental, unusual compositions for the genre, which combined traditional action scoring with a number of unique and often quite bizarre sounds and arrangements. The main title cue “La Caccia,” for example. begins with what I can only describe as ‘the sounds of someone making squawking bird noises, and someone rubbing wet fingers across a window,’ but it slowly develops into a superbly adventurous main theme with a resounding trumpet chorus , relentless horse-gallop percussion, and an angelic female soprano vocal.

As one of the most popular western scores, the score for The Big Gundown has been released multiple times. The best presentation of the complete score is probably the one released by GDM Music in 2012, which features more than 50 minutes of music, including the two performances of the original song “Run Man Run” performed by vocalist Christy with Alessandro Alessandroni’s choir I Cantori Moderni, and conducted by Bruno Nicolai.

Track Listing: 1. Run Man Run (2:48), 2. La Vedova (1:11), 3. Titoli di Testa (La Caccia) (2:39), 4. La Corrida (1:52), 5. Dopo la Condanna (1:44), 6. Primo Deserto (2:30), 7. La Condanna (1:12), 8. La Resa (2:47), 9. La Resa dei Conti (Seconda Caccia) (2:19), 10. Arriva Cucillo (0:49), 11. Coro dei Mormoni (1:40), 12. Secondo Deserto (1:24), 13. Titoli di Coda (La Resa dei Conti) (1:02), 14. Corri Uomo Corri (2:48), 15. Arriva Cucillo (Versione Lunga) (1:49), 16. La Resa dei Conti (Titoli – Ripresa) (2:00), 17. Primo Deserto (Jonathan Corbett) (1:51), 18. La Vedova (Il Ranch) (2:03), 19. Primo Deserto (Arriva Corbett) (1:51), 20. La Resa dei Conti (Square Dance Nuziale) (5:08), 21. Primo Deserto (Il Morso del Serpente) (4:24), 22. La Resa dei Conti (Rosita) (2:21), 23. Primo Deserto (Preso nell’Imboscata) (0:54), 24. La Resa dei Conti (Mariachi) (0:41), 25. Run Man Run (Titoli Finale) (3:21). GDM Music 4215, 53 minutes 08 seconds.



Dalle Ardenne all’Inferno, known in English as Dirty Heroes, is an Italian war film directed by Alberto de Martino, starring Frederick Stafford as the leader of a gang of Allied soldiers plotting to steal some diamonds from a fortified Nazi German bunker during the Battle of the Ardennes at the end of World War II. The film – which also starred John Ireland and several James Bond alumni (Daniela Bianchi from From Russia With Love, Adolfo Celi from Thunderball, Anthony Dawson from Dr. No, Curt Jürgens who would later star in The Spy Who Loved Me) – was one of the first of the so-called “macaroni combat” war films inspired by the American film The Dirty Dozen, but it was not well reviewed, and received a great deal of criticism for its poor acting and screenplay, slow pacing, and numerous logical errors.

The score is built mostly around two recurring main themes. The “Ardennes Theme March” is a wonderfully dark, imposing piece for staccato percussion, tolling bells, punchy brass, and a masculine choral element which eventually gives way to a rousing refrain for an impressive bank of trumpets. “Christine’s Theme” is the theme for Daniela Bianchi’s character, the unhappy wife of the German commander who helps the Allies with their mission; her theme is a pretty, but slightly bittersweet melody for longing woodwinds, harp glissandi, a tinkling mandolin, swooning strings, and a soothing choir.

The complete soundtrack was released for the first (and, to date, only) time in 2009 by Beat Records, although as is usually the way of things it includes five versions of the main Ardennes Theme march, six versions of Christine’s Theme, to pad out the running time to over an hour. Both themes can also be found on the comprehensive 15-CD compilation Ennio Morricone: The Complete Edition, released by GDM Music in 2008.

Track Listing: 1. Ardennes Theme Marcia (3:26), 2. Open Sesame (1:43), 3. Flee, Guys (3:33), 4. Peek-a-Boo (1:45), 5. Tema di Cristine (1:32), 6. Impossible Job (2:48), 7. Tema di Cristine (1:58), 8. Tema di Cristine (1:39), 9. Papers and Diamonds (3:16), 10. Tema di Cristine (1:57), 11. Cristine’s Doubt (2:04), 12. Action Plan (2:13), 13. L’Ultimo Respiro (2:08), 14. Lunga Attesa (2:26), 15. Last Breath (2:31), 16. Circling Line (3:01), 17. Cornering the Story (3:09), 18. Tema di Cristine (1:16), 19. Dawn of Love (3:13), 20. Ardennes Theme Marcia (2:17), 21. Ardennes Theme Marcia (2:12), 22. Falling From The Sky (2:35), 23. After the Battle (3:48), 24. Tema di Cristine (2:40), 25. Ardenne’s Theme Shortcut (0:40), 26. Ardennes Theme Marcia (LP Version) (2:50). Beat Records CDCR-86, 62 minutes 40 seconds.



Da Uomo a Uomo, known in English as Death Rides a Horse, is a brutal spaghetti western directed by Giulio Petroni about, as they often are, revenge and murder. The film stars Lee Van Cleef as Ryan, a gunfighter who is released from a prison after 15 years, having been framed for an armed robbery. As he sets out to track down the members of the gang who framed him he repeatedly crosses paths with Bill (John Philip Law), a young man whose entire family was murdered 15 years previously by members of the same gang that framed Ryan, and who is looking for vengeance of his own.

Morricone’s score for the film is based mostly around two recurring main themes: “Death Rides a Horse” and “Monody for Guitar.” The main “Death Rides a Horse” theme is a nerve-jangling piece for a bank of acoustic guitars, overlaid with an array of the unusual sound effects that Morricone often used for scores like this, notably a wildly impressionistic pan flute, rattling tambourines and driven timpani, and a chanted choral song espousing lyrics of impending doom (“he’ll be comin’ down the mountains, he’ll be drivin’ all his hatred”).

“Monody for Guitar,” meanwhile, is a more sorrowful sounding piece for guitars and hummed vocals that speaks to the lonely quest for vengeance undertaken by both men. There is also a slower piece, “Mystic and Severe,” which becomes quite hypnotic, and some more brooding tension music in “Anger and Sorrow” and “Alone in the Dark”.

The score for Death Rides a Horse was been released several times over the years. The best is the one released by GDM Music in 2004, which presents a more concise version of the music in a tight 45-minute package, although again there are five variations on the main theme, and three versions of the Monody for Guitar; it was re-released in 2010, again by GDM, with the addition of some stereo bonus cues.

Track Listing: 1. Death Rides a Horse #1 (3:21), 2. Guitar Nocturne (2:51), 3. Death Rides a Horse #2 (2:02), 4. Monody for Guitar #1 (2:40), 5. Ghost (0:46), 6. Death Rides a Horse #3 (2:55), 7. Alone in the Night (3:26), 8. Mystic and Severe #1 (3:08), 9. Monody for Guitar #2 (3:38), 10. A Man and a Whistle (3:23), 11. Anger and Sorrow (2:57), 12. Death Rides a Horse #4 (4:19), 13. Monody for Guitar #3 (4:57), 14. Death Rides a Horse #5 (1:26), 15. Mystic and Severe #2 (2:28), 16. Death Rides a Horse – Vocal Version (2:28). GDM Music 2040, 46 minutes 45 seconds.



L’Avventuriero is an Italian historical adventure drama film directed by Terence Young, based on the novel The Rover by Joseph Conrad. It is set against the backdrop of the French Revolution in the late 1700s and Anthony Quinn as Peyrol, an ageing former gunner with the French republican navy who went rogue and became a notorious pirate, but who seeks to leave his life of bloodshed behind him after 50 years adventuring on the high seas. The film co-stars Rosanna Schiaffino, Richard Johnson, and Rita Hayworth in one of her final screen roles.

The main theme, “L’Avventuriero,” is an unexpectedly thoughtful and introspective piece for strings, harpsichord, and solo violin, which is period-appropriate and casts a somber and possibly regretful look back at Peyrol’s life, the sins he has committed, and his longing for more peaceful conclusion to his life. A secondary melody half way through the cue has an almost lullaby-ish quality. This is counterbalanced by several versions of a darker and more insistent piece, “Il Rogo Della Strega,” which features a wonderfully vivid and flamboyant classical violin against urgent low percussion, tempestuous piano rolls, and massed voices shouting in fear, capturing Peyrol’s terrible reputation as the a rogue upon the high seas. Meanwhile, “Peirol’s Theme” has a more dream-like solo violin and soft, enticing voices cooing his name.

The most comprehensive release of the score is the 2010 version released by GDM Records, which features more than an hour of Morricone’s music (although there are seven different variations on the main theme). The main theme from L’Avventuriero can also be found on the comprehensive 15-CD compilation Ennio Morricone: The Complete Edition, released by GDM Music in 2008.

Track Listing: 1. L’Avventuriero #1 (4:45), 2. Il Rogo Della Strega #1 (3:40), 3. Agguato Notturno (1:23), 4. Un Attimo di Tenerezza #1 (0:54), 5. Paura dei Ricordi (1:46), 6. L’Avventuriero #2 (2:40), 7. Tema di Peirol #1 (3:13), 8. Peirol Forza il Blocco #1 (7:39), 9. Il Varo #1 (2:08), 10. L’Avventuriero #3 (1:49), 11. Momenti Sereni #1 (1:23), 12. L’Avventuriero #4 (2:41), 13. Il Rogo Della Strega #2 (2:13), 14. Un Attimo di Tenerezza #2 (2:51), 15. L’Avventuriero #5 (2:34), 16. Peirol Forza Il Blocco #2 (6:59), 17. L’Avventuriero #6 (2:15), 18. Il Varo #2 (2:01), 19. Momenti Sereni #2 (2:13), 20. Tema di Peirol #2 (3:32), 21. L’Avventuriero #7 (6:03). GDM Music 7082, 64 minutes 42 seconds.



Ad Ogni Costo, released as Grand Slam in the United States, is a crime caper directed by Giuliano Montaldo, starring Edward G. Robinson as an American professor living in Brazil who, having grown bored with his life in academia, decides to try to pull off a diamond heist during the Rio Carnival. To this end he gathers together a team of skilled crime specialists, including an electronics engineer and a safecracking expert, to help him complete the job, while elsewhere a French playboy is hired to romance the only key to the building from its beautiful female owner, played by Janet Leigh.

The score is based around three main recurring themes. The main title, “Punto e Basta,” is an irrepressibly sunny piece of Herb Alpert-style Tijuana jazz, with a jaunty trumpet refrain, a light pop percussion section, and a choir ‘la la la’-ing and ‘ba-da-ba-ing over the melody. “Vai Via Malinconia” is a more lounge-based jazz piece with its roots in Brazilian bossa nova, with a moody trumpet melody and glittering rhythmic guitars. The eponymous “Ad Ogni Costo” is a little darker and more intense, but still based around jazz music principles, with an unusually metered rhythmic centerpiece for harpsichord and guitars, surrounded by all manner of ethnic shakers and percussion items.

Elsewhere, “Ai, Moreno” is a clattering, flamboyant carnival piece for trumpets and voices that make you want to done a fruit-encrusted headdress and shake your hips. “In Chiesa” is a gorgeous piece of liturgical church music for strings and pipe organ. Finally, “Dirgli Solo No” has a soft rumba beat and, oddly, a set of vaguely Chinese-sounding chord progressions, oddly juxtaposed against wistful vocals. None of this is really going to appeal to anyone who doesn’t care for Morricone’s Latin-flavored pop scores, but I like it a great deal.

I personally own the 1999 RCA Records release which combines 24 minutes of music from Ad Ogni Costo with score from the 1965 movie Menage all’Italiana. However, the most complete release of the music appears to be 2010 edition from GDM Music, which expands the score to 54 minutes with eleven variations on several of the core themes, and presents it with enhanced digital sound.

Track Listing: 1. Punto e Basta – Titoli di Testa (2:56), 2. Vai Via Malinconia (1:30), 3. Ad Ogni Costo (2:43), 4. Vai Via Malinconia #2 (1:37), 5. In Chiesa (2:27), 6. Dirgli Solo No (2:12), 7. Tudo e Nada (2:43), 8. Voce (2:30), 9. Ai, Morena (2:22), 10. Samba do Desprezo (1:59), 11. Eu Fiz Mal Em Dizer (2:03), 12. Samba Bamba (Versione Coro (3:20), 13. Ai, Morena #2 (2:05), 14. Punto e Basta #2 (2:56), 15. Dirgli Solo No #2 (2:32), 16. Samba Bamba (Versione Strumente con Tromba) (3:20), 17. Ad Ogni Costo #2 (1:59), 18. Vai Via Malinconia #3 (1:41), 19. Ai, Morena #3 (3:22), 20. Dirgli Solo No #3 (3:07), 21. Tudo e Nada #2 (2:07), 22. Vai Via Malinconia #4 (2:29). GDM Music 7086, 54 minutes 00 seconds.


L’HAREM (1967)

L’Harem was a European comedy-drama with sexual undertones, directed by Marco Ferreri and starring Carroll Baker. Baker plays Margherita, a sexually liberated young woman with several male lovers, who plays emotional games of pride and desire with three of them, pitting them against each other to win her affections during a summer trip to Croatia. The film was intended to be something of a commentary on gender stereotypes, and had the potential to be scandalous by having the lead character be female – a role reversal from the usual 1960s tropes of men having affairs with numerous beautiful women – but the film was a flop.

Morricone’s score, unexpectedly, undercuts the drama by containing a lot of music that is quite jazzy and upbeat. The main recurring theme, “L’Harem,” is sultry piece based on a languid solo saxophone melody accompanied by moody strings and some vaguely Middle Eastern percussion ideas involving light chimes, castanets, and watery-sounding percussion.

The score is quite short, and so the soundtrack album is based around multiple extended variations on these two main themes, some of which are close to 10 minutes long. Beat Records released an excellent album in 2017, with five pieces, plus some bonus tracks from the 1965 film Menage all’Italia.

Track Listing: 1. L’Harem Primo (7:06), 2. Sei Corde #1 (5:21), 3. L’Harem Primo – Solo Sax (9:55), 4. Sei Corde #2 (2:45), 5. L’Harem Secondo (6:26). Beat Records BCM-9548, 31 minutes 33 seconds.



One of the best reviewed spaghetti western films of the genre’s golden era, Faccia a Faccia was the second western directed by Sergio Sollima after La Resa dei Conti in 1966. It stars Gian Maria Volontè as Professor Brad Fletcher, a liberal East Coast professor, who travels to the west during the American civil war and strikes up an unlikely relationship with Beauregard Bennet (Tomas Milian), a career criminal. Over the course of many years Fletcher and Bennet encounter each other several times, often saving each other’s lives, with each occurrence affecting the other man deeply – Fletcher teaches Bennet to be more humane, while Bennet gives Fletcher several hard doses of reality about life in the American west, and the circumstances which drove him to the outlaw life.

While not as memorable or outlandish as many of his other spaghetti westerns, Morricone’s score for Faccia a Faccia is excellent. The main theme, repeated numerous times in different variations throughout the score, is a rambunctious and dramatic piece which builds out of an impressionistic sequence for drums and organ, slowly turning  into a superb combination of nerve-jangling guitars, riotous clashing brass clusters, and a soaring countermelody for strings and chorus. One particular variation on this theme, “Intermezzo,” features the sublimely operatic vocals of Morricone’s regular collaborator Edda dell’Orso.

A recurring secondary theme, “Involuzione,” speaks to the life of Tomas Milian’s character with softer tones, clearly lamenting the fact that truly desperate circumstances, as opposed to personal choice, forced Bennet into his life as a gunslinger. A third theme, “Disperata Nostalgia” is a lovely piece for quasi-romantic acoustic guitars, and there are the usual old-timey saloon music source cues for banjo and harmonica (“Falso Preannuncio,” “Ballando sull’Aia,” “Square Dance”), plus sparsely-scored moments of suspense and danger (“Clandestinamente,” “Scatto Conclusivo,” “Tensione Sottintesa”).

Several versions of the soundtrack for Faccia a Faccia exist; the best one is probably the 2015 GDM/Intermezzo Media 2-CD release, which combines the score with music from the 1971 film Senza Movente. The Faccia a Faccia album presents the excellent original 16-track LP release of the score which enhanced, clean-up stereo sound, and beefs up the running time with a dozen or so variations on the main theme., although the endless repetition does tend to become tiresome, and I usually play the original LP program, and stop after Track 16.

Track Listing: 1. Faccia a Faccia – Titoli (3:15), 2. Preannuncio (1:48), 3. Misterioso e Ostinato (2:22), 4. Clandestinamente (3:03), 5. Faccia a Faccia – Intermezzo (2:46), 6. Falso Preannuncio (2:04), 7. Attimi Irripetibili (0:41), 8. Scatto Conclusivo (1:36), 9. Faccia a Faccia – Ripresa (1:33), 10. Seconda Conclusione (0:45), 11. Disperata Nostalgia (0:49), 12. Tensione Sottintesa (2:00), 13. Involuzione Epica (1:08), 14. Faccia a Faccia (Finale (1:23), 15. Ballando sull’Aia (1:44), 16. Square Dance (4:53), 17. Involuzione Epica #2 (1:29), 18. Preannunico #2 (2:54), 19. Misterioso E Ostinato #2 (0:59), 20. Faccia a Faccia (1:37), 21. Involuzione (1:16), 22. Disperata Nostalgia #2 (0:47), 23. Faccia a Faccia – Ripresa #2 (1:19), 24. Faccia a Faccia – Duello (1:49), 25. Tensione Sottintesa #2 (1:41), 26. Misterioso e Ostinato #3 (0:38), 27. Tensione Sottintesa #3 (0:25), 28. Faccia a Faccia – Ripresa #3 (0:40), 29. Faccia a Faccia – Intermezzo #2 (0:54), 30. Involuzione Epica #3 (1:54), 31. Faccia a Faccia – Ripresa #4 (1:25), 32. Faccia a Faccia Suite (2:20), 33. Faccia a Faccia Titoli – Stereo (3:13), 34. Faccia a Faccia Intermezzo- Stereo (1:55). GDM/Intermezzo Media Records GDM-01005, 59 minutes 05 seconds.

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