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ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part XI

March 6, 2021 Leave a comment

In this eleventh installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at seven of the dozens of scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1971. The titles covered here include a trio of historical films – one romance, one comedy, one serious drama – plus an action comedy about aerobatics, a left wing sociopolitical drama, a challenging giallo thriller score, and one last great Sergio Leone western.
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ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part X

February 13, 2021 Leave a comment

In this tenth installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at the final seven scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1970. These titles include one of the most important giallo scores of all time, a couple of quirky dramas, two spaghetti westerns (one of which stars Clint Eastwood), and a psychedelic sex comedy score that has to be heard to be believed! Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part IX

February 7, 2021 Leave a comment

In this ninth installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at half a dozen scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1970. The scores include an intense action thriller, a revenge-themed war film, a historical epic drama that sounds like a dance party, an abstract score for a crime drama, and two scores containing what many people consider to be two of his all-time greatest themes, one of which is my personal all time favorite Morricone love theme! Read more…

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST – Ennio Morricone

December 7, 2020 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned Italian director Sergio Leone had achieved what many believed to be the pinnacle of success in 1966, following completion of the last film of his famous Dollars trilogy, “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. Despite receiving universal accolades, he decided that he had said everything he wanted to say, and would not be returning to the Western genre. Hollywood studios, however, had other ideas, and wanted to capitalize on his talent and record of success. United Artists offered him opportunity to make a new Western, and his choice of the leading actors of the day including Charlton Heston, Kirk Douglas or Rock Hudson. Leone declined, but when Paramount made a very generous financial offer, which also included an opportunity to work with Henry Fonda, Leone’s favorite actor, he agreed. Fulvio Morsella was tasked with producing and a budget of $5 million was provided. Leone hired Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento to assist him in crafting a screenplay. Later in the project Italian screenwriter Sergio Donati was brought in to assist with editing the film’s length as well as fine tuning the script’s dialogue. A fine cast was assembled, which included Henry Fonda as Frank, Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain, Jason Robards as Manuel “Cheyenne” Gutiérrez, Charles Bronson as “Harmonica”, Gabriele Ferzetti as Mr. Morton, Paolo Stoppa as Sam, and Frank Wolff as Brett McBain. Read more…

HAMLET – Ennio Morricone

November 12, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been literally dozens of versions of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet made for film and television over the years, ranging from Lawrence Olivier’s 1948 masterpiece, to Tony Richardson’s 1968 version based on his own London stage production, to Kenneth Branagh’s spectacularly lavish unabridged version released in 1995. In 1990 Italian director Franco Zeffirelli released his own version, which was made to appeal directly to Hollywood sensibilities through its casting of Mel Gibson in the title role. The story is, of course, a classic one, wherein the titular prince of Denmark plots revenge against his uncle Claudius, who murdered his brother the king – Hamlet’s father – with the help of Hamlet’s mother Gertrude. It’s a timeless story of violence, betrayal, retribution, and madness, and has a spectacular cast including Glenn Close, Alan Bates, Paul Scofield, Ian Holm, and Helena Bonham-Carter as the luckless Ophelia. Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part VIII

October 17, 2020 Leave a comment

In this eighth installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at the final eight scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1969, and in the entire 1960s decade. This group of reviews is a typical mixed bag, exploring several pop-psychedelia and jazz scores for a series of romantic dramas, an all-time Morricone concert favorite, an under-represented but excellent spaghetti western, and a sex drama that contains a piece of music that will be VERY familiar to British professional darts fans! Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part VII

October 3, 2020 Leave a comment

In this seventh installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at nine of the scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1969. This group of reviews looks at the music for several erotic dramas with a jazzy Euro-pop vibe, a French gangster film, a bizarre futuristic science fiction film that was banned in its own country, and two war movies – one of which is, in my opinion, a mostly undiscovered Morricone masterpiece! Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part VI

September 19, 2020 Leave a comment

In this sixth installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at the remaining twelve the scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1968, one of the most prolific years of any composer in cinema history. This group of reviews looks at the music for one of the greatest westerns of all time – Once Upon a Time in the West – and a variety of other scores across a multitude of genres, including pop-psychedelia scores for romances, ‘nunsploitation,’ avant garde atonalism for giallo horror, hard-boiled crime thrillers, social realist dramas, and so much more! Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part V

August 2, 2020 Leave a comment

In this fifth installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at nine of the scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1968, one of the most prolific years of any composer in cinema history. This group of reviews looks at the music for a couple of great spaghetti westerns, several influential pop-psychedelia scores, and a dark science fiction drama score which allowed Morricone to channel his more serious avant-garde side, and his first collaboration with the great Italian director Dario Argento. Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part IV

July 18, 2020 Leave a comment

In this fourth installment of my series looking at the early career of some iconic composers, we take a look at ten more scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone between 1962 and 1967, most of which are among the most obscure of his early years. This group of reviews includes a couple of great spaghetti westerns, several influential pop-psychedelia scores, several lounge music scores accompanying movies bolstering the acting careers of singers, his final score for director Marco Bellocchio, and his first score for horror director Lucio Fulce! Read more…

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part III

July 9, 2020 Leave a comment

In this third installment of my irregular series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at an additional eight scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone between 1961 and 1967 which were not included in the first two articles. This group of reviews includes the first ever western that Morricone scored, several other spaghetti westerns from the Fistful of Dollars era, and several comedic and dramatic romance scores – one of which was for an early film by one of Europe’s most esteemed directors. Read more…

Ennio Morricone, 1928-2020

July 6, 2020 1 comment

Composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020, in hospital in Rome, Italy, after suffering complications following a fall at his home, in which he broke his leg. He was 91.

Ennio Morricone was born in Rome, Italy, in November 1928. He studied at the Conservatory of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, where he specialized in trumpet performance and composition. During the 1950s Morricone orchestrated and arranged pop songs for the RCA record label, including some for artists such as Paul Anka, Chet Baker and Mina. While working for RCA Morricone also wrote theater music and classical pieces, eventually going on to form Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanzsa, an avant-garde musical improvisation group considered to be one of the first experimental composers collectives.

Morricone began ghostwriting for composers such as Armando Trovajoli and Mario Nascimbene in the late 1950s, before making his credited film debut in 1961 for director Luciano Salce’s Il Federale (The Fascist). He worked almost exclusively in Italian cinema in the 1960s, but started to gain some international prominence for his work with director Sergio Leone, a former classmate, whose ‘spaghetti westerns’ starring a young American actor named Clint Eastwood became unexpected hits. A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), as well as the Burt Reynolds vehicle Navajo Joe (1966), introduced the world to his idiosyncratic personal style, mixing a traditional orchestra with unusual percussion effects, gruff chanting voices, unusual whistles courtesy of Alessandro Alessandroni, and the soaring beauty of the voice of his friend, soprano Edda dell’Orso. These scores became hugely influential and massively popular, quickly cementing his reputation as one of Europe’s leading film composers. Read more…

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CINEMA PARADISO – Ennio Morricone

November 26, 2018 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a young small town Sicilian boy, director Giuseppe Tornatore fell in love with the cinema where he would spend hours every day insatiably viewing films. With the advent of television and the VCR, many believed that the days of the town cinema were numbered. This film abounds with nostalgia as Tornatore explores his movie going memories and how they affected his life. Drawing from his own life experiences, he crafted a screenplay, which secured the financial backing of the French production company Les Films Ariane. A fine cast was assembled, which included; Philippe Noiret as Alfredo, Salvatore Cascio as Salvatore Di Vita (child), Marco Leonardo as Salvatore Di Vita (adolescent), Jacques Perrin as Salvatore Di Vita (adult), Agnese Nano as Elena Mendola (young), Leopoldo Trieste as Father Adelfio, Antonella Attili as Maria (young), Pupella Maggio as Maria (adult) and Isa Danieli as Ana. Salvatore Di Vita, aka Toto, is a precocious kid who falls in love with movies shown at his town’s theater, Cinema Paradiso. It comes to pass that he worms his way into the heart of projectionist Alfredo, who befriends him and takes him on as his apprentice. Over time Salvatore masters the projector and often runs it himself. So great is his love of movies that he buys a movie camera and begins making his own home movies. Tragedy strikes one night when the Cinema Paradiso catches fire and burns down, with Salvatore saving Alfredo’s life, but not before he is badly burned and blinded. Read more…

THE MISSION – Ennio Morricone

November 19, 2018 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer David Putnam and director Roland Joffe were seeking to sustain the acclaim of their last collaboration, The Killing Fields (1984), and so recruited renowned screenwriter Robert Bolt to compose a compelling historical drama. The independent British production company Goldcrest Films financed the project, providing a generous budget, and a fine cast was assembled, which included Robert De Niro as Captain Rodrigo Mendoza, Jeremy Irons as Father Gabriel, Ray McAnally as Cardinal Altamirano, Aidan Quinn as Felipe Mendoza, Cherie Lunghi as Carlotta, Ronald Pickup as Don Hatar, Chuck Low as Don Cabeza and Liam Neeson as Father John Fielding. The film offers a classic morality play, which explores the tragic events surrounding the 1750 Treaty of Madrid. The Spanish and Portuguese are warring along the Brazil and Paraguayan border and the treaty ended the conflict by requiring Spain to cede territory south and east of the Rio Uruguay to Portugal. This would require the seven Jesuit missionaries to leave and place the Guarani inhabitants in peril as Portugal, unlike Spain, used slavery to man their plantations. The film opens in 1740 with Jesuit missionary Father Gabriel seeking to convert the Guarani to Catholicism. The opening scene of a Jesuit cast over the waterfall tied to a cross reveals the Guarani’s hostility to outsiders. He is joined by slaver Rodrigo Mendoza who seeks repentance following the murder of his brother, who he caught sleeping with his fiancée. Father Gabriel gains the trust of the Guarani through his oboe playing and they over time convert. Rodrigo finds new meaning to his life, abandons weapons, and commits to joining the priesthood. Read more…

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY – Ennio Morricone

November 27, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The commercial success of the Spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few More Dollars caught the eyes of studio executives at United Artists. They contacted Italian screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni, offered him a contract, and expressed a desire to purchase film rights for the next installment. The Italian creative team of producer Alberto Grimaldi, director Sergio Leone and Vincenzoni met and agreed to collaborate. They proposed a story set during the American Civil War, where three rogues join in an uneasy alliance in search of buried treasure. United Artists agreed to the storyline and provided a generous budget of $1.2 million. Vincenzoni joined with Leone, Agenore Incrocci, and Furio Scarpelli to create the screenplay that was not without controversy, in that it eschewed the traditional Americana romanticism. It instead offered a potent social commentary on capitalism, greed, as well as the destructiveness and absurdity of war. Its heroes are less pure, less righteous and more morally ambiguous, where the clear lines between hero and villain are blurred. Read more…