It’s been a long time since I recommended a book, not a novel, but a book about a film, a collection of films, film music or a specific film music composer. So here are a handful of titles that I think you might enjoy. Starting with a book written in 2018, SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES is the title of a radio show that goes out every Saturday evening in the UK on Classic FM, I am in no way a fan of this particular show, as its presenter does waffle a lot and will continue to play cover versions of film soundtracks, which is just so annoying.
The book takes its title from the show and is written by Jennifer Nelson, published by? Yep you guessed it Classic FM, It’s a book that looks at the extraordinary partnerships behind cinema’s greatest scores. Well that is what is says on the cover at least, so we have Burwell and the Coen’s, Doyle and Branagh, Elfman and Burton, Giacchino and Abrahams, Herrmann and Hitchcock, Jarre and Lean, Horner and Cameron, Newman and Mendes, Shore and Jackson, Silvestri and Zemeckis, Williams and Spielberg, and Zimmer and Nolan. Umm are these the greatest partnerships, well apart from the three obvious pairings of Williams and Spielberg. Jarre and Lean, and Herrmann and Hitchcock, I don’t think these are the greatest collaborations, they are good collaborations yes, but maybe the author should have taken a look at Morricone and Leone, or even Barry and Forbes, or at least touched upon these. The book itself is an easy read, nothing too technical but after a while I felt that I could have saved my £17-00 sterling, and gone online to Wikipedia, and probably got more info there. Its also rather lacking in the photo department, an ok read but nothing to shout about, like I say click on Wikipedia.
Magazines have always been an essential part of garnering news about movies and also film music, sadly many film music magazines fall by the wayside, and since the glory days of SOUNDTRACK and MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES and the fanzine LEGEND,
I feel there is a definite gap in the market, however if you are into your horror films and I mean classic Horrors, from Hammer, Amicus, Tyburn, Tigon and American international pictures to name but a few, there is really only one publication that I think is worthy of a mention, (no e mails please this is after all a personal opinion).
WE BELONG DEAD is a glossy magazine, that is literally brimming with a veritable plethora of information, reviews, and in depth analysis of the genre, from movies such as DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES to the likes of the BBC production of DRACULA and beyond, it is all things horror and much more. I will say that I do contribute sometimes, but even if I did not, I would be making sure that this publication came through my letter box every month or so. It is a highly professional publication, and overflowing with great artwork, some of which is created especially for the magazine and their books, well worth checking out.
The other week I managed to get hold of a book which has at its subject matter the art of the Italian western.
ULTRA WILD WEST is a fantastically colourful publication, the publication is edited by Joe Westwood, who has put together some of the most stunning Italian western film posters, published in 2018, there are still a few copies around, and if you are a fan of the vibrant art work that we associate with the Spaghetti western genre then this will be a must have purchase for you, its 128 pages of the most appealing and eye arresting art work ever produced for the cinema or too promote movies. There is very little text apart from a brief foreword and the titles of the films that the artwork is from, which for me is just the right formula and presentation, because after all its all about the illustrations.
This year we lost a genius of film music Ennio Morricone, shortly before his passing, there were a few books published about the Maestro, LIFE NOTES and IN HIS OWN WORDS being the two I consider to be the best, there was a third that I have to say is something that any Morricone fan would treasure which is ENNIO MORRICONE THE MASTER OF THE SOUNDTRACK .
Written and compiled by Maurizio Baroni and published by Gingko Press, this is a labour of love and a comprehensive guide to the soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, by a super fan and collectors, within its pages there are pictures of every Morricone soundtrack released, alongside photos of cue sheets, manuscripts, and Morricone at work, it is a decade by decade listing of everything that Morricone wrote for film, and an essential addition to any film music connoisseurs collection.
Yes, it has a high price tag of around £50.00, but it is worth every single penny.
Staying with an Italian film music theme, in 2006 FROM BEAT TO BEAT was published, this is the memoirs of THE MAN WITH THE HARMONICA, Franco De Gemini, and tells us about the experiences of this underatted performer and composer in his forty year career.
The book is a really interesting read, and it will if you do not already know, open your eyes to just how much that De Gemini contributed to Italian film music, not just as a harmonica player but also in the composing of many scores and also the setting up and the continued success of the BEAT record label. As I say it was published in 2006, but there are a few copies around on various sites. I did have the pleasure of meeting De Gemini in Rome, and he was the most courteous, welcoming, and wonderfully funny man. He died in July 2013, but the record label BEAT continues to be successful under the guidance of his Sons.
One book that I am surprised is still around on various selling sites is the 1975 publication, ITALIAN WESTERN THE OPERA OF VIOLENCE, written by Laurence Staig and Tony Williams this was for me for many years like the Bible of the history of the Italian western, it was after all the first book written on the subject, and for me probably still the finest, ok yes there are flaws, but this is what makes it even more appealing. It was a genre at that time that little was known about, and although he music for these productions was popular not many knew who Gianni Ferrio was or Luis Enriquez Bacalov, or even Bruno Nicolai. Staig and Williams put this right, by including mini biographies of a number of Maestro’s towards the end of the book, but if you are into Italian westerns and you have not yet seen this it is about time you did. It is a book I still now turn to, not for research but just for the enjoyment of reading and also to stir up a little nostalgia of those early days. Published by Lorrimer Press, this is something you should own.