Going back a few years for two Italian movies and two scores, both of which I have always thought have been rather neglected even though they are totally beguiling and filled with a plethora of rich romantic and vibrant themes. Both scores are by Allesso Vlad and Claudio Capponi. The first being JANE EYRE from 1996, directed by esteemed filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli, which contains a highly emotive and at the same time tragic sounding soundtrack, fully symphonic and totally absorbing this is a work that will entice, mesmerize and envelope any listener. The fragile and delicate themes are touching and beautiful, with strings that swell and brass that underlines, woodwind that adds poignancy and a style and sound present that could be described as a Morricone/Preisner fusion. The melodies are haunting and all consuming, invading not just the listeners head but also making a lasting impression upon their heart and soul. This is a score that evokes the romance of the golden age and purveys an eloquent and affecting style, with an impressive and sound that is an enriching and rewarding listen. There is a gentleness and a subtly to the work that is alluring, it possesses an aura that makes it impossible for any listener not to be transfixed by the lilting nuances and exquisite melodious content. The same can be said of the music for TEA WITH MUSSOLINI which again was directed by Zeffirelli and released in 1999, again the score is by Vlad and Capponi with a further credit to Stephano Arnaldi. This is another score that is delicately beguiling and purveys so many emotions, with the composers colouring and adding texture to the attractive cinematography and engrossing storyline of the movie. The solo piano work on the score is outstanding and affectual. The themes are at times understated but remain effective and haunting. Again there are nods of acknowledgement to the style of Morricone and hints of the romanticism of bygone days as in the movies of the golden age as produced in Hollywood, lush and theme laden this is a work of quality, a score that oozes eloquence and majesty, in short recommended.
From Italian movies to a film that was produced in the States but told of the life of an Argentinian revolutionary. CHE which is the biography of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who allied himself with Fidel Castro in his struggle against the corrupt Batista regime, eventually resulting in the overthrow of that government and Castro’s taking over of Cuba. The film covers Guevara’s life from when he first landed in Cuba in 1956 to his death in an ambush by government troops in the mountains of Bolivia in 1967. Directed by Richard Fleischer, the movie had a score by Lalo Shcifrin, who provided the movie with a score that was a combination of Latin flavoured compositions and full on symphonic dramatic pieces.
The soundtrack was first issued on a Polydor LP record back in 1969, and has since been issued on a compact disc with a number of extra cues, many of which were not in the movie but have been inspired by the film and Schifrin’s score. There are a nice mix of styles presented on the more recent CD release, but I have to say I still prefer the original LP content. Nevertheless, the CD release is well worth a listen and if you have not heard it you are in for something of a treat, with Schifrin’s extremely dramatic cues standing out throughout. The expanded version with score and songs is available on digital platforms, highlight cues include, CHE ORCHESTRAL VERSION, LA RUTA, LA COLUMNA, EMBOSCADO, FIESTA NUMERO DOS, RECURDOS, CHARONGAS and a striking and emotion filled guitar solo of the films main title theme.
I remember buying the LP along with Z by Theodorakis and THE WILD BUNCH by Fielding those were the days. Talking of Jerry Fielding, now here is a composer who I still say is underatted, his Award winning score for THE WILD BUNCH was a milestone in his career, a score which I suppose you could say made him an overnight success, but in reality he had been around a few years before he worked on this ultra-violent western.
The soundtrack for THE WILD BUNCH was precise and affecting, which was displayed perfectly in the memorable opening credits sequence and also in the Assault on the train sequence. The soundtrack was on the Warner Bros seven arts label, when originally issued on LP and then later was released as an expanded edition by Screen Archives, there were also later releases to CD which had the same line up and content of the LP release. Fielding later scored STRAW DOGS which was again for director Sam Peckinpah.
In 1976 Fielding scored THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES another violent western directed by Clint Eastwood and his score is one that can be given the label of being a classic. Originally issued on a Warner Brothers LP record, the score was later released in full onto compact disc. Its rousing central theme for me evoked much of what the composer had begun in THE WILD BUNCH soundtrack, with martial sounding drums and pipes taking the lead, the remainder of the score was very action led, and also had to it a more apprehensive style, with sinewy sounding strings purveying a tense and nervous atmosphere within many of the scenes, the movie itself running for over two hours, and like the score it is now an iconic example of western filmmaking.
Two scores which I have always liked are by composer Dusan Radic, GENGHIS KHAN and THE LONG SHIPS were both adventure epic slanted storylines, one supposedly a historical biog, which did I have to say fall a little flat in the sticking to the true events of the story. However, both were mildly successful at the box office, with the LONG SHIPS being shown regularly today on TV all over the world. The music for both films is epic driven, it is grand and imposing and filled with themes that are stirring and gloriously infectious. Both soundtracks were available on LP record when the movies were in cinemas, GENGHIS KHAN on Liberty and THE LONG SHIPS on Colpix, the latter becoming something of a rarity. Although THE LONG SHIPS theme is probably more memorable some saying it rivalled Mario Nascimbene’s VIKINGS theme, but the actual score for the movie was a little lack lustre,
GENGHIS KHAN however was a powerhouse of a soundtrack, fully symphonic with lavish themes and lush and romantic interludes a truly epic sounding work. Both the scores were issued onto compact disc on the same day on bootlegs in Germany alongside THE LAST VALLEY by John Barry. All three had quite good sound quality, but THE LONG SHIPS did suffer in this department. Which was thankfully rectified slightly when it was re-issued legitimately by Film Score Monthly a few years ago. GENGHIS KHAN starred Omar Sharif and Stephen Boyd, and had an impressive cast list that included, James Mason, Woody Strode, Eli Wallach, Michael Hordern, Robert Morley and Francoise Dorleac. Directed by Henry Levin the score was conducted by Muir Mathieson.
Considering the success of Radic’s scores for these two movies, there is very little information about him readily available, we do know that he did work on other film scores but only in Eastern Europe working with director Andrzej Wajda on SIBIRSKA LEDI MAGBET in 1961 and scoring MACAK POD SLJEMOM for film maker Zorz Skrigin in 1962. One year later he composed the score for the German/Yugoslav co-production DIE FLUCHT which told the story of two brothers during WW ll, one being a prisoner in a concentration camp who escapes and goes on the run, the other brother is a Nazi who is given the task of chasing his sibling. The two production companies that worked on this movie also produced jointly GENGHIS KHAN. Dusan Radic was born in Sombor Serbia, on April 10th, 1929, he was a composer who mainly concentrated on what can be called serious music or music for concert hall performance, with numerous works to his credit. Radic, was a freelance composer for twenty-five years between 1954 and 1979, after which he took up a professional composition position at the Academy of Arts at the University in Novi Sad, where he remained until his retirement. Dusan Radic died in Belgrade on April 3rd, 2010.
Before the movie SCHINDLERS LIST, there was NBC television’s epic mini-series about the systematic slaughter of European Jews during World War II. The saga, HOLOCAUST focused on the Weiss family of Berlin, and won eight Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series; and lead-performance awards for Michael Moriarty and Meryl Streep. Director Marvin J. Chomsky and screenwriter Gerald Green also won Emmys. Morton Gould created a wonderfully emotive score for the series, with lilting themes that were filled with emotion and had to them a dramatic and powerful undercurrent. The score was issued on LP record on the RCA label and was presented in the form of a gatefold edition. It was finally issued onto compact disc in 2019 and contains the same music as the LP recording. This is a must have soundtrack, with so many affecting compositions. Released on note for note records NFN 1001, with new notes penned by Jon Burligame. An outstanding soundtrack.