I think if anyone produced a documentary today that included the subject matter of Il Malamondo, many would think they might be just a little un-hinged. When viewed now the film comes over as an outdated documentary-curio. The director Paolo Cavara released the film during what I suppose could be his formative years and as an inexperienced film maker. It was released at the time of his home country Italy was experiencing economic growth which was nicknamed a boom in the country’s fortunes. The film is basically a trip around the world (well mainly Europe as in France, Switzerland, Sweden, and the UK), documenting the strange and unpredictable behaviour of the younger generation. The film also used language that nowadays would not be PC but back in the day was perfectly acceptable (or so they told us). Il Malamondo or Funny World as the movie was often titled outside of Italy, is a collection of basically stupid practices, in Italy the film focuses upon the well-known singer Adriano Celentano performing in a piazza in Rome, Celentano was very popular during the 1960’s, and also stayed in demand through to the 1970.s because of his ability to impersonate the sound of American rock and roll, he even gained a certain amount of popularity in the UK disco’s of the mid 1970’s with his song Prisencolinensinainciusol, which was released on Epic records. Many of the singer’s fans in Italy looked upon him as their hero because he was seen as someone who was standing up for Italian youth. But things changed for him during the 1990’s when he was exposed as a fraud and not really adhering the values that he was promoting to others.
It is a chronicle of strange and shocking customs from various countries, including a dangerous game played by French students. The documentary reached its conclusion with a partial striptease performed on a beach, and was utilized as the films end credits, complete with a vocal entitled ’Questi vent’anni miei’, which had music by Ennio Morricone, and was performed by Catherine Spaak.
The song never appeared on the soundtrack recording, but on American editions of the original LP recording on the Epic label (BN 26126) a vocal entitled Funny World, which was sung by American vocalist Ken Coleman with English lyrics by Alan Brandt was featured. Music played an important part within the documentary, and Morricone’s rhythmic and catchy score was a mix of pop orientated compositions and dramatic and romantic pieces that weaved in and out of the unusual happenings on scree at times being amusing and even used as a type of ridicule of the scenarios.
He scored ten movies in 1964 it was also the year of A Fistful of Dollars, and a year which brought us other creative works such as, El Greco, I Maniaci, In Ginocchio Da Te, and Prima Della Rivoluzione, the latter being directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. In my opinion I Malamondo, was probably the most inventive score from that year, apart from A Fistful of Dollars. The composer created mad cap sounds, frantic Bossa nova beats and luxurious sounding romantic themes.
Even now when I listen to I Malamondo I find it entertaining, and although there is a kind of sixties pop vibe to much of the score, it is one that stands out within Morricone’s body of work for film, this was the beginning of the Morricone sound, the start of an age of film music that was to develop and progress and will endure for centuries. I Malmondo has so many highlight cues that it would be difficult to single out any as being superior to the other, we are treated to the attractive Penso a te with its inviting electric guitar solo, and the harmonious and haunting trumpet solo of Michele Lacerenza, both of which are underlined with percussion and laced with strings to give it a romantic and endearing musical persona.
The upbeat and richly percussive L’ultima volta, with choir and sprightly sounding organ, again laced with strings and punctuated by electric bass and vibrant piano with the core theme being manipulated and performed by electric guitar, which itself is supported by flyaway and wistful strings. This is the sixties sound of Ennio Morricone. It is arguably one of the most diverse scores written by the composer during this period (1964) and was a score that basically showed off the Maestro’s flair and capability to create inventive, comedic, and innovative music. It was also a score that showcased the composer’s style and sound which was from both the world of film music and pop music.
The score was performed by many popular musicians of the time, Lacerenza as I have already mentioned on trumpet, but also fellow trumpet player Nunzio Rotondo played on a handful of tracks, with Franco de Gemini providing the harmonica parts. The choral work was provided by both Nora Orlandi and her 4+4 coro and Alessandroni’s Il Cantori Moderni and featured the unique and mesmerizing vocalising of Edda Del Orso. The score was re-issued by CAM onto compact disc, and then received a further release which was expanded from twenty tracks to thirty-two cues in 2021 and released on vinyl and made available on digital platforms. I am certain that the majority of Ennio Morricone devotees have at least one edition of this soundtrack in their collection, it is simply a must have score.
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Great scores of Maestro. Thanks for excerpts also.