LA MORTE ACCAREZZA A MEZZANOTTE or DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT is an interesting and absorbing mystery motion picture which was produced in Italy in the early 1970,s and released in 1972. It was one of three detective films that were directed by filmmaker Luciano Ercoli during the 1970,s. The gripping and taught story was the work of now famed film director Sergio Corbucci and contained a screenplay which was courtesy of the combined efforts of Ernesto Gastaldi, Guido Leoni and Mahnahen Velasco (under the alias of May Velasco). Valentina is a beautiful fashion model who agrees to take part in a scientific experiment which involves the taking of a new drug. Whilst under the influences of the drug Valentina experiences a vivid vision of a young girl being brutally murdered, the murderer killing her mercilessly with a spiked metal glove or gauntlet. It transpires that Valentina had an hallucination or a nightmare of a murder that has actually taken place and soon she finds herself being stalked by the same killer. The movie features the talents of Susan Scott, Simon Andreu, Peter Martell. Claudie Lange and Luciano Rossi. All of whom contribute much to the movie and also bring a sense of realism to the storyline.
The musical score for the movie is the work of Italian film music Maestro Gianni Ferrio, who’s unique style and sound had already by this time established him as a highly polished and talented music-smith when it came to scoring motion pictures. Ferrio had been particularly active within the Italian western genre but he never conformed to what became know as the SPAGHETTI WESTERN SOUND, his works for the genre were original all on their own, the composer utilising a fusion of jazz oriented sounds and grand Americana styles to create his own particular “sound” for any westerns he scored. LA MORTE ACCAREZZA A MEZZANOTTE is in my opinion one of the Maestro’s best scores, it contains so many strong thematic passages and vibrant motifs which are arranged and orchestrated with such flair and imagination. Primarily an upbeat sounding work the composer makes effective use of percussion, choir, big band sounding brass and an ample amount of mysterious and dark atonal material.
The vocalist MINA makes a massive contribution to the soundtrack adding her fragile but sensual sounding voice to the proceedings, performing the haunting central theme from the score VALENTINA augmented and supported by harpsichord which is set to a bossa nova tempo. Hammond organ too is not in short supply giving us the true sound of the 1970,s with its groovy and rich sounding support.
The musicians who performed on the score read like a who’s who in Italian music from this period and beyond, Alessandroni’s distinctive sounding IL CANTORI MODERNI are present throughout as is Oscar Valdabrini on trumpet and flugelhorn, Carlo Pes on guitar, Dino Asciolla on viola, Antonello Vannucchi on piano and Hammond organ, Franco Chiari and Carlo Zoffoli on vibes, Dino Piana on trombone and Sergio Conti keeping the beats going on drums and percussion. All of which are under the baton of Gianni Ferrio. Originally released on a long playing record on the Ariete label (ARLP 2012) this compact disc includes a couple of bonus tracks that did not appear on the original release. Sound quality is very good as is the presentation by EASY TEMPO records, with colourful and striking art work present throughout. The soundtrack was also released on a double long playing record by Easy Tempo, ET 902 DLP. This is a joy to listen to and is a soundtrack that will become one of your firm favourites.
Originally released on a long playing record back in 1970 which was on the famed Italian soundtrack label ARIETE (ARLP 2006), FEMMINE INSAZIABILI or INSATIABLE WOMEN or just THE INSATIABLES is probably one of Bruno Nicolai’s finest soundtracks. It was also probably this particular soundtrack that made me realise that Nicolai was a talent all on his own and also brought it home that he possessed a unique and vibrant musical style away from the shadow of composers such as Morricone, Rustichelli and Rota all of which Nicolai collaborated with as conductor or arranger. This score in particular contains numerous styles and is a theme laden work. The composer utilising the unmistakable aural talents of Edda Dell Orso who’s marvellous vocalising is used throughout the score giving it an even more attractive and haunting quality. Yes it is true to say that one can make comparisons between the work of Nicolai and also the work of Morricone and it has to be said that both composers were particularly busy and creative at this time in their respective careers, but FEMMINE INSAZIABLI has to it an aura and a musical presence that to be truthful is far superior to much of what Morricone penned at this time, Nicolai’s themes seem to be more developed and a lot more melodic, the composer arranging and orchestrating the core themes from the score differently throughout to create a veritable smorgasbord of rich and attractive compositions that combine to create a soundtrack which when listened to away from the images still remains entertaining. The movie was released in 1969 and was directed by Alberto De Martino, it starred John Ireland, Frank Wolf, Dorothy Malone and Robert Hoffman. A journalist meets up with an old lady friend in the United States when he is visiting there, but shortly after meeting her she is murdered, the journalist decides to find her murderer and in doing so discovers that many of her so called friends did not like her at all and further discovers that in the years she has been in America she has become corrupt. Nicolai’s score opens with the driving and vivacious sounding title song I WANT IT ALL, performed by Lara Saint Paul with backing vocals by Edda and driving melodic strings that are melodic but upbeat. “THE GOOD THINGS THE BAD THINGS THE THRILLS THE SORROWS AND THE JOYS, I WANT IT ALL, ALL LIFE CAN GIVE ME, WITH EVERY PART OF ME I WANT TO LIVE”. are the opening lines, Sounds good to me, performed wonderfully with beautifully orchestrated backing by Nicolai, this opening melody carries on through the remainder of the score and pop’s up here and there in various musical guises and permutations. The remainder of Nicolai’s score is fairly upbeat and has to it a busy almost big band sound in places, with brass and percussion creating luxurious sounding themes and motifs. Then there is the softer and far more easy listening side to the work, with strings and light percussion combining with organ and Edda exquisite voice the composer adding to this interesting and original sounds and trills etc that accompany and embellish the central thematic material. This for me personally is brought to a fuller fruition in track number four which is just one of the instrumental variations of the I WANT IT ALL theme. The soundtrack is released on EASY TEMPO records which was a label that was very active a few years back releasing various scores and also putting out a series of compilation discs that were entitled simply EASY TEMPO 1 to 10. The score for FEMMINE INSAZIABILI is simply glorious, it is an essential purchase and a MUST HAVE Bruno Nicolai soundtrack, your collection will be lacking and incomplete without this gem of a soundtrack, seek it out and add it straight away. It was also released on a double LP record by the same label. To say certain cues are stand out or highlights of the work would be impossible as every cue is magnificent, my own favourites being the title song, INTIMITA , NOSTALGIA DI UN INCONTRO,AUTOSTRADA PER LOS ANGELES and AUTOSTOP. Buy it and check these and the other fantastic 18 tracks out.
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