Tag Archives: Riz Ortolani

RIZ ORTOLANI on LP,CD and Digital.





Composer Riz Ortolani literally burst onto the world music stage when he co wrote the song MORE which was originally utilised in the movie MONDO CANE. Since this early composition and a composition that was a renowned world wide hit that was recorded by literally hundreds of artists the composer has written the scores to hundreds of movies both in his native Italy and the United States, England and Europe. The composer sadly passed away in Rome in 2014, but the musical legacy he left is immense. He worked on so many differing genres of film and with each assignment the composer gave to us the film music fans tuneful scores and haunting melodies as well as so many memorable songs. He like so many other Italian composers from the 1960.s and 1970.s worked on his fair share of Italian westerns, but Ortolani very rarely generated the same raw and savage sound as his peers with the composer often opting for providing a more romantic sound for his westerns, DAY OF ANGER I suppose is the exception with its harsh sounding brass and percussion that acts as a background to a catchy guitar lead theme that rivals anything composed by the likes of Nicolai. De Masi and to a degree Morricone.


What was different about Ortolani and made him stand out from other Italian composers was that he worked on numerous non-Italian productions which were box office successes, thus gaining the composer recognition with a wider cinema audience. Movies he scored that were a success at the box office outside of Italy included, THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE, THE 7TH DAWN, THE GLORY GUYS, ANZIO and THE MCKENZIE BREAK. I was prompted to write this piece and the reviews after re-visiting THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE and realising just how many themes the score included. Ortolani was big on the use of themes, and introduced themes for certain characters and also situations that he repeated throughout the film and built up a musical character for the movie that not only complimented and supported but had a life away from the images and on screen scenarios.



For example his score for MADRON which was a western shot in Israel and starred Richard Boone and Leslie Carron, not only contained the award winning song TILL LOVE TOUCHES YOUR HEART but also had to it at least three other major thematic properties, each one individual and attached to a character or a scene. At times I felt that Ortolanis music did not really suit some of the movies he worked on, GLORY GUYS for example was a little overblown and over the top, and it is rumoured that Ortolani never saw the movie before writing the score, but instead took his cue from the script and also discussion with the films director. Whether this is correct or not I cannot say, but there were many rumours surrounding Italian film music composers during this period, like the one that said Morricone had a library of scores at his home and would simply select one he thought would suit the film, not true ? We shall never know. I am sure there were occasions when Ortolani did not see the movie and gauged it from a script or even a cue sheet with timings, but either way the music was good and always filled with melody. So lets begin with a western, MADRON, in many ways it was a more serious version of TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA, with Boone playing the Eastwood character and Crron taking the role of the Nun which was played by Shirley Mc Claine. But its hard to say which film influenced which as they were both released in 1970, certainly TWO MULES was more of an audience draw simply because of the stars that headlined, but maybe MADRON was a better made movie in some ways.

Ortolani’s score was quite unassuming and at times whilst watching the movie there is very little music at all or at least it seems that way, but I was always told if you notice the music too much then the movie cannot be that good, which when you think about it is very true. The song attracted much attention and the composers pleasant but understated scored is sometimes forgotten and overlooked by critics and fans alike. The LP on Quad records was issued in the latter part of 1970 and I think I am correct in saying no CD has ever been issued. Ortolani makes effective use of harmonica which could be performed by De Gemini on the soundtrack and enhances this with light and romantic sounding strings giving the work a pleasant and emotive sound. The song which opens and also closes the album is performed firstly by Richard Williams and then again at the end of the recording by Jan Daley, its a funny thing because the songs are the same as in lyrics and musical arrangements they both seem to have their own unique persona.


From a western we head to England, for THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE a movie that was successful both in England, the USA and Europe, for this Ortolani penned a rather regal sounding work, which was filled with a richness that oozed pomp and ceremony right from the offset, it also contained the catchy and infectious song FORGET DOMANI which was given a vocal and instrumental outing within the movie. The score also featured the artistry of trumpet player Kenny Baker on the track entitled MAE, Ortolani created easy going themes that were laced with a Neapolitan sound and also fashioned beautifully romantic musical passages that were filled with a lush and lavish atmosphere. THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE is a score that should be in every film music collection, it is one of the composers best in my opinion as it combines the jaunty and the eloquent. Released originally on LP on MGM records the score has not received a CD release as a full score, but has been included on at least three compilations of Ortolani’s music.



THE 7TH DAWN is an interesting score as the composer fuses both martial sounding music with romantic and Oriental flavoured themes, again the composer utilising brass and strings to great effect and underlining these elements with booming percussion and racing timpani especially in the action scenes, the harsh sounding brass is particularly effective and creates a hard hitting sound. There is also a lighter side to the work, again the composer provides a song, which is used as the love theme for the movie and performed by a chorus that would not be out of place in any of Mancini’s soundtracks. But then as now film companies looked at the soundtracks and encouraged the composer to include a song so that they could earn even more out of the movie after audiences had left the cinema. Ortolani’s surging and tragic sounding strings are stunning and work well within the movie as well as away from it. Dare I say that all the soundtracks I have mentioned so far are now on SPOTIFY, I know its not an ideal way to listen to them but at least one can get an idea what they are like at least.
THE GLORY GUYS is another Ortolani soundtrack I remember buying on a United Artists LP many years ago, although it is a serviceable western score it does at times become quite abrasive and jagged because of the use of the brass, there is also an American sounding song, I say American sounding as in THE HORSE SOLDIERS type of style and sound. The song THE GLORY GUYS and the instrumental version entitled WARPAINT AND FEATHERS being the two stand out cues on the recording, both GLORY GUYS and 7TH DAWN were released as part of the Film Score Monthly FSM BOX 03 and are on disc number 11 of that set. Maybe in the very near future record companies will strat to release these gems onto CD and also I hope that one day Ortolani’s score for THE VALACHI PAPERS will make its way onto a compact disc./ Check out Ortolani, on LP on CD and on SPOTIFY/I TUNES. Enjoy.



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So many Italian westerns and so many releases from Italy where do we start. Well I suppose we could start with REQUIESCANT or KILL AND PRAY by Riz Ortolani, which also includes music from another Ortolani western O CANGACEIRO I have seen REQUIESCANT but the other title which I am told starred Tomas Milian is something of a mystery to me and not a western but set in South America. The music for both of these movies is in a word average, I sometimes cannot understand why record companies bother to release the entire scores from movies such as these. Surely a compilation would suffice of themes or principal musical passages etc from each film, like UA records used to do back in the 1970,s with GREAT WESTERN THEMES, GREAT WAR FILM THEMES etc etc etc,,,, these sold well and also gave collectors an idea of what the music was like from certain films. In my opinion if you going to release Ortolani westerns then maybe THE HUNTING PARTY and CIAKMULL should be at the top of the list, that’s of course if the tapes exist. REQUIESCANT is a score that certainly does not match the at times violent imagery of the movie, but I have said it before Ortolani was just too romantic sounding when it came to scoring westerns from Italy, yes granted DAY OF ANGER and THE HUNTING PARTY are exceptions to this rule but THE HUNTING PARTY was actually a British western in theory. The score for REQUIESCANT has just one main or central theme which to be honest is not that interesting or original, it is basically an electric guitar rift that begins well and one is waiting for a big theme to kick in after it is introduced by the guitar, but then that’s it nothing it goes nowhere but back into itself on repeat but the composer never develops it into any more substantial. There are also a number of Mexican sounding pieces on the score, which after hearing two or three getting pretty annoying, so REQUIESCANT is not really a score that I would add to my collection. O GANGACEIRO also is pretty ordinary nothing major here in the way of thematic material again nothing original or groundbreaking. Record labels have to realise that collectors now will not just buy a score because its from a spaghetti western or a film that is similar to a western, if they are going to even consider it, it has to be at least fifty percent listenable or interesting. The only plus about this release are the excellent notes by author Laurence Staig (Opera of violence author). It’s a pity because the compact disc is presented well by PENTAMUSIC (who are a British label I understand) but it’s the music that lets it down, so what is the point of buying it.



After collecting soundtracks now for a good few years, it still amazes me that you can stumble upon so many musical gems and although I am now familiar with the score and the film, I was oblivious to its existence when Hexacord released the soundtrack and I think we have to say a big thank-you to Roberto Zamori for bringing this and other shining examples of Italian film music to collectors. So Sweet So Perverse is one such find. The movie, which starred Jean Louis Tringinant and Carrol Baker, is itself an interesting and entertaining piece of cinema, but the score by Riz Ortolani is a classy fusion of both the more classical sounding sides as well as the jazz lounge type style of the composer. So, an attention-grabbing blend of thematic material here.

The CD opens with a up-tempo song performed by J.Vincent Edward, which is followed by an instrumental version of the theme. In fact, the haunting theme can be heard throughout the soundtrack and just seems to become stronger and better on each outing. In many respects this is written in a style that is very similar to that of Nora Orlandi, especially when she worked upon The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh.

The sound achieved by Ortolani on this score is certainly different from, say, The Yellow Rolls Royce and is a delight from beginning to end. Even track number 8, a western saloon sounding cue, is enjoyable. This has to be one of Hexacords best releases, the sound quality art work and overall presentation are excellent. It’s is a limited edition compact disc, which has also been issued as a very limited edition LP for collectors.



DAY OF ANGER was released in 1967, it starred the inimitable Lee Van Cleef and when watching the movie it becomes evident to all just why he was the main man when it came to the spaghetti westerns. Van Cleef portrays ageing gunfighter Frank Talby who decides that he must re-establish himself as a force to be reckoned with so guns down a local town Sheriff. The movie also stars another genre stalwart Giuliano Gemma as Scott Mary a downtrodden individual who was friends with the Sheriff, Talby takes Scott Mary under his wing and teaches him how to use a gun, after a while however the protégé becomes a threat and at the movies climax the teacher must face the pupil in a deadly showdown. Directed by Tonino Valerii who worked as an assistant to Sergio Leone and went on to direct THEY CALL ME NOBODY, DAY OF ANGER was certainly one of the genre s more high profile movies and contained a surprisingly savage sounding score by composer Riz Ortolani. The soundtrack was originally released back in the late 1960,s on an RCA long playing record.

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Ortolani is a composer that has written his fair share of western scores both for Italian and American productions, but when working within the genre of the spaghetti western the composer never seemed to quite get the chemistry right, many of his scores sounding as if they were just tracked with his music rather than it being specifically scored, but with DAY OF ANGER the composer created a sound that was not just melodic but was also suitably savage, brutal and powerful like many of the works fashioned by his peers such as Morricone, De Masi, Nicolai and Fidenco etc. The soundtrack was re-issued on the RCA label on compact disc in 1991 but this was just a straight recording of the LP release paired with selections from Ortolani’s score for BEYOND THE LAW (another Van Cleef movie). In 2006 Hillside CD productions and GDM released a compact disc that not only contained the Long Playing records content but also a further sixteen cues taken from the actual film score in full stereo. The result is a stunning release that is brimming with numerous themes and overflowing with Ortolani’s exhilarating and infectious soundtrack. The CD sold so well that Hillside had to re-press the soundtrack and re-issued it with the same art work but a different background colour. Certainly a score worth having and one that will keep any fan of Italian western scores entertained for hours on end. I live in hope that Ortolani’s excellent score for THE HUNTING PARTY will one day see the light of day. Now that’s a savage soundtrack.


th (4)Riz Ortolani was born in Pesaro Italy on  September 4th,1931.He began his career as a singer and moved on to doing arrangements for many of his fellow artists at the beginning of the 1950,s as the 1960,s approached the composer decided that he would concentrate all of his efforts into writing music for motion pictures. One of his first assignments was it turns out to be his most successful and certainly his most lucrative. The music for the documentary film MONDO CANE (world of dogs) which Ortolani co-wrote with Nino Olivero contained the song “MORE” which proved to be a popular piece, and enjoyed worldwide success. It has been confirmed that the song has been performed on no less than seven million occasions since it was originally recorded for the movie score. Ortolani has worked extensively scoring films and also television projects, he was highly successful in his native Italy and much in demand by film makers within the country. But Ortolani also gained a reputation for being a composer of worth and talent outside of Italy and Europe and is along with Ennio Morricone and Mario Nascimbene one of the few Italian composers from the period of the 1960,s through to the late 1970’s to be offered numerous scoring assignments in Hollywood and England, for example Ortolani worked on productions such as THE GLORY GUYS, ANZIO,THE McKENZIE BREAK and SEVENTH DAWN plus he also penned the score for THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE which contained the song, “FORGET DOMANI” and MADRON the latter he received an Oscar nomination for best original song, “TILL LOVE TOUCHES YOUR HEART”. The composer was like many other Italian composers who scored movies very active within the genre of the Italian or Spaghetti western, writing the soundtracks for approximately 20 movies within that genre. These included, DAY OF ANGER, A REASON TO LIVE A REASON TO DIE, THE UNHOLY FOUR, NIGHT OF THE SERPENT, BEYOND THE LAW and REQUIESCANT. However the composer did come in for some criticism when scoring Spaghetti westerns as many people, critics and soundtrack collectors alike were of the opinion that his music was not harsh enough for this particular genre, it somehow did not contain the rawness or the savagery that was displayed by other composers who were active within the same genre. Ortolani’s scores being thought as being to lush and romantic, however when he wrote the music for the British made western, THE HUNTING PARTY (1971) the composer produced a fierce sounding score that contained a dramatic electric guitar rift and also had at its heart a driving composition that was performed on strings and punctuated by brass with an upbeat percussive background. His soundtracks for thrillers and also comedies were well received as were his scores to numerous horror movies and Italian Giallo pictures.

Ortolani has scored over 300 motion pictures  and has had an illustrious musical career that  lasted nearly 60 years, he passed away on January 23rd 2014.