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Archive for May 28th, 2010

Friday Feature: A Discful of “Dollars”

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Blame the continuing heat in the Northeast. Blame the recent release of video game Red Dead Redemption. But it’s just a good time for some great music from the “spaghetti Westerns,” that subgenre of film where the Italian film community emulated and built upon the traditions of the American Western picture. Ask any film scholar and they’ll likely tell you that few directors contributed more for the genre than Sergio Leone – and futhermore, that his best works had Ennio Morricone providing a musical score.

Leone and Morricone would become a team not unlike Hitchcock and Hermann or Spielberg and Williams, although their first meeting would never have tipped you off. In 1964, Leone’s producers asked him to consider Morricone, an avant-garde composer who also did many Italian pop arrangements, to score his newest film, Per Un Pugni di Dollari. Leone was reluctant (he wasn’t a fan of Morricone’s few other film scores), but ultimately the two hit it off, especially after Morricone’s realization that the two had attended the same elementary school.

Morricone’s contributions to the film were heavy. Both men were tired of the typical sweeping orchestral score that augmented such Westerns, so Morricone decided to sweeten it with some unorthodox arrangements and instruments, including wood flute, harmonica, solo and choral voices (sometimes providing deliberately atonal sounds) and a lone Fender Stratocaster. The style of the music enhanced the film greatly (it already had a lot going for it, with a plot borrowing heavily from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, a unique, close-up-oriented cinematographical style and a relatively unknown American actor, Clint Eastwood, as the antiheroic “Man with No Name”), and A Fistful of Dollars (as it would ultimately be known in America) was a rousing success.

After the jump, read about the style of the other films in the so-called “Dollars” trilogy and the many albums they spawned. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 28, 2010 at 13:44

Posted in Features, Reissues, Soundtracks

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