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SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 7 (of 15)

90.) The Black Stallion (1979) – Carmine Coppola

Carroll Ballard directed this lyrical horse-tale about an Arabian stallion that befriends a boy when the two are tragically shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island. When the boy is rescued, he and the horse continue their friendship, and with the help of a has-been trainer work towards turning the horse into the fastest in the world. Carmine Coppola, wife of Francis Ford, who also provided the music to her husband’s Apocalypse Now, gives us the beautiful sounds accompanying the horse’s journey to horse champ in this equine take on Rocky. The soundtrack is a 3-disc set filled with alternate takes and other goodies.

Here’s track 2 from disc 2, “Home”:

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and track 10 from disc 2, “Training II”:

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and track 7 off of disc 3, “The Legend”:

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89.) Suspiria (1977) – Goblin

Dario Argento’s classic horror film concerns an American dancer (played by Jessica Harper) who joins a famous European ballet school where things are not quite as they seem. Immediately upon her arrival one of the dancers is murdered, followed by strange rumors, bizarre noises, and a general air of creepiness. The more she investigates, the less she likes what she finds. Beautiful cinematography and inventive mayhem abounds, and Goblin’s soundtrack is a revelation, frightening on its own and fueled by poly-rhythmic percussion and creepy chanting. And those bells! Everywhere the bells!

Here’s the unforgettable theme, “Suspiria”:

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88.) Star Wars V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - John Williams

We got Hoth. Leia and Han Solo bickering. AT-AT Walkers. Tauntaun guts and true friendship. The Wampa ice monster and Luke’s Jedi magic. Chewbacca. Dagobah. The ghost of Obi Wan. Luke training with Sesame Street reject Yoda. R2-D2 and C-3P0 captured. Darth Vader. The Emperor. Colt 45 pitchman Lando Calrissian in his sky kingdom. Betrayal. Solo in carbonite. Boba Fett. The Dark Side rising. Oedipal revelations. An epic sword fight followed by our hero’s symbolic castration. Now that’s what you call a kid’s movie! In the capable hands of the “original trilogy” (by which I mean Irvin Kershner, Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan) this second installment in George Lucas’s Star Wars films is the single greatest action/sci-fi/adventure achievement of all time, the benchmark for all to follow. Even Williams’ “borrowed” score (check out Erich Von Korngold’s target=”_blank”>”Kings Row” if you don’t believe me) manages to breathe new life into old sensations: of high adventure, archetypal quests, and the wonders of cinema. Here’s the “Imperial March,” hard-coded into every adult male’s DNA:

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87.) Phantasm (1979) – Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave

Don Coscarelli’s low budget horror film spawned a franchise that had intermittent glimpses of genius hampered by cheap special effects and dramatically-challenged acting, but was fun nevertheless. The first installment tells the story of a recently orphaned boy who discovers a local mortician, “The Tall Man,” is up to no good with the recently-deceased, and alongside his brother and an ice cream man sets out to investigate. This terrible decision sets off a chain of events involving flying spheres, robed midgets, and an inter-dimensional slave ring. The soundtrack is an electronic variant on Halloween (aren’t they all?) but with its own DYI charm. Here’s track 10, “Tall Man on Main Street”:

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and track 14, “Hearse Chase”:

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86.) Tess (1979) - Philippe Sarde

Say what you will about Roman Polanski’s reputation for being a scoundrel and a lecher of the first order, his films are always compelling, and his choice of soundtrack composers is flawless. Tess is no different – the story of a simple farmer who begins to hope that he is descended from the illustrious D’Urberville family that lives a day’s carriage ride away and sends his daughter to investigate is a lesson in hope, love, illusion, seduction, incest, and human nature. The soundtrack by Philippe Sarde is one of many successes, among them Quest of Fire (La Guerre du Feu) and another Polanski effort, The Tenant (Le Locataire), which is available on a CD release along with Tess.

Here is track 2, “La Visite Chez Les D’Uberville”:

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and track 8, “Tess Retrouve Angel”:

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85.) Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Franz Waxman

Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard is a major work of art whose presence can be felt in everything from the works of David Lynch to the Coen Brothers to that shit channel TMZ which funnels our attention through an IV into the veins of proto- and quasi- celebrities. The story of has-been silent-screen goddess and demented recluse Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and the small-time writer (William Holden) who wanders into her world and becomes her errand boy and lover has never been surpassed for sheer audacity, in its willingness to strip the facade of glamor from Hollywood and expose the desperate and needy attention-hungry people who weave the stuff of dreams. Wilder’s magnificent film is aided by legendary composer Franz Waxman’s (Bride of Frankenstein, Rebecca, Rear Window, Gone with the Wind) magnificent score. Here is track 1, the “Sunset Boulevard Prelude”:

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and track 5, “An Aging Actress”:

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84.) Theater of Blood (1973) – Michael J. Lewis

In another movie about crazed egotistical thespians, the great Vincent Price plays a Shakespeare-obsessed actor who, having been snubbed by critics, commits suicide. But when a rash of murders targeting the very same theater critics spreads through London, each dispatched in an homage to the Bard, Scotland Yard begins to suspect the actor may have faked his death. A hilariously baroque revenge picture directed by Douglas Hickox, which benefits from a fantastic score by Michael J. Lewis. Here’s the main theme:

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and track 18, “Fugato”:

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83.) The Godfather (1972) – Nino Rota

Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel is justifiably lauded by critics and fans everywhere as a masterpiece, the movie which ushered in the age of big budget, glossy mafia movies which glamorized the life of the men of the inner sanctum. The acting is top notch, with Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan and Robert Duvall delivering impeccable performances, Gordon Willis’ cinematography is masterful, and Nino Rota’s score is somber and ironic, mirroring the Corleone family’s fading old world values in the face of their growing empire. Here’s “I have but one heart (O Marenariello)”:

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and track 9, “Appollonia”:

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82.) Arizona Dream (1993) - Goran Bregović

Time of the Gypsies, Black Cat, White Cat and Underground director Emir Kusturica’s brief foray into English-language films is a mixed affair, starring a fresh-off 21 Jump Street Johnny Depp as a drifter who travels to Arizona for an uncle’s wedding and ends up in a love triangle with two strange women (Faye Dunaway and Lili Taylor) in this film that’s too enamored with its own strangeness to be very good, but which is nevertheless full of interesting visuals, eccentric characters, fish imagery and accordion music and the fine performances of Vincent Gallo, Paulina Porizkova, Michael J. Pollard and Jerry Lewis. The music by Bregović is a delight, an amazing Gypsy punk soundtrack which prefigures the work of acts such as Balkan Beatbox and Gogol Bordello by at least a decade. Track 1, “In the Deathcar,” features vocals by Iggy Pop.

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and check out track 8, “Gypsy Reggae”:

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81.) L’Onorato Famiglia (1973) - Bruno Nicolai

Tonino Ricci’s action-packed movie is firmly couched within the genre of 1970’s Italian crime films but has a sobering message in its criticism of the rampant corruption in Italy, in which everything is controlled by the privileged few. Bruno Nicolai, longtime friend and associate of Ennio Morricone, provided the exciting score. Here’s track 7, “Disperatamente”:

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and track 9, “Gin”:

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and track 13, “Un Solo Amore”:

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Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140),  part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).

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October 4, 2010   1 Comment

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 4 (of 15)

120.) King Kong (1933) - Max Steiner

Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s King Kong was revolutionary in many ways, not the least of them its use of music. Rather than “underscore” the action, the filmmakers used it to add tension and atmosphere. To do this they enlisted Max Steiner, who would go on to compose the scores for Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, and The Searchers, among others. Along with Erich Von Korngold and a handful of others, Steiner would emerge as one of the most important figures of film composition from the Golden-era of Hollywood. For more on the subject, look Here. Here’s track 5, “Entrance of Kong”:

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119.) The Collector (1965) - Maurice Jarre

Based on a novel by author John Fowler and directed by William Wyler, The Collector stars Terence Stamp as an introverted butterfly collector who begins to collect human specimens, namely beautiful young women. This is my favorite score by Maurice Jarre, who won Oscars for Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, and also scored the fantastic The Professionals.

Here’s track 3, “Trapped”:

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118.) Die Faust in der Tasche [Fist in the Pocket] (1978) - Satin Whale

Never seen it this German take on the “Angry Young Man” films of the 70’s, directed by Max Willutzki, but the soundtrack is awesome, composed by a Krautrock band. Check out their first album, 1974’s Desert Places, as well. Here’s track 4, the flute-rock classic “Archie’s Flucht”:

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and track 6, “Blutspende”:

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and track 10, “Kampf in der Lackiererei”:

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117.) Memories of Murder [Salinui Chueok] (2003) - Taro Iwashiro

Director Joon-ho Bong is a master of dark comedy, and while I’ve seen The Host (which has a great score as well) and Barking Dogs Never Bite, I missed this film based on a notorious real-life unsolved murder. The score is full of Didgeridoos, ambient electronics, sweeping violins, and altogether haunting melodies. Iwashiro also scored the videogame soundtracks to Onimusha 2.

Here’s track 3, “Face”:

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and track 16, “On The Other Side Of The Hill”:

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and track 22, “White Face”:

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116.) Enter the Dragon (1973) - Lalo Schifrin

The ever-swanky Lalo Schifrin brings us the soundtrack to the great Bruce Lee movie directed by Robert Clouse, full of battle cries, driving bass-lines, and funky wah-wah pedals. Schifrin also scored Cool Hand Luke, The President’s Analyst, Dirty Harry, and Jackie Chan’s first attempt at crossing-over to American audiences, Battle Creek Brawl – as well as his later Rush Hour series.

Here’s the main title:

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And here’s an Asian influenced track called “The Banquet”:

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115.) Kûki Ningyô [Air Doll] (2009) - World’s End Girlfriend

Here’s a Japanese movie about a blow-up doll that comes to life, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. The soundtrack is beautiful, played fairly straight by the fantastic electronica/post-rock/freak-folk band, World’s End Girlfriend, whose 2007 album, target=”_blank”>Hurtbreak Wonderland, is another must-own. Here’s track 7, which has a definite Erik Satie feel to it:

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114.) In the Heat of the Night (1967) – Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones is responsible for many excellent film & TV soundtracks, including a theme for target=”_blank”>Ironside recycled by not only the Shaw Bros. in 1972’s target=”_blank”>Five Fingers of Death but also re-recycled by Quentin Tarantino in target=”_blank”>Kill Bill. Though it’s hard to pick between The Pawnbroker, In Cold Blood, The Italian Job and Dollar$, this Norman Jewison classic starring Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, and Warren Oates gets the nod – in large part thanks to noted musicians Glen Campbell on banjo, Billy Preston on organ, Ray Brown on bass, and the great Rahsaan Roland Kirk on flute. Here’s the title song featuring Ray Charles:

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and track 2, “Peep-Freak Patrol Car” featuring Rahsaan Roland Kirk:

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113.) Samurai Fiction (1998) – Tomoyasu Hotei

Like Hiroyuki Nakano’s film, which re-envisions feudal Japan according to current sensibilities, the soundtrack also takes the ancient and the new to create an enchanting fusion. Japanese Guitar God Tomoyasu Hotei not only composed the soundtrack but also starred as Rannosuke Kazamatsuri. Here’s track 1, “Transnational Spirit”:

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and the main theme, where you might learn something about Budo and Ronin:

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and an accordion-driven theme:

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112.) Caramel (2007) – Khaled Mouzanar

Director Nadine Labaki also stars in this ensemble love story about six women seeking love & marriage in a Beirut hair-salon. The soundtrack features fantastic work by Khaled Mouzanar. Here’s track 10, “Zaghloul El Hamam”:

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111.) Histoire d’O [The Story of O] (1975) – Pierre Bachelet

Another in a long line of sleazy movies with amazing soundtracks, as director Just Jaeckin’s adaptation of Pauline Réage’s novel stars knockout Corrine Clery as a photographer whose boyfriend (the creepy Udo Kier) dishes out physical and sexual abuse in a storyline which transports De Sade to the world of soft porn (the two always manage to go hand in hand). Bachelet also scored another notorious Just Jaeckin (seriously? that’s a name?) soft core film, 1984’s Gwendoline.

Here’s track 1, “Histoire d’O”:

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and track 2, “O’ Et La Rencontre”:

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40 down, 110 to go!!!

Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140),  part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).

Check back in the coming weeks to see the rest of the countdown, and be sure to leave feedback!

September 13, 2010   1 Comment

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