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SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 13 (of 15)

30.) Touch of Evil (1958) – Henry Mancini

Orson Welles directs and stars as the bigoted Hank Quinlan in this visually stunning crime film with style to burn. Charlton Heston is horribly miscast as a Mexican narcotics officer (do they still have those?) and Janet Leigh as his newlywed wife, who become embroiled in the drug trade when an American is killed in a bomb blast at the border. There’s a memorable opening tracking shot, incredible cinematography, and a fantastic sleazy sounding jazz score by Henry Mancini, the man who brought you The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Experiment in Terror, Charade, and The Party – all fine outings, but this is his best, perfectly capturing the mood of a 1950′s border town. Here’s the main title:

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and track 9, “The Boss”:

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and track 19, “The Chase”:

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29.) Drag Me to Hell (2009) – Christopher Young

Sam Raimi returns to Evil Dead II form with this roller coaster ride of a movie, starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long in the tale of vengeful spirits haunting a well-meaning naïf. From the opening smash-cut title card (punctuated with an intense musical stinger) to the shocking finale, it’s a perfect example of visceral thrills, with plenty of twists and turns, sublimely fun comic relief, and some fantastic music, courtesy of Christopher Young, who also scored Haunted Summer and Hellraiser. Here’s track 1, “Drag Me to Hell”:

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and track 11, “Brick Dogs Ala Carte”:

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and track 13, “Auto Da Fe”:

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28.) Beautiful Kate (2009) – Tex Perkins and Murray Patterson

Actress Rachel Ward takes the director’s chair, personally adapting the script from Newton Thornburg‘s novel in this sentimental drama about a writer who returns to his remote family home to say goodbye to his dying father, and finds himself haunted by memories which awaken long-buried secrets from the family’s past – revolving around his beautiful twin sister. I haven’t seen it, but the score by Perkins and Patterson is haunting and fantastic and make me want to. Here’s the beautiful main theme:

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and track 2, “Wilpena Pound.”:

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and track 17, “This Little Bird”:

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27.) Cannabis [French Intrigue] (1970) – Serge Gainsbourg

Pierre Koralnik directs the infamously debonair (and deviant) Serge Gainsbourg as a killer working for the Mafia who goes into hiding when an attempt is made on his life and takes refuge at a stranger’s apartment (played by real-life lover Jane Birkin). It’s what you would expect from an art-film-gangster-movie-starring-non-actors-who-are-real-life-lovers. It’s like watching Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci but with less acting talent. The music is out of this world, though. Check out track 1, “Cannabis instrumental”:

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and track 11, “Derniere Blessure”:

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and track 13, “Cannabis bis”:

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26.) Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Clint Mansell

Darren Aronofsky‘s notoriously invasive drug opus is based on Hubert Selby Jr.‘s novel and stars Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly in a visually stunning yet emotionally disturbing (and often shocking) movie about four friends whose lives are destroyed by heroin use. The emotionally charged soundtrack by Clint Mansell (who also did Moon) is absolutely riveting. Here’s the opening track, “Summer/ Summer Overture”:

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and track 4, “Summer/ Party”:

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and track 26, “Winter/ Southern Hospitality”:

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and track 27, “Winter/ Fear”:

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25.) Solamente Nero [The Bloodstained Shadow] (1978) – Stelvio Cipriani

Antonio Bido directs this formulaic giallo set in Venice, where a rash of murders – all tied to the unsolved strangulation of a young girl years before – baffles detectives. Though there are better movies by Argento and Martino, it’s a nice competent exercise in suspense and horror, backed by Stelvio Cipriani’s (who also did Bay of Blood and Twitch of the Death Nerve) moody score. Here are the opening titles:

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and track 3, “Incubi Ricorrenti 3″:

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and track 6, “Incubi Ricorrenti 6″:

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24.) The Connection (1962) – Freddie Redd

Another movie about heroin addicts! Shirley Clarke‘s film adaptation of Jack Gelber‘s play tells the tale of 8 addicts waiting for their “connection” in a New York apartment who have agreed to let a budding filmmaker film them if he pays for their fix. Things get truly interesting afterward, when the men talk the filmmaker into trying heroin – with disastrous results. Redd was a soulful jazz pianist whose work for the Blue Note label is definitely worth seeking out, and this soundtrack also features alto saxophonist Jackie McLean – whose wailing solos come from a place of experience – read about him in the seminal Four Lives in the Bebop Business. Here’s the opening track, “Who Killed Cock Robin”:

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and track 5, “Theme For Sister Salvation”:

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23.) Sitting Target (1972) – Stanley Myers

Douglas Hickox directs Oliver Reed and Jill St. John in this crime thriller about a vicious convict who busts out of prison to hunt down his wife when he discovers she is pregnant by another man. Stanley Myers’ incredible score perfectly complements the emotionless London in which the story takes place. Here’s the main theme:

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and track 6, “Laundry Park”:

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and track 12, “Squealing Pig”:

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and track 13, “Split Down The Middle”:

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22.) Chi Sei [Beyond the Door] (1974) – Franco Micalizzi

Ovidio G. Assonitis & Robert Barrett direct this unapologetic Exorcist knockoff – complete with similar makeup effects, creepy demonic voice and requisite head spinning scene – about a pregnant woman carrying Satan spawn in modern day San Francisco. The soundtrack is incredibly weird and groovy, courtesy of the man who brought you the Diabolica and Karate Amazones soundtracks. Check out the spooky opening track, complete with eerie narration, “Bargain with the Devil”:

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and track 3, “Dimitry’s Theme”:

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and track 7, “Bargain with the Devil orchestral version”:

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21.) Shaft (1971) - Isaac Hayes

Gordon Parks directs Richard Roundtree in the granddaddy of all blaxploitation flix, the one that cemented the genre’s earning potential and led to dozens of imitators. The film’s crossover success had tons to do with the charisma and attitude of its titular character, but was helped in large part by Isaac Hayes’ score. Shaft was so huge in fact that it made Hayes himself a superstar, and led to a starring role in Truck Turner (which he also scored). Check out the instantly recognizable “Theme from Shaft”:

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and track 2, the groovy “Bumpy’s Lament”:

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and track 3, “Walk From Regio’s”:

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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).

And tune in next week, as we inch even closer to the thrilling, fantastic conclusion of our countdown!

November 15, 2010   No Comments

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 6 (of 15)

100.) To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – Elmer Bernstein

Robert Mulligan’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel stars Gregory Peck and benefits from a fantastic score by the great Elmer Bernstein, who also composed The Man with the Golden Arm, The Magnificent Seven, and Walk on the Wild Side. Here’s track 3, “Atticus Accepts the Case”:

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99.) Savage! (1973) – Don Julian

I somehow missed this blaxploitation flick directed by Cirio H. Santiago, one of the many produced in The Philippines by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, which stars James Inglehart as a mercenary who becomes leader of a rebel faction. The flute-heavy funk soundtrack is awesome, as is Don Julian’s other obscure score, for Shorty the Pimp. For more on movies made in the Philippines keep your eyes peeled for the documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed!

Here’s the title theme, “Savage!”:

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and track 2, “Lay it on Your Head”:

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98.) The Trip (1967) – The Electric Flag

Roger Corman directs Peter Fonda as a commercial director experiencing a mid-life crisis who turns to an LSD guru (Bruce Dern) for help. Dennis Hopper costars, in a flick written by none other than Jack Nicholson. The Electric Flag, fronted by Mike Bloomfield & Nick Gravenites and featuring the legendary Buddy Miles, provide the mind-altering psychedelic soundtrack.

Here’s track3:

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and track 5, “Hobbit”:

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and track 7, “Green & Gold”:

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97.) Yakuza (1975) – Dave Grusin

Sydney Pollack’s movie, written by screenwriting legends Paul Schrader and Robert Towne, tells the story of a businessman who travels Japan to rescue his friend’s kidnapped daughter from the Japanese mafia, also known as the Yakuza. The easy listening soundtrack comes courtesy of Dave Grusin, who also composed the soundtracks for Three Days of the Condor and The Goonies.

Here’s track 4, “Tokyo Return”:

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and track 18, “Bows”:

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96.) Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) – Ryûichi Sakamoto

Nagisa Ôshima directs Ryuichi Sakamoto, the soundtrack composer himself, opposite David Bowie, in this period war drama in which Japanese discipline, honor and glory clash with Western sensibilities. Sakamoto’s score for The Handmaid’s Tale and Pedro Almodovar’s High Heels are also worth seeking out.

Here’s track 4, “A Hearty Breakfast”:

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and track 19, “Forbidden Colours,” which features singer David Sylvian:

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95.) Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) – Yeong Wook Jo

Chan-wook Park’s film is the final installment in a trilogy including Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy and stars Yeong-ae Lee as a woman trying to put her life back together after 13 years in prison for kidnap and murder, who happens to also be arranging her revenge on the real killer who framed her. The black humor in the film is offset by the elegant soundtrack, which is dramatic and beautiful, incorporating harpsichord and baroque guitars and borrowing from Vivaldi’s “Ah ch’infelice sempre,” a song about, appropriately enough, revenge and betrayal.

Here’s track 2, “The Gold Letter, Which It Intends”:

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and track 16, “First It Was Wicked From The World”:

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94.) Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) – Riichiro Manabe

Jun Fukuda directs the giant rubbery lizard in this, the 13th film of the franchise, which features Gigan, Megalon and Jet Jaguar, creatures sent by the underground kingdom of Seatopia to destroy us pesky above-ground Earthlings. So it’s one of those times when Godzilla is with us rather than against us. Manabe’s music is always weird and amazing – check out the equally incredible Godzilla vs. Hedorah if you’re into it.

Here’s the main title:

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and track 4, “Highway Road”:

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93.) Man and Boy (1971) – J.J. Johnson

E.W. Swackhamer’s film stars Bill Cosby (who also produced) in his dramatic debut as a former cowboy and Union soldier who sets out with his 12-year-old son (George Spell) to retrieve a horse and plow stolen from him by white bigots in this G-rated Western re-imagining of The Bicycle Thief. Costarring Yaphet Kotto and Henry Silva, the film benefits greatly from a fantastic soundtrack by J.J. Johnson, filled with the wonderful sound of target=”_blank”>bass harmonica and the familiar voice of Bill Withers. Trombonist Johnson also composed the scores for Cleopatra Jones, Willie Dynamite, and Across 110th Street (with Bobby Womack – featuring the greatest title song of all time!), as well as tons of releases on the Blue Note and Impulse! labels, all worth seeking out.

Here’s track 1, the title theme, “Better Days” sung by Bill Withers:

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and track 4, “Pull, Jubal, Pull”:

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and track 6, “Theme from Man and Boy”:

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92.) City of the Living Dead [a.k.a. The Gates of Hell] (1980) – Fabio Frizzi

In Lucio Fulci’s free-form gore-fest, a priest commits suicide and opens the gates of Hell, and it’s up to a psychic and a reporter to close them before the malevolent zombies take over the world. The music is top notch, full of creepy “ahh”-ing voices, weird moog, and swanky bass-lines, which lend Fulci’s over-the-top apocalyptic tale an appropriately epic – and slightly pornographic – feel. Here’s track 3, “Irrealta Di Suoni”:

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and track 5, “Verso L’Alba”:

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and track 6, “Apoteosi Del Mistero”:

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91.) A Pugni Nudi [Naked Fists] (1974) – Franco Bixio

Marcello Zeani’s film about a juvenile delinquent-turned boxer who throws a fight to pay for an operation for his friend is full of melodrama, backstabbings, and is set to the sounds of Bixio’s funky grooves. Here’s the opening track, “With Bare Fists”:

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and track 3, “Where They Reform You”:

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60 down, 90 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).

September 27, 2010   3 Comments

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