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Great Scenes – BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

Before Empire Strikes Back, before Aliens, before Evil Dead II, here is the original “better than” sequel, which mines the source material for what is essential and pushes the magic a step further. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is not only superior to the original but it is also the culmination of James Whale‘s singular sardonic surrealism. This is the film that marks him as the forefather of quirky horror and delectable strangeness. Take this scene in which Doctor Pretorius (played with fervor by Ernest Thesiger) charms Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) into joining forces on a new experiment – a scene chock-full of fantastic dialogue, jarring expressionistic sets, and eye-popping (for the time) special effects, way ahead of its time in tone, subject, and wit, presaging a future full of fictional mad scientists and very real clone technology. A key scene in a fascinating movie whose wraparound story begins with Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester, who also plays the Bride) and which continues to self-reflexively play with the themes of creation throughout. Ballerinas in bottles, kings and popes the playthings of a twisted madman: of Gods and Monsters indeed!

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January 9, 2012   No Comments

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

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