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SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 5 (of 15)

110.) Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) – John Lewis

Another Robert Wise crime film, this one revolving around racial tensions within a group of bank thieves. And if you thought the cast of Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, and Shelly Winters was jam-packed, just look at the players on the soundtrack: Milt Jackson on vibes, Bill Evans on piano, Jim Hall on guitar! Conductor John Lewis later released a studio version of this album with his small combo group, The Modern Jazz Quartet, that’s well worth seeking out as well!

Here’s track 9, “Skating in Central Park”:

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and track 12, “Games”:

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109.) Bugsy Malone (1976) – Paul Williams

Alan Parker, who also directed Pink Floyd’s The Wall – not eligible thanks to my strict self-imposed guidelines – is responsible for the cinematic oddity that is Bugsy Malone, which is either one of the worst ideas ever conceived or one of the best, depending on your perspective. A gangster movie where all the gangsters are played by children, the guns shoot some sort of cream filling, and Scott Baio stars alongside Jodie Foster is a bit hard for me to swallow, but the music isn’t – written by pop musician and hit songwriter Paul Williams, who also wrote and composed songs for the equally entertaining Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack for Brian De Palma.

Here’s track 3, “Tomorrow”:

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and track 7, “So You Wanna Be a Boxer”:

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108.) Dune (1984) – Toto

David Lynch returns to our list with his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, Dune, scored by Toto, the band that brought you the soft rock hits “ target=”_blank”>Africa” and target=”_blank”>”Rosanna”. It’s a surprisingly listenable affair, though when I think of Dune I can’t help but imagine the film that might have been: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version, which was going to be written by Dan O’Bannon, was going to star Salvador Dali and Orson Welles, be designed by H.R. Giger and Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius), and be scored by none other than Pink Floyd. Wow! Read more on the failed super-project here, and Jodorowsky’s account here. But back to Toto – very nice, very electronic score. The opening track, “Prologue,” lays out the basic plot:

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and here’s track 17, “Take My Hand”:

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107.) Kamasutra (1969) – Irmin Schmidt & The Inner Space

For the American release of Kobi Jaeger’s documentary, American-International Pictures removed some footage it considered ho-hum, added psychedelic drug-inspired scenes of wife-swapping and body painting, and marketed the whole thing as a dramatic film rather than a documentary. If that’s not the definition of sexploitation I don’t know what is. At least they left the soundtrack intact, by Irmin Schmidt and Inner Space, who would soon form the legendary Krautrock band Can. Here’s track 1, “Indisches Panorama I”:

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106.) Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) – Nora Orlandi

Sergio Martino’s target=”_blank”>crazy giallo stars Edwidge Fenech as a woman stalked by several sadists at once, the least kind among them being a razor wielding slasher. The soundtrack is just as stylish as the film, composed by one of the only female composers in the world of Italian horror films, Nora Orlandi.

Here is track 14, “Edwige In Dodici Ottavi”:

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and track 27, “Body Fox”:

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105.) La Marche de l’empereur [March of the Penguins] (2005) – Emilie Simon

Luc Jacquet’s Oscar winning documentary shows the life cycle of penguins (and when Orca whales are around, it shows the gory death cycle too). Their twenty day march to the safe haven where they will select their mates, procreate, protect and feed their offspring was set to the safe, predictable (though pretty) score of Alex Wurman in the US version, but in France it was set to an experimental soundtrack by Emilie Simon, a Björk-like chanteuse with a penchant for fractured electronica. Check out track 4, “Song of the Sea”:

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and track 11, “To The Dancers On The Ice”:

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104.) Around World in 80 Days (1956) – Victor Young

Michael Anderson’s wonderful technicolor adventure based on the novel by Jules Verne tells the tale of pompous Phileas Fogg, who bets his entire fortune on his claim that a man can travel around the world in 80 days, and then sets out to prove it. So off he goes, with butler in tow, from country to country, followed by an inspector who suspects him to be a criminal a man named Mr. Fix trying to sabotage his journey. Good old fashioned entertainment all the way around, with a fun soundtrack that quotes the traditional musics of the countries visited.

Here is track 2, “Paris Arrival”:

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and track 20, “Prairie Sail Car”:

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103.) Brave Story (2006) – Ben Watkins

Kôichi Chigira’s animated tale about an eleven-year-old boy who enters a magic world in order to change his fate and save his terminally ill mother sounds like a vintage tearjerker, along the lines of Grave of the Fireflies with a slight influence from Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Ben Watkins, the key figure in the ever-changing, international band Juno Reactor, composed the soundtrack, which shifts between styles and instrumentation, and is filled with fantastic moments. Here’s track 3, “Mitsuru Theme 2″:

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and track 10, “Hare and Heather Part 1″:

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and track 12, “Aerial Ballet”:

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102.) Cat People (1982) – Giorgio Moroder

Paul Schrader’s remake of the Jacques Tourneur-directed, Val Lewton-produced 1942 horror film may not be the classic the original was, but it does have two things going for it: the sexy shapeshifting Nastassja Kinski and the score by Giorgio Moroder, a key figure in the 1980’s music scene who also composed The Neverending Story, Scarface, Midnight Express, and American Gigolo. Here’s track 5, “Leopard Tree Dream”:

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and track 6, “Paul’s Theme”:

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101.) Dark of the Sun (1968) – Jacques Loussier

Jack Cardiff’s movie about a band of mercenaries battling through the Congo in search of $25 million in uncut diamonds is pure machismo. And can we talk about that cover for a second? A guy with a chainsaw charging a shirtless soldier while battles, explosions, and romantic embraces rage around him? Why is Hollywood not jumping at the chance to remake this album cover!?!?? Scored by Jacques Loussier, a jazz musician of the first order, the soundtrack delivers on the cover’s promise, sounding like a fusion of Spaghetti Western and Crime film. Awesome.

Here’s the opening track, the main theme:

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and track 10, “The Mission”:

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50 down, 100 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 soundtracks, as we head past the century mark into the meat of the countdown!

And be sure to leave feedback, even if it’s incredibly petty or negative!

September 20, 2010   No Comments

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 2 (of 15)

OST = Original Soundtrack.

We continue our countdown with numbers 131-140…

For the first installment, including my self-imposed guidelines, check part 1.

140.) Omega Man (1971) - Ron Grainer

Boris Sagal’s take on Richard Matheson’s classic I am Legend stars Moses himself – Charlton Heston – and reeks of 70’s sensibilities. The soundtrack is a fun affair, alternating between Ron Grainer’s quirky atmospheric score and jazz-tinged muzak, reminding us that an unpopulated Earth is much like an empty department store. Here’s track 2, “The Omega Man”:

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139.) Yol (1982) - Sebastian Argol

Directors Serif Gören & Yilmaz Güney wrote and directed this award-winning Turkish film about prisoners on furlough which starred James Bond himself – Sean Connery – in a movie I’ve often confused for the sword and sorcery epic Yor, The Hunter From The Future, released a year later, and the old Atari 2600 title Yars’ Revenge, released a year earlier. Regardless, it’s a powerful soundtrack for a movie I’ve never seen, combining middle eastern elements with ambient electronics. Here’s track 6, “Horsemen in the Wind”:

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138.) Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) – Eric Serra

Since 1983’s Le Dernier Combat Luc Besson has been employing Eric Serra as his composer of choice, and this soundtrack, their most recent collaboration, is their best – with a kooky, kitchen-sink approach that features cacophonous car horns, discordant electronics, a dramatic chanteuse and sweeping themes that capture the spirit of high adventure. Check out this target=”_blank”>trailer and tell me you don’t want to see the movie. You liar. Here’s track 2, “Hiéroglyphes”:

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137.) Naked Angels (1969) – Jeff Simmons

Don’t know much about this Bruce D. Clark biker flick, except that that cover is absolutely sick and the composer, Jeff Simmons, would later become a Frank Zappa collaborator. And that the music is rocking, with fuzz guitars and a steady rock beat.

Here’s track 1, “Naked Angels Theme”:

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and track 5, “Cop Out”:

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136.) Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) (1958) – Miles Davis

Louis Malle’s suspense noir might be a tad dated, but this Miles Davis soundtrack sure isn’t – it’s his best score for a film, though Kind of Blue is still the greatest soundtrack he ever wrote to a movie never made. Here’s track 5, “Florence sur les Champs-Elysées”:

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135.) High Noon (1952) – Dimitri Tiomkin

Fred Zinnemann’s classic western gets a fantastic old-era-Hollywood score courtesy of Tiomkin, who also scored The Alamo, Guns of Navarone, Giant and countless other classics, and who later wrote the TV theme song for Rawhide. Here’s track 1, the main title, sung by Tex Ritter (John Ritter’s dad), which won the 1953 Academy Award for best song:

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134.) Avalon (2001) - Kenji Kawai

Anime director (Ghost in the Shell) Mamoru Oshii directed this live action sci-fi movie about a destitute future where virtual gaming determines financial reward-or death by catatonia. The film’s unique flavor stems from its Japanese-Polish production, heavy referencing of Arthurian mythology, and muted sepia-tone cinematography, and is carried over into the soundtrack, where Kawai’s haunting score features Polish language chanting and tons of murky futuristic melancholy. Here’s track 2, “Log Off”:

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133.) Heathers (1989) – David Newman

Michael Lehmann defined a generation with his smart, satirical high school revenge flick, which took John Hughes’ high school comedies and ramped ‘em up to high black-comedy heaven. The cold, electronic soundtrack enhances the feeling of detachment which Winona Ryder and Christian Slater feel in their popularity-obsessed high school. Composition runs in the family – Newman is the cousin of Randy, the brother of Thomas and the son of Alfred. Are any other Newmans gonna make this list? Are all of them? Do me a favor – Wait and find out. That way I can stop asking rhetorical questions. Here’s track 3, “JD Blows Up”:

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132.) Institute Benjamenta (1995) – Lech Jankowski

The Brothers Quay deliver a vivid black and white dream of a movie, based on Kafka-predecessor Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, a surrealistic 1909 novel about a mysterious institute where men learn to become servants. Lech’s sparse, haunting soundtrack, complete with strained strings, lonely trumpets, rumbling bass, haunting voices and intermittent silences makes it a perfect accompaniment, which also stands on its own as an eerie listening experience for fans of challenging music.

Here’s track 6, “Introdukja Liliowa”:

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and track 8, “Kolysanka wg Erika S”:

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131.) Didn’t You Hear? (1970) – Mort Garson

Not many people have seen Skip Sherwood’s college film about a daydreaming teen, which not only features a young Gary Busey, but also a score by the legendary Mort Garson. Here is a review of the movie. A friend once bequeathed unto me an entire DVD full of Garson’s albums, including this one, and I’ve been a fan ever since (both of Garson and my friend).

Here’s track 5, “Kevin’s Theme”:

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and track 9, “Walk to Grange Hall”:

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20 OST’s down, 130 to go! What’s your favorite soundtrack? Will it make the cut? Check back next week, and be sure to leave feedback… it’ll make us stronger here at the isle!

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 2, 2010   No Comments

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