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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

Great Vampire Flick – LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is the culmination of all things vampire.

Much has been made about this 2008 Swedish vampire film, directed by Tomas Alfredson from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s screenplay based on his novel, and rightly so – simply put it’s an amazing movie, paced hypnotically and chock-full of dreamlike imagery, which successfully captures the essence of what is strange and compelling about the vampire mythology. While many have said that you should begin with the book, I just want to make sure that whatever you do, you do NOT begin with the upcoming remake, “Let Me In,” currently in post-production and slated for release in early October. Given Hollywood’s track record of butchering Scandinavian thrillers (The Vanishing, Nightwatch – even the much ballyhooed Insomnia was far inferior to the original) you must make sure that when you do see the American remake (which in all probability will suck) it’s only AFTER watching this masterpiece – or else you’ll be cheating yourself out of an incredible experience.

May 15, 2010   1 Comment

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