28th November 2006
Time to catch up with four recent releases from soundtrack label FSM...
It's surprising that in the eight years that FSM
releasing CDs - over a hundred and forty, now - they've not released
anything by one of the most prolific and popular film music composers: Ennio Morricone. Of course, you could argue that with a couple of hundred
Morricone CDs already in existence, there seems to be little need for FSM
to plug a gap in his discography.
The score in question, however, is the one Morricone wrote for the
1968 Anthony Quinn movie Guns For San Sebastian (La Bataille de
San Sebastian), a historical drama set in eighteenth century Mexico.
The film, which also stars Charles Brosnan, is about a remote village
besieged by an aggressive tribe of Indians, the Yaqui.
The film - a Franco-Italian-Mexican mish-mash - went
through a string of personnel during its four year journey to the screen
(at one point it was being developed for French star Alain Delon; later
The Time Machine's Yvette Mimieux was attached as the lead's love
Despite thematic links to The Wild Bunch and The
Magnificent Seven, musically the film is more closely aligned to
Sergio Leone's so-called spaghetti Westerns. Indeed, by the time it came to score
Guns For San Sebastian, the Coplandesque Americana that
typically accompanied Westerns of the fifties and early-mid sixties had
gone out of fashion, and a new type of quirky pop-influenced Western-style score had become popular, and its
principal exponent was Ennio
The score for Guns For San Sebastian shares components
with Morricone's masterpiece, Once Upon A Time In America, which
the composer would tackle later the same year. So, it's not surprising
with a pedigree like that, that FSM thought the score was worth resurrecting.
The score for
Guns For San Sebastian was released on LP when the
film had its original theatrical release, and has subsequently been re-released several times.
All these feature the same half-hour of music. FSM's release is the first
to feature the complete score (including the album's Overture),
re-mixed and re-mastered from the original half-inch three-track
recordings. The new hour-long CD also features two bonus tracks: an alternate
version of The Chase (featuring an enhanced choir, instead of the
recorders that feature on the film version), and the soundtrack album
version of the Love Theme.
The disc comes with a lavishly-illustrated
sixteen-page booklet, featuring extensive track-by-track notes, and some
examples of the film's superb poster art
Stothart, pioneering composer of dozens of films made between 1929 and
1954, is scarcely represented on CD. Most people will be familiar with at
least one of his scores: the one he wrote for MGM's 1939 musical The
Wizard of Oz. During his career, which included the scores for
Mamoulian's Queen Christina (1933), the Wallace Beery version of
Treasure Island (1934), and the Charles Laughton / Clark Gable
adaptation of Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), h
was nominated for eleven Academy Awards.
So, why is so little of Stothart's work available on CD?
Well, as you can probably guess, relatively few recordings from the era
exist, and those that do are often in poor condition (almost everything
was recorded onto fragile optical film).
FSM's Random Harvest CD presents
what survives of two of Stothart's most important scores:
1942's amnesia drama Random Harvest, and the soppy 1946 family film
The Yearling. In both cases about half of the score exists. In
addition to the surviving complete cues, the CD archives what remains of
several others as bonus tracks (including a Harry Lauder song featured in
Random Harvest, She's Ma Daisy). Remarkably, because of the
way the scores were recorded, some of the material - including both main
titles - are presented in stereo.
Stothart, who had Scottish roots, was
perhaps the obvious choice for Random Harvest, especially after the
Fox's charming WWII drama Mrs Miniver
(also 1942), which he also scored. The film, which starred Lost
Horizon's Ronald Colman, as an amnesiac British WWI soldier, and
Goodbye, Mr Chips' Greer Garson, as the woman who loved him, features
three key musical themes: one representing Colman's confusion; a love
theme; and a third, based on the wedding hymn O Perfect Love.
Stothart's score netted the film one of its seven Oscar nominations.
The Yearling, based on the Pulitzer
Prize-winning novel about a boy and his pet deer, had a turbulent journey
to the screen. In fact the film took eight years to make, exhausting the
patience of two of MGM's first-rank directors (Victor Fleming and King
Vidor) in the process. Filming began in 1941, with Spencer Tracy and Roddy
McDowall, but this version was abandoned (apparently mosquito swarms and
behind the scenes squabbles delayed filming so long that the film's
adolescent lead passed through puberty, making him unsuitable!) More
delays occurred when the USA entered World War II. The film was eventually
remounted in 1946.
Stothart had a good track record of scoring
films with animal and other natural subjects (including Son of Lassie
(1945) and National Velvet (1944)). As he had done before,
Stothart incorporated music from the classics in his score: in this case
an orchestral work with an Americana flavour by British composer Delius,
which had been inspired by the Appalachian mountains.
The film was a smash hit, and garnered MGM
another seven Oscar nominations (the film won two, for its cinematography,
and for Art Direction; juvenile lead Claude Jarman Jr also netted an
Academy Award, for the Outstanding Child Actor of 1946). The film's become
something of an American classic, due to its regular exposure on
FSM's dics is accompanied by a twenty-four
page booklet, with extensive notes by Stothart expert Marilee Bradford.
The disc is a limited edition release of 3000 copies.
month's Golden Age Classics release was André Previn's score for
the 1964 Bette Davis film Dead Ringer, which saw the fading star
return to her old stomping ground at Warner Brothers after a lengthy
falling-out. The film, about a woman who assumes the identity of a
well-to-do sibling, featured Davis playing twin sisters, as she had done
in 1946's A Stolen Life.
Previn was well-established by 1964.
Indeed, he had won four Academy Awards (three of them for film
musicals: Porgy and Bess, Gigi and My Fair Lady).
Previn managed to fit Dead Ringer in during a lull on My Fair
Lady, creating a slightly tongue-in-cheek score for the film, which
features a solo harpsichord, giving it a somewhat macabre flavour. It also
exhibits a distinctive Korngold influence (Previn had recently recorded
several Korngold concertos, his Symphony in F#, and an album of his
film theme suites).
Dead Ringer had previously been
released on a stereo LP, which accounts for about half of the music on the
CD. The rest, in mono, comes from the quarter-inch tapes in Warner's
vaults. Together they form a complete representation of Previn's score,
which is released on CD in a limited edition pressing of 3000 copies,
accompanied by extensive background and track notes by Jeff Eldridge.
most recent Silver Age Classics release is a fine jazzy score from
Argentinian composer Lalo Schifrin. It's from the 1966 MGM spy spoof
The Liquidator, which starred Rod Taylor.
The film was shot in England and on the
French Riviera, and featured a largely-British cast, marshalled by
legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff. The 007-style spoof featured a
bona fide Bond girl, Jill St. John. Its authenticity was enhanced by a
title song performed by Shirley Bassey. Its plot came from a novel by John
Gardner, who would later pen more than a dozen authorised James Bond
Schifrin had been working for MGM for a
couple of years on an ad hoc basis, when he got a call asking if he
could drop everything, fly to London, and start work immediately. A couple
of days later Schifrin found himself in Ronnie Scott's legendary
nightclub, arranging to hire the services some of the most talented Jazz
musicians in the world: jazz flautist Tubby Hayes, drummer Tony Crombie,
and Scott himself, on saxophone.
Schifrin's score resists mimicking John
Barry, and is scored with his own distinctive style (it's very reminiscent
of Mission: Impossible).
FSM's disc marks the score's first
appearance on CD. Often the only parts of a score of this vintage that
exist are the cues used for the soundtrack LP (i.e.: the album master). In
the case of The Liquidator, though, the reverse was true: the
original three-track recording session masters survive, but all the album
tracks (which were removed from the recording session recordings) were
absent, and the album master was lost (despite having been used as
recently as 1986, for an LP and cassette release). After two years of
investigation, the disc's producer has decided that all avenues have been
explored, and FSM has reluctantly used a pristine copy of the album as the
source for some of the tracks.
Where possible, the original three-track
recordings have been used.
The results are very good, and unless
you're blessed (or cursed) with audiophile ears, most satisfactory. The
entire disc (which contains the complete score) is in stereo.
Three tracks that were on the album, but
weren't in the film, (including the extended version of The Liquidator
song, which played under the end credits) are offered as bonus tracks.
The disc comes with extensive track notes,
written by FSM label boss Lukas Kendall. The notes include new interview
material from the composer himself.
FSM discs are available from specialist
soundtrack retailers, including FSM's trading partner,
Entertainment (who are running a sale on selected FSM titles at the
27th November 2006
A feature-length special edition - indeed,
the finale - of Channel 4's off-kilter hospital comedy series Green
Wing will be released on DVD on January the 8th, four days after it is
broadcast on TV.
The ninety-minute special will be
supplemented by exclusive bonus material, including deleted scenes, and
alternate ending, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and a cast and crew
commentary track. The RRP is £19.99.
Optimum Home Entertainment have announced
about a bazillion new titles for release in the first quarter of 2007.
Night and the City (Robert De Niro
version) - RRP: £12.99
Mediterraneo - RRP: £12.99
Honeymoon in Vegas - £12.99
Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva - RRP:
Aces High - RRP £12.99
Belle de Jour - 40th Anniversary Edition
(features History of a Film (31m), commentary by Professor
Peter W. Evans, and a theatrical trailer). Ties in with a Luis Buñuel
season at the NFT. RRP: £19.99
Luis Buñuel Collection (eight discs
packaged in two digipacks, in a slipcase: Belle de Jour, The
Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Diary of a Chambermaid,
Tristana, The Milky Way, That Obscure Object of Desire,
The Phantom of Liberty, La Joven (The Young One)). The set
will feature Making of... documentaries for seven of the films.
Comic Icons - The Leslie Phillips
Collection (four disc set containing Please Turn Over, Watch
Your Stern, No Kidding and Crooks Anonymous) - with
commentary by Phillips (TBC). RRP: 24.99
Comic Icons - The Frankie Howerd Collection (a "three disc" set
containing Up Pompeii and Up The Chastity Belt) - there's
been some speculation that the mysterious third disc might be The House
in Nightmare Park). RRP: £19.99
Comic Icons - The Terry-Thomas Collection (six-disc set containing
School For Scoundrels, His and Hers, Private's Progress,
Make Mine Mink, Too Many Crooks and The Naked Truth).
Comic Icons - The Sidney James Collection (three-disc set
containing The Big Job, Make Mine a Million and The
Lavender Hill Mob). RRP: 19.99
Luc Besson's Angel-A - Includes
exclusive UK interview with Luc Besson, artcards, Making of...
documentary. RRP: £17.99
Walter Hill's Southern Comfort -
101m, 2.0 audio, trailer. RRP: £15.99
Nic Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth
- two-disc set in Amaray case with metallic board slipcase. Features new
and exclusive Roeg interview; Watching the Alien documentary;
trailer; DVD-Rom featuring pages from the theatrical campaign brochure.
The Go Between - RRP: £15.99
Stephen Frears' The Grifters (DVD
debut) - RRP: £15.99
Polanski's The Pianist - RRP: £17.99
Lovers of the Arctic Circle - RRP:
Bruce Lee - Martial Arts Master
(documentary) - RRP: £12.99
Private Elvis (documentary about
Elvis' spell as a soldier) - RRP: £12.99
Bad Boys (Sean Penn) - RRP: £12.99
Sleepy Hollow - Special Edition -
Special Edition packaging. Features containing two theatrical
trailer; behind-the-scenes documentary, Reflections on Sleepy Hollow;
director's commentary; photo' gallery; biographies; sixty page book
featuring extract from Burton on Burton; career interview with Burton (TBC);
interviews with composer Danny Elfman and "some of the UK cast" (TBC).
Gilles Mimouni's L'Appartement -
Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark - RRP:
Brotherhood of the Wolf - RRP:
Narrow Margin - RRP: £12.99
Jacques Audiard's A Self Made Hero
(UK DVD premiere) - RRP: £17.99
That'll Be The Day - RRP: £12.99
Stardust - RRP: £12.99
Highlander - Immortal Edition -
Embossed steel tin including artcards; newly-created extra features (TBC);
new hour-long retrospective documentary; new audio commentary by director
Russell Mulcahy (TBC); "soundtrack / music video disc" (TBC) - £17.99
David Lynch's Mulholland Drive -
Collector's Edition - featuring Making of... documentary and
interviews; 20-page booklet extracting Lynch on Lynch; special packaging
and artcards. RRP: £17.99.
The John Sayles Collection - three UK DVD
debuts: Lianna, Return of the Secaucas Seven and Brother
From Another Planet. RRP: £29.99
Early Hitchcock Box Set - Blackmail,
Murder!, The Ring, The Farmer's Wife, Rich &
Strange, The Skin Game, The Manxman, Number Seventeen
and Champagne. RRP: £34.99
Fellini's The White Sheik (DVD debut
- digitally re-mastered) - RRP: 19.99
The L-Shaped Room - RRP: £15.99
The Raging Moon
- RRP: £15.99
- RRP: £15.99
The Jean-Luc Goddard Collection - Volume
One - Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou, Une Femme Est Une
Femme, Le Petit Soldat, A Bout de Souffle, La
Chinoise and Made in the USA. RRP: £39.99
Korean blockbuster The Host - two
versions: a single-disc edition, and a double-disc edition with bonus
Johnnie To's Election: Vol.2 -
Interview with Johnnie To; Making of... documentary (TBC). RRP:
Asterix and the Vikings (DVD
premiere) - RRP: £15.99
Wanted: Dead or Alive - Series One
Volume Two - five-disc set containing twenty more episodes of the
Western series featuring Steve McQueen. Features photo' gallery and
Life In The Fast Lane featurette. RRP: £49.99
Emmanuelle - Special Edition -
featuring interview with director; Emmanuelle - An Erotic Success
(52m documentary, "new to DVD"); booklet containing behind-the-scenes
stills. RP: £17.99
Fu Manchu Double-bill - The
Castle of Fu Manchu and The Blood of Fu Manchu in "double
Amaray in o ring". RRP: £12.99.
Classic Horror Collection - The Beast
Must Die, I, Monster, Night of the Eagle, Black
Sabbath, Circus of Horrors, A Bucket of Blood, Ghost
Ship and Doctor Crippin. RRP: £9.99 each.
Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth
- extras to be created in collaboration with del Toro; twenty-page book
containing extracts from The Book of Mexican Cinema, by Jason Wood
(TBC); "special packaging option available". RRP: £17.99
Guillermo del Toro Triple Box Set - Chronos, The Devil's
Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth - £29.99
Screen Icons - Julie Christie -
The Go Between, Billy Liar, Far From The Madding Crowd
and Darling. RRP: £34.99
Screen Icons - Catherine Deneuve - Umbrellas of Cherbourg,
Belle de Jour, Donkey Skin, Manon 70. RRP:
Sweeney! and Sweeney 2 - RRP:
Michael Powell's Peeping Tom - Special
Edition - slipcase containing Amaray case; The Eye of the Beholder
documentary (30m); The Strange Gaze of Mark Lewis documentary
(25m); booklet containing essay by Ryan Gilbey and interview with
screenwriter Leo Marks; behind-the-scenes production stills; commentary by
Powell expert Ian Christie. RRP £17.99
The City of Lost Children - Special
Edition - commentary by director Jean Pierre Jeunet (TBC); packaged in
mirrorboard slipcase. RRP: £17.99
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