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Author Topic: My GBU Article is now online for FREE!  (Read 5461 times)
uncknown
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« on: November 21, 2013, 01:00:15 PM »

Film Score Monthly has just made their print archives available to the general public.
My  GBU article is in issue Vol.9 number 5

hope you like it
Bruce

« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 01:24:48 PM by uncknown » Logged

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My article on the restoration of the The Big Gundown
http://thekinskifiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/cinemaretro-13-big-gundown.html
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2013, 01:37:30 PM »

Great! Is there a link we can use?

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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2013, 03:45:25 PM »

The search function there works as good as the one here  Cry

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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2013, 06:01:24 PM »

I think you need to be a subscriber:

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/backissues/issue_detail.cfm?issID=98

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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2013, 06:28:42 PM »


Ahhhhh, so is this some type of secret ploy to garner subscriptions?

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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2013, 08:41:54 AM »

No, but you do have to download the whole issue to read the one piece. You can do that here http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/fsmonline/backissues_print.cfm?page=2

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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2013, 09:10:26 AM »

The article appears on page 45 of the June 2004 issue of Film Score Monthly

I'll try to cut and paste it into several posts here:

A Masterpiece Restored
Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone’s classic team-up is back!

By Bruce R. Marshall


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is one of the most famous films ever made.
It has been endlessly imitated and parodied; its title has become part of the vernacular, its five-note theme instantly recognizable, and its dialogue famously quotable (“When you have to shoot, shoot! Don’t talk!”). Yet, its artistic merits have often been overlooked. Classified, derogatorily, as a “spaghetti western,” the film is, on the surface, a tale of greed, gold and six-guns. But underneath the shootouts and action is one of the most powerful anti-war statements ever put on film. It is this thematic element that raises Sergio Leone’s film to the level of a great work of art.
And it’s great fun, too!
The last two years have been a time of answered prayers for fans of the score and film. First, GDM/Hexacord of Italy released an expanded edition of the soundtrack contain- ing never-before-released music. Then, a new print of the film was released theatrically that contained scenes that had previously only appeared in the non-dubbed Italian version.
Now, a domestic version of the CD and a DVD of the longer film version are coming to a store near you!


The Music
A huge reason for the success of the film is the magnificent music of Ennio Morricone. I consider The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to be the greatest score ever written for a motion picture. Hyperbole? Consider these factors:

Originality Morricone’s music for the pre- vious Leone westerns A Fistful of Dollars and, especially, For a Few Dollars More had a unique style and sound. No other film scores sounded even remotely like them. GBU has a boldness and textural richness that goes beyond those innovative efforts (for example, compare the employment of soprano Edda Dell’Orso in FAFDM’s “Vice of Killing” with her use here). While musicologists may detect the influ- ence of Rodrigo or Varèse in some passages, I maintain that Morricone comes as close as is humanly possible to being a true original.
Only the great Bernard Herrmann rivals his genius for orchestration. In addition to a standard orchestra, Morricone regularly uses chorus, female solo vocal, male solo vocal and whistler, electric guitar, electric bass, acoustic guitar, castanets, amplifier noise, electric organ, harpsichord, ocarina, Jew’s harp, harmonica, piano and more.

Variety This is not a standard “theme and variations” score. There is an amazing variety of thematic material (see below). Plus, the thematic variations and motivic transformations are endlessly inventive (e.g., how Morricone transforms the four-note piano ostinato to acoustic guitar in “Trio”).


Importance Has any non-musical film ever relied more on its score? Leone’s style emphasizes action over dialogue. Several lengthy sequences are clearly edited to music (“Ecstasy of Gold” was shot to prerecorded score). The last 15 minutes of the film is practically an opera without the singing.

Emotional Impact Morricone is a conser- vatory-trained musician with great technical facility. Yet he writes music that is aimed more at the heart and soul than the intellect. No other score makes my heart pound with such excitement. When I hear “Main Title,” “Ecstasy of Gold” or “Trio,” I literally jump out of my seat and conduct an imaginary orchestra! He is a master at creating tension and suspense through the employment of long pedal points— often ending them with a charging, repeating three-note “horses hoof” beat (e.g., “Main Title”). At the other end of the emotional spectrum are the heartfelt “horror of war” pieces; “Death/ Ballad of a Soldier” moves the soul.
Listenability This is simply a damn enter- taining soundtrack: exciting, humorous (a rare commodity), scary, suspenseful, sad. Mournful ballads and rousing action-packed tracks coexist. About the only thing missing is a love theme (this is understandable since the only prominent woman in the story is a prostitute who is gang-raped and beaten). The music is not background or underscore. It is an up-front and crucial element in the drama. Morricone doesn’t write programmatic, literal (i.e., “mickey mousing”) music. Even though the score and action are so intertwined in the film, the music still stands on its own away from the film.



continued next post


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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2013, 09:14:47 AM »

continued


The Original Soundtrack Album

Released in the U.S.A. in 1968, the album soon went gold. It was one of the few soundtracks to do so without being associated with a hit song. And the album has always remained in print.

“Main Title” This was a Top 10 hit for Hugo Montenegro and has been covered by numerous rock bands. However, you have not heard it if you haven’t heard the film version. Morricone’s orchestration is innovative and inimitable. The middle section, where the trumpets do a complicated call and response, has never been duplicated in any cover version. Pay particular attention to the trumpet playing (Morricone himself is a trumpeter). Extremely difficult passages are rendered superbly. The composer layers on the sound in a manner that never sounds cluttered. And the percus- sion drives it all home, leaving you breathless. Kudos to conductor Bruno Nicolai for weaving so many musical elements—orchestra, electron- ics, chorus—into a stunning whole.

“The Sundown” A quiet Spanish-flavored piece featuring acoustic guitar over a bed of strings. Notice how the guitar arpeggios and trills quicken when Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) moves into the frame (in extreme close-up, of course). A classic Leone touch.

“The Desert” This is the first of Leone’s sequences (containing minimum dialogue) that relies heavily on music to carry the action and convey the emotion. After a subdued pas- sage for strings, a brief atonal melody appears on piano. As Blondie (Clint Eastwood) makes his painful trek across the desert, more and more instruments are added, including a stab- bing electric bass. The music becomes more elaborate, building suspense superbly. You can feel the burning sun and sand—a veritable symphony of suffering. You might need a glass of water after this!

“The Fort/Carriage of the Spirits” The Civil War makes its first musical appearance in “The Fort” (misnamed “The Strong” on the album). This track, from a sequence cut from the U.S. version (see sidebar: The Film Restoration), accompanies Angel Eyes’ visit to a destroyed Confederate fort. Tellingly, the same music reappears later when Blondie and Tuco (Eli Wallach) visit a Union encampment by a river. Morricone uses directional effects for the bugles (or trumpets, in simulation) to create a far-away, echoing quality. (I wonder if Jerry Goldsmith was inspired by this to use the echoplex in Patton?) “Carriage” takes the same basic material from “Fort” and adds the other- worldly, siren-like voice of Edda Dell’Orso to create a dream-like, hallucinatory effect, perfect for the surreal action on the screen: an out- of-control horse drawn carriage mysteriously appearing in the middle of the desert.

“March/March Without Hope” “March” (misnamed “Marcia” on the album) is Morricone’s theme for the infantry man. Its first incarnation is appropriately scored for harmonica and whistling chorus. This is a very catchy tune and you just might find yourself whistling it after the movie is over. “March Without Hope” features the same melody slowed down and sung by a male chorus in vocalese. A military snare drum is added for a haunting effect.

“Death of a Soldier” “Death” starts out with the melody from “March” sung by male chorus over Morricone’s distinctive bed of strings. Then the theme from “Ballad of a Soldier” (discussed below) appears on horn. Another long sequence carried by the mournful music, it is one of the saddest sequences ever filmed. Unforgettable.

“The Ecstasy of Gold” Can anyone doubt the genius of the Leone/Morricone collabo- ration after this? What can I say about this monumental fusion of image and sound?
On the Film Score Daily message board, web posters have cited “Ecstasy of Gold” under the following self-explanatory topics:
“Most Perfectly Scored Scene Ever”
“Nailing the Moment”
“Singular Theme for a Singular Scene”
“Movie Tunes You Just Can’t Get out of Your Head”
 “Favorite Moment from a Score”
“What Is Your Favorite Cue of All Time?”
“Best Film Score Moments on Screen”
I love how Morricone punctuates the piano ostinato with a single strike of the tubular bells. It’s flourishes like these that make his music so memorable and open to repeated listens.


“The Trio” Morricone’s unsurpassed gifts as a musical dramatist are showcased in this mag- nificent, multi-part epic. I have seen GBU many times, and I still get goose bumps every time I see/hear the beginning of this scene. As in “Desert” and “Ecstasy,” the music starts off sub- dued. The woodwinds play a simple melody outlining the chord progression—lasting only eight measures, but somehow perfectly set- ting the stage for the showdown the film has been leading to for over two-and-a-half hours! Subsequent bars introduce flamenco guitar, castanets and then, unexpectedly, mariachi trumpet. This last addition reinforces the visual metaphor of gunfight as bullfight. The tension is built as rhythmic strings and chorus are added. Frequent modulations help keep us on the edge of our seats. And then, just when we think we can’t take anymore, the music stops! An interlude. A glockenspiel plays a tune simi- lar to the “pocket watch” from For a Few Dollars More. Weird staccato, electronic sounds mim- icking gunfire, produced by rapidly flicking a switch on an amplifier (I recognize this sound because I used to do it myself, playing with my father’s amp—another source claims this sound is made by plucking the strings of an electric guitar at the bridge). Thunderous timpani rolls. Then the full orchestra and chorus return to shake us out of our seats. Think about it: For seven straight minutes the screen is filled with little more than the glaring visages of three killers. Yet, because of the brilliant music (and editing) we sit transfixed, mesmerized by the unfolding drama. Who needs dialogue and action when you have music like this?


continued next post

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« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2013, 09:20:09 AM »

continued

The Expanded CD Soundtrack
When I was young and naive I often wondered why people would buy the more expensive import versions of albums avail- able domestically.
Now I understand.
The new, expanded CD of GBU, taken from the Italian master tapes, has far superior sound quality. Tracks with complex instrumentation such as “Ecstasy” jump out of the speakers. On the flipside; the new material is from the original film elements and thus is in mono. However, it is not marred by any sound effects like some other recent Morricone re-releases (For a Few Dollars More, Diabolik). I do wish the mono tracks had been grouped together instead of integrated, chronologically in the sequencing. You may have to adjust the volume when they play.
The real cause for celebration is that now all the wonderful themes written for the film are represented!



New Themes

“Padre Ramirez” The most glaring omission from the OST is now rectified. A lovely lament for Spanish guitar and strings. At the coda, it segues into a rousing version of the main title theme, the gritty electric guitar providing a stark contrast to the earlier acoustic guitar.

“Pursuit” Another disappointment with the OST was its lack of any of the great alter- nate arrangements of the title tune. This ver- sion, accompanying Tuco’s pursuit of Blondie, is a quieter, simpler, but very enjoyable take on the famous theme.

“The Trio” The interlude and coda were not included on the original and are joined with it here (see above).

“Ballad of a Soldier” If I have one real criticism of this expanded CD, it concerns this track. The version here is the one played in the film, during the brutal beating of Tuco by a camp guard. This is source music and is not supposed to sound too good; it is played in the film by an amateur band. Plus, it under- scores a rather lengthy sequence, replete with cross-cutting, and comes across as padded. The rerecorded, stereo version on the original soundtrack album is much more satisfying. Why couldn’t they have included both ver- sions? This is a truly inspired piece of music. A lovely, waltzing melody is joined with poetic, anti-war lyrics to create a stunningly power- ful musical moment.
Two new album tracks didn’t appear in the film:


“Rope Bridge” The first part of this track is a variation on “The Desert.” It is in the film. The second part, a jokey take on the main title, was not used. It was probably written for the “shooting gallery” part of the sequence where Tuco steals a gun.

“The Bandit Manco” Only the first few bars are used. The rest of this track was intended for the scene where Manco searches through the building where Tuco is bathing. In the film this is unscored.
The new CD also includes variations on previously discussed themes and two new pieces: “Sentenza,” the music for the early scene where Angel Eyes slaughters a Mexican family; and “Two Against Five” the eerie, atmospheric writing that accompanies Blondie and Tuco’s shootout with Angel Eyes’ gang in a bombed- out town.
So, there you have it. This music is as fresh and exciting as ever. It took 35 years to get a comprehensive version of the score, but was it ever worth the wait!   FSM


that's the end of the article. In the next post, I will cut and paste a sidebar about the film restoration

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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2013, 09:21:58 AM »

Here is a sidebar to the article in the previous posts


the film restoration


I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO SEE THE RERELEASED VERSION OF THE GOOD, THE BAD and the Ugly in San Francisco last summer. How great it was to see a new, clean print after years of suf- fering through ragged prints at revival houses. Leone’s style demands to be seen on a big screen. His compositions favor close-ups and long shots, and the Techniscope process, which uses less than half the 35mm film frame, is not well-suited to the small screen.
This new version of the film contains scenes that were only included in the Italian release. To insert them into the U.S. version, the actors had to dub their lines into English for the first time. Lee Van Cleef is no longer with us, so a voice actor filled in, and did so very well. Eli Wallach and Clint Eastwood dubbed their own voices, and maybe in Eastwood’s case an impersonator might have been a better idea. His raspy, modern-day voice just does not match his mid-’60s one, making his new scenes a bit jarring.
One of the new scenes, where Tuco recruits gunmen to kill Blondie, was never even in the Italian ver- sion. It should have stayed out. However, the scene where Angel Eyes visits a Confederate fort seeking information about the missing gold cache was a welcome addition.
Now we get to the crux of the matter. One of my big beefs with these restorations is the treatment of the soundtrack. GBU has a mono soundtrack. In a situation analogous to the colorizing of black-and-white films, film companies feel a need to soup up older soundtracks with Dolby Digital overkill. The gunshots in this new version sound like cannons going off. Panning sound effects are produced by dropping out a speaker à la the old Perspecta sound system. And do we really need the voices bouncing all over the screen as characters move about? At least the Surrounds were kept to a minimum, only noticeable when the bridge was blown up.
I don’t really mind them stereo-izing the music, especially with such a great score. However, that too can pose some problems. First you need the music in stereo, then it has to sync up. In this instance, only some of the scenes could overlay new stereo music tracks.
Unfortunately, this trend seems to be with us to stay. The best we can hope for is that the DVD retains the original mono soundtrack (done with Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West) as an optional alternate to the “remastered in 5.1” track.   —B.R.M.


nice work, Bruce  Afro

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« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2013, 09:43:43 AM »


nice work, Bruce  Afro
Yeah.  Afro And thanks to you too, Drink, for getting this posted.

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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2013, 02:21:48 PM »

Thanks for the thanks!
 Grin
btw there is also a short sidebar on THE BIG GUNDOWN score and its possible connection
bruce

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My article on the restoration of the The Big Gundown
http://thekinskifiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/cinemaretro-13-big-gundown.html
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« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2013, 02:42:13 PM »

FYI I reviewed the Italian release which preceded the American reissue.
So . there are some minor discrepancies
bruce

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My article on the restoration of the The Big Gundown
http://thekinskifiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/cinemaretro-13-big-gundown.html
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2013, 05:00:57 PM »

thanks Afro

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« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2013, 06:09:58 PM »

No, but you do have to download the whole issue to read the one piece. You can do that here http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/fsmonline/backissues_print.cfm?page=2

Thanks

Quote
F YOUR APPETITE ISN’T SATISFIED BY THE expanded CD of GBU, you might want to check out Morricone’s great score for Sergio Sollima’s La Resa dei Conti (The Big Gundown). Written in a style very similar to GBU (with a different female vocalist), it is probably Morricone’s best western score outside the Leone films. In fact, it is just possible that some of the music for this film was indeed originally composed for GBU (there is even a track entitled “The Desert”). The dates match, and Leone had publicly stated that Morricone wrote a lot of music for him that he ended up rejecting, and that later turned up in other directors’ films!

Interesting theory!

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