Saturday, March 23, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Gosh almighty but Twilight Time's THE FURY Blu-ray ($29.95, available here) is one delicious disc. The only other time I've seen this movie, I didn't care for it, but this time it had me absolutely in the palm of its hand, with only one climactic stumble. It's so sensuously filmed, so state of the art in its sinuous, layered technique... and then you notice that everyone is using landline phones and typewriters. There is one video game scene that shows a couple of girls playing Pong. That's how state of the art technology was at the time. Pong. How the world has changed since 1978, but movies have not learned conspicuously more than Brian DePalma was putting into practice 35 years ago.
Likewise, I've never been a John Williams fan -- he's just too cloying for me -- but the disc's isolated music track is a crash course in why he is great. This is what I learned tonight: Williams doesn't just score the action; he scores the performance that goes into a hand gesture, he scores the way light rubs up against the actors, the way the images shock our senses; he has the foresight to time a cymbal clash to the exact second when light flashes off the open eyes of Cassavetes' somersaulting severed head. The man is a freaking painter.
Posted by Tim Lucas at Sunday, March 17, 2013
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
I've had this lifelong memory of a time when I was about six years old and already consecrated to the goal of seeing every horror movie ever made. I got permission to stay up all night (it was a Friday, not a school night) to see a "melodrama" listed in TV GUIDE called SHE DEVIL (1957) -- something about two doctors creating a monster out of a beautiful woman. By the time Mom and Granny were ready to turn in, I was getting sleepy too, so they set an alarm clock for the time the movie was scheduled to begin, something like 5:45 a.m., and left it with me, along with a pillow, in front of the television, so I could take a nap, wake up, and be right there when the movie was ready to start. Somehow or other, little Timmy didn't quite make it; I turned off the alarm, struggled to stay awake, and ended up missing all but a few glimpses. I was very angry with myself the next day, especially since no stills from this elusive film ever appeared in any of the monster magazines I collected while growing up. That was a very long time ago, and I never had another opportunity to see SHE DEVIL... until tonight. It's coming out soon on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films. In RegalScope. Tomorrow I get to review it.
Posted by Tim Lucas at Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Saturday, March 02, 2013
Armando Trovajoli, whose long career as a film composer encompassed more than 200 titles, has passed away at the age of 95. His death was announced only today though he died in late February.
He started out professionally as a successful songwriter and jazz pianist, and evolved from a jazz combo to a full jazz orchestra by 1960, during this period accompanying such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. During the great boom in Italian film production of the late '50s and early '60s, he found his skills increasingly in demand by the movie business. Among his most notable accomplishments as a film composer are the scores for such mainstream successes as TWO WOMEN, BOCCACCIO '70, YESTERDAY TODAY AND TOMORROW, MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE, BAMBOLE, THE LIBERTINE, DEADLY SWEET, LONG DAYS OF VENGEANCE, A BULLET FOR ROMMEL, IL COMMISSARIO PEPE, THE PRIEST'S WIFE, THE VALACHI PAPERS, WE ALL LOVED EACH OTHER SO MUCH, MAN OF THE YEAR, SCENT OF A WOMAN (the original), A SPECIAL DAY, WIFEMISTRESS, BLAZING MAGNUM, LA NUIT DES VERENNES, MACARONI and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.
His experience in jazz helped to make him particularly adept at creating atmospheric scores in the genres of horror and fantasy. Among his numerous scores of this kind -- sadly under-represented on CD -- are UNCLE WAS A VAMPIRE, ATOM AGE VAMPIRE, ALONE AGAINST ROME, THE GIANT OF THE METROPOLIS, MOLE MEN AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES, HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS, HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD, WEREWOLF IN A GIRL'S DORMITORY, TOTO VS. MACISTE, THE WORLD OF TOPO GIGIO, SEVEN GOLDEN MEN, PLANETS AROUND US, DR JEKYLL LIKES THEM HOT and FRANKENSTEIN 90.
Trovajoli also excelled at writing Italian popular canzone. Check out his work for Paul Anka, Jimmy Fontana, and this splendid medley of his work performed by Mina. Trovajoli continued to serve as a piano accompanist to Mina and also Johnny Dorrelli throughout the 1970s. His most famous composition in his own country is "Roma nun fa' stupida stasere" ("Rome, Don't Be Stupid Tonight"), made famous in the 1960s by opera great Gino Bechi working in a more popular form, which has since come to be regarded by many Italians as the great city's unofficial theme song.
Posted by Tim Lucas at Saturday, March 02, 2013