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This is a comments thread about FSM CD: Zigzag/The Super Cops
 
 Posted:   Aug 12, 2009 - 4:13 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Another thing I'm finding with Fielding is that he has a small, dedicated following (not counting the ebay speculators) at least on these boards, where the same six or seven people talk about his music. I think that Fielding is a "love him or hate him" proposition.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 4:43 AM   
 By:   musicwizard   (Member)

Another thing I'm finding with Fielding is that he has a small, dedicated following (not counting the ebay speculators) at least on these boards, where the same six or seven people talk about his music. I think that Fielding is a "love him or hate him" proposition.

You’re right Jim and I’m one of those dedicated followers J
I don’t think it’s just all a question of love or hate him. He just wrote a lot of good music for a lot of lousy pictures and television shows which nobody can remember anymore. Yes he did some well-known stuff for Peckinpah and Eastwood but how many people have actually seen “The Super Cops” or “Zig/Zag”? So it’s harder to get acquinted with his music like a John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith who did all the big blockbusters and top television shows. And even they have titles that don’t sell well!!
Yes of course his music is (sometimes) rather difficult and complex compared to other filmcomposers (where’s the theme :-) which is not everyone’s taste. It’s like when people tell you that they love classical music they usually mean Mozart or Beethoven not Bartok or Penderecki.
I think more people would love his music if they had the chance to hear more from him.

 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 5:09 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Another thing I'm finding with Fielding is that he has a small, dedicated following (not counting the ebay speculators) at least on these boards, where the same six or seven people talk about his music. I think that Fielding is a "love him or hate him" proposition.

You’re right Jim and I’m one of those dedicated followers J
I don’t think it’s just all a question of love or hate him. He just wrote a lot of good music for a lot of lousy pictures and television shows which nobody can remember anymore. Yes he did some well-known stuff for Peckinpah and Eastwood but how many people have actually seen “The Super Cops” or “Zig/Zag”? So it’s harder to get acquinted with his music like a John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith who did all the big blockbusters and top television shows. And even they have titles that don’t sell well!!
Yes of course his music is (sometimes) rather difficult and complex compared to other filmcomposers (where’s the theme :-) which is not everyone’s taste. It’s like when people tell you that they love classical music they usually mean Mozart or Beethoven not Bartok or Penderecki.
I think more people would love his music if they had the chance to hear more from him.



I once dismissed Fielding because of what I felt were his lack of "hummable" themes, yet I realized that I had been listening for years to things in Jazz (Jackie McLean's albums with trombonist/composer Grachan Moncur III comes immediately to mind) that have that same kind of floating, "In/Out" sound with avant-garde--I'm searching for terms here-- "textures"--in that they may not be melodic like Williams, but the sound Fielding's music makes is itself memorable, like his Arthur Bishop motif from The Mechanic, which in terms of Fielding is actually quite catchy! No one does percussion or that "churning strings" effect like he did and it's instantly recognizable.

With Fielding, melodies weren't the point. He marries the music to the images and it always works wonderfully. Whenever I listen to Chato's Land, I hear and see the desert, which is practically a character in that film. The fact that he could do that and convince me of it, is testament to Fielding's great ability.

It's taken nearly thirty years, but Jerry Fielding is my second-favorite composer, right after "other Jerry." I'd always admired Fielding's ability to make his score a part of the movie, but now I find that I can also appreciate and marvel at those sounds apart from the films. I'm glad I finally "get it." Either that, or I'm getting more Avant-garde with age! wink

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 6:36 AM   
 By:   Ellington   (Member)

As to the Orbison song, yes, it is a lousy song, but it's nice to hear Orbison on fine voice, probably about the time of his vocal peak.

 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 6:59 AM   
 By:   chriss   (Member)

I once dismissed Fielding because of what I felt were his lack of "hummable" themes

I see your point and agree with everything you wrote but I think Fielding was a great "melody maker" when he felt to do it or when he had to do it. I think of the beautiful love theme for "The Outfit" or that great catchy main theme for "McMillan". There are also dozens of "hummable" source cues in his scores, most famous perhaps the airport piece from "Scorpio".
And I love that clarinet motif from "The Mechanic".

 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 7:07 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I once dismissed Fielding because of what I felt were his lack of "hummable" themes

I see your point and agree with everything you wrote but I think Fielding was a great "melody maker" when he felt to do it or when he had to do it. I think of the beautiful love theme for "The Outfit" or that great catchy main theme for "McMillan". There are also dozens of "hummable" source cues in his scores, most famous perhaps the airport piece from "Scorpio".
And I love that clarinet motif from "The Mechanic".


And of course, there's that odd time-signature that was often tracked on KOLCHAK--the"Bad Medicine" episode features it prominently. Plus there's that same episode's "ancient drum" motif when it shows the Diablero. Great stuff.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 7:48 AM   
 By:   Simon Morris   (Member)


With Fielding, melodies weren't the point. He marries the music to the images and it always works wonderfully.




This is true; although Fielding most definitely could and did write melodies, they were often atonal and not 'whistleable'. I have always thought that his lightly jazzy theme for THE BIG SLEEP was one of his most memorably hummable themes. He could do them when he felt that's what the picture needed.

 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 7:59 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I see your point and agree with everything you wrote but I think Fielding was a great "melody maker" when he felt to do it or when he had to do it. I think of the beautiful love theme for "The Outfit" or that great catchy main theme for "McMillan". There are also dozens of "hummable" source cues in his scores, most famous perhaps the airport piece from "Scorpio".
And I love that clarinet motif from "The Mechanic".


This is true; although Fielding most definitely could and did write melodies, they were often atonal and not 'whistleable'. I have always thought that his lightly jazzy theme for THE BIG SLEEP was one of his most memorably hummable themes. He could do them when he felt that's what the picture needed.


That's what I tried to say in my other (ineloquent) post, that the very sound itself, while not a whistle-on-the-way-to-work type melody, stays with you.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 10:35 AM   
 By:   musicwizard   (Member)

It took some time for me also to appreciate modern music. We associate music most of the time with a “pretty” melody but music is also rhythm, harmony and orchestration.
Once you’ve learned to start listening at a different level there is so much to explore in music.
While something like “The Mechanic” may sound like “just a lot of noise” to some people it’s actually the “sound” that is the foundation of the score instead of the melody (theme and variations). That’s what made Fielding a genius.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 2:40 PM   
 By:   jonathan_little   (Member)

Or maybe it was the extra $5 on the price tag. Those 2-CD sets can be a real punch in the wallet, you know.

I probably would have bought Zigzag a lot earlier if it had been $20 alone instead of doubled with the Fielding. I doubt The Super Cops will ever see the inside of my CD player again.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 13, 2009 - 3:18 PM   
 By:   Disco Stu   (Member)

As to the Orbison song, yes, it is a lousy song, but it's nice to hear Orbison on fine voice, probably about the time of his vocal peak.

I really hate Roy Orbison songs but I also really love this one for Zigzag. It's the only fun vocal of the whole Zigzag CD. The instrumental only tracks are great but the song part, except for the Orbison song, it's not bad but it sure is boring and that Billie Holliday soundalike really puts me off.

D.S.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 14, 2009 - 12:39 AM   
 By:   Ellington   (Member)

Sorry to take this slightly off topic, everyone, but if you normally hate Roy Orbison songs, and liked ZigZag, see if you can listen online to some other stuff from his MGM period between 1965 and 1973. He did a couple more songs than ZigZag with Mike Curb that you might find interesting - It Takes All Kinds Of People (not a favourite, as he screws the ending up) and So Young (very much a favourite of mine).

 
 Posted:   Aug 14, 2009 - 4:53 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

As to the Orbison song, yes, it is a lousy song, but it's nice to hear Orbison on fine voice, probably about the time of his vocal peak.

I really hate Roy Orbison songs but I also really love this one for Zigzag. It's the only fun vocal of the whole Zigzag CD. The instrumental only tracks are great but the song part, except for the Orbison song, it's not bad but it sure is boring and that Billie Holliday soundalike really puts me off.

D.S.


I find that the Orbison song has wormed its way through my brain AND IT WON'T LEAVE! Gahhh!!!!

I'll cancel out Disco Stu's dislike of Anita O'Day by proudly stating that she's wonderful. O'Day's performance of "Sweet Georgia Brown" in the Jazz concert film JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY is sublime. But then, I love Jazz more than any other music. Anyway, it's nice to have her songs from THE OUTFIT included with this. Funny thing is, I saw that movie once about three years ago, but don't remember her being in it or singing!

 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2009 - 7:08 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Musical ecstasy in ZIGZAG can be found on track 7, "Breakout" beginning around 1:42 when the solo bass lines give way to some hauntingly beautiful, echoey flute playing. I'd love to see this film some day and see just how Nelson's score goes with the on-screen action.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2009 - 8:01 AM   
 By:   BillCarson   (Member)

Its a decent film, Jim. Kennedy and Wallach impressive as always. Saw it in the 70s. It gets screened fairly regularly on TCM.
The music is given decent space and is quite prominent throughout - I recall noticing how good the music was when I saw the film and the soundtrack's rep on the "street" - the soundtrack circuit - was a good one, even though Nelson wasnt a huge name compared to some.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2011 - 2:36 PM   
 By:   Major Sloan   (Member)

I got this quite some time ago, relatively early in my now extensive Oliver Nelson collection. As a Six Million Dollar Fan, I really dig that he is paired with Jerry Fielding here, even if The Super Cops isn't much my style. For those who haven't made the (for me) obvious connection, Jerry did the theme for the Six spinoff, The Bionic Woman. A hummable theme, if a little sweet for some.

Zigzag has some truly sublime moments. Like other posters, I prefer the original score to the LP by and large, but I adore the Bossa Nova version of the love theme from the LP, and also am glad to have both versions of the main title. That love theme is what really gets me, in "This Robe Is Shot/Out of Focus" and "Variation of Themes." I saw the movie years ago and remember very little.

Released in 1970, Zigzag is one of three features scored by Nelson (several of his TV Movies had theatrical releases abroad, like Istanbul Express and The Alpha Caper/Inside Job), and the only one not produced at Universal (it's an MGM title). The others are Death of a Gunfighter (1969) and Skullduggery (1970). Death of a Gunfighter has just been released through Universal's MOD program on DVD. A soundtrack release of either of these would be truly fantastic. His Columbo score, Greenhouse Jungle, is divine. His Ironside work is a huge chunk of his contribution (over 60 episodes), and I'm so glad that Shout! Factory is continuing to put those seasons out. Longstreet and Matt Lincoln are also forgotten gems. I supposed given my avatar I need not say that The Six Million Dollar Man is my holy grail, but I'll say it anyway.

Nelson's scoring output for film and television is mostly rotting in the Universal vault, perhaps destined to be lost to the ravages of time. My deepest thanks and appreciation to FSM/SAE for rescuing Zigzag from a similar fate.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2011 - 3:07 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I play ZIGZAG quite often. I remember seeing the film on TV a long time ago when I was a kid and liking it very much. Since it's an MGM release, I keep hoping it will turn up on TCM.

"Zigzag" will appear on TCM for one of its infrequent showings on Wednesday, December 7, at 6 PM ET.

 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2011 - 5:30 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

"Zigzag" will appear on TCM for one of its infrequent showings on Wednesday, December 7, at 6 PM ET.


Thanks for the heads up!

 
 Posted:   Dec 7, 2011 - 4:56 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Darn near forgot the film was on TCM today, but I saw it and absolutely loved it! It was much better than I expected it to be.

Zigzag is a veritable Who's Who of '65-'75 TV actors--including the great Steve Ihnat--which I found a bit distracting at first because of the intricate plotting that's set up during the film's first half hour, but it's all effectively handled and the viewer is never lost in the proceedings.

This was a theatrical feature, but if it weren't for the few shots of George Kennedy's ass and some saucy language, this could have aired on broadcast television in 1970.

The location shooting was excellent, with footage shot on Sunset Boulevard at night. If one knew the area at that time, be prepared to have it all come back. the use of every TV director's trick in the book with rack focusing galore also reminded me that Zigzag has serious TV "cred."

There's enough Mid-Century Modern light fixtures to make admirers of that stuff to keep an eye open as well as the open smoking that would earn today's films an automatic PG-13 or R rating.

As for Oliver Nelson's score, it was wonderfully used throughout, with those hip pursuit cues and fantastic ending where Kennedy is shotgunned to death in overlapping slo-mo dramatic style which was oh-so '70s.

Oh! Roy Orbison's song "Zigzag" is employed as source music during a Go-Go style party. If Orbison wasn't already a frigging music deity, then his performance of the song would blast open the doors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. cool

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2012 - 9:19 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

ZIGZAG was recently released as a made-on-demand DVD by the Warner Archive.

 
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