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 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 12:27 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

THE MERCENARY
A Professional Gun
Great Morricone Western #5

This series is inspired by a controversy thread where someone posited the idea that besides THE MISSION and some Sergio Leone westerns Ennio Morricone hasn't written anything great. Rather than making my usual comment that most of Morricone's great scores are from Italy and trying to get Americans to listen to them is like getting them to see movies with subtitles, I decided to take another tact. Since I am at an age where I will only be able to make my case a finite number of times I decided to turn this into a series presenting each great score one at a time, sort of like recordman.

When I first heard L'arena from THE MERCENARY on a western compilation I thought it was the greatest Morricone western cut I'd ever heard. To this day I still think so. Yeah, for me it is even better than "Ecstasy of Gold" from THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY and that is saying a lot. But like the score to REVOLVER it is better on CD for me. The way Sergio Corbucci stages the L'arena scene at the end of the movie kind of dilutes the impact of the piece with dialogue and sound effects. Compare this to the way Sergio Leone treats similar showdowns in his films giving Morricone full reign. The piece deserves better, it is Morricone's "Bolero".
This score is part of a series of films, like TEPEPA, that emphasizes the Mexican revolution and contains many ethnic source cues that sound authentic and are played and sung with great conviction. If you don't like that type of thing move on. But if you are attracted to that type of synthesis consider "Paco" the theme written for the Tony Musante character who is manipulated into heading a revolution by the blonde title mercenary (Franco Nero). It is stirring, absolutely vibrant with energy. The Mercenary character himself gets a lowkey whistling theme similar to the man-with-no-name theme of the Leone westerns. But the revolutionary themes, both inspirational and melancholy, are what carries this score. It also what makes L'arena, the showdown theme at the end the best of any western film.
Again because the placement at the end of the film is lacking here is L'arena heard apart from the imagery:




Morricone worked a number of times with director Sergio Corbucci on films like WHAT AM I DOING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE REVOLUTION, SONNY AND JED, HELLBENDERS and NAVAJO JOE. But I feel the two worked the most harmoniously on THE GREAT SILENCE and COMPANEROS (Which had a similar plotline to THE MERCENARY). Nevertheless this has to be their best score together. Obviously Quentin Tarantino felt the same way. He scored the key "Buried Alive" scene in KILL BILL with "L'arena".



#1 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74811&forumID=1&archive=0
#2 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74838&forumID=1&archive=0
#3 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74871&forumID=1&archive=0
#4 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74899&forumID=1&archive=0
#5 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74951&forumID=1&archive=0
#6 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74968&forumID=1&archive=0
#7 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75041&forumID=1&archive=0
#8 http://filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75065&forumID=1&archive=0
#9 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75088&forumID=1&archive=0
#10 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75103&forumID=1&archive=0
#11 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75147&forumID=1&archive=0
#12 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75194&forumID=1&archive=0
#13 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75252&forumID=1&archive=0
#14 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75297&forumID=1&archive=0

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 12:44 AM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

nobody but nobody could score a showdown like ennio; i call them his 'moment of truth' cues. In fact , they are his singular, unique, contribution to cinema. They exist only in his films and in his music.
A man's life is condensed into two minutes; unbearably tense anticipation accompanied by the glorious score music of mr. M.
Here you hear his Bach influence most clearly.
Incredible on cd - you do not even need the film. Just imagine yourself facing the ultimate challenge- looking death in the eye- and accepting your fate with courage and humility.
bruce

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 2:00 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Like you, Morricone, when I first heard this theme (it was called Main Title (Titoli di Testa)) on a compilation (the vinyl Lp: I Western vol.2) it jumped straight into first place as my favourite Ennio Morricone piece.

I recall playing the theme to a friend (someone who actually listened to - and purchased - film music ... such a person is exceedingly rare in my group of friends!) but I don't think it caught him the same way, but then I think its magic derives from hearing lots of similar music and realising that this one is that bit better.

I smiled to myself when I found that Mr. Tarantino thought it was a powerful piece, too. As for the score (on GDM), yes, I enjoy it a lot and whilst the ethnic singing isn't something I search out I find the album a good listen (my wife is less agreeable to such vocals).

I bought the compilation album Spaghetti Westerns vol.3 (DRG label) in Oct'03 which includes L'Arena really pleased to have a CD release to replace my crackly Lp~CDr copy. Imagine my horror when I found that the recording sounded like it was transcribed from a rusty nail plus piece of string. The beauty of that pure golden trumpet hidden amongst the noise - criminal!

So, a few months later I bought the double-score release of Il Mercenario/Faccia a Faccia - on the ViviMusica label - and, yes, it was the same dreadful recording. That copy is far worse than my crackly vinyl transfer. I sold the CD within three months and was overjoyed when I finally got the clean copy on the GDM label.

I make the point as anyone who has this track either on the DRG compilation or ViviMusica release, do yourself a favour, throw it away and buy the GDM release. It's almost impossible to emphasise just how different it sounds.

And does the track still hold up? Well, after 300+ additional scores by the Maestro I must admit that his western scores have fallen well down my list of favourites. Yes, L'Arena remains a great track and is, for me, the best of that genre but, these days, I'm more inclined to choose one of many other EM scores rather than Il Mercenario to play.

Oh, and yet another EM score for which I have not seen the film!

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 2:55 AM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Riding high again love this score and it is certainly amongst his best westerns glad you have also mentioned Tepepa,his westerns were the first side of his music that I had explored and the very things that got me into discovering film scores in the first place.
They conjure up perfectly structured aural landscapes at times filled with so many features that totally envelop the listener at times.

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 4:27 AM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Glad that it is the GDM one I have and it seems that the Verita Note has the same tracks and order with nothing extra.
GDM


Verita Note is the best version of Tepepa eight extra sublime tracks,that really enhance it as a listening experience.
Verita Note


Verita Note is again the best version to get off
La Resa Dei Conti Gdm messed up the track order and spoiled the listening experience.
Verita Note

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 5:04 AM   
 By:   Chris Rimmer   (Member)

This is Morricone at his best.

I bought the original French LP (poor sound on side one) and then brought the Face to Face/A Professional Gun cd from Viva Musica, which I think, sounded even worse than the Lp.
Then I brought the GDM release followed by the Verita Note release. Boy I love this score.

One question though, the French LP version of L'Arena is different, can anyone explain why this is?
As far as I know it's never been available on cd either.

The Paco theme is actually the Main Title, which for some reason Verita Note have renamed Bamba Vivace and L'Arena works better on the album, than in the film.
In the film L'Arena is used for the final showdown, but both men draw and shoot three quarters of the way through the piece of music, which lessens the effect somewhat. I have wondered if Morricone actually wrote this as a showdown theme, or whether the Director just used it as such. There is another track called Riccolo (track15 on Verita Note) which sounds much more like a showdown theme to me.

This is a top class Morricone Western score, and L'Arena should be in everyones collection, film music just doesn't get better than this.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 6:16 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

I love this album. I had the CD on some label (I can't remember) & it didn't sound that good, & then bought the GDM, no extra tracks but it does sounds fantastic, a really good job of remastering.

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 7:34 AM   
 By:   Damian   (Member)

There is another track called Riccolo (track15 on Verita Note) which sounds much more like a showdown theme to me.



If I remember correctly(and without checking a dictionary)'Riccolo' is Italian for curly-which was Jack Palance's character.I think it was used earlier on,when he did something a bit on the nasty side.

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 9:56 AM   
 By:   Chris Rimmer   (Member)

There is another track called Riccolo (track15 on Verita Note) which sounds much more like a showdown theme to me.



If I remember correctly(and without checking a dictionary)'Riccolo' is Italian for curly-which was Jack Palance's character.I think it was used earlier on,when he did something a bit on the nasty side.


Quite correct, Riccolo is used at the start of the film, but, it still sounds more like a Morricone showdown theme than L'arena.

Morricone's showdowns like Il Triello, La Resa and Final Duel, in Once Upon A Time in The West, always finished as the protagonists drew their pistols. L'arena doesn't, it just carries on playing way after the shootout, so to me it just doesn't work as a "showdown" cue.

It's a fabulous piece of music though.

The films not bad either.

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 10:01 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

There is another track called Riccolo (track15 on Verita Note) which sounds much more like a showdown theme to me.



If I remember correctly(and without checking a dictionary)'Riccolo' is Italian for curly-which was Jack Palance's character.I think it was used earlier on,when he did something a bit on the nasty side.


LOL!
Riccolo in Italian means nothing but "little rich man". Of course both of you are talking about RICCIOLO.

I am glad there's such a crowd of fans of IL MERCENARIO. Surely one of the best soundtracks of all times, superior to many others by JW, JG and so on. L'arena is only the tip of the mountain, all the tracks (I have the 2002 GDM release) are beautiful. I do like the Mexican tracks, the Bamba and all the Mercenario theme variations. One of the finest moments of Morricone's career.

I have only a doubt: is the whistle player Alessandro Alessandroni? He's not credited but I'm almost sure he's the guy.

Lorenz

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 10:12 AM   
 By:   Damian   (Member)




Riccolo in Italian means nothing but "little rich man". Of course both of you are talking about RICCIOLO.


Lorenz



On my copy of Il Mercenario (GDMCD Club7010) track 15 is actually spelt 'Ricciolo'(i did say without checking ,tho').So I think I win this one big grin Also in the cast listing in the booklet it's spelt the same-i.e. curly.So you must have a typo!

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 10:20 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)




I have only a doubt: is the whistle player Alessandro Alessandroni? He's not credited but I'm almost sure he's the guy.

Lorenz




I'm sure he is. I bought the GDM CD at a film fare from Lionel Woodman & Mr. A.A. was there in person! Looking very fit as I remember. He signed my CD cover (it's a bit smudged, I put it back in the CD case before the ink dried). I seem to remember that the talk was that Bruno Nicolai did some composing work on this, but then I suppose they worked quite closely then, as it's also said that Morricone did some work on Corri Uomo Corri. It's all so long ago now.

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 10:23 AM   
 By:   Chris Rimmer   (Member)

Folks, I'm terribly sorry, it is Ricciolo not Riccolo, put it down to having a virus, both me and my computer.

The computer seems OK now, it's just me that's struggling, I wish someone could reboot me!!!!!!

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 12:08 PM   
 By:   plindboe   (Member)

There is another track called Riccolo (track15 on Verita Note) which sounds much more like a showdown theme to me.

Oh, yes, that's another fantastic piece:



Peter smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 2:46 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

"The Mercenary" needs a good Region 1 DVD release. It can generally only be found as a public domain release under the title "A Professional Gun."

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 3:21 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I need to check our cable western channel to watch if this movie will come on. I do love the music from this movie which I heard mainly in Morricone compilations. (However, not sure that anything can beat Ecstasy of Gold, but that is just me and my number one track.)

I've loved all the Dollar scores and many of his other westerns. Let me just add that one that is rarely mentioned is Seven Pistols for the McGregors. I saw it on a very poor video, and the music seemed a bit redundant, but it has two very strong themes that are great.

Henry, you're so knowledgeable about Morricone's music. Maybe someday when you have time, you'll consider writing a book about his music.

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 3:42 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

fyi

that rhythmic figure EM uses is called a habanera; origin South America/Cuba.
Its was also adapted by Ravel for Bolero; Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly ("Not Fade Away") Bruce Springsteen ("She's the One) Leonard Bernstein ("america") et al.

See what you learn by not having me on the 'ignore" list? smile
bruce

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 3:44 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

"The Mercenary" needs a good Region 1 DVD release. It can generally only be found as a public domain release under the title "A Professional Gun."



its available as a Japanese import i believe.
Not a particularly great film, but enjoyable on its own terms
bruce

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2011 - 11:07 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

What a coincidence. I complain above of Sergio Corbucci's handling of the showdown music in THE MERCENARY. In Movie lover's interview he found on Australia's ABC radio network:

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74973&forumID=1&archive=0

Morricone talks about how he tried to talk Corbucci out of placing music in a certain scene because there were too many elements involved; effects, dialogue, music, etc. for an audience's ears to register it all. He speaks of how adept Leone was with such things. Deja Vu.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 3, 2011 - 12:40 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Like you, Morricone, when I first heard this theme (it was called Main Title (Titoli di Testa)) on a compilation (the vinyl Lp: I Western vol.2) it jumped straight into first place as my favourite Ennio Morricone piece.

.......................

Oh, and yet another EM score for which I have not seen the film!


The other way around for me! I saw the film on the telly - it must have been the late 1970s - and was much taken with the two main themes. I was then delighted to find them on an LP - Great Western Film Themes Volume Three (United Artists UAS 29482) - which was a real gem, also including music from Faccia a Faccia, Lawman and Chato's Land. There wasn't a bad track on that album.

There was never any question in my mind that Alessandroni was the whistler!

 
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