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.
Mario Bava, who to anyone who takes a gander at Tim Lucas's magnum opus biography, has a lot in common with a couple American B movie director's William Cameron Menzies and Edgar Ulmer. Their antecedents run deep into the very beginnings of cinema and their hallmark is one of design. It would make sense that Morricone in his B-movie phase would cross paths with Bava. I have no doubt this particular film was financed because James Bond was such a burgeoning concern at the time. But Bava also anticipated something that would take over the entire movie market, movies based on cartoons. Morricone seemed only to focus on the Bond connection albeit as a spoof, including a title song that is pure single attendre. "Deep Deep Down" is as obvious as you can get:
There is a delightful revved up version for the comic chases. A wild electric guitar riff for the serious chases. And tons of go-go sixties lounge. This is an instance where you might detect a certain influence that Morricone admits to - Burt Bacharach. They both started the same way, arranging and conducting, and then writing songs for a number of pop stars. Bacharach was one of the first substituting voices for certain insruments. Morricone took that idea and ran with it in his own inimitable style. But certain scores by Ennio have echoes of the Bacharach influence. I think this is one. This has to be the most in demand of all unreleased Morricone's scores. At least by hard core fans. What is out there on CD is usually music and effects tracks, or even just plain transfers from the film. I've never been as big a fan of this score as many others are. But I have to admit this has one element that no other Morricone possesses so readily. In his whole career there isn't another score that is so much damn fun.
I'm not particularly taken with this EM score (another film I have yet to see ... if ever, though I understand a DVD is available). Again the poor sound quality does not help - even when I've eliminated the dialogue tracks.
As for no other EM score matching it, I've always treated O.K. Connery as being in a similar vien ... and rather superior. And, at a pinch - and far better: Slalom.
At a reasonable price I would look to buy an official release of Danger: Diabolik but this might be more for completeness (not that that is possible re: Maestro Morricone) rather than a desire to hear the score.
I love METTI as well, but never did so before a Morricone live performance in Munich opened my ears for it. Should you choose to make it one of the next episodes (although it's one of the better known Morricone scores at least among fans), I would suggest to post a good concert rendition of it in addition to the music as featured in the movie itself.
Although I only have a few Morricone albums, Diabolik is one of them. I saw the movie for the first time when it on Mystery Science Theater 3000. They chose it as their last movie to riff on to close out their tenth and final season. I watched it so many time that I started to sing along with it, not only the song, but the score too. I liked the movie enough, one of the few movies that they skewered, that I bought the film itself on DVD (part of that was due to the score). I always love Mario Bava's colorful cinematography. Anyway, a very fun listen. I can't get that jaunty bassoon melody out of my head!