EYE OF THE CAT Attenti Al Buffone comedic Morricone #21
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.
This dark absurdist satire has a protagonist, Marcello (Nino Manfredi) who is a classical musician, in fact music is his whole life. There is Res (Eli Wallach) a cruel billionaire who takes possession of his wife (Mariangela Melato) and family and coerces Marcello and his cat to go through some weird humiliations. Morricone wrote an overture to this film that ranks amongst the best and funniest ever written. I personally put only the themes of Ernest Gold's ITS A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD and David Shire's MAX DUGAN RETURNS ahead of it:
From what I understand this was attached to the front of early prints of the film but was quickly left off thereafter. Most of the score consists of classical pieces, adapted pieces and a wonderful choice satiric score cues and a couple more serious ones. This soundtrack pretty much doesn't exist. The first cuts were released on a library LP released by Cometa called Opposte Esperienze. There is no mention of ATTENTI AL BUFFONE anywhere on the album and there is controversy as to which cuts belong to it and which belong to other films. There is even a rumor that cuts are intermingled in the new BEATITUDINI CD. ATTENTI clearly gets no respect. The film was directed by Alberto Bevilacqua and written by him and Nino Manfredi winning the David di Donatello (Italian Oscar) for screenplay. It was not a success. BTW sheerly by accident this is the first time I have repeated a director in more than twenty film choices. Bevilacqua worked with Morricone on LA CALIFFA and QUESTA SPECIE D'AMORE. This shows I'm keeping on track with my goal presenting the most diverse and contrasting selections from Morricone and not just popular or predictable items.
It nearly turned me off Morricone for life!! ha ha.
Seriously, tastes change in time of course but it was heavy stuff for a 14 year old who only had 8 westerns in his collection, the double LP compilations and Sicilian Clan!
I never knew what of it was from which film but I remember that it was loosely called Eye of the Cat. Mostly atonal music but my memory may well be exaggerating the listening experience!
Its been probably 30plus years since I listened to it and there may well one or two tracks on that library LP that I liked. Sadly I havent seen the film - the way you describe it, it sounds most interesting, and clearly the music deserves a stand-alone to be judged properly.
I know that I haven't heard all of the Maestro's works but this one ... I've never even heard of the work!
I recall the comments of one of my wife's Italian cousins when I was demonstrating the STC web-site to him (and showing off just how many EM scores I owned!) ... I called up La proprietà non è più un furto and Bruno said, this is a film even Italians have never heard of ...
Given the number of comedy films with scores by EM, this one does seem a little obscure.
It sounds like some weird combination of SO FINE (1981) which also starred Melato, along with a dash of SECRET FANTASY (197?) starring Laura Antonelli. And also Eli Walach. Really? Sounds like a lot of fun.
EDIT: My post is confusing since I should have mentioned that SECRET FANTASY was in fact scored by Riz Ortolani, NOT Ennio Morricone. It's just that the subject matter of the film seemed to be in the same vein. In SECRET FANTASY, Laura Antonelli's husband is a cellist in kthe local orchestra, and a would-be composer. He is Kind of a music nerd. He writes an opera but doesn't notice that he has in fact stolen a large part of another more famous opera: Rossini's THIEVING MAGPIE. It's yet another crazy Italian comedy (with lots of nude Antonelli bits thrown in for good measure).
Again I have to go by my experience and the work that most impressed me. I am sure it is different for every one of you and I encourage everyone to express themselves.
But whether it is that goofy street band or the above overture, ATTENTI AL BUFFONE has stayed with me longer and more indelibly than many of the nice romantic or wild sex comedies he has done. And I think it is funny stuff, independent of the movie.
EYE OF THE CAT Attenti Al Buffone comedic Morricone #21
From what I understand this was attached to the front of early prints of the film but was quickly left off thereafter. Most of the score consists of classical pieces, adapted pieces and a wonderful choice satiric score cues and a couple more serious ones. This soundtrack pretty much doesn't exist. The first cuts were released on a library LP released by Cometa called Opposte Esperienze. There is no mention of ATTENTI AL BUFFONE anywhere on the album and there is controversy as to which cuts belong to it and which belong to other films. There is even a rumor that cuts are intermingled in the new BEATITUDINI CD. ATTENTI clearly gets no respect.
For all I know the 7 tracks on the A-side of the Opposte Esperienze vinyl-LP belongs to this film. However, if I recall correctly only 3 or 4 of the tracks were actually used in the movie.
I wonder if the inclusion of these tracks on the recent BEATITUDINI CD means that there won't be an expanded edition of this score from Cometa?... I hope not.
Anyway, the film contains a few gems not available on the original LP....
Comedy is a tough sell and not a popular category. Yet I think it is one of the toughest genres to make work. If you push too hard it sounds silly. If you make it too serious it dissipates the comic effect. Very tricky. So I would not only like to pay tribute to ATTENTI, MAD WORLD and MAX DUGAN which I mention above but THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS, THE PINK PANTHER, 1941, THE ODD COUPLE, THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES, WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR DADDY, MASH and all the films that managed to walk that fine line AND make memorable music.