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 Posted:   Mar 16, 2011 - 11:13 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

FISTS IN THE POCKET
I Pugni In Tasca
Pure Morricone
#44


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 is not pure because it has familiar Morricone sounds but for another reason. My relationship with this score evolved over a long period of time. The first time I heard the main theme on a compilation album it was one of my least favorites. The strange ethereal tune is repeated, almost like a broken record, to the point of being grating. Years later I saw the film and saw that it reflected the inner life of our twisted protagonist, Allessandro. So this upgraded the music to "works well in the film" but forget about a listening experience. When the soundtrack was finally was released (with a whopping 5 cuts!) it just reinforced that idea. Then GDM gave us the complete score and I found there was more here than I expected. Every once in a while in all these years of collecting I would run into a score, usually one with a low budget, that would reveal it's composer's talent totally unadorned, stripped to the bone. There was no big orchestra or large effects to hide behind so your techniques better be solid and your musical expressiveness better be good. I remember listening to Tiomkin's 36 HOURS in the midst of all his epics and admired that he sometimes could express more with a piano than 90 instruments. Jerry Goldsmith's LILIES OF THE FIELD felt the same way, the characters were few and so were the instruments. This is Morricone's basic bare bones score. Rather than just a theme here is very powerful and disturbing scene from the film:





This is obviously a film about dark and troubling things. But with the GDM CD, after the same first five cuts from the previous album, we get a beautiful piece of Goth, 2 lounge tunes that would have delighted Mancini, a lovely forlorn guitar cue, a 50s dance number, a 60s rocking sax riff and variations on the main theme that develop it and are not unpleasant at all. Morricone does a lot for a film that might be called a horror piece but has all of it's horror beneath the surface. He helps to hold up the surface pleasantries that make this piece so disturbing. He does it with extremely simple pieces of music.
The film is about a family who have decided genetic problems. And Marco Bellocchio's debut is a dark masterwork and so is Morricone's score.

Solo vocalist was Maria Rigel Tonini.

This won the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists in 1966 the Silver Ribbon Best Original Story (Migliore Soggetto Originale) for Marco Bellocchio.




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 Posted:   Mar 16, 2011 - 2:07 PM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Very good and a very interesting score I don't find any of those tracks grating at all there not unlike something you would get on some of his giallo scores where the various repetitions have a sort of mood altering effect that slowly draws you deeper into its world.

Really like this kind of music the more you listen the more you get into and out of them its almost as if it is tuning and heightening your own senses of awareness and pace and when the easy listening stuff comes along it is much more pleasurable than it would be standing alone.That is one of the reasons why I love his giallo scores so much once you start to get into them they become very easy and enjoyable to listen to and everything else almost seems bland as if something is missing.

 
 Posted:   Mar 16, 2011 - 3:52 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

I PUGNI IN TASCA was known to me for many years via the Faber guide to foreign films, but this first film by Bellocchio was not available on home video - that is, until it got released on DVD by the Criterion Collection (over which title I rejoiced when I finally was able to see this picture).

I never heard Morricone's score before watching the DVD, so I was immediately impressed upon seeing the film (despite the over-usage of yet another Dies Irae quotation) because it's reminiscent of abstract/absolute concert music (like a vocal & percussion piece by Luigi Dallapiccola). I've felt for a while now that a number of Ennio Morricone's pre-1970 scores for "art film" directors (such as Bertolucci's BEFORE THE REVOLUTION or Petri's A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY) possess that "absolute" music quality, reflecting Morricone's classical training during the 1950s and that Darmstadt environment of post-moderism.

I own just the most recent CD incarnation of this score.
This may not make for easy listening amongst soundtrack collectors acclimated to only movie music (and not contemporary classical), but even the film itself is not immune to some rather dispariging criticisms heaped upon it.

Andy Dursin, in his Aisle Seat section, frequently gushes about those blockbuster movies from the summer of '82. Yet, in one of his articles in 2006 covering this Criterion release, Dursin did not spend multiple paragraphs reviewing Marco Bellocchio's FISTS IN THE POCKET - he limited this landmark film to a few purfunctory sentences claiming it was distasteful and that he only watched it because it was shown to him during his school days.

This post may be as good as any to champion FISTS IN THE POCKET, which I place onto my "top 100" list as one of the greatest films in the world.
I suppose I'm the reverse of Andy Dursin: I disparage the Hollywood blockbuster products in favor of lavishing praise upon black-and-white global cinema from the early & mid 1960s! smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 16, 2011 - 5:22 PM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

Perfect Morricone's work for the Bellocchio's top masterpiece.
For a while I've considered this movie the best Italian film ever, until I saw Ferreri's Grande Bouffe (and heard an incredible Sarde)...

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 17, 2011 - 9:06 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

I PUGNI IN TASCA was known to me for many years via the Faber guide to foreign films, but this first film by Bellocchio was not available on home video - that is, until it got released on DVD by the Criterion Collection (over which title I rejoiced when I finally was able to see this picture).

I never heard Morricone's score before watching the DVD, so I was immediately impressed upon seeing the film (despite the over-usage of yet another Dies Irae quotation) because it's reminiscent of abstract/absolute concert music (like a vocal & percussion piece by Luigi Dallapiccola). I've felt for a while now that a number of Ennio Morricone's pre-1970 scores for "art film" directors (such as Bertolucci's BEFORE THE REVOLUTION or Petri's A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY) possess that "absolute" music quality, reflecting Morricone's classical training during the 1950s and that Darmstadt environment of post-moderism.

I own just the most recent CD incarnation of this score.
This may not make for easy listening amongst soundtrack collectors acclimated to only movie music (and not contemporary classical), but even the film itself is not immune to some rather dispariging criticisms heaped upon it.

Andy Dursin, in his Aisle Seat section, frequently gushes about those blockbuster movies from the summer of '82. Yet, in one of his articles in 2006 covering this Criterion release, Dursin did not spend multiple paragraphs reviewing Marco Bellocchio's FISTS IN THE POCKET - he limited this landmark film to a few purfunctory sentences claiming it was distasteful and that he only watched it because it was shown to him during his school days.

This post may be as good as any to champion FISTS IN THE POCKET, which I place onto my "top 100" list as one of the greatest films in the world.
I suppose I'm the reverse of Andy Dursin: I disparage the Hollywood blockbuster products in favor of lavishing praise upon black-and-white global cinema from the early & mid 1960s! smile


Actually I always felt Hollywood blockbusters and art films have a lot in common. When they are bad they barely look like anything reflecting reality. They both tend to settle down into formulas and then finally there is a lot less there than meets the eye. I say this because I find Morricone attached to many of those. Definitely not this one though. A masterly work. BTW I consider CITIZEN KANE a Hollywood blockbuster. Whiz kid comes to town and is given carte blanche by the studio. How many times has that happened? But that time the results changed the face of cinema.

 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 12:58 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Actually I always felt Hollywood blockbusters and art films have a lot in common. When they are bad they barely look like anything reflecting reality. They both tend to settle down into formulas and then finally there is a lot less there than meets the eye. I say this because I find Morricone attached to many of those. Definitely not this one though. A masterly work. BTW I consider CITIZEN KANE a Hollywood blockbuster. Whiz kid comes to town and is given carte blanche by the studio. How many times has that happened? But that time the results changed the face of cinema.

I rather think the purpose of any film (art or otherwise) is to heighten or embelish upon reality.
Reality is for documentaries.
THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI does not resemble reality - does this make it a bad film?
It's a masterwork of Expressionism - as thus can be deemed art and not soley a piece of entertainment like a Three Stooges short.

My personal favorites like Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni may create cinema which, on the surface, appears as though there is not much going on (in terms of plot) but much is left up to the viewer to fill in the gaps - thus "less" meeting the eye is "more" left to the imagination.

Despite its status and reputation, CITIZEN KANE is not a favorite of mine, though its cinematic techniques were ground-breaking.
I also tend to assess films more upon their atmospheres and moods.
Story is not as important as stylistic presentation - just as Franz Waxman maintained that melody is not as important as orchestration. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 2:28 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

... just as Franz Waxman maintained that melody is not as important as orchestration. smile

Not wishing to hijack this thread but I was intrigued by this comment. Perhaps this is why I have, to date, really struggled to enjoy the (limited) works I have by Mr. Waxman. I hear them but they pass through me without feeling. I've just purchased a few scores by him in the hope of rectifying this failure by me to apprecaite one of the masters.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 2:35 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Returning to the thread (sorry!) ...

I've never been too sure about this score and have not to date purchased the expanded edition. Again, I've not seen the film and it sounds far too dour for my taste. I enjoy the gental melody and tinkling themes, even the choral work and I can hear elements of other scores there (L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo is a prime example) and so I think I've written it off as being a fairly interesting but not stand-out score.

On the RCA release I much prefer the accompanying scores for I Basilischi and Gente Di Rispetto

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 18, 2011 - 11:47 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Actually I always felt Hollywood blockbusters and art films have a lot in common. When they are bad they barely look like anything reflecting reality. They both tend to settle down into formulas and then finally there is a lot less there than meets the eye. I say this because I find Morricone attached to many of those. Definitely not this one though. A masterly work. BTW I consider CITIZEN KANE a Hollywood blockbuster. Whiz kid comes to town and is given carte blanche by the studio. How many times has that happened? But that time the results changed the face of cinema.

I rather think the purpose of any film (art or otherwise) is to heighten or embelish upon reality.
Reality is for documentaries.
THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI does not resemble reality - does this make it a bad film?
It's a masterwork of Expressionism - as thus can be deemed art and not soley a piece of entertainment like a Three Stooges short.

My personal favorites like Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni may create cinema which, on the surface, appears as though there is not much going on (in terms of plot) but much is left up to the viewer to fill in the gaps - thus "less" meeting the eye is "more" left to the imagination.

Despite its status and reputation, CITIZEN KANE is not a favorite of mine, though its cinematic techniques were ground-breaking.
I also tend to assess films more upon their atmospheres and moods.
Story is not as important as stylistic presentation - just as Franz Waxman maintained that melody is not as important as orchestration. smile


It's funny how my reaction to CALIGARI was identical to yours for KANE. I can appreciate the techical breakthrough of the set design but the other filmmaking aspects left me cold.
My reaction to METROPOLIS was similar until I saw the recent restoration where I found many of the over-the-top scenes were used as punctuation in the film and was not meant to be the overall tone. It became more of a masterpiece once character and story was expanded.
So rather than mood the bottom line for me, whether it be Bellocchio, Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini or Spielberg, the more I see recognizable human behavior the more I will go anywhere you want to take me. But the less so the faster I will mentally check out of a film.

 
 Posted:   Mar 20, 2011 - 8:46 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Here's the opening of Luigi Dallapiccola's "Canti di Prigionia", in which the Dies Irae is used, ala theme and variations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHWhRlhlI3I

Notice how the orchestrations of Ennio Morricone's music for "I Pugni In Tasca" resemble the ensemble of percussion and chorus in this work, written 24 years earlier in 1941.

 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2011 - 6:19 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

Here's the opening of Luigi Dallapiccola's "Canti di Prigionia", in which the Dies Irae is used, ala theme and variations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHWhRlhlI3I

Notice how the orchestrations of Ennio Morricone's music for "I Pugni In Tasca" resemble the ensemble of percussion and chorus in this work, written 24 years earlier in 1941.


I'm grateful Tonerow because you make me discover what I already have and may have neglected for who-knows-why reason. Today I'll take off the shelf Canti di Prigionia and 5 frammenti di Saffo to refresh my memory with a listen.

About Bellocchio: today on Italian digital channel RAI5, you can watch a long interview with the maestro in the TV show Incontri Ravvicinati. They also talk about the "trinity" Cavani-Bellocchio-Bertolucci (all of them from the same territory).

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2011 - 6:16 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Here's the opening of Luigi Dallapiccola's "Canti di Prigionia", in which the Dies Irae is used, ala theme and variations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHWhRlhlI3I

Notice how the orchestrations of Ennio Morricone's music for "I Pugni In Tasca" resemble the ensemble of percussion and chorus in this work, written 24 years earlier in 1941.



Thanks, Tonerow. I would never have made that association because the purpose he uses it for is so sinister. I was more directed toward the way he accelerates it, almost mechanically, to express the state of mind of the protagonist. The fact he is doing both here tells me how much thought he puts into the piece.

 
 Posted:   Mar 31, 2011 - 11:05 AM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

Wasn't familiar with this one, but an interesting score.

 
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