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 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 12:37 PM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

I was looking for a DVD copy yesterday but can't find a copy with English subtitles.

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 12:46 PM   
 By:   BillCarson   (Member)

On 1 of my trips to italy i found an italian vhs release of Investigation of a citizen... in a bargain bin for 1 euro. So i got it. Never seen this before but id heard great things. When i sat down to watch, of course, as i expected, it was in italian with no subtitles - and its a tough film to follow without subtitles, but i loved it. One day i must watch again but with subtitles. From memory this was shown once in uk on bbc in the 70s and i missed it. Im not 100% certain of this but i recall a cutting from the radio times.

Professori Roberto Zamori of Hexacord once described Ennio's main theme to this as "so good it was the equivalent of modern day classical music" and another collector - cant remember who - said he loved the quirky theme because it perfectly suited Volonte's insane and corrupt detective'

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 1:54 PM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

Revisiting this older thread, I am struck again by how different folks' reactions can be sometimes. I was blown away by Morricone from the first and yes, initially shocked by FISTFUL OF $, but ultimately loving it. It may have helped that I saw the first two Leone films as a drive-in double feature and then GBU came out within a couple of months at a big screen 1st run house. I was able to observe the maturation of style Henry talks about in his OP in quick succession.
But to INVESTIGATION...this too is one of my all-time favorite Morricone scores. I was lucky enough to see the film when it came out. My memory is poor as to where, but I think it may have been at the student union at the University of Florida where I had my first exposure to a lot of foreign films including the classics like SEVEN SAMURAI. I didn't know much of Morricone's work other than the Westerns at that time, so this was a revelation. The film itself is certainly engrossing, but the score raises it to a whole other level. I don't think I had ever seen another film where the propulsive nature of the music combined with images so carried a film along in increasing intensity. Not to mention, the main theme is just a supremely catchy tune. I was lucky enough to get that theme on a import Cinevox 45 early on, but I remember the joy of that US LP release.

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 2:11 PM   
 By:   BillCarson   (Member)

Nice stuff Ray.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 2:19 PM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

I'm going to watch L'Assoluto Naturale and La Donna Invisible on youtube this week without subtitles and armed with just a synopsis and a love of the music......

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 2:40 PM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

It's a little confusing at the end of this thread to figure out which film is being referred to sometimes, but there has been a couple of folks saying "I can't find a copy with English titles". A cursory search revealed Blu-Rays of both L'ASSASSINO and INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION (Criterion) on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Assassin-LAssassino-2-Disc-Special-Blu-ray/dp/B01NATYOT6

https://www.amazon.com/Investigation-Citizen-Above-Suspicion-Blu-ray/dp/B00F98FOFY

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 7:55 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

I haven’t visited this thread in a month of Sundays. I have always wondered if my assessment of A FISTUL OF DOLLARS was harsh. Did I not see what many others saw? At least I wondered up until a couple years ago when Morricone had an unusual interview. I don’t have access to it now but I will paraphrase. The reporter asked “Did you have an inkling when you wrote A FISTUL OF DOLLARS that it would lead to such a spectacular career?” He responded “Not at all since that score was so awful.”

The reporter: “Awful? How so?”

Morricone: “I had a few ideas for the FISTFUL OF DOLLARS score when Sergio Leone stopped me in my tracks and brought out a 45 record I had done with Peter Tevis of Woody Guthrie’s “ Pastures of Plenty”. He played it and said THAT is the sound I want. I explained that was written for a song about California migrant workers during the Dust Bowl. He didn’t care THAT is what he wanted. So I gave exactly that with a different guitar line replacing the vocal. THEN he demanded I use a piece of music by Dimitri Tiomkin from THE ALAMO called “DeGuello”. I emulated that. When the film succeeded I had to make sense of these disparate pieces to make a coherent whole for the sequels.”


All this made me feel much better about my first opinion.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2020 - 6:48 AM   
 By:   Steven Lloyd   (Member)

To Peter Greenhill: I'm assuming you meant INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN in your post above as the film you couldn't find subtitled on DVD. If you haven't discovered this already, the Criterion Blu-ray package contains two DVDs that duplicate the Blu-ray disc's full content (including an on-camera interview with the composer that's around a half-hour).

The film itself [INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN} is certainly engrossing, but the score raises it to a whole other level. I don't think I had ever seen another film where the propulsive nature of the music combined with images so carried a film along in increasing intensity. Not to mention, the main theme is just a supremely catchy tune. I was lucky enough to get that theme on a import Cinevox 45 early on, but I remember the joy of that US LP release.

Ray's experience was mine, too. INVESTIGATION opened in Chicago right after winning the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film. I was not quite 17, and when my parents announced they were going to see it that evening, based on the award and a strong review by Gene Siskel, and asked their movie-buff son if he wanted to come along ... sure! (Especially because I well knew Gian Maria Volonte from FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE.)

The 1971 American posters and newspaper advertising didn't credit a composer. But the first twang of a Jew's harp made me think "Ennio?" -- and as that mildly creepy and "supremely catchy" main theme progressed, I grew more certain that it had to be his. I loved the film as filmmaking (and still do) but absolutely adored its score for its unsettling yet driving qualities. After THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, this was only my second exposure to Morricone in a contemporary genre, but it reinforced his stature as my favorite composer. (For a few years to come, anyway.) I couldn't know that LA CALIFFA, THE RED TENT, and BURN! still lay ahead for me to discover!

To Morricone (the FSM member): Thank you for linking that Peter Tavis recording. I had read the story about Leone wanting his composer's arrangement for that Woody Guthrie song for FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, but it was a true revelation to hear that music bed in its original context. I admire Morricone's ability to apply a new melody to a structure he had already created; but now I appreciate even more (especially with the brief interview extract you quote above) what he achieved in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE by the chance to be totally original -- and how! -- yet consistent with the predecessor in style.

 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2020 - 8:22 AM   
 By:   dogplant   (Member)

For those that do streaming in U.S. and Canada, Criterion Channel is headlining "Investigation of a Citizen" this month, hosting the film and a number of the Blu-ray features – including a 1970 interview with Elio Petri, commentary by Camilla Zamboni, two feature-length documentaries, and a 20-minute interview with Morricone.

https://www.criterionchannel.com/investigation-of-a-citizen-above-suspicion

And thank you again, Henry, for turning me onto this one at your Autry concert last year.

 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2020 - 4:45 PM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

I haven’t visited this thread in a month of Sundays. I have always wondered if my assessment of A FISTUL OF DOLLARS was harsh. Did I not see what many others saw? At least I wondered up until a couple years ago when Morricone had an unusual interview. I don’t have access to it now but I will paraphrase. The reporter asked “Did you have an inkling when you wrote A FISTUL OF DOLLARS that it would lead to such a spectacular career?” He responded “Not at all since that score was so awful.”

The reporter: “Awful? How so?”

Morricone: “I had a few ideas for the FISTFUL OF DOLLARS score when Sergio Leone stopped me in my tracks and brought out a 45 record I had done with Peter Tevis of Woody Guthrie’s “ Pastures of Plenty”. He played it and said THAT is the sound I want. I explained that was written for a song about California migrant workers during the Dust Bowl. He didn’t care THAT is what he wanted. So I gave exactly that with a different guitar line replacing the vocal. THEN he demanded I use a piece of music by Dimitri Tiomkin from THE ALAMO called “DeGuello”. I emulated that. When the film succeeded I had to make sense of these disparate pieces to make a coherent whole for the sequels.”


All this made me feel much better about my first opinion.


I still think your reaction to A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS was a little harsh. (we talked about this when we met for lunch after the Autry Morricone concert). I haven't seen the film for a while, so my memory of how the score works with the film is sketchy. And I will admit that it is probably my least favorite of the Leone film scores. But I have to give it credit for starting a whole new way of approaching western film scoring.
I've always maintained that sometimes composers are the worst judges of their own music. With many, I've been mystified at what they consider their own best or worst scores. Often quite at odds with both critical and fan choices. So I would take that with a grain of salt before using it to justify my own opinions.
It's quite possible that a certain amount of resentment of being asked to keep repeating the success of that ground-breaking score in western after western colored his opinion of the score. He's been pretty vocal about that, to the point of flat-out refusing to do any more westerns until HATEFUL 8. (And then trying to justify it as "not a western"). Understandable, really.

 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2020 - 5:34 PM   
 By:   BillCarson   (Member)

Good points Ray and Henry. I think ennio had to re-adjust his expectations throughout his career. As we know initially he was very traditional, and expected to become a classical composer. Film scores were considered low-rent compared to classical and when he was offered his first gig he even went for a stroll with his mentor Maestro Petrassi to check with him that it was "alright" to do a film score!!!! Ennio always knew what he was capable of so to him, a few years later, scoring a western like that, although it was unique and exploded a new style, Morricone probably felt like a purring Ferrari that was used only to take rubbish to the dump.
For many years as we know he had a problem with the westerns. He was sick of being known only for westerns and it stuck in his craw that he had produced so much more complex and classier music but that all anyone wanted to hear n talk about were the westerns. By the 80s, his management warned every journalist before interviews "the maestro will not answer questions on westerns".

Eventually i think he mellowed his stance. His multi-faceted oeuvre was there for all to see and hear and, in the end, i think he warmed to the western output. Im not saying they hugged, but there was acceptance and mutual respect. smile

 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2020 - 5:52 PM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

Some good detail , Bill. (I especially like the Ferrari analogy).

In the end, Morricone got the last laugh. We all know what a consummate musician and creative force he was. He probably has legions of fans world-wide who maybe don't even particularly like his western scores because they came to him through CINEMA PARADISO or THE MISSION and so many other marvelous scores (like INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN...).

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2020 - 8:11 AM   
 By:   BillCarson   (Member)

Ennio said of this Investigation score...

"...The music composed for this film has proved to be an extraordinary long-term success. I chose to use a variety of instruments, including jewish harp, the mandoline and the untuned piano. This made it possible to achieve the contrasts that were the defining characteristic of the theme. My aim was to underline the grotesque and sarcastic aspects of the lead character...

I was particularly satisfied with the way the work on Investigation came out. However when i saw the first reel of the film after final editing - which Petri had done without me - i realised immediately that music by another composer had been included. I complained to Petri, knowing full well that as director he had final say. But the whole thing turned to be a joke - Petri had played a trick on me!! He later said that my music was the best possible for the film...."

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2020 - 9:30 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)



I still think your reaction to A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS was a little harsh. (we talked about this when we met for lunch after the Autry Morricone concert). I haven't seen the film for a while, so my memory of how the score works with the film is sketchy. And I will admit that it is probably my least favorite of the Leone film scores. But I have to give it credit for starting a whole new way of approaching western film scoring.
I've always maintained that sometimes composers are the worst judges of their own music. With many, I've been mystified at what they consider their own best or worst scores. Often quite at odds with both critical and fan choices. So I would take that with a grain of salt before using it to justify my own opinions.
It's quite possible that a certain amount of resentment of being asked to keep repeating the success of that ground-breaking score in western after western colored his opinion of the score. He's been pretty vocal about that, to the point of flat-out refusing to do any more westerns until HATEFUL 8. (And then trying to justify it as "not a western"). Understandable, really.



Well you have to put all this in perspective. I was a young man when I made this call and used to a certain kind of film scoring.

I do not buy this bitterness theory because I cannot recall Ennio ever badmouthing ANY other western score he had done. He only resented being exclusively identified with them and the derogatory spaghetti nomenclature used for them.

You have to take it from Ennio's point of view. He had only a few assignments at the time of FISTFUL OF DOLLARS so he had to take this one to feed his family. But to have both the main title and the climactic showdown dictated to you saps your creativity. You have nothing to do but fill in the gaps along the way. And this from a director of one mediocre sword and sandal movie who says he went to school with you (They did, but in different grades and never met). Even later when Ennio was dealing with directors he WANTED to work with he had others do the adapting of classical pieces for Pier Paolo Pasolini in TEOREMA or used preexisting recordings for Terence Malick's choice of that Saint-Saëns main title in DAYS OF HEAVEN. It is only in subsequent Dollar films did they both flower into what we know today. They developed and expanded on what was rudimentary in that first film into legendary proportions. But overall you have to give Leone partial credit for creating the spaghetti western sound so many composers would emulate. I don't think Morricone would have gone there on his own. It would have been more like DUELLO NEL TEXAS.

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2020 - 4:43 PM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)



I still think your reaction to A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS was a little harsh. (we talked about this when we met for lunch after the Autry Morricone concert). I haven't seen the film for a while, so my memory of how the score works with the film is sketchy. And I will admit that it is probably my least favorite of the Leone film scores. But I have to give it credit for starting a whole new way of approaching western film scoring.
I've always maintained that sometimes composers are the worst judges of their own music. With many, I've been mystified at what they consider their own best or worst scores. Often quite at odds with both critical and fan choices. So I would take that with a grain of salt before using it to justify my own opinions.
It's quite possible that a certain amount of resentment of being asked to keep repeating the success of that ground-breaking score in western after western colored his opinion of the score. He's been pretty vocal about that, to the point of flat-out refusing to do any more westerns until HATEFUL 8. (And then trying to justify it as "not a western"). Understandable, really.



Well you have to put all this in perspective. I was a young man when I made this call and used to a certain kind of film scoring.

Me too, but I reacted differently, for sure.

I do not buy this bitterness theory because I cannot recall Ennio ever badmouthing ANY other western score he had done. He only resented being exclusively identified with them and the derogatory spaghetti nomenclature used for them.

Well, I didn't say "bitterness". And when I said resentment, I was referring to exactly what you say about being type-cast as a Western composer. But you are probably right that his dislike of the score has more to do with being told how to go about it.

They developed and expanded on what was rudimentary in that first film into legendary proportions. But overall you have to give Leone partial credit for creating the spaghetti western sound so many composers would emulate. I don't think Morricone would have gone there on his own. It would have been more like DUELLO NEL TEXAS.

Thank goodness it was not more like DUELLO NEL TEXAS. It was the unique sound that endeared the score to me. We have to give it enormous credit to leading to that development and expansion that led to the sublime glories of GBU and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.

IMHO smile

 
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