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.
Under the category of Crime and Police dramas is a subcategory for Morricone all it's own with a distinctly regional bent. CORLEONE, THE PENITENT, LA PIOVRA and IL PREFETTO DI FERRO are just a few Morricone scores that take place on the home turf of the Mafia. But I picked this one because it is the most Hollywoody of the bunch and it had an American LP release so it certainly isn't obscure. This is really more of a heist film. Here is the trailer with key film images:
This score has never been expanded from the LP but still includes a lot of variety to choose from including a version of LeGoff's theme that would knock anybody's socks off. Bruno Nicolai, as usual for the 70s did the conducting and Alessandro Alessandroni supplies the all-important whistling. This was the second of six films Morricone would do with writer-director Henri Verneuil whose real name Achod Malakian was changed when he and his family escaped the Armenian pogroms in Turkey. Verneuil's films always had an international bent (GUNS FOR SAN SEBASTIAN, THE 25TH HOUR) and his unique perspective gave him an ability to see all sides of a story. The story is Roger Sartet (Alain Delon) escapes from jail and joins with Italian godfather Vittorio Manalese (Jean Gabin) for a spectacular heist as L'inspecteur Le Goff (Lino Ventura) pursues.
This film was actually shot in three languages (French, English and Italian) with the same cast. It made lots of money, in fact it was one of very few that won the Laurel award for foreign film from the Motion Picture Exhibitors.
This was my first Morricone "non western" score, I bought it at the same time as Two Mules For Sister Sara and Love Circle.
Three scores from the same composer, all released at the same time and all totally different.
I think that the period from 1966 - 1976 was Morricone's most inventive period, he certainly produced an amazing selection of film scores, some beautiful and some not so, but they were all certainly different.
And again my first comment is about the difference of the original recording and concert renditions of the main theme. This is one of those Morricone scores I definitely prefer to listen to in the original version. If I get it right, the original theme features a jaw's harp. However, the live performances usually feature some kind of western guitar (I'm sure the better versed among us are able to teach me better) instead which I find an inadequate replacement. It's still nice to listen to live, but takes up a slightly different character.
ALmost a rarity - a Morricone-scored film that I've seen! Only once, mind you, and back in the 1980s, but I remember a taut, satisfying thriller with - of course! - a great score. Deceptively simple.
I thought you might call this one Twanging Morricone...
I'm almost with you there, Tall Guy, only I've seen it twice ... I bought the DVD release a couple of years ago. It wasn't as good a film as I'd remembered (e.g. I recall being amazed at seeing the airplane land on the motorway (interstate) ... only on DVD it's easy to spot how it was filmed).
But the score ... oh, yes, one of my favourites! And so much better as a score rather than just the excellent Main theme. As others have written, the concert version pales in comparison ... it is the OST recording ... with all its variants as the storyline pans out ... that pulls the listener in.
I love to play it (loud) whistling along ... filling the house with the wonderful sound. This is so good it comes close to being as enjoyable as a John Barry~JB007 score. And that's a big compliment!
I think this is Morricone's best album. In fact I just started a thread on it over at Moviemusic.
Here's a little of what I said there:
"For a composer whose scores for various reasons don't often hold up for the duration of an entire album, I have to say that LE CLAN DES SICILIANS is one of the strongest soundtrack albums I've heard. And for some ungodly reason it's out of print, except for an LP reissue that I ordered over the summer. And the funny thing is, some of the qualities that detract from his other albums - it's a monothematic score with a couple suspense tracks - are present here, but the difference is that it is so well arranged that they actually benefit the album."
I just watched "The Sicilian Clan" yesterday. The film is very much plot driven rather than character driven, to its detriment I think. But Morricone's score is a great asset. I'm sorry to hear that the album is devoid of the whistling in the main theme (although the absence of the jaw harp, if that's what it is, is less bothersome). I'd pick up the score if it became readily available again.
Good to see Henry's series continues to be dipped into and bumped. Long may it continue.
I saw this film on UK TV one sunday evening in the 70s, I think. Decent Delon gangster movie. What I liked about the score was that it is something you can listen to throughout without any drop in the quality of the tracks. The score plays like a long suite which is all equally brilliant and listenable. Even the most partisan Morriconian would have to admit that some tracks on certain scores grate - sometimes because they served the film - whereas this score is great listen!