News Column

Action and music under lens [Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent, England)]

September 19, 2013


AS THE 20th century rolled on, jazz, pop, and rock brought new energy and relevance to the film score. Certainly, Carry On Up The Khyber wouldn't have been the same without the input of Cliff Richard.

A Streetcar Named Desire was the first Hollywood drama with a fulllength jazz soundtrack, composer Alex North using it to capture the sexual undercurrents of the story, a development which led to many saxophonists finding late-night work performing at the end of people's beds. British cinema's most ambitious attempt to capitalise on the pop music phenomenon was The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, but, as the film's director Richard Lester explains, it's not easy trying to build a story around a set of pre-existing songs. It's why The Wurzels never quite made the transformation to the big screen. Hollywood too was keen to bring a pop sensibility to its 1960s films. Richard Sherman, together with brother Robert, for example, composed some of Disney's best loved songs. Here he reveals how he created the music for Mary Poppins, a film many believe would have been much improved by a soundtrack from Hawkwind. At the same time, in Italy, another pop arranger, Ennio Morricone, was bringing unusual and experimental sounds to spaghetti westerns, although the technique failed miserably with macaroni romantic comedies. Composer Neil Brand analyses Morricone's score for A Fistful Of Dollars and shows the extraordinary degree to which the action and music work hand in hand.

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