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In composing the scores for the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone with their sparse arrangements, eerie tunes and unorthodox instrumentation (bells, church organs, harmonicas, slashing Spanish & electric guitars), Ennio Morricone at once revolutionised film music and from as far away as his base in Rome made the American western his own.
Morricone’s theme for ‘The Good The Bad & The Ugly’ is arguably the most famous piece of music ever recorded for film. Director and composer are inseparable; the coordination of action and music such as to prompt some scholars to compare Leone’s films to opera; images and sounds that are rich, solemn and often startling.
On ‘Morricone Kill’ the achingly beautiful melodies for Leone’s ‘A Fistful Of Dynamite’ establish the magical Morricone atmosphere; the programme comprising three beautiful cuts from this film along with selections from lesser known westerns all of which are charged with extraordinary music.
Sergio Sollima’s ‘Resta Dei Conti (The Big Gundown)’ is generally considered to be the finest spaghetti western not directed by Leone and stars the splendid Lee Van Cleef; Van Cleef emerging from retirement to become (along with Clint Eastwood) the leading name of the genre and one of the ten biggest box office draws in Europe.
Joseph Cotton stars in Sergio Corbucci’s ‘I Crudeli’. Franco Nero and Jack Palance in both ‘Il Mercenario’ and ‘Vamos’ a Matar Companeros’ and the immense Orson Welles is colonel cooscorro, the chief of police, in ‘Tepepa’ (Blood and Guns).
James Coburn and Rod Steiger combine famously in ‘A Fistful Of Dynamite’ and Henry Fonda, who years earlier had starred in the prodigious ‘once upon a time in the west’, returns to the genre for ‘My Name Is Nobody’ Sergio Leone’s biographer Prof. Christopher Frayling’s quotation about the stereo effect of the spaghetti western perfectly captures the mood, “one speaker is a fairy story, the other, brutal and nasty. A fabulous combination”
L’arena from Il Mercenario also featured in part two of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’
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