Official Nominations: The Lion In Winter. Planet Of The Apes. The Thomas Crown Affair. The Shoes Of The Fisherman. The Fox. Oliver! Star! Finian’s Rainbow. The Young Girls Of Rochefort. Funny Girl.
The Scoring award was split this year between original and adaptation scores, but I’ll bundle them into one. John Barry picked up an official win for The Lion In Winter, a score with many heavy and mysterious tones thanks to dramatic horns and ominous low blasts, made all the more eerie thanks to the choir. Goldsmith’s soundtrack to The Planet Of The Apes is a fitting mixture of the experimental and strange with creeping piano and woodwind instruments. The main theme lacks a true hook, giving that air of mystery, threat, and confusion that the film relies on. Legrand’s work for The Thomas Crown Affair is filled with jazz and cool, but as such lacks the melodies which tend to grab me and mostly reminds me of musical wafted through shopping malls. Alex North does find some useful melodies in the stirring score for The Shoes Of The Fisherman but nothing outstanding while Schifrin’s work for The Fox has some truly beautiful moments throughout the main arrangements. Johnny Green picked up another win for Oscar – you already know how it sounds, while you can imagine exactly how Lennie Hayton’s Star! sounds. Similarly, Heindorf and Burton’s Finian’s Rainbow is mostly fluff while Legrand does the French equivalent with The Young Girls Of Rochefort. Oh look! Funny Girl is your standard musical fare.
My Winner: The Lion In Winter.
My Nominations: The Lion In Winter. The Planet Of The Apes. The Fox. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Barbarella. Bullitt. Hang Em High. The Odd Couple. Once Upon A Time In The West. Rosemary’s Baby. Where Eagles Dare.
I add a number of obvious choices in this category – films either with classic themes, haunting scores, or a combination of both. Ennio Morricone does it again, and maybe pulls off his finest score for Once Upon A Time In The West while Stanley Kubrick (yes yes I’m cheating) borrows a number of famous classical works and applies them to the vastness of space and time meaning no viewer of 2001 can watch a clip of the movie without thinking of the music and no listener can hear the music without thinking of the movie. Maurice Jarre gets yet another nomination merging sexy cool with mystery while Lalo Schifrin continues his trend for yearly nominations with an equally cool, mysterious, and jazzy score for Bullitt. Neal Hefti earns a nomination for crafting an ever popular theme in The Odd Couple while Krysztof Komeda makes a generation creeped out by lullabies forever thanks to his work on Rosemary’s Baby. Ron Goodwin gets a nomination for his suitably militaristic and heroic music on Where Eagles Dare, rousing and ominous at once and lastly, Dominic Frontiere gets a vote for his great pieces in Hang Em High – they may borrow heavily from Morricone, but in the best possible way.
My Winner: Once Upon A Time In The West.
Which movie of 1968 do you think has the Best Scoring? Let us know in the comments!
Official Nominations: The Windmills Of Your Mind – The Thomas Crown Affair. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. For Love Of Ivy – For Love Of Ivy. Funny Girl – Funny Girl. Star! – Star!
Unsurprisingly, Musicals make up the bulk of the nominations, but surprisingly a non-musical thriller picks up the win. The Windmills Of Your Mind, by Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman, and Marilyn Bergman merges the French New Wave cool with beach side 60s pop, the swaying melancholy melodies juxtaposed by the lightning fast lyrics and vocals. The win seems to be because the song is unusual and doesn’t have an obvious hook, but is nevertheless an interesting song and winner. Other artists would cover the song at a much slower pace – I’ll leave it up to you to decide which style is best. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is absolute nonsense, twee, grating, but still damn catchy. At barely a minute long it feels like it doesn’t deserve a nomination, but it’s pretty iconic and memorable. For Love Of Ivy feels like an early Motown-lite song, showcasing the increasing talents of Quincy Jones but it’s a largely forgettable ballad. Funny Girl is all about the performance, with Streisand giving it her all, but the song itself, while lyrically interesting, has nothing strong in either melody or innovation. Between Jimmy Van Housen and Sammy Cahn you would expect a big band, swinging song with a hook, but Star! is bland from a musical perspective. The lyrics are fine, but the song itself is just another by the numbers Musical standard with nothing to make it stand out.
My Winner: The Windmills Of Your Mind.
My Nominations: Consider Yourself. Food Glorious Food. The Windmills Of Your Mind. Once Upon A Time In The West Theme. All I Needed Was The Rain. A Little Less Conversation.
While the songs from Oscar! may not necessarily be considered originals as they are the same as those from the Stage version, they had not yet appeared on film so that’s good enough for me. I’ve never been a fan of musicals, but both Consider Yourself and Food Glorious Food are such a part of British childhood that they are inescapable – luckily both songs are good fun (but I despise those feckin accents). I may be cheating a little when I include the Once Upon A Time In The West theme, but its wordless vocals area again good enough for me – it’s a glorious piece of music. A Little Less Conversation became a huge hit over thirty years after the release of Live A Little, Love A Little with an awful remix which plagued TV and radio – the original is much better. Finally, another Elvis song from another Elvis movie – All I Needed Was The Rain from Stay Away, Joe – a blues rock drawl featuring thunder and dog howls.
DEE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DEDE-DE-DEEEE! Yes, it’s another hit show from the Golden Age of British Game shows – a game show which has it all – big prizes! Silly prizes! An entertaining presenter, catchphrases, chit chat with contestants, questions, answers, and an interesting and engaging premise. Strike It Lucky (which then became Strike It Rich) was a big hit with me, my family enjoyed it, and as far as I am aware it was a big success with audiences around the country. Why did I love it so, though? Read on…
The show was created in the US in 1986 as Strike It Rich – the main difference from the UK version being that the US featured two teams, one of which was a returning champion while in the UK there were three teams who only got one stab at the pie. From what I can tell, the show wasn’t a hit in the States, but with Barrymore as host in the UK, the show lasted for thirteen years and is still shown in syndication, as well as a few Special episodes and assorted Board Games and merchandise. Barrymore had already been a presenter, comedian, and actor on various sketch shows, but it was his slapstick energy and rapid-fire repartee with the contestants in Strike It Lucky which made him a megastar and the show an 18 Million viewer mega-hit. Most gameshows of the time featured comedians in presenting roles, but the interaction with the contestant, viewer, and audience was often more one-sided and always brief; a couple of hellos to the contestants, a couple of jokes to those watching, and you were on your way. With Barrymore, a quarter of the episode running time was him chatting and joking with the guests. As the series progressed, the guests would become more outspoken and entertaining in their own right without resorting to bizarre or outlandish types. There would usually be a young couple, a very elderly person, or someone with an interesting job to spark banter and jokes, and in most cases this opening was the best part of the episode. We as the viewer got an unusual insight into each contestant and you felt much closer to them and therefore hoped they would do well on the show – something which I don’t think any other game show has come close to achieving. Pointless comes close but in a less anarchic fashion, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire had something similar by virtue of the one on one format, and Deal Or No Deal was just shit.
I should say that I don’t have any real nostalgic connection to Strike It Lucky/Rich – unlike most of the other shows in this sh*t series of posts. It’s simply a great all round show that I always loved, that I enjoy watching re-runs of, and that now my kids even will watch. As mentioned, the main key to the success was Barrymore – his spark, energy, and interaction with the guests. But every good British gameshow needs a good catchphrase too. Barrymore of course has his own ‘Awight!?’ that he would shout at the audience at the start of each show, but the game had a couple of its own – one which is a statement which became a catchphrase, and the other a bizarre exchange with the crowd. ‘Top Middle, or Bottom’ is a question which Barrymore poses in the final round – when the contestant has to make their way from left to right across the board without striking out. There are three rows to choose from – top, middle, or bottom – as simple as games and catchphrases get really. The second catchphrase involves Barrymore asking the audience ‘what is a hotspot not’ and them replying ‘not a good spot’. In and of itself that doesn’t sound very catchy, and it doesn’t even make sense, but his delivery is spot on (pun pardon). What’s good about it is that the audience’s response is completely indecipherable. In fact, it wasn’t until the internet blew up that I was actually able to Ask Jeeves what it was they were actually saying. For years I’d assumed their answer was ‘Prizes’.
So, the game involves six contestants in three pairs. The first half of the game is a race across the board – three contestants walk across the board, three answer questions to win the chance to move forward two, three, or four places. Barrymore tells the contestant the ‘genre’ of the question, and the contestant decides if they want two, three, or four questions – if they get one wrong the question moves to the next contestant. The questions are multiple choice and might be something like ‘Famous Toms’ where the answers are Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Tom Jones etc, you get the idea. Once the questions have been answered, the contestant’s partner moves across the board one step at a time, hitting a button. When they hit the button they either get a prize or a Hot Spot. What is a hot spot not? Prizes. Not a good spot either. Basically if they land on a Hot Spot, their turn is over, so even if they answered four questions and get to walk forward four spaces, if they hit a hot spot on their first space, it’s the end of their turn. If it’s not a Hot Spot, they win a prize. Sometimes it’s a small cash prize, often it’s something humourous related to the contestant – if it’s an elderly couple, the prize might be a free Pole Dancing lesson for example. More Barrymore banter. There’s another level of strategy and gambling here – the contestant may answer four questions, but after moving forward two spaces they get two good prices such as a Weekend Holiday and a lump sum. If you hit a Hot Spot you lose your prices from that round, so do they risk moving on to get closer to the end, or bank their prizes and stay where they are?
Eventually, a couple will reach the final step of the board where they are asked a final question to proceed to the final round – get it wrong and another couple may pip you to the post, get it right and the other two couples are out. This leads to the second half of the show, which I always found the less interesting. The winning couple selects which top prize they want to go for – three choices of cash. The higher the cash prize, the more difficult the gameboard is. Basically the team has to get across the same board, choosing top, middle, or bottom. There are three outcomes of each choice – a Hot Spot – meaning they lose one life, a tick – meaning they move forward one space, or a question. Get the question right – move forward, get it wrong – Hot Spot. With the highest cash prize you get two lives, the middle one – three lives, the lowest cash prize – four lives. It’s tense stuff and the crowd always got into it – exciting the closer the team got to the end, but it just didn’t have the humour and fun of the first half.
I think Strike It Lucky could still work today, as a format. The problem when people try to resurrect classic gameshows it that they end up being self-knowing in an awkward and self-congratulatory manner. Just bring it back and get on with it. Barrymore has had his problems with the media and the public since his 90s heyday, but feck it – make him the host again, Awight!?
Let us know in the comments if you used to watch Strike It Lucky or if you are more familiar with the US version.
Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great
One I often forget about, but one I’ve always liked. It feels like a calling back to the days of two albums ago when I first heard it as a B-side to Ocean Spray. It doesn’t have the anger or politics of that album, instead yearning for simpler times. The tone of the guitars even sounds like Everything Must Go, but overall musically there isn’t anything spectacular here. Having said that, I do like the melancholy atmosphere,the verse and chorus are both strong and there are plenty of likable, quotable lyrics. Decent central riff too.
There can be little argument against Kitano being one of the finest Japanese directors since the 1980s, having made a number of genuine classics. With Outrage he’s back on familiar territory, telling a story of jealous, tired Yakuza, and the lengths they will go to to remain in power, if not retain their honour.
Lets get the good stuff out of the way – Kitano knows how to shoot a film, he has his own cinematic style, and he has a penchant for explosive violence. Outrage was supposed to be a return to a more familiar style for Kitano and an attempt to regain some of his greatest successes, but it falls short. The story is one we have seen too many times and there is nothing unique in the plot or action. Kitano himself is not the central character, but rather one of several Yakuza main men who are dealing with the needlessly complex developments in what is essentially a simple story. Kitano as a performer is even more laid back than usual, the rest of the cast are fine without having any standouts. The film was well enough received to inspire a sequel which I have not yet seen, along with plans for a third.
I would recommend this to fans of Kitano, but as a starting place for anyone interested in his work I would say that you should leave this one until you are more familiar with his earlier movies. As an introduction to Yakuza movies you could give it a shot, but it may be too dense and distant to fully understand the genre.
Let us know in the comments where you rank Outrage along with Kitano’s other movies!
Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great
Continuing throughout the caustic middle berth of The Holy Bible, this is one of the heaviest and most violent songs, and is certainly the most dense when the lyrics and music are bunched together. The structure isn’t complex, but it definitely appears that way given how breathlessly, impossibly the lyrics are spat out. There’s a creepy, incessant throng of insidious malevolence, the chorus is a guttural expulsion of anguish and disgust, the whole song feels like an exorcism, a cleansing of the blackest oil, but the sudden end suggests that nothing is resolved, nothing is better, and no amount of primal rage will diffuse the malignant vileness brooding inside.