Friday, August 30, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
After swilling cheap booze, furtively chain-smoking cigarettes and reading The Best Of NOIR CITY Magazine cover-to-cover, one requires some apropo music to stay in that chiaroscuro mood.
And whenever watching vintage film noir, I'm invariably positively dumbstruck by the superb soundtrack music surrounding the netherworld of gumshoes, hoodlums and femme fatales.
The Burt Bacharach-Hal David song "The Desperate Hours", recorded for the hard-boiled movie of the same name by the great Mel Tormé, remains my all-time favorite noir tune.
For those craving distinctively corrosive amalgamations of quarter-notes, straight out of 1947, many good choices can be found deep within the asphalt jungle of film music. Some can be found via the Soundtrack Collector website.
Others that are not quite noir but have soundtracks with similarities to those of hardboiled thrillers, for example, Bad Day At Black Rock, I Want To Live and The Subterraneans, can be ordered from Amazon.
To recommend just a few albums close to Philip Marlowe's heart:
Carlos Franzetti & The Prague Philharmonic: Film Noir
Chansons Et Musiques Des Films Noirs
Classic Noir Themes - Royalty Free Music Library
Crime Scene USA: Classic Film Noir Themes & Jazz Tracks
Film Noir To Accompany Your Sleepless Nights- Angelo Badalamenti
Jazz On Film: Film Noir
Legendary Film Noir Movies
Murder Is My Beat: Classic Film Noir Themes And Scenes
Rare Film Noir Music Of The 1940's (download)
White Heat - Film Noir
For further info, check out Robert Cumbow's article on the origins and development of film noir music, The Sound of Film Noir.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Since this blog loves David Raksin's music, UPA's cartoons and Art Heinemann's animation art - and the gifted writer/illustrator/raconteur Ludwig Bemelmans remains Madame Blogmeister's favorite author - a posting involving UPA's adaptation of Bemelmans' Madeline is as inevitable as sub-freezing temperatures in Verkhoyansk, Russia. UPA pulled off the impossible here: adapting a children's book into a successful movie that respects the source material.
Known in particular for the ubiquitous standard and film noir theme Laura, Mr. Raksin was also an eloquent and prolific author. David Raksin Remembers His Colleagues: Hollywood Composers includes interviews with the giants of film music - Aaron Copland, Hugo Friedhofer, Bernard Herrmann, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, Miklós Rózsa, Max Steiner, Dmitri Tiomkin and Franz Waxman. Although a hard copy of this remains out-of-print, it's well worth scouring friendly public and academic libraries for a copy. Excerpts are available on the American Composers website.
For more the career of David Raksin in radio, movies, stage and television, check out the composer's YouTube tribute channel, as well as Film Score Monthly and The Film Music Society. The latter has re-broadcasted Raksin's essential oral history of film composing, The Subject Is Film Music, and posted the following biography on its website.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Between classic animation and music, it's tough to say what Your Blogmeister loves more - only "Sneaky Pete" Kleinow, who played blazing pedal steel guitar AND created stop-motion magic with Art Clokey, could lay a claim on both - but pianist Bill Evans invariably tops the list, whether covering other composers or playing his own great songs.
Not only does Bill sound fantastic: along with saxophone genius Rahsaan Roland Kirk, he was among the exceptionally rare master jazz musicians to tackle the deceptively complex pop songcraft of Burt Bacharach.
The 20th of the month has come along, so it is, indeed, this blog's designated Burt Bacharach Day. And who is responsible for some of the greatest, most thoughtful and musically satisfying covers of Burt Bacharach compositions? Of course, Mr. Evans himself. Take it away, Bill!
Bacharach's music invariably conceals a harmonic/melodic wallop within those 1960's velvet pop trappings. Bill knew this. So did Rahsaan. R.I.P. - and there aren't enough thanks!
Saturday, August 10, 2013
2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Joop Geesink's birthday - and that means the Dutch filmmaker and illustrator joins Frank Tashlin and Bob Clampett among those animation luminaries whose centenary is being celebrated this year (and yes, this blog is definitely a tad late with this - the stop-motion animation guru was born in The Hague on April 28, 1913).
Joop Gessink and the intrepid artists of Amsterdam's Dollywood studio are right there with Emile Cohl, Charley Bowers, Ladislaw Starewicz, George Pal, Willis O'Brien, Ray Harryhausen, Jiri Trnka and Art Clokey as powerhouses of pixilation - as well as the artistic and spiritual predecessors of the Quay Brothers and Jan Svankmejer.
Working actively to restore the Joop Geesink films has been Leenke Ripmeester of the EYE Film Institute in the Netherlands.
The Dollywood Studio produced puppet animation films from the 1940s into the 1980's.
Fortunately, many classic animated films by Joop Gessink and stop-motion guru George Pal have been posted to YouTube by the Dutch Vintage Animation website.
At its height, the studio employed a staff of more than 150 animators, cameramen, doll makers, set designers, woodshop gurus and visual artistes of all kinds.
It could be said that Dollywood, which produced thousands of short animated shorts and advertising films, was the successor to George Pal's studio. After her father's passing in 1984, voice-over actress and artist Louise Geesink, in collaboration with illustrator Wil Raymakers, has carried on the creative torch, reviving the studio and its characters in books for children, comics, merchandising, ideas for television series and other projects.
The Geesink Studio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.