2009 August 17 • Monday
The seventy-fourth Soundtrack of the Week is Ennio Morricone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il cattivo, il brutto).
Special thanks to Hugh Brown for first showing me this movie—and hundreds of other movies! My brother and I often marvel at how many great films we know about thanks to Hugh.
Once Upon a Time in the West is, I guess, Leone's best film. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is my favorite, though. Everything about it is impeccable: the photography, the screenplay, the acting and especially Morricone's famous score.
One time at Hugh's I connected a tape recorder to his VCR and recorded the entire movie onto tape. I listened to these audio casettes over and over and could almost recite the whole film by heart. (I did the same thing with Taxi Driver.)
Of course the wonderful "Main Title" from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is one of the most famous pieces of film music of all time, and "The Ecstasy of Gold" is a Morricone concert staple, but my favorite cue might be "The Desert", a masterpiece of dramatic musical writing that brilliantly accompanies and enhances a scene of extreme cruelty.
In the late '90s I was fortunate enough to meet Eli Wallach. We spent an hour or so talking in his apartment on the upper west side. He gave me a bunch of Duke Ellington LPs as a parting present and when I returned home I sent him some videotapes of old television programs he had starred in (Lights Out, Kojak, etc.).
After this we exchanged a few letters. I keep my letters from him with my copy of the novelization of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
I read Wallach's memoir a couple of years ago (great book!) and I think it's time I wrote to him again!