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Monday, July 6, 2020

Remembering Ennio Morricone

Today we lost Ennio Morricone, the legendary Italian composer who most famously collaborated with Sergio Leone on what would become known as the Dollars Trilogy.  Their partnership continued with Once Upon a Time in The West, Duck You Sucker!, and Once Upon a Time in America.

Of course Morricone's filmography does not end there.  Over the past six decades, Morricone has composed music for over 500 film and television projects.  Nominated for multiple Academy Awards, Morricone finally received his well deserved recognition in 2007 with an honorary Academy Award, as well as an Academy Award for his score to The Hateful Eight in 2016.

Below are a few of my favorite Morricone cues from his Spaghetti Western career.

"The Ecstasy of Gold" - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Second to the main title of the same film, this is one of Morricone's most famous pieces.  This classic drives the scene of Tuco searching Sad Hill for the grave of Arch Stanton.  Even 50 years after it's composition this piece is played nightly at the Fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, as well as the start of all Metallica concerts!

"l'Arena (The Arena)" - The Mercenary

The highlight of Sergio Corbucci's The Mercenary for me was the duel between Jack Palance and Tony Musante commanded by Franco Nero.  Palance owns the scene, but it is Morricone's score that elevates it to the level of greatness that exceeds the rest of the film.  Quentin Tarantino would seem to agree as he used this piece in Kill Bill.

"Morton" - Once Upon a Time in The West

While the above two cuts are a few of Morricone's more boisterous efforts (sopranos!, trumpets!  whistling!), it is often times his quieter themes that are most effective.  This simple track for the railroad tycoon villain, Mr. Morton, in Leone's masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in The West, makes us feel empathy for an otherwise despicable character, as he is slowly dying from tuberculosis while trying to reach the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

Of course Morricone scored four great LVC films; For a Few Dollars More; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; The Big Gundown; and Death Rides a Horse.

The Maestro may be gone, but his music will live on forever!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Aaron. Great loss. His contribution to the Leone films was just as important and legendary as anything Sergio or Clint did. I posted Ecstacy of Gold on another site two days ago. It's a classical masterpiece.