All posts under Vintage

Sounds Like Teen Spirit


While BREATHLESS created a veritable cinematic tsunami in France, Japan was experiencing its own new wave with the taiyozoku (or Sun Tribe) movement. As David Desser explains in his book, Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema, “Sun Tribe” describes “Japanese youth who feel themselves cut off from their past yet part of a new, mythic culture, the culture of youth.” Arguably the most famous of the Sun Tribe trio of films was CRAZED FRUIT, which, together with SEASON OF THE SUN and PUNISHMENT ROOM (all released in 1956 and based on novels by…

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Propaganda and Peasants: Aaron Copland’s Score to THE NORTH STAR

The North Star

On June 22, 1941, Hitler invaded Russia, violating the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact of 1939 and foisting the Soviet Union as an ally on an unprepared world at war. The Bolshevik revolution, the Moscow purge trials and executions of the late 1930s, and the non-aggression pact strained Soviet-U.S. relations to the breaking point. However, once the United States entered the war following Pearl Harbor, it was evident that America was going to have to find a way to make nice with its new former enemy. To change America’s perception of its…

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Define Dancing


“Dancing: a series of movements involving two partners where speed and rhythm match harmoniously with music.” One of the many joys of watching a Pixar film is the elegance of the animation. While other animated films, especially those that are computer generated, come across as flat and two-dimensional, the artists at Pixar have a unique talent for making truly breathtaking, cinematic images. One of those magical moments is the “dancing” scene from WALL-E (2008). According to director Andrew Stanton’s DVD commentary, originally the sequence was staged to a Bing Crosby recording…

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An Offer You Can’t Refuse


As a pre-pubescent ten-year-old in 1972, I was at the theater watching SNOOPY, COME HOME with my Mom, while most of America was lining up to see THE GODFATHER. I heard songs by the Sherman Brothers, they heard one of the most influential film scores in the history of film music. No offense to the talented Sherman Brothers, but guess who got the better end of that deal? For those who weren’t alive in 1972, it may be difficult to understand the popularity of THE GODFATHER. Based on Mario Puzo’s…

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My Huckleberry Friend


It’s pre-dawn on 5th Avenue. The normally bustling shopping thoroughfare is improbably empty. As the morning sun peaks over the horizon, a taxicab pulls up and a vision in black emerges from the backseat. In a stunning Givenchy black gown, upswept hair, black arm gloves, five strands of pearls, and sunglasses, Audrey Hepburn gazes longingly up at the name “TIFFANY’S” inscribed in the polished marble, and a 1960s icon of glamour and elegance is born. The main titles for BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961) contain one of the most famous openings of…

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I Sing the Body Electric


No matter what you think of Michael Gore’s Academy Award-winning score to FAME (1980), there’s no denying the impact of the film’s graduation finale–“I Sing the Body Electric.” I sing the body electric I celebrate the me yet to come I toast to my own reunion When I become one with the sun Dean Pitchford’s lyrics are a bit flowery and obtuse perhaps (the title comes from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass), but they still resonate with that innocent 17-year-old from long ago. In his commentary for the DVD, director Alan Parker…

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Stalin the Powerful: Prokofiev, Eisenstein and IVAN THE TERRIBLE


Sergei Eisenstein called it his “suicide note.” Part I won the coveted Stalin Prize, yet Part II was banned from distribution, and Part III was virtually destroyed by Soviet officials. Over 60 years later, IVAN THE TERRIBLE remains Eisenstein’s most controversial film and, inexplicably, Sergei Prokofiev’s least-known major film score. IVAN was a risky venture to say the least. Though composer and director had succeeded in winning Joseph Stalin’s approval with their first collaboration, ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1938), Prokofiev’s self-imposed 18-year exile and Eisenstein’s constant scrutiny by Soviet officials made them easy targets. And the idea of filming a…

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A Musical Feast


From the page to the stage to film and back again, AUNTIE MAME (1958) began life as a bestselling novel by Patrick Dennis before treading the boards on Broadway for 639 hit performances. Extolling her mantra of “live, live, LIVE,” the irreverent escapades of everyone’s favorite madcap aunt from Beekman Place features a feast of comic vignettes that showcase the comedic talents of its legendary leading lady, Rosalind Russell. AUNTIE MAME was the first play I ever saw as a freshman in high school. Sure, it had all the trappings of…

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Herrmann On the Mount


Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann. Two great tastes that taste great together. Along with Prokofiev and Eisenstein and Steven Spielberg and John Williams, H&H constitute one of the most successful composer/director collaborations in film history. And nowhere is that collaboration more enjoyable than in the 1959 thrill ride NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Ernest Lehman’s clever, convoluted script of mistaken identity and murder stars Cary Grant at his most debonnaire. Eva Marie Saint plays the lovely spy and James Mason oozes suave evil. Herrmann’s typical practice of writing a score starting at the beginning of…

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Fish In My Hair!


Moving on from toys, bugs and monsters, Pixar went under the sea and snagged a big fish with FINDING NEMO (2003). This delightful film tells the tale of a young clownfish, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who gets caught by deep sea divers off the coast of Australia, and his father (Albert Brooks), who must brave the ocean depths to find him. As usual in Pixar films, the supporting cast vocal work is top-notch with special kudos to Ellen DeGeneres’ hysterical Dory, a fish with short-term memory loss. One of the most beautiful of…

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