Tag Archives: Henry Mancini

10 Nightmare Bridesmaids

8 Jun

The best screen comedies all have something in common.

Um, they’re funny, Tom.

Ok, yes, they are funny. Agreed. But when you think of your favorite screen comedies, I bet they share something else: the movies are nightmares. Things get bad then worse, then worse again. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, wow, here comes another disaster. One of my favorite movies of all time, Tootsie, does this beautifully. The last 30 minutes of Tootsie is a brilliant hail storm of abuse deservedly heaped on Dustin Hoffman’s character, Michael Dorsey. A recent comedy I find pretty amazing also follows this classic form: Bridesmaids. Early in the movie, Jill Clayburg, playing Kristin Wiig’s mother, tells Wiig’s character Annie she’s hit rock bottom. Oh my, no. Things go from bad to worse to.. well, you’ve probably seen the movie, one of the biggest hits of last year. Every time you think Annie’s hit rock bottom, the bottom drops from under her yet again. Bridesmaids is hilarious yes but it, too, is a nightmare. It’s also difficult to imagine Bridesmaids, or any of the recent spate of nightmare comedies, without having been preceded by one of the more brilliant screen comedies of all time, Blake Edward’s 10.

10 was released in 1979 and, like Bridesmaids, was an enormous hit, grossing the equivalent of 236 million dollars. The movie was controversial because it pushed the boundaries of what had been seen and discussed on film. One of the wonderful things about the movie is how envelope pushing and modern much of it remains. Even by today’s standards there are some wildly eye-opening aspects to the movie. And perhaps no movie has ever heaped such wonderful abuse on its main character.

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Henry Mancini and the Joy of Work

2 Mar

Like so many other film nerds, I’ve been a huge fan of soundtracks all my life. I asked for Disney soundtracks as a very young child and the first album I bought with my own money was the score to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. An addiction began that day that unfortunately hasn’t ceased, though I am thankful for downloads rather than CDs since at a certain point the CD towers in my home, like so many other film nerds, became rather embarrassing. Just as embarrassing were times such as when a high school buddy was going through my LPs and pulled out the soundtrack to Carrie, which on the front cover features Sissy Spacek drenched in pig’s blood.

“Why the hell would you buy this?” he asked. I stammered through an explanation about liking the sole pop song on the album. I wouldn’t be embarrassed today. Great score, proud buy, I still have the LP which I play on my turnable even now. (A couple of friends, Stacey B in particular, are cringing for me now. At least someone gets embarrassed for me, since I am past it.)

ANYWAY, about a year after moving to Los Angeles, I was invited by a good friend, Cissy, to a concert at UCLA honoring film scores. I was thrilled. Not only did the benefit feature some big film stars introducing each piece, when possible the actual composer would conduct his own music.

It was a wonderful night. Besides seeing some huge movie stars so soon after moving to LA (Kathleen Turner in her heyday, Va Va Voom! Robert Redford, also pretty Va Va Voom, etc.) I made some discoveries. I heard for the first time two pieces of music that instantly became favorites of all-time: Alex North’s exquisite love theme from Spartacus and Miklos Rozsa’s stunning Madame Bovary Waltz

Then Henry Mancini walked onto the stage and changed my life.

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