You say Ennio Morricone and you think Spaghetti Western, a genre to which the Maestro who died at the age of 91 has inseparably linked his name, in particular thanks to the partnership with Sergio Leone. But which are the most famous soundtracks of the line that between the sixties and seventies renewed the myth of Cinecittà in the world? In ten titles, here is our particular tribute to the masters who set these mainstream masterpieces to music.
Down the head
Very complicated to judge which is the best work that the Maestro (Morricone) has given to the Maestro (Sergio Leone). In the end our (painful) choice falls on Giù la testa , an ambitious work for both the director and the composer. There is all the art of Morricone inside: there is the epos, a “whistle” that no longer detaches from your head, a moving lyrical theme that, suddenly, rests on a light-hearted piano accompaniment to Burt Bacharach. The film dates from 1971, when the Spaghetti Western genre was “mauturo”. Morricone answered his friend’s call with proof of equal maturity. Giving up working on none other than Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange .
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
That of Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo is probably Morricone’s most famous theme. A ride to the desolate prairies of the wild West (of Europe) played on the epos. The flute intro leaves for a brief moment the whistle before a guitar stuffed with tremolo arrives to disrupt the games. The trumpet pursuit that marks the climax of the ride is memorable. The so-called “dollar trilogy” certainly could not have ended better. Musically speaking and not only.
My name is Nobody
Even when taking a “vacation” from the films directed by Leone, Morricone was very successful. Proof of this is the theme of My name is Nobody , a 1973 film that Leone produces, Tonino Valerii directs and two generational icons of the genre interpret: on the one hand the rising star Terence Hill, on the other the noble father Henry Fonda . As in all the greatest westerns in history, the setting is a pretext for telling the human condition and, in this specific case, the end of an era. The touch is light, in the direction of Valerii as in Morricone’s music, melancholy but all in all hopeful. From goosebumps.
For a bunch of dollars
Legend has it that the then unknown American actor Clint Eastwood on his first collaboration with Leone, as soon as filming was over, he had no idea what he had played. Even before seeing the film, he saw the 45 rpm with the famous Morricone theme delivered by mail, put it on the plate and had the precise sensation of having ended up in one of the most important films in the history of cinema. The anecdote speaks volumes about the essential unicum that the films of Leone and the music of Morricone constitute together. It all began with that whistle and the melody with subtle wisdom in postponing Ghost riders in the sky , one of the noblest passages of the epic country. Spells that only the greatest can do.
They Call Me Trinity
For once, we reward popularity. They called him Trinità by Enzo Barboni is the film that in 1970 opens the comic turn of Spaghetti Western, with the blood that gives way to punches and the various Clint Eastwood and Franco Nero who give the scene to the duo composed of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. Some critics say it will be the beginning of the end. We do not intend to go into controversial academic issues. We prefer to bow to this very enjoyable country pop song that Maestro Micalizzi composes by winking at the Morriconian styles. Among the most famous themes of its kind ever.
Once Upon a Time in the West
In the filmography of Sergio Leone Once upon a time the West undoubtedly marks a change of gear: that of ’68 is the first mega-production that is entrusted to the Roman filmmaker, after so much low budget apprenticeship in which he had obtained the maximum result with the minimal effort. The money comes from the American major Paramount and Leone, for the first time, can rely on a stellar cast that unites American stars and actors who had contributed to making Italian cinema great. Morricone performs the task entrusted to him by focusing on a mix of epos and melancholy, two arrows that in his hand have always gone straight to the target.
Here is the “score” on which Tarantino, author of the remake Django Unchained (2012), has long studied. Sergio Corbucci’s ’66 film, of course, but also the homonymous song that the Argentine immigrant Luis Bacalov – another skilled “craftsman” of Hollywood on the Tiber destined to become Oscar winner a few decades later – sews on the irrepressible gunslinger played by Franco Nero. A curiosity: the voice is by Rocky Roberts, light years away from the floor as Stasera I throw myself.