Jazz Noir 2: 1955-1966
Some would militate for Leith Stevens' music for "The Wild One" in 1953. Not me.
As far as I'm concerned, the first truly great movie soundtrack to make brilliant use of jazz in a dramatic movie --the score that helped to show everyone else how it's done --was Elmer Bernstein's music for Otto Preminger's movie "Man With the Golden Arm" in 1955, two years later. Preminger was so happy with it, he hired one of the greatest of all jazz composers, Duke Ellington, in 1959 to write the music for "Anatomy of a Murder" which is, by general consensus, one of the greatest of all jazz movie scores.
The main theme of Bernstein's "The Man With the Golden Arm" is one of the great movie themes of the 1950's. And the soloing during the course of the film by Shorty Rogers and Shelley Manne is the cream of West Coast Professionalism.
The film leads off Ed Cardoni's "Jazz Noir 2" series at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night in Hallwalls.
The film itself may not be a patch on the idiosyncratic and much bigger novel by Nelson Algren but, hey, you've still got Frank Sinatra in one of his gutsiest roles, a lovable Kim Novak and a decidedly unlovable Eleanor Parker. Algren, to put it mildly, was as un-Hollywood as writers get. He once said of his employment to write a screenplay: "I was hired on Wednesday and fired on Friday. The guy that hired me was out of town on Thursday."
Others in Cardoni's series:
Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. -Robert Wise's "I Want to Live" starring Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham, who figured in one of the most important capital punishment controversies of the 20th century. Hayward, like Bette Davis, is an actress whose style isn't easy for many to watch in the 21st century but you can't forget what she does in the film. And Johnny Mandel's score--especially much of the unused stuff that turned into an incredible Gerry Mulligan Septet record (with Art Farmer, Bud Shank, Pete Jolly, Frank Rosolino and the ubiquitous Manne) --was first rate movie jazz.
Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. - Roger Vadim's "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." The classic novel turned out much better later on starring John Malkovich and Glenn Close but this version is pretty good. And the music by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers is awfully good hard bop. And, yes, Thelonious Monk was around too.
Oct.8, 7:30 p.m. "Shadows." John Cassavetes' film, say some, began the modern style of independent movies. And the score was, ahem, written by, yes, Charles Mingus.
Oct.16, 7:30 p.m. - John Cassavetes "Too Late Blues." Cassavetes had a heart as big as his faith in actors. He also had David Raksin here to put the score together, the man who wrote the music for Preminger's "Laura." (Not a jazz score, to be sure, for "Laura" but the title tune is one jazz musicians have always loved.)
Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m. - Arthur Penn's "Mickey One" starring Warren Beatty. Wait until you hear Beatty play the piano and sing his leering version of "I'm Coming Virginia."
Nov.6, 7:30 p.m. -"A Man Called Adam." Don Cheadle is working on a movie about the life of Miles Davis as we speak. This highly fictionalized version of Miles for movies' sake starred Sammy Davis Jr.