The Mondo Esoterica Guide to:

Ennio Morricone

  About Ennio Morricone:

Born in Rome in 1928, Morricone studied the trumpet from a young age and soon moved into composition, learning at the famous Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in the city, during the end of the Second World War. Interested in modern classical music, particularly of the avant-garde school, he took up film score composing in the early 1960s simply to make money. One of his earliest scores was for the European made Western Duello nel Texas (1963) for which, along with the rest of the European crew, he had to Anglicise his name to help the film pass as an American production, hence Dan Savio was born. The work on this film, and later Le Pistole non Discutono (1964) made him the perfect choice to score the new Western produced by his old friend Sergio Leone, Fistful of Dollars (1964). Out of nowhere, this film became a massive worldwide sucess and everyone involved in its production became hot property. Over the next decade Morricone went on to score over forty of these films, as well as dozens of other Euro-cult productions, from Mario Bava's crazy Danger: Diabolik (1968) to the early nunsploitation film The Nun of Monza (1969) and early giallo entry Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) from debuting director Dario Argento. He continued to work in European cinema throughout the 1970s and 1980s composing literally hundreds of scores with amazing versitility, able to switch from classic epics like Once Upon a Time in America (1984), to trashy cult films like Code Name: Wildgeese (1984) in the same year, stating in interviews that he liked to switch genres to avoid becoming bored.

Although a famous international name, Morricone refused to move to Hollywood, continuing to work largely on European made films through his career, with only occasional American productions, including the poorly received Exorcist II: The Heritic (1977) and the impressive Untouchables (1987). Into the 21st Century he continues to work and is attached to several movies in production for the near future. In 2007 he finally received an Acadamy Award for lifetime achievement.

DVD Reviews: Films scored by Ennio Morricone

Companeros (1970)
Anchor Bay USA Region 0 DVD
Morricone provides a lively score in this fun, action western with a strong plot, solid cast and production values.
Highly recommended for genre fans and newcomers alike.
Danger: Diabolik (1968)
USA Paramount Region 1 DVD
Bava's masterly direction brings a true comic-book air to this well directed film, boosted by a perfect Morricone score.
Death Rides a Horse (1968)
MGM UK Region 2 DVD
A very strong score boosts this strong directed film with a well written but unoriginal plot.
Recommended to SW fans and good for newcomers.
Duello nel Texas (1963)            
Ripley Home Video Italian Region 0 DVD
A well written and produced film from before the SW boom, featuring the first genre score from Morricone.
Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Paramount German Region 2 DVD
A powerful score turns Leone's well directed Western into an iconic film.
Highly recommended.
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Paramount German Region 2 DVD
Leone and Eastwood return, as does Morricone with an even better score that fits the film perfectly.
Highly recommended.
Grand Slam (1967)
US Blue Underground Region 0 DVD
A sparse, average score does little to spruce up this dull heist movie.
Not recommended.
The Great Silence (1969)
Eureka UK Region 0 DVD
This impressive Spaghetti Western is boosted by a strong orchestral score from Morricone and Nicholai.
Recommended to fans of the darker Spaghetti Westerns.
Hellbenders (1967)
Anchor Bay USA Region 1 DVD
A neat Morricone score boosts this solid Spaghetti Western from Sergio Corbucci.
Of interest to genre fans.
The Hills Run Red (1966)
Optimum UK Region 2 DVD
Another early score in a Spaghetti Western, this is an enjoyable if rather unoriginal production.
Recommended to genre fans.
Life is Tough, eh Providence? (1972)            
Ripley Home Video Italian Region 0 DVD
Tomas Milian stars in this slapstick Spaghetti Western that soon becomes rather tired despite a good score and production.
Not recommended.
Navajo Joe (1966)
Optimum Releasing Region 2 DVD
A powerful blend of Native Indian and Western themes makes Morricone's score for this Sergio Corbucci film one of his best.
For Corbucci and Spaghetti Western fans.
Pistole non Discutono (1964)            
Ripley Home Video Italian Region 0 DVD
Shot just before Leone's film of the same year, this interesting genre entry makes a great contrast to the later film.
Revolver (1973)
US Blue Underground Region 0 DVD
One of the most popular Italian Crime films, it boasts good direction, acting and with a strong Morricone soundtrack.
Highly recommended to all.
Run, Man, Run (1968)
Blue Underground USA Region 0 DVD
A very fitting soundtrack boosts this well made but over-ambitiously scripted film.
Partially recommended to political Western fans.
Seven Guns for the MacGregors (1966)  
Ripley Home Video Italian Region 0 DVD
This comic genre entry is generally lighthearted and enjoyable but flawed. Morricone provides a good Scottish soundtrack.
Partly recommended.
Seven Women for the MacGregors (1967)     
Ripley Home Video Italian Region 0 DVD
The second time round for the Scottish clan is better written and equally well scored but still suffers many of the same problems.
Partly recommended.
The Untouchables (1987)
Collectors Edition - Paramount USA Region 1 DVD
Morricone's varied scores boost a very strong film with an all star cast, great production design and good directing.
Recommended to all.


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All text in this site written by Timothy Young - January 2006.
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