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film music rock n roll years

Nineteen 61 Revisited

The next Rock ‘N Roll Years post is that of 1961. You can find it below but first as I’ve done a couple of times before I’ve selected some of the films released that year and stuck them in a table with a link which is generally to the film’s trailer but where possible to see the film itself (although these things can come and go like the tide).

Some comments on some of the films :-

La Notte was the first Antonioni film I ever saw, this was on TV in about 1970 or so, I’ve never watched since but would like to, ideally on a big screen somewhere.

Around the same time I saw Last Year In Marienbad on TV. I’d already seen and loved Hiroshima Mon Amour as mentioned earlier in this blog, but the Marienbad film was a total revelation for me and within another few years I managed to see it 3 or 4 more times. This of course was before the era of VHS or DVD so that had to be at a cinema or film club. There’s a simple game in the film where objects (doesn’t matter what – I think in the film it’s cards) are laid out in rows and you take turns to remove them – one or more but only from a single row at a time. The person who picks up the last object loses. I spent a lot of time for a year or so showing people how to play that and invariably beating them as the mysterious character in the film does. Actually if both players know what they’re doing it’s simple in that the person who goes first will always win.

I went to see The Guns of Navarone with my brother and sister and I think a couple of other kids at the cinema in Huddersfield when it was out. My father dropped us off and was going to pick us up later. In those days most films, especially one as long as this were screened with 2 reels so that there was a longish break between each half of the film. Our timing was out so badly that we watched the 2nd half of the film first and then the 1st half – very post-modern but not to be recommended in general.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mysterious Island but I’d really like to – animation by the great Ray Harryhausen, a score by the great Bernard Hermann, but above all for the presence of one of my favourite actresses – the magnificent Joan Greenwood.

And finally while on the subject of favourite actresses, Ozu’s The End of Summer was the last time that Setsuko Hara worked with the master.

Films of 1961
Title Director Link
La Notte Michaelangelo Antonioni Trailer
One-Eyed Jacks Marlon Brando Full film
Whistle Down The Wind Bryan Forbes Trailer
The End Of Summer Yasujiro Ozu Trailer
Through A Glass Darkly Ingmar Bergman Trailer
Breakfast At Tiffany’s Blake Edwards Trailer
The Colossus Of Rhodes Sergio Leone Full film
Viridiana Luis Buñuel Trailer
The Comancheros Michael Curtiz Trailer
El Cid Anthony Mann Full film
The Innocents Jack Clayton Full film
Last Year At Marienbad Alain Resnais Full film
Mysterious Island Cy Endfield Trailer
The Guns Of Navarone J Lee Thompson Full film
Yojimbo Akira Kurosawa Trailer
Categories
music rock n roll years

Rock And Roll Years 1959

The last couple of times I have posted episodes of The Rock And Roll Years I have put a list of first films of the year in question and secondly albums released in the year in question. I thought for this one that I would extend the range and I was thinking of poetry books published in the year, but it proved beyond my capabilities or maybe I just thought it wouldn’t work anyway so instead I’ve just repeated the films thing.

Films of 1959
Film Director
The 39 Steps Ralph Thomas
Les Quatre Cent Coups François Truffaut
Ben-Hur William Wyler
The Devil’s Disciple Guy Hamilton
Floating Weeds Yasujiro Ozu
The Gunfight At Dodge City Joseph M Newman
Hiroshima Mon Amour Alain Resnais
I’m All Right Jack John Boulting
Look Back In Anger Tony Richardson
Nazarin Luis Buñuel
North By Northwest Alfred Hitchcock
Our Man In Havana Carol Reed
Pickpocket Robert Bresson
Rio Bravo Howard Hawks
Shadows John Cassavetes
Some Like It Hot Billy Wilder
The World Of Apu Satyajit Ray

I don’t think I saw any of these films when they came out in 1959 but I almost certainly did see some films in that year when I was 5 years old. Most of these films I have seen at some time or another some in the cinema some on tv. A few of them I have either never seen or forgotten whether I’ve seen them or not and those are the ones that I would like to see most.

Here’s some random reminisces about some of them. Hiroshima Mon Amour was the first film I saw by Alain Resnais which was on BBC2 in about 1970 the first in a series of his films that they broadcast in the World Cinema programme which I think was late on a Thursday night back then. Other films included were Last Year At Marienbad and Muriel possibly more. When they first started that programme the first director they featured with a series was Luis Buñuel and the first film they showed in that sequence was The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de San Cruz from memory I would say that the film is about a serial killer who likes to hear a certain music-box being played while his victim is dying but I may be wrong about that. Also from memory I would say that there’s something correspondent with the look of the music-box and the miniature ballerina in David Lynch‘s Eraserhead but maybe that’s just my imagination. Nazarin wasn’t part of that BBC2 series and I can’t remember when or where I first saw it but it was much later. The first Buñuel film that I saw when it first came out at the cinema was The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie and that was in Jericho, Oxford.

The only time I saw Ben-Hur at the cinema was in Paris Easter 1975. It was dubbed into French so I may have missed some of the sense of the dialogue. One of the things it’s famous for is stuntsmen dying during the chariot race apparently this is untrue.

I would have given you a link to watch the whole film for The Devil’s Disciple but all the ones I could find are those ones where you have to click on a meaningless link and I just don’t trust those. I managed to find a couple of clips from the film (one of those I don’t think I’ve ever seen before) and the impression I got was that the American producer (Harold Hecht) in order to get the film to sell better in the USA emphasised the patriotic American elements and anti British army. Shaw‘s play is not really about that. Alexander Mackendrick was originally the director of the film but he was replaced during production probably because he didn’t approve of the way it was going. A number of Shaw’s plays have been turned into films but in my opinion never really succesfully. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

If there is one of these films that I saw in 1959 then that will be The 39 Steps and the more I think about that then the more it seems likely. I was 5 then and if the rest of the family wanted to go to the cinema it would have been simpler to take me with them rather than get a baby-sitter. And at that age I was perfectly capable of sitting quietly watching films for a couple of hours. Cinema for us then took place in Alloa, Clackmannanshire. I certainly remember watching this film very early in my life. The Forth railway bridge was just down the road from us and if we went to Edinburgh for the day to visit zoo or castle or both we would get the ferry along side it and fairly early on in my life I would have gone across the bridge in a train so the sequence of the film which happens on the bridge (pretty much copied from Hitchcock‘s superior 1935 version) would have been particularly meaningful for me. Later I read all the Richard Hannay books. I once wrote a song that was called Island Of Sheep. I’ve got the words somewhere but I can’t remember how the music went actually I could probably re-construct it if I could be bothered in fact I think I may have a recording of the music somewhere.

Categories
literature music

Men Of War

This is the 2nd in the series of repeated songs. The 1st entry on this subject is here. This song is called Men of War. The 1st version which is on Whose Last Trickle was recorded close to the writing of the song in about 1980. I don’t remember where, why and how I wrote it. I embraced surrealism from an early age. The subversion of reality and breaking through into the world of dream seemed more exciting than anything else in the world of art, film and literature back in the 60s when I was a teenager. I wrote surrealist poems at first then maybe some songs but not all the songs. It was something I could do, but I wanted to try other things as well. Often those other songs might have an element of surrealism lurking there all the same. But it was in 1979 that I deliberately decided to write a song that was purely surrealistic and it was called Squeaky Macaws. I’ve got a couple of demo recordings of this track that didn’t make it on to Whose Last Trickle. I’ll load them up sometime. Men of War moved onto another level. For a start it was half in French, which is probably the most of I’ve ever made of the degree I have in the language. But also there’s a nautical theme.

Here’s the first version. It was recorded in Endell Street, Covent Garden, London. It features me on guitar and vocals, Lindsay Lancaster on bass guitar, Ray Kent on drums. It’s the recording of a live performance and consequently is a bit rough. It wasn’t meant to be for general consumption but that’s what’s happened.

1980 men of war

I wanted to re-record this song, because I like it and although the earlier recording has a certain naive charm (if you like that sort of thing) and the right spirit, it wasn’t a brilliant recording of the song technically. This 2nd version was recorded at J&J Studio , Easton, Bristol in late 2007. I play guitar and sing, Paul Wigens on drums, Jeff Spencer on bass. I overdubbed a lead guitar part and also doubled up on the vocals, but apart from that, the guitar, drums and bass are all played live, though Jeff probably touched up his bass part as he’d never played any of the tracks before.

2007 men of war

A little bit more about surrealism. Firstly a quotation from Walter Benjamin,

…it is as magical experiments with words, not as artistic dabbling, that we must understand the passionate phonetic and graphical transformational games that have run through the whole literature of the avant-garde for the past fifteen years, whether it is called Futurism, Dadaism, or Surrealism.

Actually that’s probably it for now. Except here’s 2 youtube links for anyone interested. Firstly one of the seminal works of the movement, produced in 1929, 10 years after the setting up of the surrealist group and apparently as a means to join the group on the behalf of its creators, Buñuel and Dali. Funnily enough that’s the same year Benjamin’s essay on Surrealism from which the quotation above comes was first published.

and finally an episode of an old children’s tv show called Buccaneers from the 60s starring Robert Shaw which gave me some early sailing craft images back in the day