Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wait, a soundtrack album? Really?

Big Night Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


If you haven’t seen the movie Big Night, stop reading this and go watch it now. I’ll wait.

Wasn’t that awesome? Everything about it is fantastic, the acting, the direction, the cinematography, and the music. It’s a shame that Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott have yet to band together to direct a film since this gem. The pair paid attention to every detail, and yet never got caught up in minutiae or strayed from telling their story. In addition to being a visual delight, every scene advances the plot and features real, believable characters. In crafting their masterpiece, Scott and Tucci made sure to score the film with a period-appropriate mixture of Jazz and traditional Italian music, and they’ve done it perfectly.

Soundtracks typically suffer from a sort of schizophrenia, as they are a mixture of scoring and more contemporary pop tracks. The Big Night soundtrack is no different in this regard. However, they two types of music blend together seamlessly. This is due to the masterful way the music was integrated into the film.

Now that you’ve seen it, you know why the music of the legendary Louis Prima features so prominently on the soundtrack. The tracks picked here are perfect in demonstrating the range of Prima’s catalog, and are used perfectly in the movie. The original score pieces by Gary DeMichele are excellent musical interludes between the longer numbers. Similarly, in the film, these pieces are used between acts to perfection.

The real gem, however, is the inclusion of several pieces by Claudio Villa, of whose music I was completely unaware until seeing the film. (Reading the soundtrack’s liner notes reveals that Tucci was similarly unaware of Villa’s music until researching the film). Villa is a crooner whose full voice and jazz accompaniment is the embodiment of the film’s very aesthetic. I can’t imagine the movie without these songs.

Rosemary Clooney’s “Mambo Italiano” seems tacked on by comparison, but even this slight is made up for with the fantastic “Don’t take your love from me” by Keely Smith. The soundtrack for this movie was crafted with all the care and detail of one of Secondo’s meals, and is one of the few soundtrack albums which could stand on it’s own without the movie.


Toothpaste Jones said...

Cambell Scott is completely underrated. Haven't seen the movie, but you've got me scrambling to make a soundtrack post in response.

Cangrejero said...

It's one of my top ten all time faves. Campbell Scott's role is disappointingly small, but he definitely left his mark stylisticly as director.