Friday, August 28, 2015


(Post 10 of 10)

If Clint Eastwood just made one of these two films about the United States invasion of Iwo Jima, it would have been a nice achievement. But the fact that he made both back to back is most impressive indeed. Flags of Our Fathers is from the American perspective, but it is far from jingoistic. It goes into how the selling of the war was so as important in keeping the war effort going.
And from the American perspective-War is Hell.

Letters from Iwo Jima twists the perspective to the Japanese soldiers, most of whom know they will not be coming back. Iwo Jima may even be better than Flags of Our Fathers, as it neatly incorporates aspects of the other film in subtle ways, such as showing us the Japanese solider suicides in the cave in which the bodies were found by the American soldiers in the other film.
And from the Japanese perspective-War is Hell.

From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

Perennially sultry song stylist Tina Turner is one performer who can really make just about any song her own. Her version of Come Together may be may favorite song on the soundtrack. She fared less well a couple of years later when she joined the chorus for the finale of Robert Stigwood's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Tina performs with Sir Paul in 1986.
Come Together

Lou Reizner and Will Malone are primarily know as producers, but they have a chance to show off their vocal talents (with the aid of a lot of synthesizers) on You Never Give Me Your Money.

Will Malone did the soundtrack to the
British horror film Raw Meat.
Note to self: Watch a movie called
Raw Meat ASAP!

Lou Reizner was one of the producers
of Rick Wakeman's 70's magnum opus
Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
You Never Give Me Your Money

The London Symphony Orchestra concludes the soundtrack with a version (appropriately enough) of The End.

The All That and World War II soundtrack is a mixed bag for sure, but I'm still glad I went through it.

The End

Might be time to listen to some of the originals now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


(Post 9 of 10)

When you look at the plot of  Life is Beautiful, it seems like it could have been a disaster along the lines of Jerry Lewis's infamous The Day the Clown Cried. Robert Benigni plays a Jew living in Germany with his family shortly after the Nazis take power. He goes through a lot of escapades, romance and Buster Keatonesque shtick in the first half of the movie. Then Benigni and his son are taken away to a concentration camp where he spends most of the time trying to convince his son it's all a game. The mixing of the the slapstick and tragedy (Frankly, more successful than the mixing of unrelated themes in All This and World War II) actually works. It's sad, tragic, but inspirational at the same time. And Benigni ended up as one of the few acting Oscar winners ever to win that honor in a non-English language movie.

From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

I guess it's okay to call Henry Gross a one-hit wonder since he proudly alludes to that title in the picture below. That hit of course was Shannon from 1976. That song is memorable partly for Henry's falsetto, which he also uses in the soundtrack's version of Help!


Legendary musician Peter Gabriel, with Genesis and with those crazy 80's videos, lends a distinctive version of Strawberry Fields Forever to the soundtrack. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go listen to Shock the Monkey or watch the Sledgehammer video for old times sake.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Saturday, August 22, 2015


(Post 8 of 10)

The Sorrow and the Pity is a documentary about the French occupation by Germany during the war. It was filmed in 1969, which made it close enough to the events where you can still get some first person testimony from those who lived through it. It is often illuminating and has a most interesting cast of real life characters, including resistance fighters, regular French citizens who had to live under the Nazis and even some insights from some former Nazis!

This has been one that I've always thought I needed to see but never got around to until now. It is also the film within a film that Woody Allen sees multiple times throughout Annie Hall.

From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

Status Quo had only one hit on the American charts, which was Pictures of Matchstick Men in 1967. A one-hit wonder, right? Wrong! They had over 60 charted hits in the UK, more than any other rock group.
Why didn't they make it bigger in the U. S.? What I've listened to them, I've liked. Go figure.

Staus Quo's rather groovy 1974 album cover
Getting Better

According to the album below, Frankie Laine was America's No. 1 song stylist at the point this album came out in the 50's. He may be best known for his recording of Rawhide, played every week on the long running show and in reruns ever after. He also showed his cheeky side by his spirited performance of the opening song to Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles. He brings this same humorous bravado to Maxwell's Silver Hammer on the All This and World War II soundtrack.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer
The Brothers Johnson brought their soulful stylings to a handful of hits in the 70's and 80's, the most well known to me is probably Stomp! from 1980. The Brothers bring their funk to Hey Jude on the soundtrack and later did their own version of The Beatles Come Together. And honestly, pictures don't get much funkier than the brother's picture sleeve below.

Hey Jude

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


(Post 7 of 10)

Dramatic and poignant drama about two Russians soldiers captured and tortured by the Nazis for information about their unit. The film looks at definitions of honor, what you are willing to do to save your life and the pain that mankind will inflict on others without blinking an eye. All of this is set using the backdrop of a brutal Russian winter which adds layers to the horrors perpetrated on the screen.

                  From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons scored many top 10 hits during the early 60's, including Sherry, the #1 song the week I was born. Of course, once the Beatles hit the scene, the Seasons had to give away their chart positions to the Fab Four, but not before they gave the Beatles quite the battle in the collectible Vee Jay album The Beatles vs The Four Seasons!

We Can Work it Out

A Day in the Life

70's Australian superstar Helen Reddy had a string of hits throughout the 70's including Delta Dawn, Angie Baby and the feminist anthem I Am Woman. Helen lent her distinctive voice to the All This and World War II soundtrack with Fool on the Hill, which in the film is played in the background while we see footage of Hitler.

Helen's role as the singing nun in Airport '75
simply cannot be seen without thinking
of the similar scene in Airplane. Sorry, Helen.
Fool on the Hill

Sunday, August 16, 2015

PATTON (1970)

(Post 6 of 10)

It was interesting to hear Francis Ford Coppola's take on his writing of the script for Patton. He wrote the script several years before the movie ever saw the light of day. He was criticized by the studios for the opening sequence with Patton in front of an American flag for addressing the troops mostly because the powers that be thought it was confusing and no way to start a movie. When the movie was finally made, Edmond North added accurate historical information to the story and the movie was made with Planet of the Apes director Franklin Schaffner at the helm. George C. Scott was cast as the general and the movie became an enormous hit which one several Academy Awards including a screenwriting Oscar for Coppola and North.

And that rejected opening scene is probably the most famous part of the movie.

Love the General or hate him, Patton was and still is a film that's hard to ignore.

From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

Certainly fitting that Electric Light Orchestra front man Jeff Lynn should get a cut on the soundtrack. ELO is still one of my favorite 70's bands (or orchestras) with hits like Do Ya and Don't Bring Me Down. Jeff teamed up a lot with Beatles George Harrison throughout the 80's and beyond, including the formation of The Traveling Wilburys with George, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. If you're scoring at home, Jeff's Lynne's alter-ego was Otis Wilbury.

The Traveling Wilburys

Jeff contributes versions of With a Little Help from My Friends and Nowhere Man on the soundtrack.

Musical renaissance man Richard "Ricardo" Cocciante gives us a passionate rendition of Michelle for the soundtrack. The fact that Michelle uses two languages is no sweat for this multi-lingual performer, who also performs in Spanish and Italian during his concerts.

Lynsey De Paul was a bit of a renaissance woman in her own right. She was not only a performer of hits like Sugar Me, but she also wrote songs and musicals for others to perform. I know her best for the theme song to the 70's BBC show No, Honestly. I saw two episodes of this program and remember nothing about the show itself, but Lynsey's catchy theme song has stuck in my head for forty years!

She was also romantically linked to a lot of well know men, including Mr. Ringo Starr (below).


Thursday, August 13, 2015


(Post 5 of 10)

John Huston's documentary about the bloody American campaign in Italy was presumably filmed by Huston and his crew alongside of the troops during the battle. However, despite the effectiveness of the many battle scenes, much of it has been exposed as being largely filmed as recreations of the events shortly after the occurrence of the battle. Details of the filming of The Battle of San Pietro is written about in the excellent book Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War. Does knowing this fact detract from the films effectiveness? Maybe a little. But it sure seems like you are there and I like Huston enough to cut him a little slack here. Huston's other controversial (In that it was banned for thirty years!)  post-World War II documentary, Let There Be Light, about postwar soldiers trying to recover from the horrors of war at a mental hospital is also worth seeing.

                                From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

Who drummer Keith Moon was certainly one helluva percussionist. What he wasn't, was one hell of a singer. His performance of When I'm Sixty-Four unfortunately reminds me of his less than impressive solo album, Two Sides of the Moon.

Keith Moon and pal Ringo Starr

When I'm 64

There seems to be a rumor based on an off-handed comment 70's Scottish rock legend Rod Stewart made that he is (gasp!) not much of a Beatles fan. But what about this happy picture below with Paul and Linda? And why did Rod record Get Back and In My Life if he's no Beatles fan? I'm not sure about any of that, but I do think Rod's version of Get Back is one of the best covers on The All This and World War II soundtrack.

Rod Stewart pals around with the McCartneys
Get Back
English musician David Essex is one of those acts that had a lot of success over the years on the UK record charts, but had limited success in the United States. The exception is David's Rock On, which was not only a top 10 hit in the states, but is still playing in the background of an Applebee's near you. David also had success as an actor including the film That'll Be the Day, which featured a critically acclaimed supporting performance by Ringo Starr.

Essex recorded a version of Yesterday for the All This and World War II soundtrack, which makes his version one of about 1,600 different Yesterday recordings according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

David Essex in That'll Be the Daywith co-starr, Mr. Ringo


Monday, August 10, 2015


(Post 4 of 10)

The charismatic Tatyan Samoylova in
The Cranes are Flying
Mikhail Kalatozov's The Cranes are Flying in some ways is a pretty simple story about the separation of lovers and family during war. But it's the way the film is told that makes it so memorable. Much of the editing, skillful camerawork and quality of the filmmaking give this film a most poetic quality and is a movie I hope to revisit soon.

From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

When I think of long time pop crooner Bryan Ferry, I usually think of two things. The first is the song More Than This with his group Roxy Music, which was one of the most highly rotated songs and videos from the early days of MTV. I always thought the video, which featured Ferry staring at a movie screen of Roxy Music performing the same song he had just been singing was interesting, if a little odd.

The other thing I think of when I think of Ferry is the album cover to Roxy Music's 1974 album Country Life (pictured above). I can't imagine why.

Bryan performs She's Leaving Home on the soundtrack.

Prolific musician Roy Wood was a founding member of the 60's band The Move and the 70's supergroup ELO. He has had a very prolific and influential music career throughout the last fifty years! His versions of Lovely Rita and Polythene Pam are okay, but suffer from an overly flowery arrangement. 

Oh, George Martin, where art thou!

Lovely Rita, Polythene Pam

Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, Bev Bevan

Friday, August 7, 2015


(Post 3 of 10)

A Matter of Life and Death
A Matter of Life and Death doesn't have the epic narrative arc of the The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp or the scenic romanticism of I Know Where I'm Going!, but A Matter of Life and Death is the Powell/Pressburger film of the three that I enjoyed the most.

The plot of a doomed pilot that is snatched from the jaws of death accidentally and finds his true love is pretty similar plotwise to the later Heaven Can Wait. The film's fantasy elements and use of color and black and white film give the film an otherworldly effect similar to The Wizard of Oz. The section of the film with the pilot trying to make a case to stay on earth could have ventured into over sentimentalization, but never does. In fact, his trial before jurors from the after-life might be the highlight of the film.

The leads of David Niven and Kim Hunter in the film are fine. But the two performers that really stand out are Raymond Massey as the celestial prosecutor and Roger Livesy (who was in the other two films I mentioned and has one of the greatest screen voices of all-time) as the doctor.

From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

I guess it shows how popular Leo Sayer was in 1976 that he actually got three tracks on the All This and World War II soundtrack. Leo's hits of the era include When I Need You, How Much Love and the undeniably catchy You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.

And his version of I Am the Walrus isn't as bad as you might think.

I Am the Walrus

The Long and Winding Road

Let it Be

Who said you can't find a picture of Leo Sayer
with one of the Beatles?
Here's Leo with George Harrison

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


(Post 2 of 10)

Paisan is Roberto Rossellini's series of vignettes set in Italy during the end of the war. These stories run the gamut of human emotions: An American soldier attempts to befriend an Italian peasant girl leading to tragic consequences, a black American soldier and an orphaned Italian boy form an unlikely friendship, an American soldier tries to reconnect with a woman he has fallen in love with, a nurse tries to find her freedom fighter boyfriend, three army chaplains spend the night in a Catholic monastery and the final episode involves a skirmish with tragic consequences at the end of the war.

These stories all come together neatly and have a strong dramatic impact. I think it is a even richer film than Rossellini's more famous Open City.

               From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

The soundtrack to All This and World War II featured selections from the two most successful musical acts of the 70's, Elton John and The Bee Gees.

The inclusion of Elton's version of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds was kind of a no-brainer as he had already scored a number one hit with the song the previous year. Elton was also good friends with Beatle John Lennon and the two of them recorded a live version of The Beatles I Saw Her Standing There on the B-side of Elton's Philadelphia Freedom.

Elton John with John Lennon

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

The Bee Gees put out some pretty good Beatles influenced folk/pop music during the 60's and 70's. They achieved their greatest success during the late 70's with their songs from the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever.

Their greatest debacle of the decade was their involvement with Peter Frampton and others on Robert Stigwood's bloated epic Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band featuring the music of the Beatles in a most bizarre musical (Even more bizarre than All This and World War II!).

Unfortunately, their fairly bland versions on All This and World War II of She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, Sun King, Golden Slumbers and Carry That Weight foreshadow that later film. They aren't helped by the overdone orchestral arrangements either.

The Bee Gees battle the Beatles during the 70's
in the pages of Dynamite.

Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight

Sun King

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

...and lose the war after the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts
Club Band

Saturday, August 1, 2015


(Post 1 of 10)

In 1976, a documentary about World War II came out that was accompanied by the music of the Beatles performed by artists other than the Beatles. If you aren't familiar with it, I assure you that I'm not kidding. Of course the Beatles era was the 60's and World War II ended in 1945. So the combination is more than a little odd. But the clips of the second World War (both actual footage and scenes from movies) do at times mesh with the narrative. Fool on the Hill is played as we see scenes from Hitler. Sun King is played as we see the coming of Japanese into the war. She's Leaving Home is played as we see women going off to work to support the war effort. And if the opening song sees the big war as a Magical Mystery Tour, I suppose I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. Of course, I'm not sure where I Am the Walrus or She Came in Through the Bathroom Window quite fit into this narrative, but there you have it.

But I think this film is less about the 40's or 60's than the 70's. That is through the musical choices of who is to sing which classic Beatles song over footage from the Battle of Guadalcanal or the Yalta Conference. So this month, I'm going to look at some World War II films and also look at the songs and artists from All This and World War II.

From the Soundtrack of All This and World War II

Ambrosia was a Southern California band that had a couple of top ten hits I recall from the late 70's. How Much I Feel, Biggest Part of Me and You're the Only Woman were their biggest hits. Their version of Magical Mystery Tour begins All This and World War II and is a pretty nice coverThe group tours today and still perform Magical Mystery Tour during their shows.

Here is a link to their version of Magical Mystery Tour

I can't imagine any band looking more 70's
than Ambrosia does here.