JOHNNY MANDEL: POINT BLANK’S COMPOSER

Johnny Mandel, the veteran composer of many a film score, passed last Monday, June, 29th at the ripe old age of 94. His obituary is a fascinating read in terms of how prolific he was for decades in both film and the music industry.
As the obit states, he was probably best remembered for his score to M*A*S*H (1970), as well as the Taylor/Burton vehicle, The Sandpiper (1965), and their accompanying title songs. Beyond that, his heavily jazz-influenced music remained largely in the background of most films and not nearly as memorable as say the scores of John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith. In the long run, that’s probably a good thing as film scores are meant to enhance the mood of a film, not necessarily stand out and distract from it.
Fortunately, one of his scores that actually did both, enhance AND standout, was his score for John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967). I was not a fan of the film the first time I saw it as I felt it was pretentious in its obvious ‘arti-ness.’ But, like most great films, it grew on me with every successive viewing. In fact, by the time I first came to write about it and later research and write Lee Marvin Point Blank,  I was enthused enough about it to create some interesting perspectives on the production.
One aspect I think is clearly overlooked is the moody score Mandel created. I am a huge fan of film music but not knowledgeable enough about it to write with any discernable skill. Luckily, a limited release CD of the score was put out by the good folks at Turner Classic Movies in conjunction with Film Score Monthly. The results included some great and detailed liner notes I believe was penned by the late, great Nick Redman. So, below is his detailed description, scene by scene, of Johnny Mandel’s haunting score.
SPOILER ALERT: The details are so exact, that if you have yet to see the film, be forewarned as the film’s entirety is given away in the notes. If you have seen it, then enjoy this belated tribute to a Johnny Mandel score ripe for rediscovery. Rest in Peace, Mr. Mandel, your work will not be forgotten.
– Dwayne Epstein

POINT BLANK CD cover.

1st page of POINT BLANK liner notes.

2nd pages of POINT BLANK liner notes.

3rd pages of POINT BLANK liner notes.

4th pages of POINT BLANK liner notes.

concluding page of POINT BLANK liner notes (Johnny Mandel pictured).

Share Button

WORKS OF NON-FICTION: TOP TEN FAVORITES

WORKS OF NON-FICTION, unlike choosing favorite fiction, is a much tougher category for yours truly. Being an avid reader, I’ve chosen to read more non-fiction throughout my life than fiction, making the effort to choose a favorite as difficult as choosing a favorite offspring.

Granted, the specific realm of choice for me leans more towards works involving film and film history, rather than other subjects of non-fiction. For instance, I’ve never been much of fan of ‘true-crime’ or some other such tawdry genres but I do have an affinity for biography beyond film, such as politics and the like. But, since I made the rule for myself, I stuck (pretty much) to a singular subject, for better or for worse. Besides, even if I included other subject matter, it would be just as difficult for me. to choose or narrow down. Maybe I should have just titled this work of movie non-fiction? Nah, I like this the way it is, with some of the exceptions I included.
So, below is my list of top ten favorite works of non-fiction in no particular order of preference. See any you might agree with?

  • Dwayne Epstein

    10. LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK by Dwayne Epstein….Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

     

    9. THE SIXTIES massive trade paperback (11×15) published by Rolling Stone with various authors.

    8. PAPILLON by Henri Charriere. Yeah, my well-read copy scanned above.

    7. HOW TO TALK DIRTY AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE by Lenny Bruce.

    6. CLOSE-UPS: THE MOVIE STAR BOOK edited by Danny Peary.

    5. MCQUEEN: PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN REBEL by Marshall Terrill.

    4. MY WICKED, WICKED WAYS by Errol Flynn.

    3. DINO: LIVING HIGH IN THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF DREAMS by Nick Tosches.

    2. SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE by Abbie Hoffman.

    CAGNEY BY CAGNEY….nuff said.

     

Share Button

WORKS OF FICTION: TOP 10 PERSONAL FAVORITES

Works of fiction, and personal favorites at that, naturally vary from person to person. Facebook recently offered a challenge of 10 days of favorite films and then 10 days of music albums. I took up the challenge and nominated others. Not many friends took up the challenge which was a disappointment. So, since this is my blog, and I’ve always been an avid reader, I had the idea of creating my own one day list of personal favorite works of fiction, followed soon by a list of personal favorite works of non-fiction.

As the author of Lee Marvin Point Blank, I can tell you that non-fiction is a much more preferred genre. So, coming up with this list of fiction was no easy task. I added no comments to each title other than just the book cover image itself. I certainly could give details and anecdotes to each one but I think it best to simply let the titles speaks for themselves.

   Anyway, the only prerequisite I made for myself is that it has to be something I’ve read more than once for my own enjoyment and consequently has stood the test of time. Since I still own most of these titles, the scans below are almost all from my own often read personal collection. So, without further ado, my list, in order of preference….
– Dwayne Epstein

10. THE DIRTY DOZEN by E.M. Nathanson.

 

9. SHEILA LEVINE IS DEAD AND LIVING IN NEW YORK by Gail Parent.

 

 

8. THE WATCHMEN by Alan Moore (writer) & Dave Gibbons (artist).

7. THE COMEDY OF NEIL SIMON (collected plays & essay).

6. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

5. GREAT SHORT WORKS OF JACK LONDON

4. THE WANDERERS by Richard Price.

3. DOG SOLDIERS by Robert Stone

2. GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW (issues #76-89) by Denny O’Neill (writer) & Neal Adams (artist).

1. JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN by Dalton Trumbo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share Button