Black Sunday aka The Mask of Satan (1960, Mario Bava)

Categories: 1960 and Movies.

I’m sad to say I saw the American version of this, which was cut of its most extreme horror, apparently. Even so, it’s still got some pretty gruesome effects for 1960 (to my knowledge) and that’s the attraction here. The story itself is pretty rote – doctors stumble upon a creepy, cursed castle – and though everything is pretty strongly gothic, I feel like the Corman Poe films of the era handled this stuff a little better. But it’s atmospheric and even the tamer American version is relatively daring, so that’s something. 6/10 Read More

Cross Country Tour: 1958-1961 (1998) by Ahmad Jamal

Categories: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1998, and Music.

This is an excellent survey of the live music of Ahmad Jamal and his trio in the late ’50s and very early ’60s. Jamal’s playing is so far from Monk – to my ears – that it’s rather incredible. His individuality in that sense is rather fantastic. Monk utterly changed piano playing and it must have been extremely tempting to play either in Monk’s shadow or to go back to pre-Monk playing. Jamal manages to do neither. And you can see the rather huge influence he’s had on other pianists, particularly cool jazz pianists. (And there’s an interesting chicken-or-egg question Read More

Ives: Symphonies Nos 2 and 3; The Unanswered Question (1966) by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Berstein

Categories: 1901, 1902, 1910, 1911, 1935, 1958, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1987, and Music.

This is a compilation of the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Berstein’s performances of the middle symphonies and The Unanswered Question, originally a piece paired with another but one that has found a lot of attention as a standalone. Bernstein was one of the great champions of Ives once he was “discovered,” but these performances are actually significantly later than the premieres, which were handled by other conductors in the ’40s. Apparently Bernstein made some somewhat radical changes to some of the tempi and these changes have entered the repertoire. That’s not something that necessarily bothers me, though I understand Read More

The Twilight Zone (1999) by Bernard Herrmann, performed by Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely

Categories: 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, and 1999.

Though not the composer of The Twilight Zone‘s most iconic theme, Herrmann composed music for both the overall show and individual episodes. This album collects the scores for seven of those episodes and includes a couple other pieces Herrmann did for the show. What Herrmann did here is remarkable. Much of this music is pretty typical of his science fiction music of the time, but it wasn’t typical for TV. (Remember, back then, American TV was indeed nothing like the movies: way lower production values, worse actors, usually, worse writing, etc.) Obviously The Twilight Zone helped change all that. But Read More

The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (2001) by Bernard Herrmann, performed by Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely

Categories: 1960, 2001, and Music.

This is among the most traditional scores of Herrmann’s I’ve heard. It’s downright classical in its overture. I mean, shockingly traditional music for Herrmann. Not having seen this particular film, I don’t know how deliberate this is (I assume, because it’s Gulliver’s Travels that the music is trying to sound like 18th century music). But as a standalone score, it’s really conventional, even when it begins to resemble more of a score later on. Don’t get me wrong, the music is fine, but it’s so conventional as to not be worth your time if you’re looking for landmark scores. 6/10 Read More

Psycho (1997) by Bernard Herrmann, performed by the Royal Scottish Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely

Categories: 1960, 1997, and Music.

The score to Psycho is one of the most iconic film scores ever and, at the film’s release, probably was the most iconic film score for a Hollywood or even English language-film. (Searching my memory, I can only think of The Third Man as an earlier English language-film that got this much attention for its score. There were, of course, plenty of non-English language-films with heralded scores prior to Psycho‘s release.) And it remains among the most famous to this day, only equaled in fame by Jaws, Halloween, Star Wars, Superman, maybe The Exorcist. That in itself is an impressive Read More

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, Concerto in F (1960?, 200?) by Various Artists

Categories: 1960 and Music.

I’ve heard the Bernstein “Rhapsody” before, and I still like it perhaps more than any other version. His version of “An American in Paris” is also good. Don’t really know why the Concerto features Andre Previn instead, but it’s also a good version. If I didn’t like the music so much, I’d probably be annoyed about the different performers. 7/10 Read More

The Entertainer (1960, Tony Richardson)

Categories: 1960 and Movies.

I have to say that I have been somewhat of an Olivier sceptic most of my film-viewing life. I feel like his Shakespeare performances are all very fine but pretty traditional and most of his work I am familiar with – from the tail end of his career – never really made me feel like he was a great actor. I feel like I was more into his direction of Henry V than I was of his performance. Anyway, this film changed my mind. This has to be one of the performances of the decade; his character is so foreign Read More

The 50th Anniversary Collection by James Brown (Polydor 2003)

Categories: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, and Music.

James Brown’s importance can not be understated. He is on The List of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century (along with Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Dylan, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and maybe a few others). This compilation of his hit singles gives a very good idea of his progression and how he turned gritty soul and R and B into funk and thus got sampled more than any other band leader ever. The one downside is that this compilation of his hit singles is missing one of his biggest hits. Hard to understand that Read More