Friday, February 4, 2011

The loneliest theme song in the world: Deceased Artiste John Barry

Many wonderful tributes have appeared to composer John Barry since he died last Sunday. I have nothing to add to these, except that one of Barry’s best-known pieces of music (outside of the Bond soundtracks, of course) received the noir “seal of approval” in a French TV documentary many years ago.

Jean-Pierre Melville was profiled in the hour-long program, which has been circulating for years and I believe has wound up on one of the Criterion releases of his films. In it, Melville talks at length about his rampant cinephilia — to the extent that the documentarian uses lap-dissolves to show that Melville continued to talk on and on about certain topics for quite a long time.

At one point in the docu, Melville takes a break from talking to the interviewer to play him a record. Since J-PM didn’t like rock & roll, one would assume he would’ve put on a classical piece or a suitably smoky piece of jazz or a tune by Sinatra (who he paid tribute to in his film L’âiné des ferchaux). Instead, he falls into a reverie over a then-current movie theme that he likes very much.

Given Melville’s status as arguably the master noir filmmaker in France and an influence to great directors in France, America, Hong Kong, and Japan, I thought it would be interesting to note what lonely and noir piece of music the Master played for his interviewer:

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