Bravo, Ennio Morricone!

151318__gbu_lEnnio Morricone will receive 2007’s Honorary Academy Award. The Italian composer, who’s arranged scores for more than 500 films and TV series, is best known for his work on 30 or so Western films. (Says senior writer Gary Susman in explanation: "Oo ee oo ee oo, wah WAH wah. If you know the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, you know why he deserves an Oscar.") The 78-year old saw five nominations from the Academy over his career, but never a statue. He’ll be only the second film composer to receive the honor (the other was Alex North in 1986).

You can listen to some of Morricone’s scores online, like the main theme from A Fistful of Dollars and the love song from Cinema Paradiso. Beware of the theme for The Untouchables — it’s a bit of a head-bopper, and you might get a little too into it like I just did, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I also can’t get enough of "Ecstasy of Gold" from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (starring Clint Eastwood, pictured) and (fun fact alert) apparently neither can Metallica, who have used the song to open their concerts. And even though it’s in Italian, Morricone’s official website is worth a click, just for the haunting, emerging-from-grayness portrait. Since it’s set to his own music, it almost plays like a movie. Just a photo. How does he do it? And which Morricone tune do you remember best?

addCredit(“The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: The Kobal Collection”)

Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • JV

    While Morricone is best known for his work in Westerns, and rightfully, so, my favorite score of his is “The Mission.” “Gabriel’s Oboe” is beautifully heart-wrenching in the movie, and it also stands as a glorious work on its own. Kudos to the Academy for recognizing such a talent.

  • RayT

    “L’arena” and “Death Rides a Horse” are my two favorite. Both were used in the Kill Bill films adding to their awesomeness. Seriously, if you blast “L’arena” on your sound system before you leave the house in the morning, you are SO going to have a good day!

  • lola

    JV, you beat me to it! Some of the tracks to The Mission are the most haunting music ever. I cry just listening to the music. Kudos to the Academy indeed! I just can’t believe he didn’t win an Oscar for the Mission soundtrack.

  • kerin

    I love the soundtracks to “La Califfa” (beautiful and romantic) and “Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto” (quirky) but the one that really haunts me is “Once Upon a Time in the West.” It brings me to tears. This recognition is LONG overdue.

  • Kat

    Hey, I was going to say the Mission too! It is so beautiful. I loved the score long before I saw the movie.

  • Joey Jo Jo

    So is Ennio dying? Isn’t this the same award that they give to people who die within a year? Last year it was Altman. Previous winners were Henry Fonda, Stanley Donen, and Satyajit Ray, and I remember both Fonda and Ray being on their death beds when they received their awards.

  • Jakeem

    My favorite Morricone score is from “Two Mules for Sister Sara,” the 1970 Western that teamed Clint Eastwood with Shirley MacLaine. But I have a great fondness for “The Untouchables” score, which was frequently moving and very effective in the elevator scene in which Eliot Ness discovers that one of his agents has been “touched” by the Capone gang.
    By the way, both Henry Fonda and Paul Newman were presented honorary Oscars exactly a year before they won their first-ever awards for Best Actor.

  • Chuck_A

    Well, I know I’m going to catch “heck” over this, but I loved his minimalistic approach to The Thing.
    Those droning “Dungh, Dungh. Dungh , Dungh” really set the mood for one of the better re-makes (and horror films in general).

  • RoeLuv

    You should hear how Jay-Z flipped “Ecstasy of Gold” on the Blueprint II album…very hott!!!

  • Dave

    This is definitely well-deserved. I can’t imagine any of those movies, especially The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, without his music. I can’t believe he’s only the second composer to get an honorary award, but I’m glad to see the Academy recognized people other than actors and directors.

  • Jeff Commings

    I hope Ennio gives Herbie Hancock the finger when he accepts the Oscar.
    (Herbie Hancock won the Original Score Oscar for “‘Round Midnight,” despite the bulk of the score not being original, the same year “The Mission” was nominated.)

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