Euphoria #11: “Pier Paolo Pasollliiiiiniiii!”

 put on a happy face

11 entries in and still going strong! How much euphoria IS there in film history? Finite or otherwise? Will we still be here a million years hence, trying to find a less-miserable bit from SALO or THE PIANO TEACHER to stand as our latest entry?

No signs of running dry yet: regular Shadowplayer and filmmaker Chris “Dovzhenko” Bourton, nee “Chainsaw Massacre”,  suggests a rather different Pasolini flick, HAWKS AND SPARROWS, specifically the opening credits (it’s the first title sequence we’ve had nominated as euphoric). You will smile your face off when you see:

Chris says: Yeah, the sung credits are sublime (and what I’m recommending). “Pier Paolo Pasooollliiiiiniiiii”

Music by the renowned Ennio Morricone, who also scored another of Chris’ near-choices, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Maybe we’ll have that crane shot later on.

The most remarkable thing about this sequence is of course the fact that the credits are rendered IN SONG. As striking as this is, it is not unique, for the closing creds of Otto “Mr Freeze” Preminger’s SKIDOO are also sung. Let the great man explain:

‘…it is very frustrating for a director, when he has credits at the end, to see the audience walk out. They walk out because (let’s be honest) the public is interested only in who played the parts, the stars and the actors, and perhaps the director and the writer. But then the technicians, who wants to know who was the chief electrician except the chief electrician himself, who likes to read his name, and his family who wants to read his name? I was sitting in my office one day with a composer, who is a very talented young man, and had all this list of names before me, and I felt very bad about it. I said to him, “How would it be if we wrote a song with these names?” He started to “ad lib” right there, and we did it. Then a young, new designer worded the titles for me visually, and it turned out very well, I think. Nobody leaves. I say “stop”, freeze the frame, and then it becomes quite an amusing ending.’

~ from The Cinema of Otto Premingerby Gerald Pratley.

(Read more about the fascinating SKIDOO at Tim Lucas’ Video Watchblog.)

Pasolini did it in ‘66, Preminger in ‘68. Has anybody done it since, and if not, why not?

Precursors: Orson Welles’ spoken credits (nobody walks out during the end titles of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS either), and HELP! which has the Beatles humming along with the score, and George Harrison reciting his sole songwriting credit.

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10 Responses to “Euphoria #11: “Pier Paolo Pasollliiiiiniiii!””

  1. The Italian language does seem to lend itself to recitative.

  2. The Hawks and the Sparrows stars the great Italian music hall and film comedian Toto and Ninetto Davoli — the love of Pasolini’s life. Pasolini discovered Ninetto when the boy was “hanging around” the set of The Gospel According to Matthew. He gave him a bit part in it as a “screen test” of sorts. Then he gave him the lead in this film. Miracle of miracles the kid was a born comic actor — and an ideal partner for Toto. Hecast them in several more episode films before Toto died: The Earth As Seen From the Moon in the Silvama Mangano-starred episode film The Witches and (my favorite) Cho Cosa Sono Nuovole? (What Ar Clouds?) in Capriccio Italiano in which they plya life sized puppets in a production of “Othello.” Ninetto’s Othello questions why Toto’s Iago hates him, disregards his lines in the script and thus disturbs the audience — which revolts and attacks them. At the close the singing garbage man — Domenico Medugno of “Volare” fame , who also sang the credits for The Hawks and the Sparrows — takes the puppets to a gabage heap. Looking at the sky, Ninetto asks Toto the question that is the film’s title.

    Ninetto appears solo in several other Pasolini films including The Decameron, The Cantebury Tales, Arabian Nights and The Paper Flower Sequence from Love and Anger (in which Bernado bertolucci is the Vocie of God.) He is conspicuous by his absence from Salo as he would have had to play either a victim or an executioner, and Paolini couldn’t stand to see Ninetto as either.

    Much has been made (by people who should know better) of the fact that Ninetto “broke up” with Pasolini to marry and have a family. But Pasolini — who was always falling for men not of his class — knew this was in the cards from day one. Ninetto was the last of his friends to see Pasolini alive. They had dinner together the night he was murdered by the fascists.

  3. dovzhenko Says:

    Interesting, David E. I still find it strange how I get a momentary feeling of solemnity simply from reading about Pasolini’s death and certainly from Moretti’s visitation in CARO DIARIO, to which I found the most moving piece of an extraordinary film (well, that and his dance to ANNA <— yes, another euphoric moment, David C!!).

    “Ennio Morricone – Musico”. True story, I was once waiting for the London Underground train from Charing Cross to Paddington and couldn’t get those opening credits out of my mind, now, I find there are two ways to ostracise a song once embedded: either listen to it or sing aloud; I chose to deliver the viciousness of that one Morricone line on a busy platform as a form of exorcism. Silence ensued…

  4. dovzhenko Says:

    Brilliant! Here’s the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHvqMKb40QI

  5. I just had Town Without Pity stuck in my head for two days, but I got it out by blasting it with Rolling Stones tunes.

    Will do an official entry for the Moretti clip — soon!

  6. That Pasolini episode of The Witches has the most amazing comic-strip colour I’ve ever seen.

    And Simon, yes, Italian is indeed a most musical language. But I’m curious to see what Harry Nilsson does with the sung credits of SKIDOO.

  7. Nanni Moretti’s tribute to Pasolini in Caro Diaro is very moving. I met Pasolini twice. The first time in 1966 at the New York Film Festival when The Hawks and the Sparrows was shown. The second time in 1969 after a tumultuous screening of Teorema at the Museum of Modern Art. Pasolini was most amused by the audience’s “outraged” response. I’ve never met a more serene artist in all my life.

  8. I got some pretty interesting PPP gossip from a guy who spoke to a guy who was an extra in CANTERBURY TALES. Maybe I’ll blog about it sometime. I’m not sure how reliable it is.

  9. OK, gimme a day or so and I’ll write it all out (and maybe check with my source).

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