11 November 2006
JOHNNY MANDEL - POINT BLANK
I thought it was about time for a soundtrack so here's another favourite of mine from a great film-Johnny Mandel's score for John Boorman's cold blooded hard boiled neo-noir thriller "Point Blank".
Lee Marvin is Walker and by whatever name he is a hard, essentially sociopathic "hero", and it's up to Johnny Mandel's score to bring what humanity there is in the tale to the fore.
In keeping with Boorman's brilliant visual style - Marvin is shot in pin-sharp Panavision, forever surrounded by glass and mirrors, endlessly reflected his true self hidden even from himself - Mandel's work is filled with ingenious touches, a work which in 1967 was as much on the cutting edge as Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes the following year. Much of the score is hard, sharp, employing the 12-tone system, as uncompromising a soundscape of alienation as can be imagined. The last thing one might expect from a master of big band and jazz orchestra arrangements, and the composer of such scores as The Sandpiper (1966).
Then comes "Nostalgic Monologue", which opens with solo flute and paints a dreamy, jazz infused portrait with considerable skill, and we realise we are not so far removed from Mandel's home territory. At the other extreme "At the Window/The Bathroom" employs experiments with electric organ, distant percussion and voice treated with extreme amounts of reverb to produce a uniquely unsettling, spacey and kaleidoscopic underwater nightmare. By way of contrast the following cue "Joy Ride" is the kind of MOR string orchestral number one more usually associates with the composer, then "Might Good Times" dives straight into a rock workout. "This Way to Heaven" offers jazz piano trio and "I'll Slip into Something Comfortable" a glass of cocktail lounge samba. The remaining cues are generally lugubrious, with low woodwinds, high pitched flutes and almost subliminal synthesiser suggesting unresolvable neurosis.
This soundtrack was issued by Film Score Monthly in a limited edition of 3000 cd copies a couple of years ago and is still available with a bit of digging.