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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Horror > Thriller > Soundtrack > Farewell My Lovely/Monkey Shines (Limited Edtion CD)

Farewell My Lovely/Monkey Shines Ė An Experiment In Fear

(Limited Edition CD Soundtrack)

 

 

Farewell My Lovely Sound: B†††† Music: B+†††† Monkey Shine Sound: B+†††† Music: B+

 

 

David Shire never gets the credit he deserves as one of the best composers for film, but now, two more of his great scores have made their CD debut as stand-alone soundtracks.After Retrograde Records premiered his Taking of Pelham One Two Three soundtrack back in 1996 (see my review elsewhere on this site), the FSM label of Film Score Monthly is offering a great set of Farewell My Lovely (1975, released once on vinyl LP) and Monkey Shines (1988, issued here for the first time).

 

For starters, both films are exceptional entries into the kinds of filmmaking they represent.In the case of Farewell My Lovely, this is a highlight of the 1970s Neo-Noirs that included Robert Altmanís The Long Goodbye (1973) and Roman Polanskiís Chinatown (1974).It is an extremely well scored film from director Dick Richards and starring one of the most important survivors of the Noir era, Robert Mitchum.That is a vital point all the others lacked, and this film knew what to do with.This was one of his last great leading roles, followed by its sequel and the underrated 1984 film The Ambassador.While the other films were the ultimate and most brilliant reflections and deconstructions of Noir and exposes of even more darkness and corruption, this film reflects the era directly as much as referentially.

 

With that opportunity, Shire goes all out to evoke the period, in a tour-de-force showing worthy of Jerry Goldsmithís haunting Chinatown score, and just as vital when all is said and done.As a matter of fact, it does the most of the music from the three films (John Williams did one of his finest-ever scores for the Altman film) to evoke the era in the thickest musical terms, so much so that critics thought the film overdid it.Shire is one of the reasons, but that was the point.The density in both sound, visuals, and with the ever heavy presence of Mitchum becomes as inescapable as the past does for those doomed in such films, yet there is still an ironic distance the film offers that will be covered when we cover the DVD reissue, whenever that is announced.

 

Monkey Shines is one of George A. Romeroís most underrated successes.Made just after his third zombie film, the underestimated Day of the Dead (1985), Romero made his only feature film for the sadly defunct Orion Pictures, a smart thriller about a medical student (Jason Beghe).He is having a good life, when he has an accident during a morning jog that leaves him a quadriplegic.He has to make all the adjustments, then his best friend (John Pankow) throws in a twist, a trained monkey named Ella to help him.Unfortunately, this starts to bring the animal out of everyone.

 

His mother becomes overbearing, his new nurse becomes threatened and jealous, his girlfriend becomes exposed as a phony, and his surgeon may have ulterior motives in wanting to keep him in the chair.The corruption gets worse, and he sees himself getting angrier too, which gets even further twisted when it seems his wishes of death on others start to come true.What has his best friend done to this monkey?How could everyone seem one way, when they were worse than he ever expected?Well, itís not that simple, and neither is the smart score by Shire.

 

Partly at the behest of Romero, Shire manipulates the expectations of melodrama and films about personal tragedy musically.This makes it a fun soundtrack, which also has a great sense of suspense and power to help the audience get more into the film and suspend their disbelief that one little creature could be at some of the root of the evil in the story.Again, itís not as simple as it sounds, but to say any more would ruin the surprises more than this critic may already have.

 

The PCM CD sound is solid, offering the music in stereo.Farewell My Lovely comes form its original 16-track masters and a two-track LP master in a few spots, while Monkey Shines comes from even newer master score materials intended for the Dolby Spectral Recording release of the film.That SR system is an advanced analog system that even has some qualities their current Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 system seems to lack.As compared to the poor mono on the out-of-print Pioneer DVD of Farewell My Lovely, and weak Dolby Surround from the out-of-print basic M-G-M DVD of Monkey Shines, this CD easily surpasses both.Even the PCM CD Pro Logic Dolby Surround tracks on the old LaserDisc Orion issued many years ago of Monkey Shines lacks some of the articulation heard here.

 

This CD, however, is only limited to 3,000 copies, but is the most collectible piece on either film since their theatrical releases, so if you want one, you can go to www.filmscoremonthly.com because this is an exclusive and can only be obtained there.Add the fine booklet enclosed with the CD and itís a real winner!

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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