Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dead Ringer (1964)

Artist: Andre Previn
LP: Dead Ringer
Song: "Main Title" 
[ listen ]
Song: "Maggie's Murder"
[ listen ]
Song: "The Fireplace Poker" 
[ listen ]
Song: "The Dog Attacks" 
[ listen ]
Song: "You're Not Margaret" 
[ listen ]
Song: "Figueroa"
[ listen ]
Song: "End Title" 
[ listen ]

In honor of the 88th annual Academy Awards telecast that I'll be tuning into tonight, here are a bunch of songs from the soundtrack of the terrific 1964 shocker DEAD RINGER. This highly dramatic picture, starring two-time Best Actress Academy Award-winner Bette Davis in dual roles, would surely have been a top Oscar contender if '64 hadn't been a year simply overflowing with awards-quality cinema. I've posted seven tracks that I hope will help create the appropriate level of dramatic tension as you read through the film's synopsis, included below from the back of the LP. "Figueroa" is a jazzy organ number that doesn't quite fit in with the others, but I've thrown it in too since it's pretty awesome. I think it might be something we hear in the background when we visit Edith's "small cocktail bar, a losing venture in a blighted section of Los Angeles." God knows in 1964 you wouldn't have heard electric organ jazz music in the nice part of town.

 Can I say that I would give just about anything to be able to drop in for a gin and tonic at Edith's small cocktail bar after the Oscars show tonight? Especially if there's jazzy Hammond organ music in the background. 

Ok, I just re-watched the film, and Edie's Bar is located at Figueroa and Temple, if anyone would care to join me. Edie gave directions to her rich sister's chauffeur.

It's interesting to note that, though Edith lives in a blighted neighborhood of Los Angeles and can't pay her rent, whereas Margaret lives in a sprawling mansion and collects expensive jewelry, both go to the very same hair-stylist! In any case, the film's special effects alone are worthy of an Oscar, as you can plainly see here.

This is where things start to get complicated. 
Fortunately they don't show Edith trading clothes with the corpse of her dead twin sister, an exchange that takes place off-screen. 

After further review, I regretfully report that we actually do see Edie trading clothes with her dead sister's corpse. I'd blocked it out, and for good reason. Say, have I mentioned that I actually met Karl Malden in person back in January of 2007?

It pays to hire dim-witted servants. 
Interesting bit of trivia: When Bette Davis' anguished, blood-curdling cry is played backwards (the one when she intentionally burns her hand with the red-hot fireplace poker), you can actually hear her screaming, "Give me another fucking Oscar!"

Have you ever been bear-hugged by a pro golfer? There's nothing quite like it.

What they fail to mention here is that, with the camera poised directly above the attack, viewers can plainly see that Tony is not mauled by Thor at all (nor by Duke, the name of the dog in the movie). He is actually killed by this dog, which of course makes no sense whatsoever. I'm certain this is what ruined DEAD RINGER's chances at the Oscars.

Let's see if I can get a screen grab.

So anyway, meanwhile...

Nobody was more delighted by Edith's downbeat demise than Andre Previn, since it gave him a good reason to really go to town with the string section of his orchestra.

[ 'Dead Ringer' — aka. 'Who Is Buried In My Grave?' ]

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