a site by John Cobley

a coppice gate


Ingmar Bergman: Sound Techniques in The Passion of Anna

An investigation into the innovative sound techniques in Ingmar Bergman's The Passion of Anna

                                                                                                   It is a powerful film and shows a break from accepted film practices.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Ingmar Bergman

Miles Davis: Recruiting the Sixties Quintet

An account of the fours years Miles Davis took to recruit for his sixties quintet

In 1960 Miles Davis was on top of the jazz world. With five brilliant albums in the previous three years (three with Gil Evans, Milestones and Kind of Blue), he was in great demand and winning many jazz polls. But life caught up with him; for the next four years he had to deal with problem after problem as he tried to recruit the right musicians for his next band.The first crisis was the departure of John Coltrane. Although this wasn’t a great surprise to him, Davis took four years to find an acceptable replacement. He tried out at least eight saxophone players (Jimmy Heath, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, Frank Strozier, George Coleman, Rocky Boyd, and Sam Rivers) before getting the right one--Wayne Shorter.

Miles Davis: The First Improvised music film Soundtrack

Miles Davis's film soundtrack for Malle's L'Ascenseur sur léchafaud

“It all happened on the spur of the moment. After about three hours it was over.” Kenny Clarke  Improvising while watching a movie was done by countless pianists and organists all over the world during the silent-film era. In 1957 Miles Davis did the same thing for Louis Malle’s L’Ascenseur sur l’échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows), but this time his improvisations were recorded for the soundtrack. The result was a critical success and the film won the Prix Louis-Delluc. Miles Davis was an established star when he arrived in Paris at the end of November, 1957. The 31-year-old had been at the forefront of jazz for a decade and had recently recorded an important LP with Gil Evans, Miles Ahead. For his second visit to France, Davis was brought over by promoter Marcel Romano and scheduled for a concert tour and a three-week club engagement. But this changed somewhat after he was approached by Louis Malle, a young film maker, who had just completed his first major film. Malle was a jazz fan and wanted Davis to contribute a soundtrack to his film noir. Despite the fact that Malle had only a four-day deadline, Davis accepted.

Dialogue in Some Early Scenes From Ken Taylor's Raj Quartet Screenplay

Demonstration of how close Ken Taylor's dialogue in the Raj Quartet is to Paul Scott's original

This article attempts to illustrate how closely Ken Taylor’s Raj Quartet screenplay follows Paul Scott’s original dialogue in The Jewel in the Crown. A good friend recently and correctly pointed out that Scott uses dialogue sparingly in his novel. This means that when he does use dialogue he intends it to gain greater attention and hopefully be remembered. Indeed Scott sometimes repeats short pieces of dialogue in a different part of the book, repetition thereby emphasizing its importance.

Marni Nixon: The Singing Voice of Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn

Marni Nixon dubbed the singing voices of film stars Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn

After re-watching the 1964 film My Fair Lady on an old videocassette, I did some research on the dubbing of Audrey Hepburn’s singing voice  by Marni Nixon.  I wanted to find out how she went about this delicate process. I learned that by the time she did My Fair Lady, Marni was very experienced, having worked on two major musicals, dubbing for Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956) and for Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961). How was this dubbing process done? What were the technical issues back in the 1950s? How co-operative were Hepburn, Kerr and Wood? How was Marni able to sing so convincingly in the voices of three very different characters? To find out, I ordered Marni Nixon’s book I Could Have Sung All Night from my local library.