February 15, 2016


New release: Toby Dammit. Nino Rota's rare score for Fellini's Toby Dammit will be released soon as a limited-edition vinyl LP. Part of the Spirits of the Dead omnibus project and "liberally adapted from Edgar Allan Poe's Never Bet The Devil Your Head, Federico Fellini's Toby Dammit was shot in twenty-six days over the winter of 1967-68, at the experimental film center near Cinecetta in Rome. It is an extraordinary piece of genuine film psychedelia, and rightly regarded to be amongst the director's finest work. The film was originally intended to be part of a Poe homage with contributions also from Ingmar Bergman and Orson Welles. In the event, Fellini's co-directors would be Louis Malle and Roger Vadim. Nino Rota's labyrinthine music is complimented here by Ray Charles performing Ruby (It's You) which is used eloquently in a scene at the awards ceremony." 

The film itself is a wonderful time capsule of the period. 1967-1968 saw an interesting transition from the Mod aesthetics of the early-mid decade toward psychedelia and signs of social unrest. Examples of the shift could be seen in projects such as Danger Diabolik, The Prisoner, The Monkees 'Head', Easy Rider, Barbarella, Wonderwall, Casino Royale, Naked Under Leather (Girl On a Motorcycle), The President's Analyst, and Yellow Submarine. In Toby Dammit Terence Stamp portrayed an actor, seemingly pushed over the edge from success -and excess- who was brought to Italy to participate in a ceremony. Fellini's images concocted a feverish nightmare wrapped in vibrant colors and stylish fashion and technology. He had achieved a new level of colorful fantasy in Juliet of the Spirits (1965), and Toby Dammit showed the director at the height of his exploration of cinema as montage of cartoon/distilled graphics. This quality was made even more dramatic in the film by his use of stark textures and minimal set designs. The first third of the film glowed in amber futurism, with images of modern airport architecture and sci-fi globe monitors, and then gave way to a colder color palette as the protagonist sank deeper into his nightmare. It's was really a mini masterpiece. Check it out if you haven't seen it yet! The soundtrack record will be available from the Bella Casa label on Feb 26th in Europe and on March 4th in the US. More info at Amazon and AmazonUK. You can preview the music here. The film is available on DVD from Amazon here. Related posts: The 1968 Exhibit, Set For Adventure, Casino Royale Book,  Wonderwall Blu-ray, Barbarella Returns, The Prisoner and Captain Scarlet Anniversary, Danger Diabolik Soundtrack, Tazio Secchiaroli

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