The Hollywood Reporter reports:
Ennio Morricone, the Oscar winner whose haunting, inventive scores expertly accentuated the simmering, dialogue-free tension of the spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone, has died. He was 91.
The Italian composer, who scored more than 500 films — seven for his countryman Leone after they had met as kids in elementary school — died in Rome following complications from a fall last week in which he broke his femur.
Morricone won his Oscar for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015) and also was nominated for his original scores for Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978), Roland Joffe’s The Mission (1986), Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987), Barry Levinson’s Bugsy (1991) and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena (2000).
The New York Times reports:
The work that made him world famous, and that was best known to moviegoers, was his blend of music and sound effects for Sergio Leone’s 1960s spaghetti westerns: a ticking pocket watch, a sign creaking in the wind, buzzing flies, a twanging Jew’s harp, haunting whistles, cracking whips, gunshots and a bizarre, wailing “ah-ee-ah-ee-ah,” played on a sweet potato-shaped wind instrument called an ocarina.
Imitated, scorned, spoofed, what came to be known as “The Dollars Trilogy” — “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964), “For a Few Dollars More” (1965) and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966), all released in the United States in 1967 — starred Clint Eastwood as “The Man With No Name” and were enormous hits, with a combined budget of $2 million and gross worldwide receipts of $280 million.
The trilogy’s Italian dialogue was dubbed, and the action was brooding and slow, with clichéd close-ups of gunfighters’ eyes. But Mr. Morricone, breaking the unwritten rule never to upstage actors with music, infused it all with wry sonic weirdness and melodramatic strains that many fans embraced with cultlike devotion and critics called viscerally true to Mr. Leone’s early vision of the Old West.