.
Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!


This is
'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings of the same song and vote for the one you like best. Two "Battles" per month, on the 1st and 15th. Six days later (the 7th and 21st), I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.

Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of 'DOG BITE High Gravity Lager' (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!

[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

GUNFIGHT AT THE PIANO BENCH

Lonesome Doggs & Lonesome Doggettes ~

Did you know Lightnin' Hopkins once recorded a Blues song for y'all? He did. And someday I may post it here, but today ain't that day. I got sumpin' else for yaz...





My friends FAE (of the blog Far Away Series) and Bryan (of the blog A Beer For The Shower) and I frequently participate in something we call TRT (short for “The Retro Theatre”).

We live in three different states and two different time zones, but we like to watch old movies together (lately we've been on a Film Noir kick). We all obtain a source for the same movie and then we all agree to start it at a specific time. This way, it's as if we've all gone to see the movie together, only we're actually in our own homes (i.e., we're watching the same movie at the same time, but in three different “theatres”).

At my suggestion, last night we all watched the criminally unknown 1991 movie 'DEAD AGAIN', starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh (including a small part by the late Robin Williams). It's a very cool, complex Psychological Thriller / Time Travel movie with Film Noir aspects to it and some fantastic plot twists. (If you've never seen it, I highly recommend you overcome that oversight and see it... and see a dentist about your overbite.)

There's one particular scene that has to do with smoking a cigarette (I cleverly refer to it as “the smoking scene”). I have seen countless movies in my life (even briefly appeared in a couple of them) but of all the movies I've watched in my 55 years, I think there are two scenes that most stand out as unforgettable (and by strange coincidence, they both involve cigarettes).

One of those segments is, of course, “the smoking scene” in 'DEAD AGAIN'. The other one is the long (18 minutes) piano duel scene in 'THE LEGEND OF 1900' (1998).

The main character, a piano master, never leaves the ocean liner he lives on. A personal quirk – or irrational fear. One night, someone comes to challenge him at his piano on the ship. Here's how it's described by the person who posted the scene at YouTube: 

"Jelly Roll" Morton (Clarence Williams III) - the man who claims to have invented jazz - has challenged Danny Boodmann T.D. Lemon Nineteen Hundred - aka 1900 - (Tim Roth) to a duel on piano because he heard rumors that 1900 can play better than he can. 1900's friend Max Tooney (Pruitt Taylor Vince) takes bets on who will win. A fantastic performance by both actors.

One of the best duels ever in movie history. The proof that you don't need a gun to utterly destroy someone. 

This is the best scene in the movie. Actually, it's one of the all-time best scenes in ANY movie. If you have 18 minutes to spare, watch it below (or click the link and see it BIGGER at YouTube). If you dig piano music, if you dig fantasy movies, if you dig Western gunfights... you'll definitely dig THIS... 

'The Legend of 1900' Piano Duel - HD



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XHYBcxHRDA 

I really need to buy myself a DVD copy of this movie someday. 

~ Stephen T. McCarthy 

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

29 comments:

  1. I wasn't familiar with either of those movies, but that piano duel is fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SUSKI ~
      Ain't it though?!

      Now you gotta see 'DEAD AGAIN' for the "other" cigarette scene. (I ain't steered ya wrong yet, has I?)

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  2. Can't beat the piano duel...I bought the DVD based on that scene alone!

    I saw "Dead Again" in the theater, but all I remember is liking it-I may have to revisit it.

    What? No Clint Eastwood cigarette scene?

    LC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DOCTOR DISCDUDE ~
      I recall turning you onto that piano duel scene way back in our "Grove years", and I remember that you loved it so much you began turning others onto it. It is truly a "CLASSIC".

      I think I may have first seen 'DEAD AGAIN' in the theatre too. Probably went to see an earlier movie, saw the trailer for 'DEAD AGAIN' and thought: Ooh! That looks good!

      Having already seen 'DEAD AGAIN' three times, I recently bought the DVD, knowing we were going to "TRT" it.

      Earlier in the day of the "TRT" meeting, I watched the official trailer, which is included as an "Extra" on the disc. What's funny is that even though I already knew what happens in the movie (having seen it 3 times), in watching the trailer I found myself thinking: Ooh! That looks good!

      HA!

      Now THAT'S a damn good movie, when you already know the story but the trailer STILL intrigues you!

      If you've forgotten "the smoking scene", you DEFINITELY need to see the movie again, because 'DEAD AGAIN''s "smoking scene" is actually just as good as 'THE LEGEND OF 1900''s "smoking scene"... only much shorter.

      Be watchin' yer InBox 'cause I be sending you an E within the next few days.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    2. POSTSCRIPT:
      I'm not sure which "Clint Eastwood cigarette scene" you're referring to, but since I really can't stand East Cuntwood in the least...

      Dislikes:
      Dog bites; bee stings; tattooed women; Uncle Sam; U2; Quentin Tarantino; Madonna; Clint Eastwood; conforming "nonconformists"; martinis made with anything other than gin and vermouth.

      ...it's no surprise that I don't remember any "Clint Eastwood cigarette scene". I really try not to think about that dude any more than "this world" forces me to.

      ~ STMcME

      Delete
  3. Wow, I loved that piano scene! I did listen to it as I love jazz and this does show the arrogance of some of the great piano players. What's wrong with living on an ocean liner, anyway, if you don't mind sea-legs. . .Great! Bet the tobacco companies loved it too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. D.G. ~
      Ha! Yeah, the cigarette companies probably didn't cry about that scene. Then again... the keyboard hero DOESN'T smoke... so I guess it actually sends mixed messages.

      I'm not aware of a single person who's watched that piano duel scene and didn't love it.

      And, by the way, even though this scene was pure fiction, it's said that the real Jelly Roll Morton was extremely arrogant, extremely conceited. If so, then he "got his" many years after he'd flown this earthly coop.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  4. 'Dead Again' - excellent movie (a really good call on your part). Cigarette scene - definitely unforgettable in more ways than one.

    Piano duel from 'The Legend of 1900' - absolutely excellent scene, maybe the most unforgettable I've seen (so far). The movie sounds intrigueing - can't wait to see the entire thing.

    Your record is intact.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, FAE!

      Overall, the movie is pretty good but I wouldn't rate it as "great". It's been a long time since I've seen it, and although the piano duel scene gets a solid A+, the movie certainly would not get an A in my book. Maybe a B or a B+, from what I can remember of it.

      There is, however, one other really interesting scene where 1900 is playing the piano during a heavy storm. I won't say more about it and spoil it for ya, but it was the second best scene in the movie, in my opinion. Not even in the "piano duel's" league though.

      The movie's worth seeing, but don't expect it to generally live up to that one piano duel sequence.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  5. (this is a re-creation of an earlier comment that was eaten by Blogger, so if the other shows up, please forgive me!)

    Like Susan, I’d not heard of either of these two movies. You can praise them ‘ill the cows come home and I sincerely doubt that I’ll find time to rent and watch “Dead Again” (or episodes of Moonlighting, for that matter.) But I MAY go and find the “1900” movie. That looks unique and interesting.

    They did a great job of making what is a subjective contest appear to have a winner. In westerns, one gunfighter outdraws the other and plugs him. Easy to declare a winner there. But in many movies where a contest is happening of a subjective nature, I’m not always convinced. Here, they used a number of cinematic techniques to make the winner clear and convincing. Frankly, I am not sure I liked Roth’s musicality as much as Williams, but he sure was faster and showed more virtuosity. Thanks for posting this stuffs! More new info for the boy from Sheboygan!

    Given the recent discussion of jazz and piano pieces, I managed to find a truly rare piece that I know you and Arlee and I can all agree is UNPARALLELED! Give it a listen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWaTaqxPw3o

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SHEBOYGANBROTHER SIXGUN ~
      Glad you recreated your comment because the original has not reappeared and likely won't.

      Frankly, 'DEAD AGAIN' is a better, more interesting movie than is 'THE LEGEND OF 1900', but I can see why this one would appeal more to you.

      You're correct that sometimes when a duel is presented for entertainment, and it's of a more subjective nature (unlike a gunfight where the last man standing is OBVIOUSLY the winner), sometimes the viewer/listener may not be convinced that the one we're supposed to believe won really did in fact win. (A perfect example for me is the Charlie Daniels song 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia'. I hate to say it, but I actually like the devil's fiddle playing better'n Johnny's. Doh!)

      In this case though, I think they did it right and I think the winner is pretty obvious. Why? Because if you'll recall, in round 2, instead of playing something different, 1900 actually duplicated - exactly, with the same dexterity and rhythm - the piece of music that Morton had just performed. This clearly indicated that when it came to rhythm and nuance, there wasn't anything Morton could play that 1900 couldn't copy with absolute precision.

      But then in that last round, 1900, having already proved Morton's equal at the other aspects of playing, goes for speed - such a speed that he appears to be playing with "six hands" and Morton drops his glass, recognizing that he can't "draw his sixgun THAT fast". Gunfight over.

      Regarding the last piece of music, the first time I saw this scene, while watching the entire movie, I felt that it was primarily just an exhibition of speed and not really all that musical. (And then of course you know that I'm not a huge fan of Classical style music to begin with.)

      But I've watched this scene countless times at this point, and somewhere along the way - maybe the third time hearing it - I began to notice just how musical it really is. Blended in with all the rapid-fire keyboard strokes there are some interesting counter rhythms going on, and I eventually came to fully understand that this was not just speed for speed's sake, but actually a blazing piece of genuine "music". And that's when I realized how the Jelly Roll Morton character would have been awed. Could he play the same thing at a slower pace? Certainly. But at the fiery, combustible pace that 1900 did? Time to smoke that cig and catch the next boat home.

      In terms of dramatic, cinematic chutzpah, this scene is tough to match. And beyond just the action, it's actually really well filmed using interesting angles, crane, and dolly shots. Pretty A-list all the way around.

      OK, Sheboyganbrother, I'm now off to listen to the piece you're recommending at YouTube. Thanks! We shall see... or hear, that is.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    2. "Is that a piano in my pocket, or am I just glad to see you? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself."

      SBB-6 ~
      I liked it. He certainly has a lot more talent as a musician than he does as an actor or director. Somehow when he's seated at the piano he loses his two by four woodenness.

      The music connection made me think of 'Play Misty For Me', one of only two Eastwood movies I actually like.

      He should lay off the movies and stick to music.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    3. That was actually Clint Eastwood playing? That wasn't too shabby at all. In it was good and neither bad nor ugly. It made my day to hear this. I had no idea he could play like that. The band was darn good too.

      Lee
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  6. Can't recall if I've seen Dead Again or not. I'll have to add it to my queue.

    Someday I'm going to set up my "new" computer.

    Never seen 1900 in its entirety, only clips here and there. Someday I'll have to watch the entire film. Maybe I'll catch this clip you have later. My computer keeps freezing up. I think the Clint piece broke it.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
  7. Okay, I got the clip to play in its entirety. It's an entertaining battle for filmdom's sake. Technically the last piece is very intricate, but it's not as enjoyable to listen to as the "Jellyroll" pieces. I would not even necessarily classify the piece in the classical style, but mostly an etude of show-off proportions. My preference would be for something by Chopin, Rachmaninov, or even Satie. Or if I'm going for lighting speed with mathematical precision I'd prefer the keyboard solo in Bach Brandenburg Concerto #5 which you can hear in this clip:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMSwVf_69Hc

    or if you prefer the piano version this one:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo4mAMkEOi8 (this was the only abbreviated version I could find in a quick look and unfortunately you can't see the player)

    But the 1900 clip is good. I'll have to watch this film eventually.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, as I previously wrote, 1900 had ALREADY proven that he could play "Jelly Roll" every bit as well as Jelly Roll could.

      And my preference would have been 'FREE BIRD' played at "Time-Lapse" speed.

      Or better yet, 'CHOPSTICKS' played at hypersonic speed. THEN we'd have something really worthwhile to watch and hear!

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  8. Dead Again was a great movie! I'm about to lose power now, so I'll listen to the other scene tomorrow. I know I won't be disappointed.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! JULIE, you're probably the first person I've ever encountered who knew 'DEAD AGAIN' without me having to 'splain what it is to them.

      Yeah, very cool movie with some really surprising plot twists.

      "POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
      POWER TO THE JULIES!"

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    2. As I was swooning over Franco Nero, I realized that I never came back to watch the dueling piano scene. WOW! Aside from the exceptional musical performances, even the faces in the crowd were priceless! Thanks for sharing this brilliant scene with us, and I'm sorry I didn't see it sooner.

      Julie

      Delete
    3. I aim to please... or tick off, depending upon the person I'm interacting with. In your case though, JULIE, it's always "please" and never "tick off".

      ~ D-FensDogg

      Delete
  9. Fun and entertaining clip StevieMac! Thanks for the kind comments on my tune on my blog and also for pointing me here to check this out!

    I enjoyed this! It kind reminds me of "Crossroads" where Ralph Macchio whips out the technical classical riffs to take down Steve Vai :). But here truthfully I didn't like the camera work and special effects that tried to make it look like the guy had 6 hands. It seemed a little hokie. The music stood on its own I think although it falls into the "speed = talent" trap a bit. Sometimes the "best" music is that which says the most with the least amount of flash. But enough pontificating from me -- it was a thoroughly enjoyable clip to watch.

    I've never heard of these movies so I'll have to check 'email out sometime!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GgC ~
      Yeah, I can see the nod to 'CROSSROADS' - a movie I thoroughly enjoy and have watched countless times. (In fact, the first time I saw it was at its debut at the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. I'd won free tickets through the Jazz and Blues radio station I always listened to.)

      I think the camera work throughout this scene is FANTASTIC! Very creative and imaginative and well ahead of the usual Hollywood fare: "Long Shot; Two Shot; Over-The Shoulder-Shots; Close Ups - OK, moving on to the next scene, people!"

      The special effects with the hands I am more apt to agree with you about. They could have been filmed so that all hands blur into a mash, rather than remaining more specifically identifiable, or even leaving the hands to the viewer's imagination altogether. But at the same time, what they did is probably closer to the truth, because I doubt just two hands played that all at once. I think we have two or three layered tracks goin' on there.

      When I was a teenager, I fell for that "speed = talent" myth. As I got older and learned more about music, speed didn't really interest me much anymore because I'd learned about nuance and tone and feeling, and all the rest.

      However, in this case, I think it was the next logical step to take the duel to, because it was already seen that Morton had nuttin' on 1900 in the technical, melodic departments. Plus... how you gonna play a ballad - no matter how heartfelt - and light a cigarette on the strings afterwards? I mean, I think Pat Metheny's playing is pretty damned hot in 'To The End Of The World' -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrSp9nYZYuU -- but he'd still need six left hands to light a cig off his strings. :-)

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  10. You already saw my e-mail, but this was so fantastic I actually made my wife sit down and watch it. And for someone with a very short attention span, she watched and enjoyed every last second. You know what I appreciate about that scene in particular? The whimsical characters. The Mexican man who keeps asking, "Did he weeeen, senor?" The man with those caterpillar eyebrows that keep raising in surprise. The stodgy woman with the wig. That's just spectacular writing in that even the background characters are given such life.

    However, upon second viewing my wife pointed out something I hadn't noticed - what the hell is up with the guy who made the bet and is worried he's going to lose a year's pay? Specifically, his eyes? Did you notice they shake like mad? The best example of this is at 16:08 of the clip. Is he having an eye seizure?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 6-B ~
      Glad you BOTH liked it.

      The "Caterpillar Eyebrows" character is a recreation of a real man from (my best guess) the 1920s. I can't specifically tell you where I'd seen him before but it was in a very old movie or else photographs of a character in an old movie. Possibly a silent movie by, say, Chaplin or something starring W.C. Fields or Buster Keaton or perhaps Harold Lloyd.

      I'm inclined to say I've seen the "real" character in a live-action movie because I distinctly recall the eyebrows going up and down. (It's possible they even used an animated version of him in 'American Pop', but I wouldn't swear to that.)

      The actor with the "darting eyes" is named Pruitt Taylor Vince. (Do both eyes dart back and forth or is it just his left eye?) Anyway, he also played the part of Paul in 'JACOB'S LADDER'. Paul is the guy who called Jacob Singer and met him in that bar/pool hall, because he too was being tormented by demons. That was his last scene before both his eyes were blue... er, I mean, blew... or blown. Something like that. Definitely not "browned".

      Vince's darting eye(s) is actually even more noticeable in 'Jacob's Ladder'. It's obviously some sort of neurological disorder (sez Doctor S.T.McC.), but he's gotta be a pretty good actor to get so much work despite all his close-ups showing that oddeyeballdisorder (that's the technical terminology known to us in the medical profession).

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    2. I feel like I might have seen that same character in American Pop as well, because that's the first thing that came to mind when I saw it. I'm still not 100% certain, but if *you* think it and *I* think it we both can't be crazy, right?

      (Don't answer that)

      BTW, good "bust!" Because I did not recognize him from Jacob's Ladder. Yes, it's both eyes, and according to Wackypedia "He has pathologic nystagmus, a condition which causes a person's eyes to move involuntarily."

      They even have a GIF attached to the page to demonstrate.

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Optokinetic_nystagmus.gif

      Look at them, almost being helpful! ...Almost.

      ~6B

      Delete
  11. 6-B ~
    I know that 'American Pop' most definitely includes an animated version of that cross-eyed violin player from some old movie of the 1920s or early '30s, and it could be that it's him we're both thinking of. But then again, it might also include an animated version of Mr. Caterpillar Eyebrows also. Still not sure about that second one.

    I'd seen 'Jacob's Ladder' many times before I ever saw 'The Legend Of 1900', so that was an easy "bust" for me and I made it the instant "Paul" appeared on the screen the first time I saw '1900'. They don't all come that quickly (although I'm pretty derned good at making "busts", if I say so mydamnself).

    "Pathologic nystagmus", yeah, that's the layman's term for it. As I said, we in medicine refer to it by its more technical term: "oddeyeballdisorder". Or "oddeyeballdisorder au gratin" when we're referring to it in a medical paper being submitted for peer review.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
  12. And he wins with one of my all time favorite piano songs!! Bravo.

    I think I've seen Dead Again. May have to search it out on NetFlix.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DONNA ~
      Your comment inspired me to look into that piano piece a little more. What I found is that it's titled 'ENDURING MOVEMENT', and I believe it was created specifically for the movie.

      I came across a YouTube video of it that's super-cool. It shows all the keys, color coded, as they are being struck. Dang! I think it's even MORE impressive when you can actually see each note on the keyboard:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZdAM2MwZfc

      Could any one person really play that though? I mean, looking at the keys as they are struck and sounding the notes, it seems as if someone really would need to have (maybe not six but) at least four hands to play that.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    2. Its a great song for two players. Thanks for the video link.

      Delete

>>... NOTE: COMMENT MODERATION IS ACTIVATED. ...<<
All submitted comments that do not transgress "Ye Olde Comment Policy" will be posted and responded to as soon as possible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.