Friday, September 09, 2011

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

The guitar is still stuck in my mind, so here is another clip about that musical instrument.

Early in his career, in 1969, Woody Allen signed a contract with United Artists. He wrote "The Jazz Baby," a screenplay about a jazz musician set in the thirties but that was turned down by the UA executives. He replaced that with "Bananas," which I do not like much. In 1998, he returned to his original idea and out came "Sweet and Lowdown," telling the story of a fictional arrogant, obnoxious, alcoholic jazz guitarist named Emmet Ray (played by Sean Penn after they could not get Johnny Depp because he was not available) who regards himself as perhaps the best guitarist in the world, or second best, after his idol, Django Reinhardt.

Sweet and Lowdown was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Samantha Morton.) Morton played the role of Hattie, a lovable young mute girl who did not utter a single word of dialogue in the film. Her performance was met with lots of critical acclaim.

The music for the film was arranged and conducted by Dick Hyman. All of the guitar solos were played by guitarist Howard Alden. Alden also coached Sean Penn on playing the guitar for his role in the film. The soundtrack of this movie is excellent, containing 15 memorable songs mostly to showcase the guitar solos.

In this clip, Penn went cruising with his buddy and they picked up two young women. After a short straw decision, Penn was stuck with Hattie, who was mute, and took her to his room with a promise to play the guitar for her, a promise he kept. She instantly fell in love with his playing... If you can find the time, watch this movie. It's refreshingly good and very entertaining.
No resistance

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