Take home: Jazz in the movies

All Night Long poster

For Alan Stanbridge, associate professor in UTSC’s department of arts, culture and media, the passing of jazz legend Dave Brubeck in December 2012 offers a poignant opportunity to highlight several neglected films that make striking use of jazz soundtracks, including, of course, All Night Long, in which Brubeck appeared. Here are Stanbridge’s selections, listed chronologically, according to their year of release:

Kurutta Kajitsu (Crazed Fruit), 1956
Toru Takemitsu’s unclassifiable score—sleazy jazz saxophone meets slippery Hawaiian guitar—accompanies this controversial “sun tribe” movie of sexual tensions among 1950s Japanese youth.

Sapphire, 1959
The undervalued Philip Green contributes a dramatic and expressive jazz score for this Basil Dearden movie, still compelling in its bold confrontation of racism in late-1950s London.

The Criminal, 1960
This uncompromising prison drama features a moody jazz score by Sir John Dankworth, with a haunting theme song - “Thieving Boy,” sung by Cleo Laine - that will stay with you for days.

Blast of Silence, 1961
Another unclassifiable score, by Meyer Kupferman, combining cool jazz and striking avant-garde flourishes, accompanies Allen Baron’s late-noir hitman movie, set in a series of seedy New York locations.

All Night Long, 1962
A truly astonishing array of international jazz talent—Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, Tubby Hayes and John Dankworth, among others—contribute to this re-telling of Othello in swinging-1960s London. A must-see movie for jazz, film and Shakespeare buffs alike.

Le Doulos, 1963
Paul Misraki’s super-cool jazz score captures the mood perfectly in Jean-Pierre Melville’s convoluted tale of friendship, loyalty and betrayal among fedora- and trenchcoat-wearing French gangsters.

Get Carter, 1971
Shamefully underrated Roy Budd was never hipper than in his groovy score for this gritty British gangster masterpiece, starring Michael Caine, who was never better than in this landmark role.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, 1974
Twelve-tone music doesn’t meet raucous big-band funky jazz very often, so David Shire’s pulsating score for this hostage/heist drama set in the New York subway remains a singular classic.

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