Sunday, August 04, 2013

Music Sunday: Another Movie Music Edition

I'm not really sure whether this is really a Music Sunday post or a Movie Monday post, but since it's Sunday, I'll classify it as a Music Sunday entry and call it good.

I've been watching the 2007 film "Zodiac" this afternoon. Based on the true story of the hunt for the Zodiac killer, the film stars Jake Gyllenhall, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey, Jr., and Brian Cox. It focuses mainly on the crimes attributed to the killer, who was never caught, in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s, although there are other crimes at least provisionally attributed to the same man in other regions of California, including a murder in Riverside and two murders in Santa Barbara, and an attack on a woman in Modesto. The Zodiac wrote letters to several newspapers in the Bay Area, giving himself the name "Zodiac" and claiming credit for several murders. Some of the letters claiming to be from Zodiac, especially those after the main crime spree in the Bay Area, were later called hoaxes or from copycats.

Anyway, the movie is a good one, and landed on a lot of year-end "Ten Best" lists in 2007. The film is based on a book, also called "Zodiac", by Robert Graysmith (published in 1986). He was a political cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle at the time of the search for the killer, and became interested in (some would say obsessed with) the case at that time, trying to decode the cyphers in the letters received by his paper. In the film, he is portrayed by Jake Gyllenhall.

The other main character in the film is the lead detective on the case, David Toschi, who was on the San Francisco Police Department from 1952 to 1983. He is portrayed in the film by Mark Ruffalo. The interesting thing about Toschi is that he has become sort of a mainstay of portrayals of San Francisco police detectives in film. He was the major inspiration for Clint Eastwood's "Dirty" Harry Callahan in "Dirty Harry" (1971), which was loosely based on the Zodiac case, including using a threat from one of Zodiac's letters, that he would attack a school bus filled with children, as a major plot point. Before that, it is said that Steve McQueen modeled his character in the movie "Bullitt" (1968) largely on Toschi.

Apart from being a good film, the "Zodiac" soundtrack includes some really good music from the period, which is what turns this post into something appropriate for Music Sunday. First of all, because I will use just about any excuse to include a song by Eric Burdon and the Animals in these posts, the band's song "Sky Pilot", from 1968, appears in the film. Here is the long version of the song:

Another song featured in the soundtrack is Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man", also from 1968. As a piece of trivia, Donovan's daughter, actress Ione Skye, plays a small, uncredited role in the film. Here is a live performance of the song from 1968:

There are at least a couple of songs used in the film that are from other movies. First, there is Three Dog Night's version of "Easy to Be Hard" (1969), which comes from the play and film "Hair":

Also originating in another film is Oliver's version of "Jean" (1969), which was written by Rod McKuen for the film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie":

A third song that was originally written for another film ("Lizzie", from 1957) but that appears on the "Zodiac" soundtrack is "It's Not for Me to Say", with the performance in both films by Johnny Mathis:

There are a lot more good songs on the soundtrack of "Zodiac", but I'm running out of room for this week. I'll end this for today, then, by sharing "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)", from 1971, by Marvin Gaye:

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