ON FILM STORIES PODCAST - "HE TAUGHT ME TO LOOK CLOSER TO A PICTURE"
On last Friday's episode of the podcast Film Stories, Patrick Doyle engaged in conversation with podcast host Simon Brew, who asked Doyle about Carlito's Way:
Yes, it’s a mafia story, and a gangster story, and Brian De Palma had seen a film I did called Indochine, directed by Régis Wargnier. He is a very good friend of Régis Wargnier. And after that, he heard the score, he called me up himself to speak to me, and asked me if I would do this. Of course I said, ‘I think I can do this.’ [laughter] I said yes immediately, of course. He’s an iconic director – unbelievable. So this was an incredible assignment. And I suppose I just delved into all my perceptions and years of watching The Godfather and a million other gangster movies, from James Cagney, White Heat, or whatever. You name it. I was brought up in a world where you only had two or three stations. We had ITV and the BBC. And of course, you saw every film that was from the previous fifty years. So I watched so many of these American gangster pictures, and so I felt as if I had a passion and a feel for it. And it was wonderful to have this opportunity to create a jazz-driven score, really. It was quite a jazzy score. And also a great opportunity to write passionate… it was a passionate love story mixed with this mafia background, and a sort of dilemma. It was a guy who had to make a choice between the old world and the new world, finding love and going off with the bride of his dreams. There was romance and there was excitement and there was tension in it, and there was this jazz feeling. And a wonderful drive. And the action sequence at the end, you know, the locomotive. And this movement at the end, it sort of was [handled] out throughout the score… and ultimately planting some subconscious connections to the chase sequence at the end.
I’ll tell you an interesting story about the chase sequence. The famous Grand Central sequence that he shot. I happened to be in New York to watch, to see what Pacino, comes in, and he holds the dust bin up over his head, and he’s looking up to his girlfriend Gail who is dancing in a loft in New York. And the following day, I went to see that particular sequence. And I watched the ten-minute sequence. And this was presented to him by the editor. He had never seen it before, cut together, and obviously neither had I. And he turned over to me and he said, ‘Bill’ – it was Bill Pankow, the guy’s name – and he said, ‘Bill, go back to…’ and he went back a couple thousand feet or whatever it was, he said, ‘In this scene, I want DA BA DA BA BA! DA BA BA BA BA!’ In terms of the cut. And that was his only note in that ten-minute sequence. And that taught me immediately that this guy was extremely rhythmical and musical. And it turns out his knowledge of classical music and the repertoire was quite formidable, because we’d talk about Tristan and Isolde, we would talk about anything… At one point, I wrote a piece of music, and he said, ‘Patrick, you’re driving my scene. You’re telegraphing my story.’ And he also taught me, I’m embarrassed to say, to look closer to a picture. Just look at, you think you’ve seen all of it, go the extra twenty percent, study every corner of it. And I thought I was doing that. And so I learned a lot from him. What was interesting was, he said, ‘You go finish the score, I’ll see you in four weeks.’ I said, ‘No, we have to have a meeting.’ ‘No, no, I’ll see you in four weeks.’ I said [laughing now], ‘No, no, no, I’m not ready to score all the other sessions without you having heard nothing.’ Okay. That’s the reason I went to New York – I asked to go over to him and play material to him. ‘Okay, if you like.’ And he loved it and that was it! But I still needed that reassurance before I run the sessions… I think it helps clarify the work and that.