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Faking Musicianship in Movies

Peter T. 30 Aug 03 - 12:52 PM
Leadfingers 30 Aug 03 - 01:02 PM
catspaw49 30 Aug 03 - 01:04 PM
C-flat 30 Aug 03 - 01:20 PM
Margaret V 30 Aug 03 - 01:51 PM
C-flat 30 Aug 03 - 02:14 PM
M.Ted 30 Aug 03 - 02:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Aug 03 - 02:34 PM
John P 30 Aug 03 - 02:39 PM
Mark Ross 01 Sep 03 - 10:20 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 01 Sep 03 - 10:26 PM
Steve Latimer 01 Sep 03 - 10:35 PM
Willie-O 01 Sep 03 - 10:46 PM
Clinton Hammond 01 Sep 03 - 11:00 PM
Stilly River Sage 01 Sep 03 - 11:06 PM
Mudlark 02 Sep 03 - 01:53 AM
GUEST,Boab 02 Sep 03 - 03:04 AM
Roger the Skiffler 02 Sep 03 - 03:30 AM
Peterr 02 Sep 03 - 07:40 AM
pavane 02 Sep 03 - 09:48 AM
Nerd 02 Sep 03 - 12:13 PM
alanabit 02 Sep 03 - 12:30 PM
Folkiedave 02 Sep 03 - 04:46 PM
Clinton Hammond 02 Sep 03 - 04:54 PM
Don Firth 02 Sep 03 - 05:06 PM
Cluin 02 Sep 03 - 05:18 PM
Clinton Hammond 02 Sep 03 - 05:48 PM
John P 02 Sep 03 - 08:28 PM
Steve Latimer 02 Sep 03 - 10:51 PM
GUEST,Jeremiah (durn cookies!) 02 Sep 03 - 11:11 PM
MarkS 02 Sep 03 - 11:15 PM
Stilly River Sage 03 Sep 03 - 12:06 AM
MAG 03 Sep 03 - 12:13 AM
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Subject: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 12:52 PM

In the great French film, Un Coeur en Hiver, Emmanuelle Beart plays a violinist. The music (Ravel) is dubbed, but I just read that she studied as a violinist for 18 months prior to the making of the film just to get the fingering right. I was wondering about other examples of this kind of diligence, or non-diligence people know about. Two come to mind: Sean Penn for the Woody Allen film (cannot remember the title) about the Django-ist guitarist, I heard that he practiced for several months (though Rick Fielding said to me that he was obviously making mistakes). Another is Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces -- he seems to be playing for real, though of course they are reasonably easy.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 01:02 PM

Anthony Banderas was I believe offered the part of the gunslinging marachi guitarist only if he could play the guitar parts himself-It took him eighteen months.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 01:04 PM

I don't know how hard or how much he worked at it or any of the details behind it, but Forrest Whittaker did a superb job as Charlie Parker. Fingerings and embouchure were both very accurate or at least quite credible and far above the average even for the better "musician" movies.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: C-flat
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 01:20 PM

The Sean Penn film was called "Emmett Ray" which, though enjoyable, was let down, I thought, by Penns' poor attempts at faking it.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Margaret V
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 01:51 PM

Actually the Woody Allen film was called "Sweet and Lowdown," and the character was Emmet Ray.

How about the piping in the strange but interesting movie "Margaret's Museum" set in the coal mining areas of Cape Breton? It's been ages since I saw it but as I remember the "piping" was quite dismally rendered.

Margaret


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: C-flat
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 02:14 PM

You're quite right Margaret V, It was "Sweet and Lowdown".
I seem to remember reading that Robert De Niro learned to play the saxophone for a film (might have been called "New York, New York", and I also recall seeing Meryl Streep playing the violin in "Music of the heart". As a non-violinist I can't really comment on how well Meryl faked it and De Niro admitted he only learned enough to provide enough "fingering" shots to be credible, but it shows great dedication nevertheless.
Didn't Jimmy Stewart also feature in "The Glen Miller Story" playing the trombone? No fingering there but tremendous breath control needed for a plausible mock-up.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 02:22 PM

From the silent movie days, there have been folks in Hollywood whose trade is to teach people to look like they are playing instruments--And it ain't just for the movies--Recently, I saw a live concert video of one of the boy-bands (sorry, I forget which one) where a handsome lead singer sat down and accompanied himself on guitar while someone sat behind and off to one side, playing the exact same fingerings--


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 02:34 PM

The other extreme of course was Bing Crosby playing the concertina in High Society.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: John P
Date: 30 Aug 03 - 02:39 PM

All the Mornings of the World (Tous les matins du monde) with Gerard Depardieu, a beautifully done movie with broque vielleist protagonists. Every time there was a performance scene, the actors' fingers were flopping around on the fretboard like drunken earthworms. That is my strongest remembrance of an otherwise superbly made film.

Truly, Madly, Deeply with Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson. Rickman plays a dead cellist. I heard the performance scenes were done with a real cellist crouching on the floor behind him, reaching up and fingering the notes. Very nice, it looked completely real.

JP


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Mark Ross
Date: 01 Sep 03 - 10:20 PM

Of course, there was John Garfield in HUMORESQUE. There was one violinist doing the fingering and another the bowing. The fiddle was straapped uner Garfield's chin. Oscar Levant, who played his accompanist in the film was heard to remark, " You know the four of us should go on tour."

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 01 Sep 03 - 10:26 PM

I remember renting something called "Crossroads" in which Ralph Macchio learns to play the blues and ends up in a guitar duel with the devil. Macchio may have been able to play some, but he obviously faked a bunch of it. Steve Vai played the devil-guitarist in the duel scene and he didn't fake a damned thing.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 01 Sep 03 - 10:35 PM

Has anyone seen "Songcatcher"? (running for cover).


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Willie-O
Date: 01 Sep 03 - 10:46 PM

Well Vai wouldn't have to would he? That's not a bad movie, Macchio was pretty good for a kid.

Another pretty good (really) guitarist is Michael J Fox, who still went in over his head in Back To The Future trying to play Hendrix-style electric at a 50's sock hop. Pretty funny scene.

Richard Gere in Cotton Club was a decent trumpet player, but his modest proficiency on the instrument did not seem to warrant the crazy audience response he got...

I loved Sweet and Lowdown. That's the kind of movie Woody Allen should make more of (it's presented as a mockumentary). I don't know what the hell I'd do if faced with the hypothetical situation of Django Reinhardt sitting in a front row seat to hear me play...I expect I'd sure run out the back, double quick.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 01 Sep 03 - 11:00 PM

There was some truely HORRID faking in Songcatcher!


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 01 Sep 03 - 11:06 PM

Going back several decades, I always enjoyed the movies where James Mason played keyboard instruments. They were very candid in their shots, clearly showing his hands, body, and face all at the keyboard (not close edits to fake it) because he played the instruments well himself. Captain Nemo in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the older lothario in Georgie Girl are two that occur to me off the top of my head.

Robert Alda (father of Alan) is said to have practiced a great deal in order to play Gershwin in a biographical movie many years ago. I don't know if he did in fact play the music or just work that hard so he'd look like he was playing the music.

Then there is the subject of dubbing--Audrey Hepburn is widely thought to have lost the oscar when the news came out that Marnie Nixon dubbed her singing. They should have had Julie Andrews play the role anyway, it was hers on Broadway, but Hepburn was not bad as an actress in the role.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Mudlark
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 01:53 AM

Just saw a bit of a Charlie Rose interview with some of the cast of Chicago, including Gere. Seems in the beginning he had dual careers as actor and musician, having had several rock bands. The others around the table claim he plays several instsruments very well..his dad was a cornetist. Ha...another side to RG...


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 03:04 AM

Edi Reader did a t.v. "soap" called "Cheating Heart" in which she "played" the accordion. Edi confided that it [unsurprisingly!] was an empty shell and dubbed music. Her two kids, however, insisted that she fetch it and play a tune for them! She did ask me if I'd come to her Ma's place with my "box" and help out, but that didn't happen either, as she was off south to the "Big Smoke" before I could get it going.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 03:30 AM

My dear old mother went to her grave convinced Kay Kendall could really play the trumpet after seeing "Genevieve".
More innocent times, I guess. Now we're all so used to body doubles, dubbing, stunt men, special effects, we're all looking for the gaffes now!

RtS


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Peterr
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 07:40 AM

Probably belongs on another thread, but in a film of the American War of Independence I'm sure a Highland piper was playing 'Battle of the Somme'


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: pavane
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 09:48 AM

Yes, they never seem to get the concertina right! Always playing an Anglo as if it was an English (like Bing)


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Nerd
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 12:13 PM

My favorite scenes are when they show someone playing a concertina, randomly moving his fingers and opening and closing the bellows with abandon. Meanwhile, the music you hear is a violin and piccolo from the orchestra...

I have to say I didn't see too much horrid faking in Songcatcher. Taj Mahal really does play banjo, as does Hazel Dickens of course. Aidan Quinn really learned to play his songs on guitar, the extras in the big singing scene were real singers and musicians like Sheila Kay Adams. Actors Emmy Rossum and David Patrick Kelly really sang their songs.

The one guy who was really faking was the actor who played Iris DeMent's husband, who accompanies her singing on fiddle in one scene. But I thought he was decent at faking it. And I guess Pat Carroll must have faked the banjo, too. Are these the folks you remember, Clinton?


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: alanabit
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 12:30 PM

I thought "Spinal Tap" worked superbly because the actors really looked like musicians - and they were real actors too. Bad as it can look when actors pretend to be musicians, it is rarely as calamitous as muscians who try to be actors!


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Folkiedave
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 04:46 PM

Surely the worst thing is the bagpiper in the scene where William Wallace's dad is buried, in Braveheart. Seen walking along the skyline in shadow and playing the highland pipes he makes a sound like uillean pipes - remarkable!!

Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 04:54 PM

"Aidan Quinn really learned to play his songs on guitar"

He may have -tried to learn-, but it really doesn't look like he's a player... and his 'faking' looks horrible...

And ya... the guy on fiddle with Iris was REALLY bad... I find it hard to believ they couldn't find an actor who looked enough like that guy who COULD play fiddle...


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 05:06 PM

Considering the length of time that Pat Carroll played the banjo during the movie, I don't think she would have to fake it. With someone there to show her what to do and about ten minutes' practice, anyone could have managed it.

"It's all in the pickin'" she says, and launches into it. "Bump-diddy, bump-diddy, bump-diddy--" CUT! That's about all. No faking necessary.

Don Firth
Maybe I'm weird, but I liked Songcatcher! I thought it was pretty well done, and with movies, I'm not that easy to please.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Cluin
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 05:18 PM

Pat Boone noodled about on the concertina in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and had it yanked out of his hands by a huge magnetic field.

And there was much rejoicing....


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 05:48 PM

"Maybe I'm weird, but I liked Songcatcher!"

Me too... I love the movie... but that doesn't change the fact that I think Adin was faking, and lousy at it...

And well Dave, the more that highland pipes DON'T sound like highland pipes, the better in my book!!


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: John P
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 08:28 PM

Captains Courageous with Spencer Tracy shown playing a hurdy-gurdy while the soundtrack plays a violin section.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 10:51 PM

The guys were actually playing in Spinal Tap.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: GUEST,Jeremiah (durn cookies!)
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 11:11 PM

I don't remember the name of the (filmed in Toronto) film, but Bridget Fonda was coached for the piano scenes by local keyboard wizard Lily Sazz.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: MarkS
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 11:15 PM

"The Red Violin" also used the three people technique for playing. The lead actor had his hands behind his back, with one violinist fingering and another bowing. Dont know if the other leads did the same or played themselves,(the movie is about the history of a violin and its various owners) but it is realistically done and definitely worth seeing.


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 12:06 AM

Many years ago now the series "Remington Steele" starred Stephanie Zimbalist. No mention of her famous grandfather, but near the end of the program's run, there was an explosion at the character's home, and as a kind gesture the the Brosnan character gives her a lovely Steinway. Last scene shows her playing said piano, and it looked and sounded like she was playing. It was probably the easiest of all of Chopin's Preludes, but she was playing.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Faking Musicianship in Movies
From: MAG
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 12:13 AM

OK, I actually just went and saw the latest Freaky Friday remake and I thought the rock band looked OK -- but then I know from nothing about rock ...


"You mean ... you actually play notes??"


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