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 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 6:11 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Don't ever accuse me of not trying to start thoughtful topics... wink

Anyone here like this show? I friggin' love it!

I recently got the Timeless Media DVDs of this 1959-60 TV series and have been impressed by maestro Bernstein's wonderfully creative scores. Cassavetes is the title character, a struggling jazz pianist-turned private detective. I used to watch this back in 2004 when the TRIO channel aired it on its Brilliant But Cancelled series. I'd known about the show for years and finally saw it then. John Cassavetes was great, the chicks were cute, the Crime Jazz was cool, and the atmosphere was hardboiled; I loved the shots of 1959 NYC.

While some aspects of the show are entertainingly dated (Beatniks, 1959-era slang, etc), I'm impressed at how the best shows have timelessness to them, particularly the ones directed by Cassavetes himself. I get the impression that he only agreed to star in Staccato so he could finance his independent films. Speaking of which, film school students should watch these to see how B&W photography is done. As for the acting, Cassavetes is always brilliant; he even breaks into "Victor Franko" mode on occasion!

This show wasn't going to last more than one year, as it's unlike almost anything on TV at the time, if not in concept, then in execution. Though there were other "Swinging Private Eye" shows on before and during Staccato's time: 77 Sunset Strip and its various spin offs; plus Richard Diamond; Peter Gunn; and Mike Hammer, all of which were contemporaries of Staccato. However, those shows lacked the punch and power that Johnny Staccato had. Much is mentioned about the Korean War and its effects on veterans. Staccato is a Korean War vet, as well. I don't think many TV shows of the time took on issues like pacifism, or decried the anti-communist witch hunts, either. There's even a creepy episode where a ventriloquist is semingly "controlled" by his puppet; shades of 1978's Magic, which starred Anthony Hopkins.

Supporting Cast: Eduardo Ciannelli as Waldo is a delightful father figure to Johnny Staccato; Garry "Quincy, M.E." Walberg and several fine guest stars. Martin Landau and John Cassavetes in the same room? They look like brothers!

Cassavetes' voiceover is another notable aspect of the program, too. A must for Noirheads!

Favorite Episodes and Scores:

Solomon- Directed by John Cassavetes. As arty and as Noir as this show ever got. It's easy to see how Cassavetes was influenced by European directors...or maybe vice versa. Cloris Leachman and Elisha Cook, Jr. are both great in this.

Night of Jeopardy- Cool plot twist in this story about some missing counterfeit plates; the term "T-Men" gets bandied about a lot.

A Piece of Paradise- Man, is this one downbeat and tragic. A brilliant episode. This is as about as dark in content as network TV got in 1959. A jockey is accused of murder, or was it that tough cop (Bert Freed) who hassles Johnny all the time?

The Shop of the Four Winds: Great asian motif that plays in a variety of arrangements, most notably a solo piano rendition "played" by Johnny at episode's end.

There are a few instances of music replacement, though nothing major. Two vocals are re-performed in two episodes and an opening jazz jam session is overdubbed with some sterile-sounding big band cue in another. You can easily tell that this is newer-sounding than the Elmer music. However, from what I can tell, all of Bernstein's music has been retained.

Bernstein's music is a character and integral part of Johnny Staccato and it lends the show its atmosphere just as much as the moody lighting, grim subject matter, and the burgeoning talent of John Cassavetes.

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 6:34 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

I pretty remember Doug Fake praising Johnny Staccato. Particularly the episode
with the John Williams cameo.

http://www.intrada.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3755

presently, impossible to find on the tube.

Lorenz

post edit: nearly impossible to find on the tube smile

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 6:38 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

"Johnny" appears here at the 0:14 second mark, for those who're interested.

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 6:41 AM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Never seen the show I'm afraid but really enjoy this cd

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 6:47 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

"Johnny" appears here at the 0:14 second mark, for those who're interested.



good work Jim!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 6:53 AM   
 By:   Simon Morris   (Member)

Never seen the show I'm afraid but really enjoy this cd



I've never seen the series either, but I think the CD is a great listen.

The theme is especially good - memorable for one thing; and a combination of mood and menace.

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 7:47 AM   
 By:   mgh   (Member)

I remember the series very well from my childhood, especially how dark it could be. The album is one of Elmer's best. I too just bought the DVDs recently and am enjoying them very much.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 8:51 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Never seen the show, but I have the CD pictured above. Always been curious about this due to the Williams connection (and also because I like Cassavettes).

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 8:53 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4UBtetOiJY

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 9:46 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Never seen the show, but I have the CD pictured above. Always been curious about this due to the Williams connection (and also because I like Cassavettes).

I I believe Williams is listed in the end credits of three or four episodes, along with the other jazzbos on the show.

Staccato is everything I hoped Peter Gunn would be. IMO Staccato is a much better show and if it weren't for Mancini's immortal theme on Peter Gunn, it's unlikely that anyone would remember it.

The music on the album is good, but the renditions heard in the show itself are much, much better. There's a drive and energy that is lacking on the LP. Bernstein's music is very "Winter-in-NYC-B&W" and fits this show so well. Amazon often has the three-disc DVD set on sale for $21.99, so it's actually cheaper than most soundtracks!

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 10:14 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Scratch that: The Staccato DVDS are currently selling for $14.99 at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Johnny-Staccato-starring-John-Cassavetes/dp/B003Z3C728/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1293560021&sr=1-1

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 11:00 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Never seen the show, but I have the CD pictured above. Always been curious about this due to the Williams connection (and also because I like Cassavettes).

I I believe Williams is listed in the end credits of three or four episodes, along with the other jazzbos on the show.

Staccato is everything I hoped Peter Gunn would be. IMO Staccato is a much better show and if it weren't for Mancini's immortal theme on Peter Gunn, it's unlikely that anyone would remember it.

The music on the album is good, but the renditions heard in the show itself are much, much better. There's a drive and energy that is lacking on the LP. Bernstein's music is very "Winter-in-NYC-B&W" and fits this show so well. Amazon often has the three-disc DVD set on sale for $21.99, so it's actually cheaper than most soundtracks!


The CD is also very short...like 15 minutes or something. Would be cool if there was a fullfledged, rerecorded album of this, like Schifrin did with MANNIX.

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 11:43 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

The CD is also very short...like 15 minutes or something. Would be cool if there was a fullfledged, rerecorded album of this, like Schifrin did with MANNIX.

It splits time with that "Paris Swings" album, does it not? Whatever the case, the best way thus far to hear Bernstein's music is within the show's context. Though that has just as much to do with my own listening preferences as much as it does the actual performance and sound quality of the music itself. I don't know if a re-record could match that urban grittiness that the 1959-era recordings have in spades.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 12:04 PM   
 By:   Simon Morris   (Member)



It splits time with that "Paris Swings" album, does it not?



Yes, it does. There are 12 'Staccato' cues and they last just over 32 minutes.

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 12:18 PM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

The CD is also very short...like 15 minutes or something. Would be cool if there was a fullfledged, rerecorded album of this, like Schifrin did with MANNIX.

It splits time with that "Paris Swings" album, does it not? Whatever the case, the best way thus far to hear Bernstein's music is within the show's context. Though that has just as much to do with my own listening preferences as much as it does the actual performance and sound quality of the music itself. I don't know if a re-record could match that urban grittiness that the 1959-era recordings have in spades.


Have yet to hear any re recordings that are better,the magic always seems to be gone for me.

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 1:01 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Have yet to hear any re recordings that are better,the magic always seems to be gone for me.

Occasionally I'll like contemporaneous re-records from the '60 or '70s that capture the spirit of the originals, and the Staccato re-record does a fair job of doing so. Lalo's Mission: Impossible and Mannix do this, as do Hugo Montenegro's Man from UNCLE LPs, but there's (usually) nothing quite like the original.

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 2:39 PM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Have yet to hear any re recordings that are better,the magic always seems to be gone for me.

Occasionally I'll like contemporaneous re-records from the '60 or '70s that capture the spirit of the originals, and the Staccato re-record does a fair job of doing so. Lalo's Mission: Impossible and Mannix do this, as do Hugo Montenegro's Man from UNCLE LPs, but there's (usually) nothing quite like the original.


Yes indeed never really meant the old lp re recordings etc in many cases those are the ones I'm familiar with but when you hear the likes of the original originals from the shows or movies like FSM Bullitt Wow.

Jim Croce was on the right lines "if I can catch time in a bottle" it needs to be done back in the day by the very cats that laid it down in the first place,and stored carefully in a can until Lukas finds it.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 5:17 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I don't really care about the ol', authentic sound. All I want is for the music itself to shine in its best sonic glory.

 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 5:53 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Jim Croce was on the right lines "if I can catch time in a bottle" it needs to be done back in the day by the very cats that laid it down in the first place,and stored carefully in a can until Lukas finds it.

I don't really care about the ol', authentic sound. All I want is for the music itself to shine in its best sonic glory.

If the spirit of what made the original great is recaptured--the Charles Mingus Big Band comes to mind--then re-records can be astonishing.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 28, 2010 - 8:05 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

I don't really care about the ol', authentic sound. All I want is for the music itself to shine in its best sonic glory.

Ha!

 
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