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Le Marginal
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Music Box Records / 2014 / 75m

A 1983 French crime thriller directed by Jacques Deray, Le Marginal stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as a policeman engaged in a personal battle to take down a Marseilles drugs lord.  The director described it as an “urban western” and picked Ennio Morricone as his composer after he had completed work on another Belmondo crime movie, Le Professionnel, a couple of years earlier.  His excellent music is largely based around a single theme, with a rock music feel thanks to the guitars and rhythm section.  In its opening album arrangement it’s a dynamic, pulsating piece, six minutes long (as are some of the variants).  Later on the album the composer turns the same melody into a love theme (“Pour Carole”) and the sweepingly dramatic “La droguée et le garçon”, which is strangely beautiful, almost dreamlike.

In “Thème classique”, the composer takes the stylised string writing he used to such famous effect in Maddalena‘s “Chi Mai” and Le Professionnel‘s “Le Vent, Le Cri” and builds another piece in a similar vein.  It’s not quite at the same level as those two extraordinary pieces, but still wonderful.  The style unexpectedly resurfaces in a suspense track, the two-part “Hypertension”, laden with tension.  It all flows beautifully, and the original album sequence (possibly dumping the two songs by Blizzard depending on your taste) which is recreated at the start of this album before the half hour of various alternative arrangements of the various pieces is absolutely brilliant, a dynamite programme of music.  Le Marginal is one of a number of hugely entertaining crime thriller scores Morricone wrote in the 1970s and 80s, with a killer main theme and it makes a compelling album (for those who know the composer primarily through his American scores, your point of reference is Frantic).  Music Box’s album slightly expands the 2002 GDM release and the sound quality is excellent (though in truth I’ll be playing the original LP sequence more than anything else).  Great score.

Rating: **** 1/2

See also:
Frantic Ennio Morricone | |

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  1. Kalman (Reply) on Thursday 26 June, 2014 at 19:03

    The main theme in itself is really worth 4 and a 1/2 stars, but the album as a whole is a chore to listen to from start to finish because that theme gets very boring after the 10th repeat and there’s no big differnces between the versions. A much shorter album presentation would have been better in this case.

    • James Southall (Reply) on Thursday 26 June, 2014 at 19:46

      I think the original LP presentation is terrific (before the repeats start).