Ennio Morricone was a talented, gainfully employed composer who knew from catchy hooks and whistling melodies, but to a significant degree he was a a genre guy. Because when you boil it right down his whole career rests upon his scores for Sergio Leone‘s spaghetti westerns (A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, Once Upon A Time in the West) and, more recently, his score for Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight. Plus the scores for Gillo Pontecorvo‘s The Battle of Algiers, Bernardo Bertolucci‘s 1900 and Terrence Malick‘s Days of Heaven (along with Leo Kottke).
In the Italian realm Morricone’s music wasn’t as deep or ravishing as Nino Rota‘s, and he certainly wasn’t in the same league as Hollywood powerhouse composers like Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, David Raksin, Dimitri Tiomkin, Miklos Rozsa, Maurice Jarre, Alex North and Hugo Freidhofer. Not in my book, he wasn’t.