Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends
Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends (Warner, available now), a rich and well-mounted musical documentary focusing on the famed American singer, marks the latest collaboration between filmmakers Clint Eastwood and Bruce Ricker. The two have worked together for some 20 years, ever since Eastwood exec produced 1988’s Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser, which was produced by Ricker. Since then, Ricker has been a music consultant on such Eastwood films as The Bridges of Madison County and Mystic River, while Eastwood has produced the Ricker-directed doc Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do That and been the subject of an American Masters installment that Ricker also directed.
For The Music Never Ends, Eastwood and Ricker, president and founder of the venerable jazz home entertainment label Rhapsody Films (www.rhapsodyfilms.com), opted not to chronicle Bennett’s life and career in the manner of a straight-ahead bio-pic, but rather to fashion a not-necessarily-chronological look at Bennett’s musical heritage.
“What we wanted to do is show where Tony Bennett came from musically, which was two traditions,” Ricker told us. “First, he is the Italian-American bel canto type singer like Dean Martin or Sinatra, and then he’s the traditional American popular singer a la Louis Armstrong or Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.”
To that end, the film contains a healthy collection of films clips featuring Bennett’s contemporaries (along with the obvious vintage material of the singer, himself), including scenes from such Warner Bros. movies as High Society, Bells Are Ringing, Gold Diggers of 1935, An American in Paris, Easter Parade and even Goodfellas.”
“By using the songs from feature films, the production values of those films make it into our picture. And they subtly add another dash of elegance to the whole production,” said Ricker. “The type of vision that Clint has come up with creates a symbiotic relationship with Warner. We have access to their catalog and we can justify using clips from that catalog. And that puts a spotlight on their library, its availability and its quality.”
Ricker is also fast to point out that access to clips of a certain pedigree isn’t the only advantage to working with the legendary Mr. Eastwood.
“The beauty about working with Clint is that he has final cut and the power to let the music play on so that it can be enjoyed. Many of the songs in the film are shown in their entirety, albeit from different times and by different performers,” said Ricker. “Also, people like Mel Brooks, Don Rickles and Alec Baldwin and others who appeared in the film did interviews within a day or two of getting calls from us, and that was because of Clint.”
- Posted by Laurence Lerman on November 13, 2007. Click here to view the article on Video Business.