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Thread: Mandolins in the Movies

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    I took my daughters to see Ella Enchanted, a sort of tongue-in-cheek fairy tale based loosely on Cinderella. In passing there was a scene where Ella is asked by her mother to go practice her mandolin. She runs downstairs and picks up a bowlback and then proceeds to bow it.

    I am not sure if this was meant as a joke or just the ignorance of the movie makers. I can't imagine that there are many folks except mandolin players who would even care, let alone get the joke.

    Perhaps we can have a place here in this thread for movie and tv sightings of mandolins.

    Jim



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    Bowing a mandolin, very interesting . . . I actually tried it once with my fiddle bow. You get a very weird, resonating sound, almost like a dobro/mandolin. Anyways, the only sighting I've ever really noticed is in the most obvious movie, Captain Correlli's Mandolin.
    God made me a mandolin player, and when I play, I feel his pleasure.

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    There's a modern A style mando in the movie "A Mighty Wind"

    Can't think of any other movies off hand, I do remember seeing an episode of Cheers where they had an "irish band" playin f-style mandolins.

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    There is a brief Mandolin Sighting in the Movie "Titanic" it's during the Celtic dancing and drinking scene,it's a bowlback! (A noteworthy sighting)
    Shalom,Yonkle (JD)

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    "Stonehenge" sequence in This Is Spinal Tap. (The manager, Ian, also mentions having to go find mandolin strings while in Austin, during the big post-Stonehenge argument, which he concludes by quitting rather than accepting co-manager status with David St. Hubbins' flakey girlfriend.)

    I believe there was also a shot of a mando being played on the bus in the film Almost Famous

    Finnish soldier in Karelia plunking a mandolin in the WWII film Talvisota (Winter War).

    NH

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    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    King of the Gypsies (1978) is an enjoyable movie to rent from the budget rack. Soundtrack contributions by Grisman and Stephane Grappelli appears in a scene with the Dawg playing music.

    Captain Corelli's Mandolin was interesting but mainly because of the scenery, the history behind the story and (most of all--heart beating fast) Penelope Cruz. The mandolin parts where he's playing look phonier than that million dollar bill some lady tried to pass in a Wal-Mart recently.

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    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    i saw an old(1940's?) movie years ago where one of the characters plays mandolin. there's a scene where he takes his gibson f-5, throws it into a drawer, and slams the drawer shut! i don't remember the title, but i sure remember that scene.
    john
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    My daughters were just watching a move called "Little secrets", there was a sceen in a music store where a display case was filled with vintage goodies, ie, F4,A4,F5, and a mixed bag of bowlbacks etc, gotta love DVD I stopped it and took a close look
    Michael Lettieri

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Scott Tichenor @ April 10 2004, 23:21)
    King of the Gypsies (1978) is an enjoyable movie to rent from the budget rack. Soundtrack contributions by Grisman and Stephane Grappelli appears in a scene with the Dawg playing music.
    I believe that Andy Statman also played on that soundtrack.

    Jim
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    I caught part of the preview for "The Alamo" and it looked like there was a mandolin in one scene.
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    I just rented a DVD "Confessions of Robert Crumb," in which R Crumb (70s guru of underground comics) was filmed playing mandolin in one of the early scenes. Even though he was an icon of the psychedelic era and lived in Haight-Ashbury, he couldn't stand rock and roll and even refused an offer to do a cover for The Rolling Stones because he hated their music! He collects old timey music and has some CDs out, some with his band "The Cheap Suit Serenaders," on which I think he sometimes plays mandolin.

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    In the movie "Mrs Parker" about the New Yorker writer Dorothy Parker there is a brief scene where the Robert Benchley character and his wife are playing a duet (in their living room) on bowlback mandolins. This would be set in about 1930.

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    A related question: my daughter has the Dixie Chicks' Home CD/DVD pkg. On the video, Landslide is featured and the during the mando break (very pretty), one of the Chicks is shown playing that break, in the music video style - very brief video clips of playing. My question - did she actually play that break on the recording, or was it Thile or Steffey?

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    And there is the video compilation of Dave Apollon's movies, just the parts where he actually plays - very cool stuff.

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    AlanN - I don't know if any of the Dixie Chicks even plays mandolin, but I do know that on the recording on the Cd of Landslide, Thile played the mandolin part. It may be different live, but I doubt it. It was probably just a recording that was faked by one of the girls, but you never know.
    God made me a mandolin player, and when I play, I feel his pleasure.

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    Thanks, Nathaniel. That's what I thought, although it looks like she is playing the right strings/things.

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    There is either an OM or a Bouzouki in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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    Back in the early 80s I was watching this tv show that was done featureing a poor Mexican Catholic Parish. One of the scenes showed the villagers all paradeing along this dusty dirt road, all dressed up and singing. There was this old dude marching along playing a Loar H5 mandola. He was the only one who had an instrument.
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    Did you all forget about 'Cold Mountain'?

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    Alan, Nathaniel,
    Martie does play the Mando and I think she does play the part in Landslide. Thile plays on Lil Jack Slade and Steffey also plays on the album. Probably Travelin Soldier, if not others.

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    Saw The Alamo sat. There is a Mexican playing a mandolin...the instrument doenst look period correct though...with Billy Bob Thorton who is playing the fiddle. BB plays Crockett. I am also not sure is Crockett played fiddle.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (futrconslr @ April 12 2004, 12:05)
    I am also not sure is Crockett played fiddle.
    I found this Web page about Crockett.

    It says:
    "At the Alamo, Davey Crockett entertained the troops with his fiddle. #The men of the Alamo are exhausted, resisting probes day and night."

    Also: about the film:

    "As for traditional music that might have been played at the Alamo before the battle, we are presented with “Billy in the Low Ground” and “Deguello.” Davy Crockett was a fiddle player and probably knew how to play “The Eight of January,” “Soldier’s Joy,” and “Billy in the Low Ground.” #

    Jim



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    The mandolin in Cold Mountain definitely looked to be an early 20th-c. German instrument...and even more anachornistic in that the mandolin was almost entirely unknown in the US until ca. 1880. A mandolin in The Alamo would almost certainly not be "period correct."

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    Dave Apollon appeared in a half-dozen short music featurettes with his Phillipine Orchestra including Hot From Petrograd and Club Cassanova. He also appeared in one full-length film called Merry Go 'Round. Pretty hard to find, but well worth watching to see the maestro in action.

    There was a Fred Astaire movie called Second Chorus that featured an elaborate subplot with Charles Butterworth as Mr. Chisolm, a frustrated amateur mandolinist trying to break into the entertainment business. The mandolin functions as a kind of symbol of stuffy, square old music in the swinging world of big-band jazz. Lots of shots of Butterworth trying to make music on his Gibson F-5. There are some pretty fun big-band scenes with music by Artie Shaw, a ridiculous song about Mr. Chisolm and his mandolin, and the usual Fred Astaire song-and-dance routines.

    For Grisman completists, there's a ridiculous hot-rod movie called Eat My Dust with Grisman's "EMD" as the title track. Good music, atrocious movie.

    There are some mandolin bits in the Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory, and there's a nice scene in John Sayle's excellent Matewan where a bunch of the miners from different parts of the world are all camped out in the same place and the different strains of music--including an Italian mandolin--all come together for a brief musical meeting of the minds.



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