The Movie Waffler Pino Donaggio's 10 Greatest Soundtracks | The Movie Waffler

Pino Donaggio's 10 Greatest Soundtracks

Our 10 favourite scores from the Italian composer, best known for his work with director Brian De Palma.

Words by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Don't Look Now (1973)

Pino Donaggio was one of Italy's most popular singer/songwriters throughout the 1960s. In 1973 he embarked on a new career as a film composer by providing the score for Nicolas Roeg's acclaimed chiller. Here, Donaggio established the melancholy piano sound that would become his trademark.

Carrie (1976)

Donaggio is probably best known for his collaborations with director Brian De Palma, beginning with the score for the 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's debut novel. Here he draws heavily on the influence of Hitchcock's favourite composer, Bernard Herrmann, with stabbing Psycho-esque strings combining with quieter, more recognisably Donaggio compositions.

Piranha (1978)

Joe Dante's Piranha, scripted by John Sayles, was a monster movie with a social message concerning environmental pollution and corporate greed. Donaggio's score reflects this underlying seriousness, largely avoiding the sort of bombast you might expect from a score for a killer fish flick.

Dressed to Kill (1980)

De Palma's Dressed to Kill is arguably the director's most divisive film. To some it's a masterpiece of Hitchcockian suspense and visual storytelling, for others it's merely derivative trash, and for some it's all of the above. Donaggio provides a score that echoes this - it's loud, brash and owes a lot to Herrmann, but it fits De Palma's movie like a black leather glove.

The Black Cat (1981)

Despite being employed on Hollywood productions at this time, Donaggio was more than happy to work for the genre filmmakers of his homeland. His score for this Lucio Fulci thriller is an earworm; it sounds a little cheesy at first, but you'll find yourself humming it days after watching the movie.

The Fan (1981)

Director Edward Bianchi's thriller, in which Lauren Bacall's stage actress is stalked by violent fan Michael Biehn, is fun, but feels very much like a poor man's attempt at aping De Palma. Donaggio's score lends it some extra credibility.

Blow Out (1981)

One of De Palma's best movies gets one of Donaggio's best scores, featuring a beautifully tragic piano theme that will make anyone familiar with the film's downer of an ending a little teary eyed.

Body Double (1984)

Body Double saw De Palma reach the pinnacle of his career with a gloriously trashy homage to his idol Hitchcock. Donaggio's score could be mistaken for one by German synth outfit Tangerine Dream - it's '80s in the best possible way.

Trauma (1993)

In the '90s, Donaggio began collaborating with his countryman Dario Argento, another filmmaker obsessed with Hitchcock. Argento's 1993 Trauma represents the point at which the cult director's filmography begins to traject downwards in quality, but Donaggio's score is the film's highlight.

Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005)

After a few duds, Argento made this under-rated TV movie, a postmodern thriller that saw him explore his love for the master of suspense. It's one of Argento's better later works, and the same can be said for Donaggio's score.

Don't Be Greedy, Share This Post