Monday, March 7, 2016

Chart Song Cinema: Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)

Released in 1971, the British production Nicholas and Alexandra depicted the last days of Nicholas II - the last ruling tsar of Russia - and his family. Behind the gorgeous veneer, though, was another early seventies bummer film, asking us to develop a fondness for the doomed lead characters (including Tom Baker's crazed Rasputin), while additional themes relevant to the emerging seventies psyche loomed large: political complexity, the bittersweet demise of an older generation, the hazardous side effects of revolution, and the fragility of - and fascination with - the larger traditional family.

The character of Nicholas, reminding one of Mike Brady, drew sympathy as a man whose entire worldview focused on his "too beautiful to last" immediate family. For the mid-sixties Von Trapps, such a devotion led toward gorgeous vistas. For the early-seventies Romanovs, it led toward getting shot in a cellar.

Engelbert Humperdinck - "Too Beautiful to Last" (Billboard #86, entered 4/29/72). Written by Paul Francis Webster and Richard Rodney Bennett. Produced by Gordon Mills. 45: "Too Beautiful to Last"/"A Hundred Times a Day" (Parrot 1971). LP: In Time (Parrot).

Engelbert Humperdinck's dynamic voice singing Paul Francis Webster's lyrics for the Richard Rodney Bennett theme music moviegoers had heard throughout the three-hour Nicholas and Alexandra epic resulted in a vintage dollop of early seventies schlager. (The single climbed up to #14 on the UK singles chart.)

Engelbert Humperdinck - "Too Beautiful to Last"

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