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 IIthe last ruling tsar of Russiaand his family. Behind its decorative veneer was an 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 ofand fascination withthe 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.

"Too Beautiful to Last" (1972) Engelbert Humperdinck 

Written by Paul Francis Webster and Richard Rodney Bennett * Produced by Gordon Mills * 45: "Too Beautiful to Last" / "A Hundred Times a Day" * LP: In Time * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#86), easy listening (#16) * Entered: 1972-03-25 (easy listening), 1972-04-29 (Hot 100)

"Too Beautiful to Last" merged Paul Francis Webster's lyrics to the Richard Rodney Bennett theme music moviegoers had heard throughout the three-hour Nicholas and Alexandra epic. Engelbert Humperdinck's dynamic delivery of it made for a vintage dollop of early seventies schlager. (In the UK, the single had a better outing, climbing up to #14.) A perfume-drenched creation by British composers Laurie Holloway (male) and Michael Green appeared as the B side.

Side A: "Too Beautiful to Last"

Side B: "A Hundred Times a Day"

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