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Movie faking( best- worst) whats yours

5540 Views 23 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Martinman
St. Elmos Fire I could not believe the top of the horn didn't get ripped apart- This was the worst one I saw. And or course the one where the not played sax went out the window (Stacey Keatch) I thought Wesley Snipes did a respectable job-looks like he played at some point.
then there's the trumpet fakes but thats another story.
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Didn't find Forrest Whitaker's performance in Bird very convincing (he is a teriffic actor, though). A few months ago The Benny Goodman Story was on late-night TV here. Now, Steve Allen should have been able to fake this better, since he was a very good pianist, but he did a pretty crappy job, too!
How 'bout Collateral, where the jazz club owner tells the story about the one time the great Miles Davis came through the club, and he actually sat in... and then the guy goes back on stage, and the band fakes playing while you hear the original recording of "Bitches Brew!" They throw names around like so the people who recognize them can feel sophisticated, then turn around and insult your intelligence at the same time!

Best faking: Mo' Better Blues... 'course, most of the band were actually the players.
Best movie faking???

Anything with Ron Jeremy in it. :D

Best movie with fake saxophone playing???

I gotta vote for the Simpsons episodes with Bleeding Gums Murphy. He and Lisa do a pretty good job considering they only have 3 fingers. :)

Forrest Whittaker was pretty good in Bird. Great actor, but that lazy eye thing freaks me out every time.

Wesley Snipes did an ok job too, but in the movie, he had way too much ambition to be a real sax player and his appartment was too tidy.

Best movie playing award I'd give to Clint Eastwood. Always has good jazz soundtracks to his movies and manages to play some nice piano in a few of his movies. I remember reading an interview somewhere and the jazz player being interviewed noted that Clint Eastwood can actually play.

Dudley Moore is another who's reported to be a good player.
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Some Like it Hot. Take your pick, they were all pretty bad.

Great movie in spite of it.
Sometimes some of these "fakes" are so bad that you have to wonder if they don't actually fake without a backing track, i.e. they arent sure what they are supposed to be faking and the decision about what song actually gets dubbed in after the fact once they get the rights to it?

Maybe I'm giving actors too much credit, but it just seems so impossible to fake something THAT badly!
SactoPete said:
Maybe I'm giving actors too much credit, but it just seems so impossible to fake something THAT badly!
You're not married obviously. :D :shock:
SactoPete said:
Sometimes some of these "fakes" are so bad that you have to wonder if they don't actually fake without a backing track, i.e. they arent sure what they are supposed to be faking and the decision about what song actually gets dubbed in after the fact once they get the rights to it?

Maybe I'm giving actors too much credit, but it just seems so impossible to fake something THAT badly!
'Actors are mannequins with egos.' -hakukani proverb:D
Opening credits to Bop Girl Goes Calypso, Nino Tempo, fakin his own tune, you can catch a couple places but he does a really good job. although he shoudl since its his tune, but he does take off his jacket and loosen his tie while playing.

I haven't yet watched the entire movie, its supposed to be a stinker.

Swing, with Clarence Clemons, good faking in that one too.
Dog Pants said:
You're not married obviously. :D :shock:
I don't get it.

I believe he was being qualitative, not quantitative.
martysax said:
I don't get it.

I believe he was being qualitative, not quantitative.
Once a year, on your birthday? How could it be anything BUT qualitative? :D :D :D
I thought that chap who played the lead in Round Midnight was pretty good. :wink:

- Michael
michaelH said:
I thought that chap who played the lead in Round Midnight was pretty good. :wink:

- Michael
Especially those extension chords he played.
What about De Niro in "New York, New York" - who taught him to pick his horn up by the crook like that? :shock: Gives me the willies just watching him do that.
Not just saxophone but...


Lush Life: Jeff Goldblum on tenor sax and recorder, Forest Whitaker on trumpet.

Moscow on the Hudson: Robin Williams on tenor sax.

American Blue Note (aka Fakebook): Peter MacNicol on alto sax.

Last of the Blonde Bombshells: Judi Dench on tenor sax.

Mr Holland's Opus: Richard Drefuss, piano and conducting.


Bird: Forest Whitaker on alto sax. The reason it's worst is because of this 'shoulder dance' thing he does. I've never seen anyone play like this plus as those in the know are aware, Parker played stock still - but how boring would THAT be on film?
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Warren Beatty, in "Heaven Can Wait," fakes playing badly on soprano sax.
Before we come down too hard on movie faking, some consideration should be paid to just how the playing is being added to the film.

For a Hollywood style production, one that's meant to look good as well as sound good, the "faking" is a necessary part of the process. When the film is shot, the sound that you hear with the scene is not directly recorded as part of the shot. instead, the scene is shot as is and then put "in the can".

Later on, the artists who do the actual playing record the sound to tempo, and then it is "stripped in" (and don't ask me where that term comes from) as part of the post-production process.

The reasons behind this become obvious once you start thinking about them:

1) Recording equipment restrictions - no mikes or booms or cables to clutter up the scene visually

2) Error issues - re-recording a musical track to get it right is cheaper by an order of ten over redoing a filmed scene for the same purposes

3) Continuity issues - most films consist of a series of different shots in each scene, and recording the music at the time would cause all sorts of problems when trying to match the various shots up for the finished operation. Normal tempo variations alone would play havoc with "doing it live".

4) Skills issues - as stated above, not all actors have any musical ability. A good part of the time, the actors are acting and the musicians are playing, with the tracks being brought together in post-production

I used to have a friend who did a lot of film work out West, this being the recording of the music for a film (not the acting). I once mentioned to him that it must be fun to do all that playing, and he answered that it was the most boring process in the world. Trying to match tempos (not just the "official" tempo set at the start of a piece, but also when there are inadvertent speed up and slow down issues) made it all very tedious.

Some examples here, a bit more expanded than those above:

Tony Curtis for starters. He has been in not one but two "saxophone centric" movies (the Billy Wilder classic Some Like It Hot, and the not so well known (but much more musically oriented) The Rat Race). In both movies, he spends a good part of his time on screen with a sax in his hand (tenor in SLIH, tenor and alto in TRR). In both cases, he seems to be moving his hands "correctly" for the most part as far as key action is concerned, but "out of sync" with the film overall.

This would seem to be indicative of poor (or no technique) on his part, but I would invite you to take a look at one of his "co-stars" in TRR, some guy by the name of Jerry Mulligan.

Watching Mulligan's fingers move on his horn reveals the same "right technique, wrong timing" issues as are present with Curtis. I'd say that most here would feel that Jerry Mulligan would be getting it as right as he could. Thus, the answer lies not in the actor's ability but rather in the limitations of the medium.

In SLIH, the music is a bit more peripheral to the story than in the other film. However, compared to Lennon's antics on the fingerboard of the doghouse bass, Curtis seems to be doing pretty well, if somewhat out of sync. Once again, the marriage of the film and sound seems to be the cause.

In some films, you can actually hear a difference in quality/acoustics/whatever when they switch from the sound recorded during a scene to the post-production recorded stuff. However, that distinction has gone away since the 1970's or so. Better equipment and effect processing, I would imagine.

I have seen mention of saxophone playing ability in a Tony Curtis bio, but he did not claim to play the horn well. It is odd that he appeared in two different films which both featured the crooked horn, though.

Also regarding the sax, there is a movie with Danny Kaye as a eggheaded music professor who is engaged in compiling an encyclopedia of music during the 1940s. Various musical talents from the era appear in this, and when Charlie Barnett is on screen playing, again the finger action does not directly match the sound coming at you from out of the speakers.

With both Barnett and Mulligan, clearly masters of the instrument, having these "mismatch problems", it about sets the seal on the problem being with the process, not with the players.

Regarding Steve Allen, a true genius in many fields, it is true that he was no Benny Goodman. (For one thing, he wasn't an a-hole in real life, unlike the great Goodman - I once spent an hour and a half on a plane next to Steverino, and was truly amazed by his depth and good humor in the bargain.) However, he was able to play clarinet, as demonstrated by his performance on same on his television show in the mid-1960's. Benny Goodman good, no. But, still able to get around on the horn.

(The most remarkable thing about Allen was that he had more published tunes to his credit than anyone else at the time, even exceeding Irving Berlin's output. And, he did it all without being able to read a single note of music.)

The Benny Goodman Story is remarkable in one other area - the most blatant musical instrument plug ever put on film. When the young Benny arrives at his ancient teacher's house for a lesson, another student (either also arriving or just departing) notices that Benny has a new horn:

Other Student: "Oh, a new clarinet, huh?"

Benny: "Yeah"

Other Student: "Selmer?"

Benny: "Yeah"

Old Vito up in Wisconsin must have gritted his teeth in anger when that happened.

A friend of mine was the tenor sax player in the Royal Tank Regiment uniform during the "Portobello Road" scene in Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks, this back in his college days at UCLA. He went to some trouble to learn the chart for the scene, and it was played by the on-screen crowd when it was being filmed, but (once again) the final version (recorded by other musicians) was all stripped into place post-production. To shoot the one scene, he was at the studio for almost a week, and spent plenty of time eating well at Disney's expense.

However, Jim was lucky enough to have about fifteen seconds of his on-camera time used in the release version (and slightly more in the one released on video), plus he managed to make the "lobby card" (a small photographic scene that was hung in movie theater lobbies to plug upcoming films) in the bargain (albeit only from the back side).

He has one of them hanging framed on the wall at his house, and I took the trouble to get him listed in the ImdB, this to further insure his immortality. However, I was the only person who ever identified the uniform he was wearing. More useless trivia...
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that's interesting. As a video Producer I do it the opposite way, get the sound recording down, then have them "finger synch" to the track whilst recording the video. Different takes from different angles all with the same sound track. then mix in room ambience, and crowd sounds in post to make it not sound like a studio recording.

Oh, another was D.O.A. James Von Streeter on cam, but his music wasn't up to snuff and replaced by studio musicians later.

here's a link to that clip

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