Scene Unseen:
Pizza Pizza - Ein Stück vom Himmel.

Film Mystic Pizza is one my favourite films from the 80s, the kind of diaspora based romantic drama which simply isn't being made or distributed by major studios now unless it has the words big, fat, Greek or wedding in the title. 

But for years I watched the dvd of the film entirely unaware of the secret hidden on the German audio track until I fumbled onto the wrong button on the remote one night and realised that the music underneath was completely different to what I was used to.

The mix of standards and folksy guitar music, has been replaced with a range of fairly anonymous soft rock and a new title track by Hot Chocolate.  Exactly why this is I haven't been able to uncover.  Either the songs couldn't be licensed in Germany or the local distributor decided to turn out their own soundtrack cd which would necessitate messing about the music in the film.

International versions of soundtrack cds aren't unknown.  Spider-Man 2 had numerous local versions and the English language dub of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon even has the theme song rerecorded to match.  Perhaps there are more German Hollywood releases from the 80s which have had this done to.  I'll keep an eye out.

In the mean time, let's look at the differences between the two.  I'll offer this in the form of a rough synopsis of the film, scene by scene, not too much detail.  Plus I'm focusing on the musical changes.  I'll only point out the alternative foley work if it's especially notable.

Opening Titles

English track: opens with what must be some of composer David McHugh score, a flute over guitar in a mediterranean setting the audience up for the cultural diaspora in which the film is set, across family and childhood shots of the three sisters (some more convincing than others).

German track: the soft rock has already begun across the Samuel Goldwyn logo. It's Julian Steinberg's Never Give Your Love Away.  Steinberg has had a few of his tracks uploaded to YouTube, but it's not a uncommon enough name to actually find any biographical details for him.



Frankly I have no idea what this is supposed to achieve. Whoever created this soundtrack has just thrown on some generic rock, and not very well since unlike the English track which ends just in time for the wedding march, this crashes right into it and the ensuing opera singer, who is singing in Italian here with his own voice.

Church ceremony

The opera singer and wedding march are identical. The echo on the German dub, voices and foley work are recreations.

Pizza Parlour

English track: Perry Como's Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes fills the restaurant



German track: What About You by Hot Chocolate which is key enough as a track that it's mentioned on the cover of the German soundtrack album. It doesn't seem to be on YouTube, but it is on Amazon Music (incorrectly listed as "various artists"

Street

English track: While Jojo and Bill hash out their differences on the there's nothing until McHugh's guitar plays in again.

German track: Hot Chocolate can still be heard underneath right up until the end of the scene. Oh and there's a ludicrous amount of traffic which really doesn't match the kind of street they're on.

Pizza Parlour

English track: Saxophone musak

German track: Disco musak which sounds a bit like Human League. Perhaps one of the ungooglable tracks from the album?

Street to docks to babysitting job

English track: Kat's moped pulls away to some orchestral spot music

German track: Haven't a clue. Begins acapella, man singing in a Jamaican accent, something about "smells so good" and "international neighbourhood" Gives way in time for the dialogue. The song begins again while Kat rides off to her babysitting job. Although oddly the folk music and score from the English track appears briefly before being submerged in whatever this song is. The song disappears abruptly when Kat reaches the door. It's a mess.

Bar #1

English track: The English subtitle has a fit of the production notes and tells us its Steve Tyrell's Serious on the jukebox.

German track: Sideway Look's Taming The Blade. Replacing some rock music with even less appropriate rock music which apart from anything else works against the scene which looks to have been edited against the Tyrell track.



Eclectically, Sideway Look is a British indie rock band from Edinburgh, but they seem to have had their greatest following in Germany.  They don't seem to have an English Wikipedia entry but the German counterpart is fulsome.

Bar #2

English track: The subtitles helpfully tell us the next track is Is It Hot in Here by Rene Geyer with its big sax moves.

German track: Melanie's Racing Heart which is another inferior replacement. No one in the Mystic's bar would put this on the jukebox.  Ruby Tuesday or Beautiful People, perhaps but not this.



Plus the scene is edited and punctuates Geyer's lyrics as Daisy draws Charlie into her pool playing.

Restoration house

English track: Spot music, synthesiser piano over Kat falling for her employer.

German track: The same. The original soundtrack emerges for the first time. I'm shook.

Dockside walk

English track: Piano theme

German track: The same. Again. So whoever prepared this did have access to the original audio (I was wondering) but has chosen not to use it.

Daisey's date

English track: Big sax across synthesiser rhythms.

German track: What About You by Hot Chocolate reprises (they're really getting their money's worth) and it's not entirely incongruous, rhythmically the two are quite similar, although because it's been dropped in it clashes into McHugh's score once they're in the restaurant.

Babysitting

No change between the two tracks. Same classical music.

There's then a long stretch without music until Kat's back in work.

Restaurant

English track: Louis Prima's Ain't Got Nobody which is peerless.



German track: Lian Ross's Feel So Good which is just sad and again doesn't fit the scene at all. Sub-S/A/W noodling.



Lian Ross looks to have had a long career across Europe.  Feels so Good was released as a single in 1989.

Daisy's date

English track: Jazz piano.

German track: Something which sounds like Hans Zimmer circa Green Card or some kind of erotic thriller. Which then has to fade out abruptly in time for the bed scene.

Kat and the telescope

English track: String quartet

German track: Spanish guitar which sounds plausibly like it could be on the English track apart from being an utter cliche in relation to this scene.

No music for the ensuing JoJo and Bill falling out scenes then...

Bar

English track: Something rock which doesn't seem to be listed on the soundtrack.

German track: Your Love Is A Punch by Jacqui (which is about the only audible lyric since most of the song happens inside the bar.

Car Scene

English track: Aretha Franklin's Respect. Of course. Notice Annabeth Gish in the scene - entirely in character she's keeping her eye on the road more than singing along.



German track: Aretha Franklin's Respect. Boxed into a corner, the German producers have to include a song from the English track. Not only that they use the voices of the original actors, though full marks for continuing Franklin underneath the ensuing German dub without missing a beat.

JoJo and Bill again

English track: A reprise of the lovely flute themes from earlier in the film.

German track: A reprise of Julian Steinberg's Never Give Your Love Away from the beginning of the film which fades out when JoJo reaches the jetty.

Pizza Parlour

The German audience finally hears a snatch of the guitar piece from the opening credits on the English track, which plays on both.

Kat and her employer

English track: No music.

German track: The cliche Spanish guitar music from the telescope scene.

Pizza Parlour

English track: Accordion musak.

German track: Something sub-Madonna which doesn't seem to be on this list. Plays while Daisy's outside the parlour with Charlie.

Kat and her employer

The same Mozart string quartet across both.

Pizza Parlour

English track: While Kat and Daisy are in a fight, something like Cole Porter in the background.

German track: Jill Colucci's These Are The Times To Remember which will eventually play over the credits. Given the temperature between the sisters, these are definitely not the times to remember. At all.



JoJo babysitting.

German track has Lili Taylor singing. It's beautiful.

Kat's date with her employer.

English track: Nothing until it gives way to some romantic score music in a minor key.

German track: The usual Spanish guitarist who seems to follow them around and considering how this storyline plays out feels really inappropriate.

Then the score music is the same across tracks.

Pizza Parlour.

English track:  Frank Sinatra's I Got You Under My Skin.



German track:  Frank Sinatra's I Got You Under My Skin.  Because you can't replace Frank.

Daisy's dinner with Charlie's family.

Same dinner party musak across both.  Oh look, it's teenaged Matt Damon in his first screen role.



Pizza Parlour.

Some of the big sax from earlier across both tracks.  Until the sodding Spanish guitar appears for a final time on the German track replacing the film's piano theme on the English track.  Which then cuts out with a bit of uncertainty when the review of the restaurant emerges on the television.

Wedding Scene.

The wedding music is identical across both.

Final scene & Credits.

English track:  Soundtrack music giving way to Jill Colucci's These Are The Times To Remember.

German track:  What About You by Hot Chocolate crashes in just as JoJo puts her champagne bottle down completely ruining the mood.  The credits then include a listing of all the songs on the English track few of which the German audience have actually heard if they've been listening to the dubbed version.

Conclusion.

I'm not sure what you can draw from this other than that the filmmakers original intent should always have paramount.  Although it's fair to say that even while watching the German dub with subtitles and the wrong music, I found myself becoming involved in the story.  I'll let you know if I see any others.

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