Originally posted May 26, 2009
The movie, an Italian flick, was supposed to be dark, depraved and disturbing. It might have been so in 1962. Now, forty-seven years later, it’s mostly slow and dull.
The title? Mondo Cane, which translates from the Italian as something like A Dog’s World.
Supposedly a documentary that detailed the oddities, cruelties and perversities of life, Mondo Cane was intended to be controversial, and some of its contents likely were shocking in 1962. I spent a couple hours looking at it over the holiday weekend, and it’s not very shocking at all from the vantage point of 2009.
The movie spent a lot of time in the Pacific, examining what might best be called non-industrial island cultures. While the film purported to be a true reflection of life in those societies, the winking narration – as when a cluster of bare-breasted island girls chase one young man around the island and into the sea, and in a few other instances – left me wondering about the truth of the visuals as well as the truth of the narration.
The broad-brush contrasts the film points out between so-called primitive cultures and Western culture were so ham-handed that I chuckled. Yeah, I know that in some areas of the world snakes and dogs are dinner; and in 1962, one could go to a restaurant in New York City and spend $20 for plate of fried ants, bug larvae and butterfly eggs. The film shows those young island women chasing men into the sea, and a little later shows a cadre of young Australian women running into the sea and pulling men back onto the sane (during lifeguard practice). After seeing footage of dogs in Asia waiting in cages to become dinner, the film takes us to a pet cemetery in southern California, showing the gravestones of pets owned by celebrities of the time, including Vivan Vance (Lucille Ball’s sidekick), Jack Warner, Jr., of Warner Brothers and Julie London.
I think I knew about Mondo Cane when it came out. I would have been nine, and – as I’ve noted before – was even then aware of current events and news that troubled adults. It’s quite likely, I realized this weekend, that my awareness of the film was helped along by parodies of its approach in MAD magazine, which was one of my favorites at the time. It’s not a significant film in any way, but it is interesting. There are, by current standards, several troubling images involving cruelty to animals, but beyond that, little is truly surprising. As a historical document of what Western culture found in 1962, however, it’s an interesting way to spend a couple of hours.
The movie did, however, provide one long-lasting piece of popular culture: Its theme, better known these days as “More (Theme to Mondo Cane).” The song, written by Riz Ortolani and Nino Oliviero, was used in the movie as an instrumental under the title “Ti Guarderò Nel Cuore.” Italian lyrics were added by Marcello Ciorciolini, and later, the English lyrics were written by Norman Newell, giving us the song “More (Theme From Mondo Cane)” as we know it.
I would guess that “More” is one of the most covered songs of all time. All-Music Guide lists 1,325 CDs on which there is a recording of a song titled “More.” Some of those would be other compositions, but I’m certain that the vast majority of those recordings are of the song by Ortolani and Oliviero. So let’s take a walk though the garden of “More.”
First, here’s the original:
“Theme from Mondo Cane” by Riz Ortolani & Nino Oliviero 
One version of the song made the Top 40 in the U.S., an instrumental version by a Kai Winding, a composer and bandleader who was born in Denmark but grew up in the U.S. His version of “More” went to No. 8 in the summer of 1963.
“More” by Kai Winding, Verve 10295 
And then came the flood (thought not all covers were titled exactly the same):
“More” by Ferrante & Teicher from Concert for Lovers 
“Theme from Mondo Cane (More)” by Jack Nitschze from The Lonely Surfer 
“More” by John Gary from Catch A Rising Star 
“More” by Vic Dana from More 
“More (Theme from Mondo Cane)” by Frank Sinatra & Count Basie from It Might As Well Be Swing 
“More” by Billy Vaughn from Blue Velvet 
“More (Theme from Mondo Cane)” by Liberace from Golden Themes From Hollywood 
“More” by Mantovani from The Incomparable Mantovani and his Orchestra 
“More (Theme from Mondo Cane)” by Nat King Cole from L-O-V-E 
“More” by Julie London from Our Fair Lady 
“More” by Steve Lawrence from Steve Lawrence Sings Of Love & Sad Young Men [ca. 1966]
“More” by Roger Williams from I’ll Remember You 
“More (Theme from Mondo Cane)” by the Ray Conniff Singers from Ray Conniff’s World Of Hits 
“More” by Jerry Vale from The Impossible Dream 
“More” by Andy Williams from The Academy Award Winning “Call Me Irresponsible” 
“More” by Jackie Gleason from The Best of Jackie Gleason 
(Original release and date unknown, probably ca. 1965.)
“More” by Harry Connick, Jr., from Only You 
(I’ve pulled these from various sources; some are mine, some I found elsewhere. Of those I found elsewhere, I’m reasonably sure that the performers are identified correctly. And after spending several hours digging, I’m also reasonably sure that the original release album titles and dates are correct. The only exceptions to that would be the release date for the Steve Lawrence album and the original release title and date for the Jackie Gleason version. [It is entirely possible, I suppose, that the Gleason version isn’t by Gleason’s orchestra at all. If so, well, life happens.] And I have a suspicion that the version by the Ray Conniff singers might have been released on an earlier album, but I can’t verify that.)