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Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, November 1, 1999

Star-Bulletin file photo
The Martin Denny Group, with Denny at the center, performs
in Waikiki in1964. the group was known for its "exotic" sounds,
blending bird calls and ethnic instruments. Below, a selection of
covers from Denny's many recordings.

Martin Denny scores

By Tim Ryan


Martin Denny, the well known "King of Exotica" music, will be honored at the Hawaii premiere of the film "Breakfast of Champions," which features 14 of his songs, on Nov. 12 in a Hawaii International Film Festival event.

Denny said he will attend the premiere.

The film, adapted from a Kurt Vonnegut novel, stars Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte, Albert Finney and Barbara Hershey. It features Denny tunes from albums the Hawaii Kai resident recorded from 1957-60.


Bullet WHAT: Hawaii premiere
Bullet WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Nov. 12
Bullet WHERE: Hawaii Theatre
Bullet TICKETS: $6; $5 for students, seniors, military, HIFF and PIC members
Bullet CALL: 528-HIFF (4433)

"Breakfast of Champions" asks the question: Is reality naturally eccentric and weird, or does it simply seem that way because it goes against our efforts to bring order to it? That's the problem encountered by car salesman Dwayne Hoover (Bruce Willis). His grip on reality is on tenuous grounds when he begins reading and believing Kilgore Trout's (Albert Finney) eccentric novels. With his grip on reality slipping away, Hoover is transported into an alternative world. He sees and experiences things differently. Can he sort things out?

Denny's biggest hit of all time was the number-two single "Quiet Village," written by Les Baxter. Denny moved to Honolulu in 1954 when he was hired to play at Don the Beachcomber's. Soon Denny was hired by steel and shipping magnate Henry J. Kaiser to play in the Shell Bar at the Hawaiian Village.


Most of Denny's recordings feature his trademark animal sounds and exotic percussion instruments.

The Denny songs on the "Breakfast of Champions" soundtrack include "Coronation," "Quiet Village," "Flamingo," "Similiu," "Siboney," "Escoles," "Song of the Bayou," "Strangers in Paradise," and his original music, "Exotica," "Forbidden Island," "Oro (God of Vengeance)," "Cobra," "Jungle Madness" and "Hypnotique." The soundtrack is available on Capitol Records.

Producer David Blocker is a fan of Denny's music and since there was a sequence in the film about a prize of a free ticket to Hawaii they needed a Hawaiian connection and went with the music angle, Denny said.

Denny declined saying how much money he received for use of his music but called the amount "very handsome."

"Not bad for an 88-year-old piano player," said Denny, who saw the film at the recent Seattle Film Festival. "After the premiere they threw a party where I met all the actors and they made quite a fuss over me."

The film, which is rated PG-13, is directed by Alan Rudolph and distributed by Buena Vista.

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