Lost In the Shuffle IX

There are only so many ways you can make an iPod Shuffle photo appear interesting. Eventually I’m going to get tired of trying to find new and interesting shots and start to reuse old ones. You have been warned…

THE AWAKENING (1980) – Corbeck’s Party

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The Awakening LPMy primary exposure to Claude Bolling was through his jazz suites with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Jean-Pierre Rampal and his score for CALIFORNIA SUITE (1978), which also had that same easy-listening/jazz feel to it. I’ve never seen THE AWAKENING, but if I remember correctly, this horror thriller set in Egypt is not particularly well thought of. Bolling seems a bit out of his element here, or perhaps it’s just my memories of those jazz albums that gives me that impression. Most of this quiet track is devoted to an insinuating melody played by a series of soloists–piccolo, some sort of Middle Eastern instrument (someone please help me out with the name of this instrument so I don’t look like an idiot), clarinet–accompanied by harp, tambourine, crotales, and triangle. It’s an attractive melody but I have no idea how it fits within the scope of the film.

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) – Afternoon Nap

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The “Tara” theme is arguably the most famous piece of music in film history, simply by virtue of having been around so long. And Max Steiner‘s score is every bit as marvelous as legend would have you believe. To think that Steiner compose such a lengthy masterpiece as well as 10 other scores in 1939 boggles my mind. This track occurs early in the film. Steiner begins the cue with the lively “anxiety” theme, one of the 11 he composed for the score, and that’s not counting the themes for the principal characters and most of the supporting players. The second half of the cue is taken up by a somber reading of  Jonathan Barnaby’s hymn “Sweet and Low” in the violins.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) – The Merry Old Land of Oz

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And now a memorable track from the score that beat GONE WITH THE WIND for the Oscar. With a “ha-ha-ha, ho-ho-ho, and a couple of tra-la-la’s,” Harold Arlen and E. Y. “Yip” Harburg’s classic song welcomes us to the merry old land of Oz. The cue concludes with the famous theme for the Wicked Witch of the West (based on “We’re Off to See the Wizard”) on the muted trumpet and French horns. It usually only takes three or four notes of this score to send me right back to the house on Peachtree Lane and fond, fond memories of lying in front of the TV crying that Dorothy wouldn’t be able to get home. And this happened year after year, even after I knew the ending. What a sap!

OLIVER TWIST (2005) – The Escape From Fagin

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I read OLIVER TWIST for the first time in 2005 in anticipation of this Roman Polanski remake. My view of the story has always been skewed by the saccharine musical version. (And I still hold a grudge that OLIVER! beat THE LION IN WINTER for Best Picture at the 1968 Oscars.) If the film is not a masterpiece, Polanski perfectly captured the horrifying world of the famous orphan adrift in Dickensian London. Rachel Portman‘s score bears the hallmark of her Oscar-winning score for EMMA (1996), as well as many of her other scores. The music understandably calls for more drama than her trademark classically orchestrated tinklings, and the always excellent Portman rises to the challenge, with the fleeting speed of the syncopated afterbeats in this track convey real terror.

THE KILLING (1973) – Kyle Goes Down/Case Dismissed

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When I received my copy of Film Score Monthly’s SHAFT ANTHOLOGY: HIS BIG SCORE & MORE last summer, for days I strutted around the streets of Manhattan getting down with my bad self. While I mainly purchased it to hear the original tracks for Isaac Hayes’s classic SHAFT score, the 3-CD set contains further tracks from the Gordon Parks-scored sequel, SHAFT’S BIG SCORE!, and the short-lived 1973 TV series, scored by Johnny Pate. This track comes from one of those TV episodes, “The Killing.” This compilation of two cues contains that unique blend of early-70’s scoring, incorporating jazz, funk, and R&B. Funkilicious!

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