Last Sunday I decided to experiment with the first post in a new series called “Lost In the Shuffle.” In these posts, I put my iPod on shuffle and post the first five tracks that appear in the hopes of rediscovering some forgotten scores.
Let me reiterate what I wrote last week, “Because these are single tracks, they may or may not be indicative of the quality of the score. They also may or may not be interesting when heard on their own.” With that caveat, this week features five excellent scores, though I’ve only seen two of the films.
TIME AFTER TIME (1978) – Farewell[audio:timeaftertime.mp3]
I’ve always meant to watch Nicholas Meyer’s fantasy of H. G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) pursuing Jack the Ripper (David Warner) in the 20th century, but somehow haven’t gotten around to it. Miklos Rozsa’s score has been a favorite with many film score fans, but the only recording available was the re-recording. Though that too was conducted by Rozsa, the smaller orchestra size and lackluster performance hindered the music. I never understood the appeal of the score until Film Score Monthly released the original tracks in January. Finally I understood why the fans had requested this title all those years. This brief track doesn’t give you the sense of fun that Rozsa’s music provides, though the clarinet theme and piccolo motif feature two main elements of the score.
JUAREZ (1939) – Trip Through Mexico[audio:juarez.mp3]
As a fan of both Paul Muni and Bette Davis, as well as Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s music, it’s odd that I’ve never seen this film about Mexican emperor Maximillian and his wife Carlotta. Korngold’s music for JUAREZ is less grand than THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX, also released that same year. The music, with its tambourine and castanets, certainly has a Mexican flavor, filtered through Korngold’s mittel-European sensibilities. JUAREZ isn’t particularly well-known Korngold (and apparently the movie leaves something to be desired as well), but there’s no such thing as a bad Korngold score.
8 1/2 (1963) – L’Illusionista[audio:812.mp3]
Nino Rota’s music defined Italian cinema in the mid-1960s. And nowhere is that more apparent than in his work with Federico Fellini. Fellini’s Oscar-winning 8 1/2, with its fantasy ruminations on love, art, and death, has spawned numerous immitators, yet nothing has ever equaled the director’s unique vision. Rota’s scores for Fellini are in a class all their own, and this track defines pure joy. Against a piano and snare accompaniment, Rota alternates clarinet and trumpet solos before the guitar plays the score’s memorable main theme. 8 1/2 will be back in the news this fall when the film adaptation of the Tony-winning musical NINE, directed by Rob Marshall, opens in theaters. The trailer is pretty spectacular.
YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH (2007) – Veronica’s Nightmare[audio:youthwithoutyouth.mp3]
YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH was Francis Ford Coppola’s first film in 10 years, following his hit adaptation of John Grisham’s THE RAINMAKER (1997). The film’s story has a sort of reverse BENJAMIN BUTTON effect to it as an older man grows younger, but I’ve never seen the film. I first heard the score when composer Osvaldo Golijov played the main theme in a film music documentary. The lush theme with its haunting gypsy flavor immediately captured my attention. Unfortunately, this track doesn’t feature that theme. Against a tremolo background, solo strings convey the nightmarish vision from the track title. The film was panned by the critics though I still want to see it to hear how Golijov’s music fits into the story.
THE VILLAGE (2004) – Rituals[audio:village.mp3]
If it weren’t for James Newton Howard’s well-deserved Oscar nomination, I might never have heard this score. When the nominations were announced, I had to buy the CD to complete my Oscar collection for that year. I fell in love with the score immediately and had to see the film, even though it had been panned when it was released. While it had an interesting premise (I won’t spoil it here), it’s pseudo-horror trappings never quite worked. But it did give Howard the chance to compose arguably his finest score to date. Through the haunting violin solos of Hilary Hahn, Howard’s score gives the film a poignancy that is missing from the script. In this track Hahn’s violin sings a plaintive theme before the flutes close the cue in an air of mystery. This is one score I can recommend without reservation.