9 Necessary Film Scores…At Least For Me

Why nine, you ask? Because a Top Ten list is too predictable and because whittling the list down to this few was hard enough. And I still get to keep the alliterative effect in the title. In future months, look for other “9” lists, all posted on the 9th of the month. I hereby present my nine necessary film scores…at least for today. 9. LILI (1953) Lili is not Bronislau Kaper’s finest score (that would be the 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty), and I doubt Lili will make anyone’s list of…

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Isn’t It Delectable?

“Everything today is thoroughly modern…” Well, not exactly, but that’s half the fun. A tongue-in-cheek musical spoof of the Roaring ’20s, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE stars Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, James Fox, John Gavin, and the sublime Beatrice Lillie, the owner of a hotel for single women who just happens to run a white slavery ring on the side. Carol Channing mugs it up as a wacky, rich socialite. And though she’s campy fun, her lack of screen presence (Oscar nomination notwithstanding) probably cost her the opportunity to reprise her legendary…

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CD Release: Alexandra

MovieScore Media has just released Andrey Sigle’s score for Alexander Sokurov’s acclaimed 2007 political drama Alexandra. The music is performed by no less other than the revered Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre. The film, which was nominated for the 2007 Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of an elderly woman (legendary Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya)  who visits her grandson at his army camp inside Chechnya. When I saw this haunting film in early 2008, the score made a deep impression on me.Variety wrote “Andrei Sigle’s moving compositions…

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War Is Hell

“You could hear the city a mile off…New York goin’ crazy.” But New York wasn’t the only city going crazy when Revolution opened in limited release on Christmas Day, 1985.

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Happy 80th, André Previn!

On his 80th birthday, we celebrate the often overlooked career of one of my favorite film composers—André Previn. Previn has found success in nearly every facet of music, including film, jazz, and the concert hall. He has won four Academy Awards and ten Grammy Awards in the classical, jazz, pop, and soundtrack fields. Born on April 6, 1929, in Berlin, Previn began his musical studies at the Berlin Conservatory until his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1938. He continued his musical studies in Los Angeles with Joseph Achron and Mario…

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It Is Written

From the moment SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE won its first critic award, it was written that it would follow a charmed path from the crowded streets of Mumbai to the steps of the Kodak Theatre. With its rags-to-riches story of a young Indian man (Dev Patel) from the slums of Mumbai who uses the TV game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” to find his long-lost love (Freida Pinto), the film features muscular direction by Danny Boyle and brisk editing by Chris Dickens. Though the film left me a bit cash…

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I’ve a Feeling We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

What was Disney thinking?! Odds were stacked against Return to Oz (1985) from the beginning. Imagine the “bizarro world” episode of Seinfeld and you have some idea of the uneasiness provided by this quasi-sequel to The Wizard of Oz. No matter that the creators returned to the original books of L. Frank Baum, which were now in the public domain. The yellow brick road had crumbled and the Emerald City lay in ruins. Fairuza Balk is no Judy Garland, though she creates her own interesting characterization. A talking hen, a metallic wind-up…

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Maurice Jarre (1924-2009)

Three-time Academy Award-winner Maurice Jarre died today at age 84 from cancer. And it is his music that we celebrate in remembrance. Jarre had his first international hit with his Oscar-winning score for Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. But he wasn’t the original choice to score the entire film. William Walton and Malcolm Arnold both passed on the assignment.  Then producer Sam Spiegel informed Jarre that there were going to be three composers working on the film: Russian composer Aram Khachaturian for the Arab music, Benjamin Britten for the British music, and…

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Shark Bait, Oo-ha-ha!

Forget Neil Armstrong.  John Williams‘ “one small step” (or more accurately half-step) was a giant leap…at least for film music. The simple, yet effective, two-note motif Williams employed in JAWS invokes terror from the opening bars. It has been parodied and plagiarized ever since. Yes, Spielberg’s images would have been frightening by themselves, but the superbly edited trailer used Williams’ music to great effect, scaring the bejesus out of this 13-year-old kid. Anticipation for the film was high, but tales of problems on the set were rampant and no one expected the film to succeed….

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Sell Crazy Someplace Else, We’re All Stocked Up Here

Apparently bidders at Bonhams auction house earlier this week agreed with Jack Nicholson’s Mevil Udall from 1997’s As Good As It Gets. Bernard Herrmann’s 20-page autographed score from Psycho failed to sell for the expected price of 40,000 pounds ($56,000 in U.S. dollars). The score is being returned to Herrmann’s third wife, Norma.

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