All posts under Vintage

I Know I’m Not Ordinary

It’s one of the most famous examples of film editing in movie history. Peter O’Toole blows out a match and the scene cuts to a desolate, empty landscape and a hazy orange sky. We hear the faint, exotic sound of a zither, as if music begins to wake along with the dawn. One by one, the instruments of the orchestra join in. As the morning sun peaks above the horizon, the music crescendos until Freddie Young’s amazing cinematography fades into the pristine, windblown dunes of the desert. on the big…

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Dance of the Dead

With its bleak vision of an alcoholic British diplomat in Mexico, Malcolm Lowry’s 1947 semi-autobiographical novel, UNDER THE VOLCANO, was considered unfilmmable for nearly forty years. Director John Huston returned to his beloved Mexico to film the picture in 1982. When the film was released in June 1984, audiences preferred escapist fare like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. While most film score fans preferred John Williams’ excellent sequel score, by bypassing Huston’s more cerebral picture, they missed Alex North’s moving Oscar-nominated work. Under the Volcano contains a striking,…

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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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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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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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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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We Have Created Enchantment

The Music of A Streetcar Named Desire Published in Film Score Monthly Online May 2006   To step aboard A Streetcar Named Desire is to take an emotional and musical journey. Tennessee Williams’ poetic dialogue is music to the ears. And he set his Pulitzer Prize-winning drama in the New Orleans French Quarter, the sounds of which inspired 35 musical stage directions, including 19 cues of source music. Elia Kazan’s landmark 1951 film and its groundbreaking score by Alex North remain the standards by which all other Streetcar productions and…

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You Have Cheated Me

“You Have Cheated Me”: Aaron Copland’s Compromised Score to The Heiress Published in Film Score Monthly May/June 2005   Aaron Copland arrived in Hollywood in 1938, and in little more than a decade he’d had enough. With his scores to Of Mice and Men (1939) and Our Town (1940), he created a new musical language in film. But when his score to The Heiress (1949) was chopped to bits, poorly dubbed, and rescored without his approval, Copland left for good, with his pride, popularity, and reputation intact. During the late…

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Following In Waxman’s Foot-steppes

The highlight of Franz Waxman’s Oscar-nominated score for TARAS BULBA (1962) is the thrilling “The Ride to Dubno.” As Yul Brynner and his fellow Cossacks ride onto the steppes to meet an unsuspecting Polish army at Dubno, Waxman’s music begins quietly and grows in force and brio as more and more men join the caravan. Horse hooves thunder and Waxman’s brilliant cue gallops ride alongside them. Like Ravel’s Bolero, the tension builds and builds. A cue of epic proportions! Next comes an unbelievable transcription for two pianos featuring pianists Per Tengstrand…

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