Film Music Review
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Volume 14

Number 2

Summer - Fall 2012

 

Managing Editor:

+Roger Hall


Contributing Writers:

+Steven A. Kennedy

+ Steve Vertlieb


+Member

IFMCA: the International Film Music Critics Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Titles (click on the links)

Editorials on Film Music

Latest News - Articles, Interviews, Book Reviews and more

The Sammy Film Music Awards

The Best Film Music of 2011

Best Film Music CDs of the Decade

Ratings and List of FMR Online Issues

Film In Focus - A series about classic films and film scores

Editor's Choice, Best Recordings of the Month - 2012

CD Soundtrack Reviews - 2012

Recommended DVDs and Books

Film Music Links

 

 

 

Your comments or questions are welcome.
Write to:

Film Music Review

 


 

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Film Music Review

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Editorials


Who is your favorite film composer from the past?

If you are a film music fan or collector or (in my case) a critic, this is a very tough question to answer. Do you pick one of the acknowledged film music masters, like Bernard Herrmann, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, Miklos Rozsa, or Max Steiner? Or, there are these three film composers: Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, David Raksion. Any of these film composers would be great choices and I admire them all. Of course there others as well deserving of high praise.

But in my case, I would pick the film composer who I noticed the most when I was a regular movie goer back in my kid days -- Dimitri Tiomkin [shown in the above picture at the piano].

His score for HIGH NOON was one of the first films whose score and title song were both very memorable. It was also one of my favorite early films since I was a huge western fan when that film was in the theaters in 1952. There are many other Tiomkin scores I like and they include: THE ALAMO, D.O.A., THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, LAND OF THE PHARAOHS.
I had the pleasure to write an article for the now defunct Soundtrack magazine about Tiomkin's "Golden Decade." -- see Runmovies/Soundtrack.

Film music fans tend to be somewhat geeky so their choices for favorite film composer of the past would probably be quite diverse and sometimes obscure -- how about Walter Greene? Some fans might say their tastes change from day to day so they couldn't pick just one favorite? Of course your choice might change but not picking anyone is a copout that is all too common among those who don't want to pick one so they pick -- nobody?

Okay, I picked my favorite film composer from the past, now what's yours?

-- Roger Hall, 10 December 2012

If you wish to be brave and pick just one film composer you especially enjoy, send your choice and any comments you wish to add to

My favorite film composer from the past

 

 


What has happened to memorable film music?

There are those among today's filmgoers, especially the younger ones, who think that almost anything they hear today in a film soundtrack is memorable. They might list the scores to INCEPTION or THE SOCIAL NETWORK as examples. But are they really memorable?

What really makes one film score so memorable and others just fade away?

Just think of these memorable theme examples from the past century:
GONE WITH THE WIND (Max Steiner, 1939)
, LAURA David Raksin, 1944), HIGH NOON (Dimitri Tiomkin, 1952, BEN-HUR (Miklos Rozsa, 1959), PSYCHO (Bernard Herrmann, 1960), SPARTACUS - Love Theme (Alex North, 1960), JAWS (John Williams, 1975),
PATTON (Jerry Goldmsith, 1980.

What makes them so memorable? It's usually a theme which stays with you after you've seen the film. That is what is lacking in so many (but not all) of today's new film soundtracks with loud and uninspiring electronic-techno music taking the place of a full orchestral score with a memorable theme. Naturally there have been exceptions in the past decade or so such as: Elmer Bernstein (FAR FROM HEAVEN, 2001), James Newton Howard (THE VILLAGE, 2004), Mark McKenzie (THE GREATEST MIRACLE (2011). and John Williams (WAR HORSE, 2011).

For those who have more or less given up on today's film music, there are still lots of vintage film soundtrack CDs being released each year by Film Score Monthly, Intrada, Tadlow Music, Tribute Film Classics, to name just some of the companies releasing vintage soundtracks.

So do you prefer vintage film soundtracks or the latest ones from today's films?

It's your choice but what matters most is that the best film music will (and should) live on.

The other stuff will be forgotten. Or will it?

Right now, there are lots of CDs being released of soundtracks and some I would call just junk music. For instance, who would have guessed that Clint Eastwood's four note "score" to MYSTIC RIVER would be so highly regarded? Does he deserve to be lauded for his film scoring? I say - No.

But rather than gush over a celebrity actor-director, I'd prefer a memorable soundtrack like John Barry's BODY HEAT or Bernard Herrmann's NORTH BY NORTHWEST, or John Williams for almost any film score he has composed. These are the composers that deserve highest praise for writing memorable film music.

Clint Eastwood can continue to talk to an empty chair and make his angry old man movies.

I'd rather spend my time listening to memorable film music.

--Roger Hall, 30 September 2012


Herrmann's One-Two Knockout!

The latest poll of over 1,000 film critics and writers as reported in the BFI's magazine, Sight & Sound, have at the top two films with scores by Bernard Herrmann.

What for decades was the No. 1 choice, CITIZEN KANE (1941),
has been replaced by VERTIGO (1958) . Both are on my top ten list of Herrmann's favorites.

Respected film critic, Ty Burr, writing in The Boston Globe (18 August 2012) asks the important question: "Is VERTIGO really the greatest film of all time?"

My answer would be -- No.

I believe CITIZEN KANE should remain at the No. 1 spot where it has been for decades. While this poll might appear to be highly erudite and elitist, it is really a desire to highlight the films of greatest substance over superficial effects and dopey dialogue. No DARK KNIGHT or AVATAR here! That's because, as Ty Burr ends his piece writing:

"In fact, it's a reminder that there's much more out there than burgers and fries."

I'm one of very few critics (perhaps the only one!) who also believes CITIZEN KANE has the greatest score of any Hollywood film and it tops my list of 100 essential film scores of the 20th century.

But Herrmann's one-two punch in the Sight & Sound poll makes him the Film Music Heavyweight Champion.

Bravo, Benny!

-- Roger Hall, 20 August 2012

 

 

 

Latest News

Article: A Renaissance of Rózsa
by Steve Vertlieb

 

 

 

An Interview with David Schecter, Album Producer

 

 

Film in Focus No. 12

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
(music by Elmer Bernstein)

 

 


Book Reviews

 

The Music of James Bond (Jon Burlingame)
Book review by Roger Hall

 

 

Musique Fantastique (Book One)

MUSIQUE FANTASTIQUE (Randall Larson)
Book review by Steve Vertlieb

 

 

THE SONGS OF HOLLYWOOD
Book Review by Roger Hall

 

 

 

 

12th Annual National Carry A Tune Week Survey
including film themes and songs

 

 

 

Two Film Composer Tributes

Remembering David Raksin: A Centennial Tribute

 

 

John Williams: An 80th Birthday Tribute

 

 

 

In Memory of Marvin Hamlisch (1944-2012)

His last great film score...


The Informant!: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


THE INFORMANT!

And an Oscar-winner for his arrangements...

The Sting: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

THE STING

 

 

In memory of the talented Marilyn Monroe (died: 1962)

Film In Focus: SOME LIKE IT HOT

 

RIVER OF NO RETURN and NIAGARA

 

14th Anniversary Special!



A RAY BRABURY REMEMBRANCE -
A fond personal tribute by Steve Vertlieb
and
a retro CD review by Roger Hall


also


NOW SHOWING - Favorite soundtracks and compilations, 1998-2011
by Steve Kennedy and Roger Hall


 

Read the review of two classic documentary films from the 1930s:

DVD: THE PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS and THE RIVER
music by Virgil Thomson

Also available:

An Interview with Virgil Thomson (AMRC No. 7)

 


This excellent soundtrack by John Williams was selected
as Best New Score CD of 2011 at

The Sammy Awards

 



The International Film Music Critics Association have announced their choices for the best of the year for 2011. See the entire list at this link:

IFMCA Awards

 

 

 

Favorite Film Music Poll

 

Here is your chance to pick some of your favorite Hollywood movie songs
and film scores from the past 75 years (1933 to 2008).
The titles don't have to be what you consider to be the greatest or most popular film music. They are your choices of film music you especially enjoy, both scores and songs.

Send your list of up to 30 favorites (songs or scores in any order) to:

My favorite movie music

See the film scores and movie songs selected so far at the

Film Music Web Poll

 

For more titles, see these links:

100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century

Top Ten Movie Song Favorites

Twenty Essential Hollywood Musicals

 

FMR Critics In Print

By Steve Vertlieb -
"Tribute to James Bernard" in Memories of Hammer (2002)
edited by Gary J. and Susan Svehla.

"The Horror and Fantasy Films of Max Steiner" in
The Max Steiner Annual (1970)

"Film Music in the 1980s: A Symposium" in
Pro Musica Sana
(Spring 1990)

"The Reinvention of Miklos Rozsa" in
Midnight Marquee (no. 52)

By Steven A. Kennedy -
"Copland on Celluloid" (interview with
conductor Jonathan Sheffer) in
Film Score Monthly (February 2001)

By Roger Hall -
A Guide to Film Music: Songs and Scores
(1st ed, 1997; 2nd ed, 2002, 3rd ed, 2007; 4th ed, 2009)

"Bernard Herrmann" in
American National Biography (24 vols.)

"From Hitchcock to Harryhausen: Ten Essential Herrmann Scores"
in Film Score Monthly (April-May 2000)

"Remembering (David) Raksin"
in Film Score Monthly (September 2004)

"Elmer's Magnificent 7:
Essential Elmer Bernstein Scores of the 1960s"
in Film Score Monthly (October 2004)

"Tip to Moviegoers: Take Off Those Earmuffs!"
(interview with Aaron Copland)
in Soundtrack! (Fall 2000)

"The Magnificent One: 50 Years of Elmer Bernstein Film Scores"
in Soundtrack! (Summer 2001)

"Bernard Herrmann: The Early Years"
in Soundtrack! (Spring 2002)

"Dimitri Tiomkin's Golden Decade" (1948-1958)
in Soundtrack! (Winter 2002)

All these articles are listed in
this well organized and very useful reference book...

Film and Television Music: A Guide to Books, Articles, and Composer Interviews

FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC -
A Guide To Books, Articles, and Composer Interviews
Compiled and Edited by Warren M. Sherk

 

 

Film Music Guide

An informative resource guide on DVD-R,
with 50 music examples and a video program
about vintage movie songs and scores.
Read more about A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC at

Film Music Guide

 

 

Now On DVD

A play written with music by Roger Hall
and based on a famous utopian 19th century novel
is now available on DVD and titled,

The Musical Telephone: A Romantic Narrative

 

 

 


List of CD, DVD and Book Reviews
on
FILM MUSIC REVIEW
(1998 - 2010)


click here

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Sammy Film Music Awards

 

The longest-running awards chosen
exclusively for film music recordings

The 25th Annual Sammy Awards will be announced
on February 10, 2013
and also include
a special 100th birthday tribute to
the man these awards are named after,


Sammy Cahn, 1913-1993

 

 

 


 

IFMCA: the International Film Music Critics Association

 

IFMCA Legends

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) is proud to announce the formation of the IFMCA Legends archive, celebrating the life and work of some of film music’s greatest historical artists.

Although the primary focus of the IFMCA is the celebration of the best in modern contemporary film music, it is also fully aware of the amazing legacy of groundbreaking music left by the classic Golden Age and Silver Age composers of decades past. To that end, the IFMCA has established the IFMCA Legends archive, which celebrates the work of these cinematic pioneers. Other than their musical contribution, the only other criteria necessary to become a member of the IFMCA Legends archive is to be deceased.

Each year, starting this year, IFMCA members will vote on new inductees who, in their opinion, have left an indelible mark on the world of film music through their groundbreaking scores, and who are deserving of recognition for their work. Each inductee will be the subject of an in-depth essay written by one of the IFMCA’s members, highlighting their life and most important scores, and which will be featured in a special new section on the IFMCA website.

For this inaugural year, IFMCA members chose five initial inductees. In future years, two new inductees will be chosen. The initial five inductees are:

 

 

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) is an association of online, print and radio journalists who specialize in writing about original film and television music.

The IFMCA was originally formed in the late 1990s as the now-defunct “Film Music Critics Jury” by editor and journalist Mikael Carlsson, a regular contributor to Music from the Movies, and the owner of the Swedish independent film music label MovieScore Media. Since its inception, the IFMCA has grown to comprise over 40 members from countries as diverse as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

The group’s main focus is the IFMCA Awards, which it presents annually to the best riginal scores from motion pictures, television and video games from the preceding calendar year. Previous IFMCA Score of the Year Awards have been awarded to Michael Giacchino’s UP in 2009, Alexandre Desplat’s THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON in 2008, Dario Marianelli’s ATONEMENT in 2007, James Newton Howard’s LADY IN THE WATER in 2006, John Williams’ MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA in 2005 and Michael Giacchino’s THE INCREDIBLES in 2004.

For more information about the International Film Music Critics Association, its members and the list of their awards, please visit them at this link: http://www.filmmusiccritics.org

 

 

 

The Best Film Music CDs of 2011

 


Read our film music critics picks for

Best Film Music Releases of 2011
(CDs, DVD and Film Music Books)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FMR rating system for CDs and DVDs:

**** = Superlative (Highest Recommendation)

***1/2 = Very Good

*** = Good

**1/2 = Okay

** = Barely Passable

* = Poor

The Special Merit CDs are chosen at any time during a month for outstanding overall production of a soundtrack or compilation.

The Editor's Choice - Best of the Month designation is for those CDs that are singled out for their excellence. They are chosen anytime within a given month and may not be chosen every month.

2012 (Volume 14)

Number 1 (Winter-Spring)


2011 (Volume 13 )

Number 1 (Winter)

Number 2 (Spring)

Number 3 (Summer)

Number 4 (Fall)

2010 (Volume 12)

Number 1 (Winter)

Number 2 (Spring)

Number 3 (Summer)

Number 4 (Fall)

2009 (Volume 11)

Index to All Reviews (January - December)

Number 1 (Winter)

Number 2 (Spring)

Number 3 (Summer)

Number 4 (Fall)


2008
(Volume 10)

Index to All Reviews (January - December)

Number 1 (Winter)

Number 2 (Spring)

Number 3 (Summer)

Number 4 (Fall)

2007 (Volume 9)

Index to All Reviews (January - December)

Number 1 (January - February)

Number 2 (March - April)

Number 3 (May - June)

Number 4 (July - August)

Number 5 (September - October)

Number 6 (November - December)

 

2006 (Volume 8)

Index to All Reviews (January - December)

Number 1 (January - February)

Number 2 (March - April)

Number 3 (May - June)

Number 4 (July - August)

Number 5 (September - October)

Number 6 (November - December)

 

Volumes 1 - 7
These reviews no longer available online.
Here is a link to the complete list of


CD Reviews (1999-2005)

These reviews are included on
the DVD,
A Guide to Film Music (4th edition)

 

Index to Volumes 1 - 12

nInCDs, DVDs and Book Reviews)

 

 

 

Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century

 

See the list at

100 Essential Film Scores

 

 

 

 

 

FILM IN FOCUS

 

A series devoted to one film and its film score,
from the 1930s to 1960s

 

 

 

No. 1: THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES and
Hugo Friedhofer's Oscar-winning score

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. 2: PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE and
Miklós Rózsa's score

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. 3: KING KONG and
Max Steiner's milestone score

 

 

 

 

 


No. 4: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and
Elmer Bernstein's score


 

 

 

 

 

 

No. 5: VERTIGO and
Bernard Herrmann's score

 

 

 

 



No. 6: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and
Dimitri Tiomkin's score

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. 7: THE SONG OF BERNADETTE and
Alfred Newman's Oscar-winning film score

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. 8: SOME LIKE IT HOT and
Adolph Deutsch's score

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

No. 9: PSYCHO and
Bernard Herrmann's score

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. 10: CITIZEN KANE and
Bernard Herrmann's first film score

 

 

 

New for 2012

No. 11: HIGH NOON and
Dimitri Tiomkin's classic film score

 

 


No. 12: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and
Elmer Bernstein's greatest film score

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor's Choice for 2012

Best Recordings of the Month

 

January

BATTLE OF NERETVA (1969) and THE NAKED AND THE DEAD (1958)
music by Bernard Herrmann
(Tribute Film Classics)

 

February

A Tribute To John Williams: An 80th Birthday Celebration
(Sony Classical)


 

March

BEN-HUR - 5 CD Box Set
Music bgy Miklos Rozsa
(Film Score Monthly)

 

April

SHIP OF FOOLS - Music by Ernest Gold
(Monstrous Movie Music)

 

May

 

THE WESTERNS - Music and Songs From Classic Westerns
(Jasmine 2 CDs)

June

 



ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN and ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
Music by Max Steiner
(Tribute Film Classics 2 CD box set)

July

HATARI!
Music by Henry Mancini
(Intrada CD)

August

North By Northwest (Complete Original Soundtrack)

NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Music by Bernard Herrmann
(Intrada CD)

 

 

September



BODY HEAT
Music by John Barry
(Film Score Monthly, 2 CDs)



October

SHANE
Music by Victor Young
(La-La Land)

 

November

LINCOLN
Music by John Williams
(Sony Classical)

 

 

December

QUO VADIS
music by Miklos Rozsa
(Prometheus Records 2 CDs)

 

 

 

 

Soundtrack and Compilation CD Reviews
For 2012

CD reviews:

BEN-HUR - music by Carl Davis

THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS - music by Walter Greene -
Monstrous Movie Music
(Special Merit - November) NEW

The Complete Harry Potter Film Music Collection (Silva Screen)

DESTINATION MOON - music by Leith Stevens - Monstrous Movie Music NEW

Film Music For Wind Band - William Alwyn (Naxos)

THE FOG (2 CDs) - John Carpenter (Silva Screen)

The Golden Age of Hollywood 3 (Compilation)(RPO)

The Greatest Film Scores of Dimitri Tiomkin (LSO Live) (Special Merit - August)

Great Motion Picture Themes (Compilation) (Special Merit - July)

IT'S ALIVE - music by Bernard Herrmann (Film Score Monthly)

John Williams Greatest Hits (Compilation) (Telos)

KRONOS and THE COSMIC MAN - music by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter
(Monstrous Movie Music)

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH - music by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter
(Monstrous Movie Music) NEW

LIFE OF PI - music by Mychael Danna (Sony Classical) NEW

MISSILE TO THE MOON and FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER -
music by Nicholas Carras (Monstrous Movie Music)
NEW

NEW BABYLON (2 CD set) - music by Dmitry Shostakovich (Naxos)

Notre Dame de Paris - The Music of Maurice Jarre (2 CDs) (Special Merit - September)

THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES - music by Stanley Myers (a retro CD review)

THE McCULLOCHS - music by Ernest Gold (Monstrous Movie Music) (Special Merit - April)

ROCKETSHIP X-M - music by Ferde Grofe (Monstrous Movie Music)

SINCE YOU WENT AWAY - music by Max Steiner (BYU/ FMA) (Special Merit - June)

SKYFALL - music by Thomas Newman (Sony Classical) NEW

A TIME TO LOVE AND A TIME TO DIE/ LUST FOR LIFE - music by Miklos Rozsa
(Disque Cinemusique)

TITANIC (Anniversary Edition) - Music by James Horner (Sony Masterworks)

 

 

 

 

 

Useful resource guide now on DVD-R,
with 50 music examples and a video program.
Read more about A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC at

Film Composers and Soundtracks

 

 

 

 

Recommended DVDs and Books


 

 

 

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)
(Blu-ray Special Edition)
Music by Bernard Herrmann


Isolated score track and
commentary by film & music historians: John Morgan,
Nick Redman, Steven Smith, William Stromberg

 

 

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
2 Disc Deluxe Edition --
music by Dimitri Tiomkin

 

 

 

GARDEN OF EVIL (1954)
(Included in Fox WESTERN CLASSICS box set)
Music by Bernard Herrmann



 

 

THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW
(Guests: Dimitri Tiomkin & Dr. Samuel Hoffmann)

 

 

 


 

The Robe


THE ROBE (1953)
(Special Edition)
Music by Alfred Newman


Commentary by
film composer David Newman,
film historians Jon Burlingame, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman


 

 

 

RecoRecommended Books

 

The Hollywood Film Music Reader
by Mervyn Cooke

 

 

Pick Yourself Up: Dorothy Fields and The American Musical
by Charlotte Greenspan

 

mmended Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

A HISTORY OF FILM MUSIC
by Mervyn Cooke

 

 

 

 

 

Alex North's A Streetcar Named Desire: A Film Score Guide (Scarecrow Film Score Guides)

 

Alex North's A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE:
A Film Score Guide
by Annette Davison

 

 

End Titles

 

Links

See the list of recommended sites at

Film Music Links

Editor's Choice for Best of the Month
2009 - 2011

 

 


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