Notes and Editorial Reviews
One could hardly imagine a better collection of musical snippets from some of the greatest movies ever to come out of Hollywood. This disc has the added benefit of excellent transcription from some original analog recordings into the digital medium of the 21st century. Oddly, the one piece here that seems quaintly anachronistic is David Raksin’s “Main Theme” from Laura from 1941 wherein the languorous muted trombone - the soloist is not credited - evokes not only our memories of the movie, but the entire era, behind us now these sixty-three years. The physical sound, however, is luscious and full.
In fact, one finds oneself caught up in the visual imagery each movie theme evokes, and it takes a while to come back around to
focusing on the music as music, realizing just how well written some of these pieces really are. The favorites by John Williams are here: the themes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, and E.T. – The Extraterrestrial. Also here is one of the best from any movie ever, Elmer Bernstein’s theme from The Magnificent Seven. Most of this music is conducted by the original composers, though Charles Gerhardt apparently was the conductor of choice when the original music was recorded.
Williams, Mancini and Rota (The Godfather Part II) are all too familiar, as, too, the “James Bond Theme” from Dr. No, by Monty Norman. But what I found more delightful here was the inclusion of my Bernard Herrmann favorites, the themes from Psycho and Vertigo. Both movies required different musical settings and Herrmann delivers uniquely to each, particularly the shrill violin screech in the “Finale” of Psycho. Sounds of this kind are usually relegated to mere effects, rarely incorporated in a soundtrack. Yet this music is truly epic. What would Lawrence of Arabia be without Maurice Jarre’s opening theme so richly evocative of the desert? The same is true for Doctor Zhivago with “Lara’s Theme” on the balalaika.
Most of the pieces here are short and to the point — rarely longer than three minutes — performed by their original orchestras and conductors. However, there are three mini-suites here, each about eight minutes long: the music from Casablanca and King Kong (both by Max Steiner) and Franz Waxman’s music from Sunset Boulevard. Only the music from King Kong seems a bit lacking. There aren’t any really catchy themes or specific moods created. And, too, the original movie goes back to 1933 and probably won’t resonate that much with listeners who’ve lived past two significant remakes and may never have seen the original film.
Still, these two discs are well worth your money. Only one or two pieces won’t be familiar to you. The others, of course, will be — and several of them will break your heart . . . as they did when we first heard them in the theater. The music from Vertigo still slays me.
- Paul Cook,
1. Magnificent Seven, film score: Main Title & Calvera's Visit
2. Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, film score: Main Title
3. Vertigo, film score: Scene d'Amour
4. Jaws, film score: Theme
5. The Adventures of Robin Hood, film score: Robin Hood & His Merry Men
6. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, film score: Flying Theme
7. Godfather, Part 2, film score: End Title, The sound
8. Lawrence of Arabia, film score: Overture (Part 2)
9. Psycho, film score: Finale
10. Doctor Zhivago, film score: Prelude & Lara's Theme
11. Psycho, film score: The Murder
12. Gone With the Wind, film score: Selznick International fanfare (Newman) / Main Title: Dixie / Mammy / Tara / Rhett
13. Laura, film score: Main Theme
14. Psycho, film score: Prelude sound
1. The Pink Panther, film score: Theme
2. Breakfast at Tiffany's, film score: Moon River
3. Ben-Hur, film score: Parade of the Charioteers
4. High Noon, film score: Theme
5. Citizen Kane, film score: Rosebud / Finale
6. Sunset Boulevard, film score: Main Title / Norma Desmond / The Studio Stroll / The Comeback / Norma As Salome
7. Dr. No, film score: The James Bond Theme
8. King Kong, film score: The Forgotten Island / Natives / Sacrificial Dance / The Gate of Kong / Kong in New York
9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, film score: The Dialogue
10. Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The (Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo), film score: Titles
11. Casablanca, film score: Main Title / The Immigrants / Morocco / "Sam, I thought I told you never to play..." / As Time Goes
12. Work(s): 20th Century Fox Fanfare (with Cinemascope extension) / Street Scene (as heard before How to Marry
13. King's Row
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