This is a fascinating blend of archive and movie footage and a modern day recording session where the eminently qualified John Mauceri explores the importance of the music of the great film music composers Max Steiner, Erich Korngold, Franz Waxman, Dimitri Tiomkin and Alfred Newman.
To me this was sheer delight, simply to hear someone voicing sentiments that I had always known and propounded myself. This presentation goes to the very roots of classical Hollywood movie scoring, its links with the scoring for silent movies and the developing technology which came as a result including, before music was added as an actual soundtrack on the movie itself, having the projectionist play records that were synchronized to the images on the screen.
Mauceri also conducts the orchestra in front of the cinema screen showing scenes from the various movies and analyses what the music was actually doing in and for the scene, something you are usually, and rightly, unaware of when watching the movie, notable examples featured are the late night scene between Bogart and Bergman in CASABLANCA, and the famous and fabulous final swordfight between Rathbone and Flynn in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, both of which cut back and forth from the screen to the musicians and their instruments.
Other films featured are BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE SONG OF BERNADETTE, THE INFORMER, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, JOHNNY BELINDA, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, RED RIVER, and LAURA.
Interviews include veteran Fred Steiner and notably a large contribution from David Raksin, composer of LAURA, and who also restores his own music of 50 years ago and takes part in the recording session.
With so many scores of the American west being written by the Russian Dimitri Tiomkin, and the Viennese Erich Korngold practically inventing the swashbuckling hero for Hollywood, a style which persists to this day, and American born but descended from Ukrainian-Jewish émigrés Alfred Newman utilizing an Irish melody in a movie set in Wales (the list goes on), as John Mauceri states, if anything can be called 'World Music', it is the music of Hollywood.
Speaking of Korngold, David Raksin also comments that 'Without such music I don't think that he (Errol Flynn) would have been quite so brave.' This is all wonderful stuff and a marvelous insight into the Hollywood industry of the 30s and 40s, the composers, their music, their legacy and their influence on the film music composers that would follow.
Director Joshua Waletzky's Music for the Movies documentary on Bernard Herrmann was nominated for an Oscar in 1993.
Very highly recommended and a must for any self respecting cinephile.
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