JOHN HOLLINGSWORTH ; UNSUNG HERO OF THE SILVER SCREEN.

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The name of John Hollingsworth is synonyms with Hammer films, why? Because Hollingsworth was the studios musical director, he was responsible for scoring, conducting and supervising the music department at Hammer, it was Hollingsworth that gave composers such as James Bernard, Richard Rodney Bennet, Malcom Williamson, Don Banks and Gary Hughes. Hollingsworth began his duties at Hammer in 1954, his first assignment being THE STRANGER CAME HOME. Hollingsworth had worked for Hammer previously in 1951, when he acted as musical director on NEVER LOOK BACK. But, it was when he took over from Ivor Slaney full time in 1954, that Hollingsworth began to make his mark upon the high quality of the scores that were utilised by the studio. Hollingsworth had conducted for James Bernard before Hammer, and they collaborated on the music for two radio plays, THE DEATH OF HECTOR and THE DUCHESS OF MALFI, and it was the latter score that made Hollingsworth think of Bernard when it came to assigning a composer on THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, the score had originally been given to John Hotchkiss, but because the composer fell ill during writing the score, Hammer needed a composer quickly, Hollingsworth asked Bernard who accepted and the rest they say is History as far as Bernard is concerned.

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Hollingsworth was born in Enfield Middlesex on March 20th, 1916, he was educated at Bradfield college and then went onto to study music at the Guildhall School of Music. As early as 1937, Hollingsworth had become an accomplished conductor, and found himself conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. During the second world war, he joined the RAF, and in 1943, became the first RAF sergeant to conduct The National Symphony Orchestra, he toured with the NSO and gave concerts in both the UK and the USA. He conducted concerts in front of many dignitaries and world leaders, which included, Stalin, Truman and Churchill. After the war Hollingsworth became much in demand and became assistant to Muir Matheson and worked on films such as BRIEF ENCOUNTER. After three years Hollingsworth became musical director at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. This was an association that would endure some ten years, he also became principal conductor for The Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra during this time and was assistant conductor to Sir Malcolm Sargent at the Proms.

 

 

Hollingsworth, stayed at Hammer until 1963, his last scoring assignment being THE DEVIL SHIP PIRATES, he was working on THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN which was composed by Don Banks when he passed away at his home in London. He died of T.B. on December 29th, 1969.

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PHANTOM THREAD.

 

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Set in the glamour world of 1950s London when the country was still recovering from the ravages of the second world war. PHANTOM THREAD, focuses upon the life of the renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, wonderfully portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis, and his sister Cyril played by the equally polished Lesley Manville, the pair become the focus of the British fashion fraternity, together they dress royalty, stars of the silver screen, socialites, and debutants with a style that they have made all their own, which has a flair and originality that can only be designed at The House of Woodcock. Women drift in and out of Woodcocks life giving the designer comfort, inspiration and friendship. come and go through Woodcock’s life, he has resigned himself to the fact that he will remain a confirmed Batchelor until, he meets a young woman who has a certain stubbornness which he is attracted to, Alma, played by Vicky Kelps, becomes a permanent part of the designers life and world, She is his lover and his motivation, Woodcock soon becomes obsessed by the young woman, and his once ordered and mapped out life is thrown into disarray and disorder as he falls hopelessly in love with her. The music for  PHANTOM THREAD, is by ex-Radiohead band member Jonny Greenwood, Greenwood is a multi-instrumentalist and has written the music to several movies, THE MASTER, NORWEGIAN WOOD and possibly one of his most memorable being, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, which also starred Daniel Day Lewis, amongst these. PHANTOM THREAD, I have to say is in my opinion the best score by Greenwood thus far in his career, and with this work we hear a more delicate and melodious approach from the composer, there is a richness of sound achieved here, and at last real themes within this score, themes that are hauntingly beautiful, dramatically statemented and above all wonderfully attractive. I would not be at all surprised if Greenwood does not lift the coveted Oscar for his efforts on this score, it is a superbly written work, that is not only lush and quite opulent sounding in parts, but one that has a fragility and intimacy to it at the same time.

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Each cue is tailored (forgive the pun) meticulously to each individual scene or sequence and fits like the proverbial glove, underlining, punctuating and ingratiating. Greenwood, paints a musical picture, using many colours and employing an array of textures, his music adding depth, and emotion to the movie, solo piano features throughout the work, its light and almost dream like sound, mesmerising and hypnotising on each outing. The composer combines cascading and shimmering strings with the delicate and subtle piano to evoke a sound that is synonymous with that of the popular instrumental pieces that were heard during the 1950’s, and without being disparaging or critical I was at times reminded of the sound achieved by Mantovani and other such orchestra’s that entertained during the 1950, s and 1960, s. It has that aura to it, it is gentle calming and easy on the ear but also has just the right amount of drama and darkness to make this a score that is sublime, maybe it is time to re-visit the works of Mr Greenwood, whilst we await more. Highly recommended.