All posts by jonman492000

BEST MOVIE THEMES COMPILATIONS.

After reviewing the Best Dirk Bogarde Movie Themes collection, I did a bit of searching and found that there is a whole series and more of this type of collection available. Most are on digital platforms but there are a few which are not available in certain countries. What I like about these compilations is that they focus upon specific actors for the most part and include the original tracks from the soundtracks, so we are hearing the music as it was heard many years ago in cinemas. The compilations and some entire soundtracks from movies are released via Canadian label Disques Cinemusique, Initially I saw the soundtracks for Nightmare by Don Banks and Never Let Go by John Barry on their site, by the looks of things they are all digital releases, but don’t quote me on that.

All you do is click on the cover of the soundtrack or compilation you are interested in, and it takes you to Apple music, but saying that some are available on Spotify. I thought I would look at their wares and let you know what delights are in store for us all there. Firstly, I will say that on some of the recordings ie Nightmare there is dialogue and also sound effects, which can be a pain as it’s the music you want and not the effects.

But the compilations from what I have heard seem to be all music like the Dirk Bogarde collection. I Will begin with a collection that they have dedicated to the music of Ron Grainer, and yes it does include his now iconic Dr Who theme from 1963, but there is so much more here to enjoy. Best Early Ron Grainer Movie Themes opens with a selection from TV, which is the jaunty and quirky theme from the British TV show Maigret, which starred actor Rupert Davies in the title role, the show aired in the 1960’s with Grainer’s French flavored music becoming an instant hit with viewers and radio listeners when it was played on the BBC.

The compilation contains ten tracks which are all from films and TV productions from the 1960’s and has a running time of nearly forty minutes. To be honest the sound quality is very good considering that these are the original cues, some fare better than others, but it’s the atmosphere one feels by hearing these original recordings that is priceless, as soon as I heard the opening strains of Maigret  and that stereotypical French accordion performance I was back there in front of the black and white TV all ready for bed but being allowed to stay up later as it was a Friday to watch the show. I did not realize at the time that it is probably the likes of Grainer and other composers who created familiar themes for TV that started my attraction to both film and TV music. 

The second selection is from The Running Man (no not the Arnie film) but one directed by Carol Reed and starring Laurence Harvey, Lee Remick and Alan Bates, released in 1961, it is a crime thriller which sees a man fake his own death to claim the insurance money after a previous claim has been turned down. The theme for the movie was the work of Grainer but the score was written by William Alwyn.

Grainer’s hard-hitting theme is a mix of jazz styles and dramatic orchestral colours, with vibrant percussion punctuated by woodwind and brass. It is interesting to note that within it we hear a style that will manifest itself in future works by the composer most notably The Prisoner and The Omega Man.

Track number three on this collection is from the 1962 British movie, A Kind of Loving which starred Alan Bates, June Ritchie and Thor Hird.  After his girlfriend Ingrid (Ritchie) falls pregnant Vic (Bates) decides that he will marry her but struggles with the changes he has to make to his life and also battles against his overbearing Mother-in-Law (Hird). Directed by John Schlesinger and containing a brilliant screenplay by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse, it is looked upon as one of the great British kitchen sink dramas from the 1960’s. Grainer again employed a quirky sounding central theme which was a rather ironic touch as it sounded as if it was more at home in a comedy rather than a serious drama. The film also featured James Bolam and Jack Smethurst who both went on to become familiar faces on British TV in series such as Love thy Neighbour and The Likely Lads. It is Grainer’s Main title theme that is featured on the compilation, which again has links to some of his future more familiar works such as Steptoe and Son. This is an interesting compilation of the music penned by the Australian born Grainer, and it displays wonderfully his adaptability as far as writing for so many different storylines and subject matters. The compilation also includes music from Night Must Fall, The Moon spinners, The Dock Brief, Station Six Sahara, Giants of Steam, Mouse on the Moon and others, I did detect some effects on one of the sections, but this was not too off putting, well worth a listen.

Another compilation in this series is dedicated to the films of actor Rex Harrison. Best Rex Harrison Movie Themes includes musical selections from movies such as Blithe Spirit from 1945, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), The Foxes of Harrow (1947), King Richard and the Crusades (1954) plus others, the composer credit list reads like a who’s who in movie music, with the likes of Steiner, Herrmann, Tiomkin, Addinsell, Buttolph, Skinner, and Newman being represented.

The King Richard and the Crusades is particularly impressive as there are two ten-minute suites from Steiner’s brilliant score. We are also treated to music from Cleopatra by Alex North and three selections from the musical My Fair Lady, it is such a varied collection and an entertaining one. The music dates from 1946 as we are taken on a musical journey to the mid 1960’s and the final selection which is Italian composer Riz Ortolani’s masterful and chirpy theme from Anthony Asquith’s The Yellow Rolls Royce (1964).

 I think one of the best compilations within this series is Best Gene Tierney Movie Themes, I say best, but I suppose what I mean is that it probably the most varied and also tremendously entertaining. Again, a plethora of composers from Hollywood and England are represented, with David Raksin’s beautifully haunting theme from Laura (1944) included. Plus, his brief but impacting theme from Whirlpool (1949). The collection opens with David Butloph’s music for The Return of Frank James which was in cinemas in 1940, Butloph is also represented on the second selection via his music to the 1941 movie Tobacco Road. Alfred Newman too makes more than one contribution to the collection with his music for Belle Starr from 1941, Son of Fury (1942), Heaven Can Wait (1943), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Dragonwyke (1946), and The Razor’s Edge also from 1946.

Other composers such as Benjamin Frankel and William Alwyn are also represented with music from the films Night and the City (1950) and Personal Affaire (1953) respectively, with both selections being conducted by Muir Mathieson.

Victor Youngs The Left hand of God from 1955, Leigh Harline’s Main title from Black Widow, and Jerry Fielding’s Advice and Consent also make an appearance. It is a collection overflowing with musical excellence and certainly well worth checking out. Other selections come courtesy of  Miklos Rozsa, Sol Kaplan and Cyril Mockridge in the form of Plymouth Adventure, Secret of Convict Lake, Way of the Gaucho and The Wonderful Urge. Please do go to the Disques Cinemusique web site and check out their weighty catalogue. You will I know find something.

From Silent Screams, and Flickering Frights to Sinister Streams.

Not solely an article about music in horror movies although I do mention it from time to time, but a look at early films that maybe led us to where we are now in the horror genre on screen. From silent flickering images that are now considered iconic pieces of cinema to modern day classics with some demons, vampires, werewolves, and devil worship in between. Welcome to the ever evolving, blood-spattered and sometimes cerebral world of.

THE HORROR MOVIE.

So, I do not profess to be an expert, or indeed to know anymore than anyone else about horror films old and new, but here is my take, or nonsensical ramblings and  muddled views of the genre. From early days to contemporary examples.

The horror film, picture, movie, motion picture or flick has always been attractive to audiences, in England we were lucky to have Hammer Films, Tigon, Tyburn, and Amicus to name a handful of studios that specialised in the macabre and the scary and from America there were the productions from AIP who also fed our appetite for any number of unspeakable monsters, creatures, spirits, and phantoms. Plus, the classic black and white images of the Universal horrors were always present or so it seemed and were an inspiration for most of what was produced from the 1950’s onwards within the genre.

All, of the studios mentioned and the images that they created are by contemporary standards tame and rather more watchable for entertainment values than things such as one of the latest offerings Fear Street which is a blood-soaked gore filled series that is now enjoying success on Netflix a series which I thought was maybe just a bit too much because of the axe wielding, limb dismembering, body hacking scenes that it displays. But let us forget about the slashing, the copious amounts of bodies being hacked to pieces and the endless madness of the modern horror and go back a little way and to countries other than America and England.  

But before we do lets refer to the manual of Some of the do’s and don’ts of if you ever find yourself in a haunted house, dark and dank cellar, Deserted Path, or a shady and desolate wood. Right if the sign says do not go in Don’t! just walk away go home get in the car and head for the hills, (as long as they have not got eyes then you will be fine). If you walk up to the door of an abode and it opens on its own, what do you do? Repeat after me “Walk away “ from the place, no, no, don’t go in, oh dear you’re in now, the door creaks and shuts behind you, what do you do?

Go upstairs where you can hear a funny noise? No wrong answer guys you at least try and go back out the door, or maybe through a window even if its closed, ok you are now on the stairs, you hear children’s laughter from down the long dark corridor, again No guys where are you going? OOH look a ladder leading into an even darker attic, and those kids are really having fun listen to them laughing now come on people, surely this is a sign that you should really be leaving.

But nope, you just carry on getting deeper into the house and further away from the front door. You climb halfway up the ladder and hear a moaning from the darkest area of the attic, Run, no, no, our intrepid and incredibly stupid intruder goes up the ladder into the attic. (this will not end well but hey its fine). Oh gosh look a torch turn it on but don’t shine it in your own face ok too late, (that made the audience jump). The moaning gets louder so go back down the ladder and shut the loft hatch now please… No, ok you just carry on. What,s that in the corner, what are you doing? Stay back,,, no oh well don’t say I didn’t warn you. Camera then pans down the ladder and back along corridor and a piercing scream is heard from the attic. Told ya, did you listen well obviously not. I know I am poking fun here, but you know in horror movies the people are pretty stupid don’t you think, it’s like when a vampire hunter goes armed to the teeth (forgive pun) to kill an evil blood sucking vampire, when do they go  yep at night  Duh…….What they should do is go early morning that way you can get to the vampire stake the sucker (Sorry), and be home in time for Homes under the Hammer (other film studios are available). So, if the people in horror movies were not so stupid, I suppose the genre would be incredibly boring and predictable, but it’s a bit of fun, as in fun that we like to be scared by, even if we do know what’s coming next.

The horror film is not the exclusive property of the UK and the United States studios that I already mentioned, there are so many other entries into this genre produced by other countries. We know that Italy had a thriving horror film industry thanks to the likes of Mario Bava etc.

But in France horror movies began life early as in the films produced by filmmaker George Melies, silent movies such as The Haunted Castle from 1896 and The Astronomers Dream from 1898. I think more than any country France produced horror movies in the early days of cinema, and although many have been successful it has always been said by French filmmakers that the Horror film is near impossible to fund and of course because of the funding issue in recent years French directors and producers have been reluctant to become involved with the genre for fear of losing any investment that they may put into a production.

However, France have produced some memorable and scary films, Le Viol du Vampire from 1968 for example, which was an erotic Vampire movie directed by Jean Rollin. The actual story does not make a lot of sense, and maybe because it is subtitled that made it even more difficult for non-French audiences, it was however Rollin’s directorial debut, and he would go on to create many more Vampire themed films.

Films such as those directed by Rollin would be shown in small independent cinemas in the UK and often would be seen as exclusive picture houses that often were open to only members and it was not until probably the 1980’s that certain movies began to be screened in more mainstream cinemas as part of a series or festival.

In 1928 La chute de la Maison Usher, or The Fall of the House of Usher was released, and it must be said that this is quite unique because it is a rare case of French filmmakers utilising material that was based upon American culture. It was it seems filmed as a homage to Edgar Allan Poe. Based upon the short story that is still considered his best work, with the central character Roderick Usher burying his wife in the family tomb only to discover that he has buried her alive and because of a family curse that he was unaware of she returns to terrorise him.

The script or adaptation of the story for the movie was initially written by Spanish born Luis Bunuel, but he had artistic differences with the director of the movie, and it is still unclear. The following year Bunuel teamed up with Salvador Dali and they produced Un Chien Andalou or An Andalusian Dog. Although made by two Spanish artists, the story was filmed in La Havre and Paris and is considered a masterpiece of surreal cinema. It is a silent movie, but is an accomplished one and still manages to draw much attention even today, the opening scene for example shows a cutthroat razor slicing into an eyeball, why?

Well, I do not actually know, but it is a shocking opener that certainly fixes the audience’s gaze. Le Golem, was released in 1936, and was a re-make of the original German film Der Golem that was produced in 1920.

Both movies being the re-telling of a Jewish folk tale about a monster made of stone who sleeps during peaceful times but can be awakened by carving the Hebrew word meaning Truth on his forehead whenever the Jewish community is threatened.

Le Golem.

Let us also not forget Carnival of Sinners or The Hand of The Devil which was a 1943 chiller, and Les Diaboliques from 1955 that was said to be the basis of Hitchcock’s famous Psycho. And the Georges Franju directed Les Yeux Sans Visage or Eyes without a Face from 1960.

French cinema had its own agenda when producing horror movies and also its own innovative and at times grotesque and shocking way of purveying the horror to audiences, producing horror movies may not have been something that was considered worthwhile in France, but they certainly set the levels in inventive storylines and stunning cinematography in many films that were produced there. With these early examples being just the tip of the iceberg as it were and even this handful influencing many productions that would follow.  

From France to Italy, I have already mentioned Mario Bava, as being a driving force behind the genre in Italy. as both director and cinematographer and also often uncredited.

There was a certain style to Italian horrors, especially those filmed in black and white, they seemed to be more eerie in monochrome, and the directors and producers were never scared to push boundaries and introduce greater heights of violence and the mysterious into their movies.

One of the earliest silent horror movies to be produced in Italy was Cuore Di Mamma which was released in 1909, directed by Luigi Maggi it is a short but effective Horror/fantasy.

THE DEVIL ON TWO STICKS 1911.

Maggi also made The Witches Ballad and The Devil on Two Sticks a year later which were both shorts, in 1912 however the director made a full feature entitled Satan, which was a four-chapter film including Satan vs the Creator, Satan vs the Saviour, The Green Demon/Satan during the Dark Ages and The Red Demon/Satan in modern times. He also directed The Maniac in the same year, which had an engrossing and tense storyline, which focuses upon a madman who escapes from an asylum taking his chess board and pieces with him, the escapee boards a train and finds a compartment where just passenger is sitting. He engages in conversation with the man in the compartment and soon they begin to play chess, the events take a sinister turn when the madman suggests that they should play for each other’s lives. It’s an interesting plot and a well-made movie that holds one’s attention throughout.

Luigi Maggi.

The director was also responsible for The Mask (Masque) of the Red Death in 1911. Set in the City of Naples, which is caught in the grips of a devastating plague with its population living in fear of the disease. The King leaves the city and its rising death toll for a castle some distance from Naples. It is here behind locked doors that the monarch and members of his court basically mock death, but death is not something that you can make fun of and it soon becomes apparent that Death with its shadowy appearance and carrying a long scythe is stalking the castle in search of victims and inflicting the  plague upon all except a poor woman and her two little children, whose pleadings moved the King to take them along, and who, alone, prayed to be spared.  

The style employed in many silent Italian productions often crossed over into horror films that came out of Cinecitta in the 1960.s and after. Slaughter of the Vampires (1962) is a good example, the low budget affair is still looked upon by many as one of Italy’s most notable horror films from the 1960’s. Directed by Roberto Mauri when released outside of Italy it was heavily edited and in the USA was entitled Curse of the Blood Ghouls.  One of the films striking attributes was its score, which was written by composer Aldo Piga and was recently made available on a long-playing record. Piga is an underrated composer and in the same year scored Lette Di Sabbia which was totally different in its style, the composer employing a jazz big band sound as opposed to the dramatic and romantically laced sound he created for Slaughter of the Vampires which included a piano solo. From Italy to England and films before Hammer and their like. I suppose the most notorious horror at the time of its release would have been Dead of Night in 1945.

But let’s go back just little further shall we to 1901 and The Haunted Curiosity Shop, where the elderly proprietor is shocked and unsettled by the discovery of a skull. He is taken aback by his discovery and moves away from it but as he does the door to an old wardrobe flies open, and a hand begins to prod him and poke him with a sword. He turns to see who his attacker could be but as soon as he does the hand disappears at the same instant the skull flies to the other end of the room. He tries to grab the skull, but it then turns into the half form of a girl from the waist up, suspended in mid-air. As he is fixated by the image the other half of the girl, fully dressed from her waist down, walks across the room, and the two halves of the figure join, making the girl complete. In an amorous fashion the old man folds his arms around the girl’s waist with the intention of stealing a kiss, but the girl immediately changes into an old woman, who grins in evident delight at the old man’s disappointment. This angers the shop owner, and he throws her into the wardrobe and locks the door. Unseen by him, the woman has again become a girl. Through the doors, which are solid and closed, the form of the girl appears through the woodwork. Opening the door, the old man is then confronted by an Egyptian mummy.

Other weird and wonderful things occur but really this is tame compared with later scenarios in short films that were produced in the UK in this period from 1901 through until the late 1920’s. Some shorts produced which were of course silent as well at that time, were more laughable than frightening. It was not until the 1930’s and into the 1940’s that British horror movies began to become established, and a style also began to become evident. Many of these movies would arguably be the foundation on which Hammer and other Horror film producers in the 1960’s and 1970’s would build their now classic movies upon.

Dead of Night (1945) was a compilation of stories that were told in one movie, each tale being either horror or a cerebral psychotic episode, the films within in films as it were also started to become something of the norm in the 1960’s onwards with examples such as Vault of Horror etc standing out as entertaining pieces of horror/comedy themed cinema that often-parodied classic horror films.

Of course, music in horror movies has always featured large, and horror films most certainly needed a greater degree of musical accompaniment, even silent examples of the genre requiring some music even if it was just a lone piano player in the theatre pit often improvising as he or she went along.  

still from The Mistletoe Bough.

So back to 1904 for another example of early British horror on celluloid, The Mistletoe Bough, was produced by Gaumont pictures, and released in the December of 1904, directed by Percy Stow, it is the first film version of the story which is thought to have originated in Italy during the 1800’s.

With a song also having the same title. This early gothic tale was filmed both on location at a castle in England and in the studio with purpose-built sets. The movie short has a duration of just nine minutes and has recently been restored by the BFI but sadly the ending of the film is missing, which I am told is something that occurs often with ends of reels from early films. The film tells the story of a game of hide and seek in a castle with a bride hiding in a chest but not being discovered for some thirty years. Stow who was born in 1876 was quite a prolific filmmaker, producing nearly three hundred shorts and movies in his career which began in 1901, with The Gluttons Nightmare.  Now I am just scratching the surface with Euro Horrors, as there are so many worthy productions out there that really do deserve the title of classic. These are either early silent movies the majority of which were shorts, or productions from the golden age of horror which I suppose runs from the late 1930’s through to the late 1970’s in my humble opinion that is. Plus, the 1980’s and 1990’s also gave us so many great shockers, slashers, and demonic tales, which themselves were based upon long standing tales of horror. Horror movies never get boring even when done on a budget and maybe not that well produced, they still hold a certain level of entertainment for devotees of the genre and attract the attention of new fans who start out being curious and end up getting hooked.

I Think that horror does attract as does the unknown, we are all curious creatures and we all for some reason thrive on being scared, when we are told don’t look as a child what do we do? Yep, that’s right we look and end up sleeping with the light on and a baseball bat under the bed or a cricket bat if you are in the UK, stakes, Holy water, garlic, and anything else we might think will come in useful to battle the devil and all his works.  But horror movies effect different people in different ways,

I think it was The Exorcist that had a profound effect upon me, but there again so did Bambi, (they shot his mum) and Watership Down (violent Bunnies are not good news and did that seagull really say that). I did not want to go see The Exorcist, but if I said no maybe I would be thought of as being a wimpy teenager. Well guess what I went to see it (well some of it) and yes, I was wimpy teenager, but I was not the only one and surprisingly most people exiting the cinema that night whilst furniture and other things began to fly around Regan’s room were Male. Yet I watched it recently on my own to Exorcise (forgive the pun) the demons the film had set in my mind, and thought it was a good movie as in interesting and looking at it now did think that maybe in certain areas it could have been done better. and no, I did not turn it off, but I did leave the lights on. (they are still on now but why are they flickering and what’s that banging in the attic). I know I make light of it now and I did sit through it but was I totally comfortable, no I was not, so I suppose I am still a wimpy teenager in a 60 somethings body. I kept on waiting for something to jump out of the screen or a section of the movie I had not seen be totally freaky, but I got through it (this time) and at the end was relieved. When the movie was on in cinemas some people ended up getting spiritual support and help from the church because it affected them so badly, I remember our local priest being angry at a film such as this being released and telling me that this is not something dreamt up by Hollywood this was real and it was happening now behind closed doors of homes, which made things even more unsettling. The church offered counselling and Vicars and Priests walked up and down outside cinemas giving out leaflets about the dangers of meddling with the dark side, no I am not joking.

There were warnings about Ouiji boards, and I have to say I would never even look at one of those things. The Exorcist was one of the first of a new breed of films and its legacy is still being felt to this day with its influences being seen in contemporary movies and now TV shows, in the opinion of many it still ranks as the scariest film of all time. But is it? Well, you tell me, I suppose its scary if your scared of it or allow it as I did all those years ago get inside your head. But enough now, let’s move on and rapidly please, that knocking in the attic is getting louder (not to self-Leave old Xmas decs in attic buy new treat yourself).

Thinking, of The Exorcist I also got to recalling other Horror films that influenced me or friends, there are only really a handful, but boy did they make us think.

The Changeling is one, especially the scene with the ball, but ultimately it was sad, but still a little unsettling. The score by Howard Blake certainly aided the movie and is considered as one of his finest.

The Anglo-Spanish movie The Others was a bit jumpy, old house shadowy-rooms, weird servants you know what I mean I think and a storyline that involved children. Then there was The Nightcomers (1971), starring Stephanie Beecham and Marlon Brando which The Others I think might have been inspired by. The Nightcomers itself being an adaptation of some of the themes within The Innocents from 1961 which was I think more unnerving because it was shot in black and white.

Both The Nightcomers, and The Innocents being based upon the story by American author Henry James entitled The Turn of The Screw, the 1971 movie being a prequel and showing events leading up to the James story. The musical scores for all three movies were outstanding in their own unique way, the 1961 release being scored by George Auric who also worked on films such as The Lavender Hill Mob, Passport to Pimlico, and the already mentioned Dead of Night, which is quite an uncharacteristic style and sound for the composer, but one that worked. He also scored Beauty and the Beast in 1947.

The 1971 picture had an atmospheric soundtrack penned by American composer Jerry Fielding, fresh from his success two years earlier with The Wild Bunch and in the same year scoring Lawman with Fielding producing a moody and tense soundtrack. The most recent movie The Others being scored by its director, which in most cases does not seem to work, (don’t tell the directors this) but Alejandro Amenábar wrote a more than serviceable score for his movie.

These were all examples of shadowy and apprehensive horror a thinking man’s scary movie if you like, none resulting to gory scenes and gratuitous blood-letting or body parts being lopped off etc to terrorise or disgust the watching audience but relying upon getting inside the audiences heads and letting their own imagination scare the hell out of them, and let’s be honest we are all at some time a victim of our own imagination. This can also be said for movies such as The Haunting and the later movie The Legend of Hell House, which is another film that really freaked me out. There is a line in a more recent horror that is What’s your favourite Scary Movie? Well, I don’t know, but there are a few and would I say they are my favourites, how can something be your favourite if it scares the life out of you?  Its, all back to that thing about we love to be scared whether its dodging behind the sofa to block out tame stuff as in the original Doctor Who series with Cybermen and Daleks (I quite liked the Daleks actually) or TV shows such as Adam Adamant, Children of the Stones, and their like, or more harrowing material like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, horror is horror and we do adore it.

There was in the mid seventies an abundance of TV movies that were produced in the States, which had a mysterious or horror theme, many of these were in my opinion essential viewing and TV movies such as the Dan Curtis directed The Norliss Tapes (1973) were so good, one movie that was shown a few times late on TV was about a woman who moved into a house and on the wall there was a painting, it was a witch being burnt, she then started to have dreams about the witch burning and it was her being burnt at the stake, for the life of me I can’t remember the title and I have not seen it since the 1970’s. So, if anyone knows what it is Please tell me, I can then get it on DVD or whatever and scare myself all over again. I could go on and on about the horror genre  the films, the TV movies the TV series and even the books etc which are associated with it, but maybe I should stop here and one day pick up this thread again and see if I feel different about it. Until then, I am off to lock the doors, bolt the windows, turn on the electric fence, let the guard dogs out and watch The Waltons…..night night.  

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT FORTY EIGHT.

Its time again for a look at the latest batch of soundtrack excellence or maybe film score disappointment with soundtrack supplement forty nine. In this latest edition I think I have been a little more selective and gone for quality rather than quantity. We often discuss music for horror movies here at Movie music international, and there are a handful of these within this article, I was saying only the other day who would have thought 20 years ago that the horror film score would have become so popular, remember if you can many years ago struggling to find horror scores and if you were around in the 1960’s and collecting well they were practically non-existent.

The scores were there as in in the movies and the majority of them were good, but record companies and film companies were more than reluctant to even consider releasing them. Thankfully this altered in the late 1970’s and 1980’s and like I say when we look through any new batch of releases, I think the horror score is more than represented. So are you sitting comfortably, is the door locked are you settled then I will begin.

Old, is the latest offering from the master of darkness and suspenseful horror M. Night Shyamalan, the director once again producing a harrowing but at the same time thought provoking piece of cinema. Like in most of his movies the musical score plays an important and an integral part, the score is by Trevor Gureckis, who scored the Apple TV series Servant season one in 2019 and the movie The Goldfinch also in 2019. Gureckis has also worked on season two of Servant this year as well as scoring another movie entitled Voyagers.

The music for Old is nerve jangling and tantalizing, the composer creating some icy and unsettling moments via interesting and inventive instrumentation, but for a movie with a plot like this has I would expect nothing less, it is a score that one has to listen to a few times to be able to take it all in, there is a lot happening here, little nuances, both dark and light popping up here and there, all of which combine to fashion a score that is sheer tension.

TREVOR GURECKIS.

It is actually more than just unsettling it somehow makes those hairs on your arms and on the back of your neck react and sends a cold shiver through you, which is what is supposed to do. There are some quieter moments, in which we hear hints of themes and layers of respite, but there always seems to be an underlying sense of terror and uncertainty. Worth a listen and available on digital platforms so why not also check out his other works whilst you are there.

Blood Red Sky is a new Netflix horror, it’s a story about an airplane hijack that has a lot of twists and a final sting in its tail. But I will not divulge anything as you should really see this.

The score is a mix of conventional performances and electronics, the composer Dascha Dauenhauer creating not only dramatic and tense moods but also fashioning affecting and haunting melodies.

Recording Session for “Mother & Son” | Blood Red Sky (Music from the Netflix Original F… – YouTube

This is a varied and vibrant soundtrack, with several interesting sounds included to establish highly atmospheric moments and one which you will certainly not tire of easily. Available via digital platforms.

Cris Tales is a game score and is the work of Tyson Wernli, I found this to be entertaining and contained a wide selection of styles, the composer utilizing symphonic and synthetic to bring to fruition his thematic and pulsating  score.

This a charmingly effective work and has to it a sound and style of many of the Japanese composers such as Hisaishi.  There is a lightness presence throughout and an abundance of melodious and rewarding interludes present.

Worth adding to the collection. Dos is one of the latest soundtracks to come out of Movie Score Media, music is by Diego Navarro, and I love it, it is simple but at the same time complex with the composer employing cello, vibes and choir to create lilting and emotive tone poems, it is no way overblown or grandiose, but it still makes its mark and has a lasting impression upon its listener. One cannot help but want to listen to this over and over, it is ethereal and at times almost celestial.

Navarro makes effective use of strings managing to bring forth so many romantic and haunting phrases. Yes, this is one for the collection, its on digital platforms.

Dune is soon to be released and after the first big screen incarnation of the story I am hopeful this new version will be better. The score is by Hans Zimmer, (who else). The soundtrack is to be released in three editions or so I understand as the info on it is just as confusing as the story. A few tracks have been released for preview, and I have to say these are impressive so far, yes Impressive and Zimmer in the same sentence.

The composer from what I can hear thus far has written an atmospheric score with nods to music and vocals that sound as if they could be African or Arabic but saying this remember these are just previews, I have listened to, so let’s not get too excited. A full review will appear when the score is released which will probably be before Zimmer’s Bond score. 

Staying with sci fi or fantasy, lets nip over to Netflx for their latest series Masters of the Universe Revelation, VOL 1, which contains a great score from the one and only Bear McCreary, this is a composer who I rate highly, each project he becomes involved with benefits highly from his music which always amazes me as you can never pin him down stylistically, and this is no exception to that rule.

His score has everything and I mean everything, upbeat and action filled tracks, regal sounding pieces, anthem like themes, mystery and magic it is superb and I think I did hear references to past He Man music within certain phrases and passages, this is a new score but has to it a sound that is straight out of the glory days of Hollywood, evoking the likes of Goldsmith, Conti, Bernstein etc. Brass, percussion, and strings having the lions share of the work embellished by choral work and real thematic qualities.

 Another score for your collection but please check it out first on digital platforms. Animation, adventure, fantasy, and action, well these are the words I would use to describe Trollhunters-Tales of Arcadia, and the music by three composers is just as vibrant and exciting. Jeff Dana, Tim Davies and Alexandre Desplat all make contributions with Desplat providing a fast pace and driving theme for this series that is a Dreamworks production created by Spanish filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, the score is a collection of varied and action paced music, with the occasional entry of a more emotive and melodic piece here and there.

The composers utilizing strong symphonic lines and bolstering and enhancing these with synthetic elements, the score evoked for me memories of the work of Robert Folk when he scored movies such as Beastmaster 2, and The Never-Ending Story 2. There is that kind of magical aura to it, it also has to it a comedic air musically and a proud and superhero type persona. Well worth a listen.

Next is a beautiful score from composer Daniel Hart, The Last Letter From your Lover, is a fragile and delicate work, with so many heartfelt and haunting themes, the composer make excellent use of solo piano with strings and subtle use of woodwind to enhance it thus fashioning a poignant and wonderfully melodic score. I really liked the composers score for A Ghost Story and going back a little way was impressed with his music for Comet in 2015. His music for The Last Letter from your Lover The is exceptional, at times I was reminded of the intricate and touching style of Georges Delerue and the music as penned by the likes of Stelvio Cipriani when he worked on romantic movies. It is emotive and attractive and totally consuming. Wonderful. Well short and sweet this time see you soon.

THE BEST DIRK BOGARDE EARLY MOVIE THEMES.

It is not often that I review a compilation of movie music, mainly because the compilation has sadly become a thing of the past, remember the days when the compilation film theme album reigned, it was an ideal way of sampling styles of music and the central themes for movies so that you could gauge whether you might like the entire score before buying the LP release. It was also an excellent way to introduce people to film music, and compilations were brought by non movie score fans to add variety to their collection. I think United Artists records were very good at this market with their Best of Bond, Best of Francis Lai, Best of Ennio Morricone, Great War film themes and of course those famous Great Western Themes albums. Popular artists such as Henry Mancini, Ron Goodwin and Geoff Love also released a number of film theme compilations on labels such as EMI Studio Two and Phase four, with many of Geoff Love’s recordings being released on the budget label Music for Pleasure. In recent years Silva Screen records in the UK have issued a landslide of compilations but these were mainly re-recordings, some of which were a little shaky to say least. Then came the Tadlow music label issued a more expanded full score series again some of which failed to hit the mark with several collectors, but it is hard to recreate the original sound of many of this now classic film scores.

So, I was pleased to see this compilation which includes the original soundtrack cues from a few of the films of the esteemed and suave, British actor Dirk Bogarde. He was the epitome of what was seen as a British actor and regarded as being in the same class as the likes of David Niven and Sir Laurence Olivier. His films were varied and even controversial at times but always entertaining. My own personal memories of Dirk Bogarde stem from my Mother who was a great fan, and when she began to work in a cinema in Brighton I was often allowed to sit through the movies all day if I so wished. Best Dirk Bogarde Early movie themes, is not only a delight to have and hear but is also I think an important recording and hopefully will be the first of more that might see the light of day with music from his films being included. In a way it is a historical musical recording because it includes pieces from movies that I do not think have been released before in the context of a compilation, some however have seen re-recordings released onto compact disc and now on digital streaming sites, with labels such as Chandos commissioning reconstructions of various sections of the soundtracks. Because of the age of many of the tracks the sound quality is not digitally clean but in my mind this makes it an even more attractive collection as its sometimes distorted (not too badly if I may add) sound evokes those days in the late 1950,s and early 1960,s and of afternoons in the cinema watching Dirk in action on the big screen. The compilation contains nearly fifty minutes of brilliantly melodic and vibrantly robust British movie music with composers such as John Veale and John Wooldridge being represented. Two composers who in my opinion are sadly neglected for all the contributions that they made to world of British film music.

Doreen Carwithen also is represented, and it is a composition from her score for The Boys in Brown from 1949 that opens proceedings, the piece is also credited to Marcus Dodds who I presume was the conductor on this occasion as he was an in demand musical director at the time. All the tracks on the compilation are relatively short but that was the norm in the 1940.s and 1950,s.

The Boys in Brown -Main title opens the recording,  and it is somewhat typical of the sound achieved during this period, with Carwithen’s dramatic and urgent sounding theme setting the scene for much of what is to follow on this recording, these were the days when Main Titles more or less straight away established the style and also the direction and pace in which the score would go, at times with the remainder of the score being modeled upon the thematic properties established within it.

Carwithen began working on films during the 1940,s` her first assignment being a documentary entitled This Modern Age in 1946. She was responsible for writing the music for just a section of the film as other composers such as Malcolm Arnold were involved on the project. The Boys in Brown was her first full feature film score and she continued to work steadily writing music for documentaries, shorts and movies through to the mid -1950,s her style is comparable to that of Sir William Walton, Elizabeth Lutyens, and her husband William Alwyn. who worked on numerous movies. She could easily turn her hand to any genre and write music that was, dramatic, romantic and filled with adventurous sounding themes, her compositions as well as being supportive of the films she worked on were also melodic and contained a rich musical persona.

Track number two comes from the 1950 movie, The Woman in Question, music courtesy of John Wooldridge. The composer was I think probably better known for his so called “Serious” music as in compositions for concert hall performance, but his contributions to the film music world were important and always interesting. The opening theme is included here which has a slightly apprehensive and somewhat foreboding mood to it, written for brass, strings, and percussion, it opens filled with drama but alters direction slightly becoming more thematic and less daunting. There is also a brief passage of music edited into the cue which I assume is the end or finale music but this is momentary and fades quickly. John Wooldridge, was a pupil of Sibelius and a contemporary and friend of Sir William Walton. He spent the second world war in Bomber Command flying mainly Mosquito aircraft. His promising career as a composer was brought to a sudden end when he died tragically in a car accident at the age of 47 in 1958. He married the actress Margarette Scott  in 1948 and was the father of the actress  Susan Wooldridge and the director Hugh Wooldridge.

His first scoring assignment was for the 1947 movie Fame is the Spur which starred Michael Redgrave and was directed by Roy Boulting. Other film music credits included Appointment in London which was released in 1953 and also starred Dirk Bogarde, Edward My Son, (1949) and Prescription for Murder (1958). 

Track number three from the compilation is the work of composer Benjamin Frankel, So Long at the Fair was released in 1950. The film featured the likes of  Jean Simmons, David Tomlinson, Andre Morell, and Honor Blackman alongside Bogarde, with the music for the movie being performed by Mantovani and his orchestra.

Again, Frankel was probably better known  for his concert hall compositions, and would go on in later years to create a stunning score for the 1961 Hammer horror The Curse of the Werewolf, in which he employed a complex fashion of composing that was Avant Garde and referred to as the twelve tone method,  which he had perfected whilst writing his classical music. The composer went on to work on the Hollywood blockbuster The Battle of The Bulge amongst others.

His musical score for So Long at the Fair is a far cry from those disjointed and lumbering sounds being a lighter affair compared with the style that we now mostly associate with the composer. The drama mystery was successful at the box office and co-directed by Terence Fisher and Antony Darnborough.  

Track number three is taken from the 1954 movie The Sleeping Tiger, the movie marked the first British feature film to be directed by filmmaker Joseph Losey, after his encounter during the McCarthy era in the United States that would see many actors, composers and directors placed on the blacklist.. The music for this tense film noir was written by Malcolm Arnold and supervised and conducted by Muir Mathieson. In 1954 Arnold worked on eight movies and two documentaries, The Sleeping Tiger however was a dramatic and jazz influenced work, and one would struggle to identify it as being the work of Arnold if you were not already aware.

We go to 1955 for the next selection and to Simba, which was a propaganda movie presented in the guise of a drama focusing upon events in East Africa and a British family who get caught up in the Mau Mau uprising. Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, the music is by Francis Chagrin, who had become popular via his scores for movies such as Law and Disorder (1940), Helter Skelter (1949) and in the same year as Simba, The Colditz Story.  Born in Romania to Jewish parents and at their insistence studied for an engineering degree in Zurich while secretly studying at that city’s music conservatory. The composer graduated in 1928 but when his family failed to support his musical ambitions, he decided to leave home and moved to Paris where he adopted his new, French-sounding name.

By playing in nightclubs and cafes and writing popular songs, he funded himself through two years, from 1933, at the Ecole Normale, where his teachers included  Paul Dukas and Nadia Boulanger, he settled in England in 1936. The music for Simba was not only dramatic and driving but the composer added ethnic sounding percussion for effect which purveyed a sense of unease, there is a style present within the composer’s work for this movie that evokes the musical leaning of Clifton Parker and although brief it is a commanding and effective section.  

Composer Clifton Parker is represented here also in section number fifteen H.M.S. Defiant which was released in 1962.

The score’s Main Title being included, this is a proud and sweeping soundtrack, filled with brass, percussion and lush strings, a beautifully crafted soundtrack conducted by Muir Mathieson. Selection number six is from the hilarious British comedy Doctor at Sea, the film which was released sixty-six years ago this year is a classic piece of comic cinema and boasts a score by Bruce Montgomery. Again, here we have a pairing of the opening theme and the end titles that have been edited together and although not ideal it does give one an idea of how quirky, fast paced and entertaining this score was. Montgomery was born on October 2, 1921 in Chesham Bios, Buckinghamshire, England as Robert Bruce Montgomery.

He is known, for his work on the early Carry On, movies plus he also enjoyed a career as a successful author writing Under the pseudonym Edmund Crispin, he penned a series of mystery novels and short stories featuring the character Gervase Fen. Also, as Edmund Crispin, he edited several collections of science fiction short stories.

The first, “Best SF” (1955), had a great influence on acceptance of the Sci Fi genre as serious writing in Britain. His Gervase Fen novel “Frequent Hearses” takes place in and around a British movie studio, and contains many insider jokes about actors, directors, musicians, and others in the business. Towards the end of his career his alcoholism became worse, which resulted in him not being able to meet deadlines and complete scores for movies, it was at this point that he enlisted the assistance of fellow composer Eric Rogers and Carry On producer Peter Thomas decided that Rogers should be the main composer for the films. Bruce Montgomery, passed away on September 15, 1978 in West Hampstead, London, England, which was a sad ending to a career that could have been even greater. Apart from his music for the Carry On, movies the composer wrote the scores to numerous other pictures, which included, The Brides of Fu Manchu and Doctor at Large (1957) for example which is also represented within this collection (track number nine).

Moving to a film that is possibly most associated with Dirk Bogarde, The Spanish Gardener from 1956, filmed in Catalonia and also at Pinewood studios in England, the movie was directed by Phillip Leacock, and based upon the novel by author A.J.Cronin. The movie featured Michael Horden and Jon Whitely alongside Bogarde and had a delightful score by John Veale. It was not only charming but contained a sense of grandeur in places, and had a style and sound to it that is comparable with that of composer Miklos Rozsa when he was scoring films for Alexander Korda in England.

The score was conducted by Muir Mathieson, and it is the Main Theme that is representing the powerful score within this collection.  Born John Douglas Louis Veale in Bromley Kent on June 15th,1922, composer John Veale, is again one of the driving and original forces within British concert hall and film music who is at times sadly overlooked. Veale attended the Dragon School in Oxford from 1930 through to 1936, and then later went to Repton school which was in Derbyshire from 1936 up until 1940. After this Veale attended The Corpus Christi College in Oxford until 1942 where he studied History. During the second world war, Veale spent his war service in the Education Corps, and during this time he continued to study music unofficially with Egon Wellesz and had lessons from Sir Thomas Armstrong in harmony and counterpoint. It was during this period that the composer had his first works performed and completed his first symphony.

It was a piece of music from a production entitled Loves Labours Lost (1947) that began Veale’s involvement in writing for films, the composer sent a copy of his score for the production to Muir Mathieson, who after seeing it asked Veale to write music for The Crown Film Unit, it was via this assignment that Veale met conductor John Hollingsworth, who was assistant to Sir Malcolm Sargent. Veale then became friends and moved in musical circles with many of the most respected composers of that period, Elizabeth Lutyens, William Walton, Humphrey Searle, Constant Lambert, Alan Rawsthorne and poets and writers such as Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis.  As the 1960,s dawned Veale and composers like him who wrote romantic and richly thematic music seemed to fall out of favour, the music fans at that time opting for the pop music revolution or the more Avant Garde and modern sounding music. With American movies starting to monopolize cinema audience, s attention. The decades of the 60, s and the 70, s were not kind to the composer. But interest in his music was rekindled when during the 1980, s and the 1990, s with Chandos records releasing a few of his non film music works. John Veale may not have written the scores to many movies, but the few he did write were impressive and filled with rich and lush material. He battled prostate cancer for many years finally having to leave Oxford and return to Bromley where he resided in a care home until he passed away on November 16th, 2006.

1957, saw the release of Ill Met by Moonlight, the American edition of the movie was nearly fifteen minutes shorter than the British and European releases, it was to be the last production by the writing and producing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.  Dirk Bogarde stars with a cast that features Marius Goring, David Oxley, and Cyril Cusack, the screenplay for the film was based upon 1950 book Ill Met by Moonlight :The Abduction of General Kreipe by W. Stanley Moss, which is a true  account of events during the author’s service on the Greek island of Crete during World War II when he was an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE).  

The score is by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and was one of his first forays into writing music for film. It is in no way remotely in the same style of his later works such as Zorba the Greek (1964) but does share some of the attributes of his atmospheric score for Phaedra (1962) being mysterious and apprehensive. We are treated to a nearly four-minute suite of music from the score, and it is one of the highlights of this collection. Of course, Theodorakis went onto become one of Greece’s most prominent composers and won an Oscar for his score for the politically outspoken movie Z in 1969. 

The Doctor’s Dilemma is a 1958 British drama film directed by Anthony Asquith starring Leslie Caron and Dirk Bogarde, with performances from Alistair Sim, and Robert Morley. It is based on the 1906 play by George Bernard Shaw and is a satire about the behaviour of the medical profession and its focus upon the treatment of wealthy patients. It contrasts their world of imperfect science, always bumping up against unknowns, with the endless spheres of romance, beauty and caring. The music is by Hungarian born composer Joseph Kosma and there is also a credit for British composer Charles Williams, who on this occasion was the musical director. Kosma was born in 1905 and passed away in 1969, His career scoring films began in 1936 and between then and 1969 he scored over one hundred and forty motion pictures. The Main credit’s theme is included on the compilation.

To the 1960’s for the next selection, and an Italian/American co-production The Angel Wore Red or to give it the Italian title, La Sposa Bella, this compelling war drama starring Ava Gardner and Dirk Bogarde and was a co-production between MGM and Titanus films. Directed by Nunnally Johnson and produced by Goffredo Lombardo with a screenplay by the director based upon the 1953 novel The Fair Bride by Bruce Marshall. The powerful and Hispanic sounding cue included on the compilation is credited to Hollywood composer Bronislaw Kaper, but the Italian release of the film was scored by Italian Maestro Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, this was often done with co-productions MGM probably thinking that the Italian score was not suitable for American audiences, and the Italian studio thinking the same way about the American score for Italian cinema goers. The track representing the score on this recording is a commanding one, filled with pride and bravado, with solo classical guitar being employed giving it a more Spanish flavour. Kaper went onto score Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) and The Way West (1967), (plus many more big Hollywood movies). Lavagnino also scored hundreds of feature films as well as writing music for shorts and documentaries, he was originally chosen to score A Fistful of Dollars for Sergio Leone in 1963 but his music was thought to be too traditional sounding and replaced by the now iconic Ennio Morricone soundtrack.  

This a compilation that you should own as well as the films I have mentioned there are selections from Victim, The Minbenders, The Servant, Song Without End, The Singer not the Song, and the delightfully captivating music of French composer Georges Delerue from Our Mother’s House. This is a wonderful look back at not just the music from the films of Dirk Bogarde, and the composers who fashioned it, but also it is a truly emotional way of remembering this wonderful actors presence and his flawless performances. Recommended.  

I would like to add that this is released by Disques Cinémusique, who have also released a number of other compilations that contain music from the films of well known actors, these include James Mason, John Mills, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Peter Sellers and so many more, you can take a look at their catalogue here. disquescinemusique.com. I also see they have a number of compilations dedicated to various composers and a Don Banks Hammer score entitled Nightmare, some of the recordings do include effects and dialogue, but for the most part they are uninterrupted music, the quality is not highly polished or indeed flawless, but like the Dirk Bogarde compilation it is good to hear the original recordings. I did look through the catalogue and most of the titles are available on digital platforms.

FINDERS OF THE LOST YACHT.

I first remember discovering the music of composer Panu Aaltio when I stumbled across his score for The Home of Dark Butterflies which I think would have been around 2009. Since hearing his haunting Forgiveness composition, from that score I have been hooked and look out for anything that he does and also interviewed him for MMI. A score that is to be released by Movie Score Media is Finders of the Lost Yacht. In fact, I see that it is already available on digital platforms and is well worth checking out. The movie is an adventure film for all the family, but I think specifically aimed at kids. It involves two popular characters from Finland Pertsa and Kilu. The composer spoke to Movie Score Media about the movie.

Panu Aaltio

“It’s hard to explain just how big Pertsa and Kilu are in Finland and how much of a privilege it was to join this long tradition that has been going on since the 1950s. Since the story here is foremost about friendship, and that theme is central in the score as well. The main theme is very much about the adventure but borrows a little from rock ‘n roll and jazz to portray the inventive non-conformist attitude of the two friends, who among other things end building their own airplane and submarine out of scrap metal!” – Panu Aaltio (from the MSM web site).

The score is filled with adventurous and vigorous sounding  themes and is a driving and kind of swashbuckling affair, but it also has within it a softer more emotionally style which although does not manifest itself that often is always welcomed.

The composer treats us to a rip roaring and commanding set of themes that are filled with a vibrant and robust air. It is one of those soundtracks where the music seems to set the scene and the pace being grand and forthright with a gentle nod to maybe Korngold swashbucklers of old in places. I cant really say anything else apart from take the time to check this out  you will not be sorry.