Tag Archives: Hollywood

VIOLENT IMAGE, SAVAGE SOUNDTRACK, ITALIAN WESTERN, BEFORE AND BEYOND.

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If I were to say that the Italian or Spaghetti western came into being because of the Hollywood Biblical epic, people would probably laugh at me or at least raise an eyebrow. But the Italian or Spaghetti western as it was so cruelly nicknamed did begin its life because of events that stemmed directly from the demise of the epic film as produced by Hollywood. For a number of years Hollywood filmmakers had been travelling to the famed Cinecitta studios and utilising the facilities, plus employing literally thousands of extras for the mammoth productions which also gave employment to hundreds of camera crews and a number of second unit directors. As the 1960,s dawned, the cinema going publics taste for these biblical slanted tales began to curtail somewhat, and people looked for something that was different and more exciting. Because of this Hollywood moguls decided that it was time to quit Cinecitta, and by pulling out of Rome they created mass unemployment within the Italian film industry. Italian filmmakers were at first furious and concerned about the future, but decided that they had to think of ways that they could save their ailing film industry, or it could be disastrous for the countries already frail economy. Producers in Italy had begun to notice that a handful of German filmmakers were having some mild success’s with westerns, the sauerkraut western as it was labelled had become fairly popular within the borders of western Europe. If one takes a closer look at these productions one would soon realise that they were basically a clone of the American made B western film. German westerns were very much black and white in their storylines and scenarios, by this I mean the good guys wore white and the bad guys were unshaven and wearing black, and this was quite literally at times.

The plots for these were also very predictable and somewhat clichéd, containing more than their fair share of the Hollywood westerns established format.

R-150-997992-1182357759So a few adventurous Italian filmmakers decided to attempt making westerns, they at first took the lead from the Germans, and infused a touch of Americana in their first forays into John Ford,s domain, thus creating nothing more than imitations of the German movies, which as I have already stated were themselves clones of American films. Early examples of Italian made westerns included, UN DOLLARO DI FIFA (1960) which was directed by Giorgio C. Simonelli and starred Ugo Tognazzi and Walter Chiari, which was a comedy western that had a musical score by composer Gianni Ferrio. Then came another vehicle for actor Tognazzi in the form of another comedy, I MAGNIFICI TRE (1961), again directed by Simonelli and scored by Ferrio,it was Ferrio who also wrote the music for a third addition in the western all,italano catalogue in 1963 which was another comedy entitled GLI EROI DEL WEST. DUELLO NEL TEXAS followed again in 1963 and although this is not considered as a true Spaghetti western it is an example of film that hinted of things to come, the score was by Ennio Morricone but again did not include anything that could be considered as being original. 1964, brought a handful of key additions to the genre, MASSACRO AL GRANDE CANYON,(which was Sergio Corbucci,s first western) LE PISTOLE NON DISCUTONO (directed by Caianol), BUFFALO BILL,(dir;Mario Costa) MINNESOTA CLAY(dir: Corbucci) and A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (Directed by Sergio Leone). The formula that Italian film makers had attempted to use on their western productions was not that successful or original and it was not until Sergio Leone stepped into the western arena that things began to change and become a little more interesting. Leone,s style of direction and his story telling abilities were to alter the way in which westerns were made in the future and also his vision of western movies would not only pave the way for hundreds of other Italian made westerns, but also would in time also influence non Italian made westerns that would follow, such as THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, BIG JAKE, 100 RIFLES, THE HUNTING PARTY, HANNIE CAULDER and to a degree THE WILD BUNCH. The Italian western also included a number of examples that were politically slanted and a handful of these stand out as some of the best examples of the genre. When I say politically slanted, they were invariably set in the period of the Mexican revolution, these “Zapata” westerns as they were dubbed were part of a sub genre that sprang up within the spaghetti western genre and were successful because of the popularity of the Italian made western, this collective of films would often introduce audiences to another kind of anti hero or central character who was in essence a Mercenary. But was never seen as the bad guy.

Alla_conquista_CDCR94Mexico was a very explosive and dangerous place to be during the days of revolution, many of the movies would reflect this atmosphere and also include villains that were more often than not from foreign lands, Austrians, French or German, the scenario for many of these political westerns was very often that a corrupt Mexican government would be supported by an even more greed driven and corrupt foreign power, who assisted the corrupt government with arms , troops and money, to assist in the intimidation and persecution of the ordinary people, this Foreign power would also take great delight in systematically annihilating the majority of the peasant population. Enter then the Mercenary figure, who would themselves be of either European or American extraction. This character would then befriend one of the peasants who would normally be a ruffian or bandit, the foreigner then schools the peasant in the art of warfare, revolution and sabotage and after a few minor success against government forces this peasant then takes on the status of a Simon Bolivar or Pancho Villa figure amongst his fellow Mexicans and they look to him for leadership. So a Mexican peasant or bandit has been elevated to the status of a freedom fighter and a saviour of the people. Instead of robbing banks to line his own pockets he robs the banks to give to the poor, in the same way we are told Robin Hood did in England centuries before. The foreigner or soldier of fortune to label him correctly has then been successful as he has gained out of his training because he has been paid for his services and his knowledge out of the money from the banks. But in effect the Mercenary has become the bandit because he takes the money and invariably wants more and more as the story progresses. This scenario is best seen in Sergio Corbucci’s, A PROFFESIONAL GUN, but it also present in A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, COMPANEROS and DUCK YOU SUCKER. Maybe it is a little different in DUCK YOU SUCKER and BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, as in these two films the foreigner does not exploit the Mexican for gold or payment as much, but instead use him to get closer to their own personal goal, for example in BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, Ninio (LOU CASTELL), uses Chuncho (GIAN MARIA VOLONTE) to get close to the General of the revolutionary forces so that he can assassinate him and in DUCK YOU SUCKER the Irish rebel and explosives expert played by James Coburn befriends the Mexican bandit played by Rod Steiger to free prisoners from the vaults of a bank, Steiger and his gang think that the vaults are filled with gold but instead find hundreds of imprisoned revolutionaries. After this escapade the Steiger character is hailed a hero of the revolution, at first he is an unwilling candidate but soon he warms to the idea.

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This type of scenario or partnership is also seen within other examples of the spaghetti western genre, DAY OF ANGER being one of them, Frank Talby played by Lee Van Cleef takes the town down and out under his wing teaching him the ways of the gunfighter, but this backfires on Talby when the town idiot played by Giuliano Gemma, becomes better than his teacher. Sergio Sollima believed that his Cucillo character in THE BIG GUNDOWN and CORRI UOMO CORRI was representative of the third world, eventually Cucillo rebels against his so called masters, ie Walter Barnes in THE BIG GUNDOWN, the Barnes character representing the capitalistic west, Sollima believed very strongly that the third world would one day rise up against the rich countries of the west and he put this notion into the scenarios of some of his movies, but presented them in the guise of a blood spattered and all action western.

 

 

 

 

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE GENRE AND MUSICAL CHANGES.

A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS was a Franco/Spanish /Italian co production, it starred a little known American actor in the principal role. Clint Eastwood, who’s claim to fame had been up until then bit parts in Universal movies and a role on an American TV western show called RAWHIDE, took on the persona of the man with no name, a soldier of fortune, an anti hero and a character who the audience could not really identify as a good guy or a bad guy. He offered his services to the highest bidder, and was a servant to two masters or more at times. Sergio Leone had originally wanted American actor James Coburn to play the Man with No Name, as he had been successful in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, but Coburn proved to be to expensive for Leone’s meagre budget, so Eastwood was given the role. Leone cast Gian Marie Volonte in the role of the head villain and dubbed the actor Jon Wells and also changed his name to Bob Robertson, this was something that Italian film makers did at times, thinking it would make the film more acceptable to American audiences and even composer Ennio Morricone went under the name of Dan Savio.

morriThe film proved to be a breath of fresh air for cinema goers, and one which soon became popular, leaving audiences wanting more of the same. Leone returned as did Eastwood with FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, this time the cast was beefed up with Hollywood bad guy Lee Van Cleef, who played an unlikely ally to Eastwood in the role of Colonel Douglas Mortimer, Leone also recruited the brilliant Klaus Kinski and again cast Gian Marie Volonte as the villain of the piece, or at least the character who was the most evil, on this occasion Volonte was not asked to alter his name. The movie was a little more ambitious than its predecessor and because of the success of FISTFUL OF DOLLARS it had the advantage of a slightly bigger budget. As with any successful genre, imitations soon began to appear or at least movies in the same style of the dollar films. Italian producers and directors were quick to realise that this formula was working and fast becoming popular. But it was not just the films that were being noticed, the music from them was also starting to gain recognition, at first it was Ennio Morricone’s music for A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS that turned audiences heads, and then his theme and chiming watch theme from FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE.

But undoubtedly, the sounds most associated with the genre of the Spaghetti western was to be the cries and shrieks heard over the credits of Leone’s third Dollar movie, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, I remember hearing this original theme and being just amazed , but then I heard the cover version by Hugo Montenegro being played on the radio and thinking what is that, of course Montenegro’s version got to number 1 in the chart in the UK and I think it also reached the top of the pile in the USA, so maybe it did do Morricone some good, because if it had not been for Montenegro covering the theme, maybe Morricone’s music would not have reached so many people, In fact a number of people are still under the impression that Montenegro wrote the theme. As with popular genres of film etc, popular music too had its imitators, some good, some bad and some really ugly. A cover of FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE courtesy of Leroy Holmes, appeared and this was not just the theme but the entire score, or at least certain themes from the score,which to be honest sounded nothing like the originals, but again maybe this did gain more recognition for Morricone an also placed Italian western music into the public eye. Holmes also released versions of the themes from A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, THE BIG GUNDOWN and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST all of which were included on compilations by the musician on the United Artists label. Holmes and also orchestra leaders such as Geoff Love in the UK, recorded albums of western themes and included were versions of Italian examples.
ARIZONA COLT for instance was covered by Holmes, and to be fair it was a fairly good version as was his version of DAY OF ANGER composed by Riz Ortolani, Geoff Love did a great arrangenet of Marcello Giombini,s SABATA and Hank Mancini got in on the act with A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN from the movie THE STRANGER RETURNS by Stelvio Cipriani. But what we have to take into account is that at this time during the infancy of the Spaghetti western soundtrack, collectors were glad of what they could get hold of.
It was probably because companies such as UA began to notice collectors buying these cover versions that Italian/Euro soundtracks started to get UK issues, THE SICILIAN CLAN for example was issued on STATESIDE records in the UK, items such as THE BIG GUNDOWN were given a release on UA as was a collection entitled THE BEST OF ENNIO MORRICONE, which included selections from NAVAJO JOE, THE BIG GUNDOWN, DEATH RIDES A HORSE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, If they knew then what we know now, I don’t think they would have called it the best of Morricone. Then came GREAT WESTERN FILM THEMES VOL 2, now this just highlighted how popular and influential the Italian western and its music had become. It included THE HILLS RUN RED, FACE TO FACE and NAVAJO JOE and the subsequent VOL 3 in the series, showcased the infectious theme INDIO BLACK from THE BOUNTY HUNTERS by Bruno Nicolai. I always thought even back then, well if they have got one cue from the score they must have the complete score, so why don’t they release it. I even wrote to Alan Warner who was at UA records at the time asking this question, I got a short reply back, remember this was in the days when people actually wrote letters,

Mr Warner told me “It is not as easy as you may think to issue a score or soundtrack on a recording, costs and also copyright issues are very difficult to negotiate, especially with foreign movies”.

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During the 1970,s Michael Jones appeared on the soundtrack scene in London, and was responsible for the stock at SOUNDTRACK, this was situated in the foyer of the Arts Theatre Club in Soho and later moved to 58 DEAN STREET in London. It was here that many soundtracks from Italy began to filter through, CORRI UOMO CORRI, LANDRAIDERS, QUIEMADA, FIND A PLACE TO DIE, QUELLA SPORCA STORIA NEL WEST, A PROFFESSIONAL GUN, THE FIVE MAN ARMY, THE GREAT SILENCE, JOHN IL BASTARDO, THE BOUNTY KILLER etc etc and composers such as DE MASI, FERRIO, FIDENCO,CIPRIANI and NICOLAI also began to become known to collectors in the UK.

Jones I think was responsible for establishing what is now referred to as a specialist soundtrack outlet, his was the first and soon others followed in the guise of Harlequin records, who dedicated near entire shop space to the soundtrack section. Michael Jones brought in the first Japanese releases on LP, these included SABATA. He also promoted composers such as Bacalov, Romitelli, Calvi, Rustichelli, Micalizzi, and De Angelis. It was also around about this time that record producer Lionel Woodman began his mail order business selling Italian long playing records and various other outlets popped up here and there and in Italy we had Consorti Roma in the Italian Capital and Bongiovanni records in the industrial town of Bologna. But now some 50 years on, we collectors are still waiting for certain scores, and as RCA in Italy are rumoured to be preparing to trash or destroy all their master tapes of soundtracks (so we are told), collectors can but dream and hope that their holy grails are not thrown out and maybe someone somewhere will step in and rescue them all. I think it was during the late 1970,s that I decided, I wanted to find out more about Italian film music, Italian movies and also the composers, directors, producers and actors that had brought these magnificent examples of cinema to life. I wanted to know what made them tick basically, what was their inspiration, their drive and their vision, so that’s why I started to interview the composers.

I was amazed that so little was known about Italian composers of film music. There was a short section on a handful of composers in Laurence Staig’s excellent book ITALIAN WESTERN- OPERA OF VIOLENCE, but this was short and sweet with most of the section being given over to Morricone, this is in no way a criticism of the book as it is a Bible as far as I am concerned when it comes to the Italian western, because at the time information was sparse and hard to come by, remember this was pre-internet days, but Staig unearthed information that delighted collectors, and is still in use, referred to and quoted from today. OPERA OF VIOLENCE is a perfect description of the Italian western, and also a gentle poke at a remark that was made by one film critic about Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, the critic saying that it was a western that contained operatic like scenarios but the arias were stared and not sung. Within Staig’s book there are many explanations and theories explored and explained giving a unique insight into the world of the western All’Italiano. Music in Italian westerns as we have already established was different from anything that had gone before within the genre of the western film as a whole, whether it was a Hollywood production or a European movie there had never been anything like this.

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The new approach to scoring and the originality of this scoring played a major role within the movies themselves and it is fair to state that music in an Italian western was not just background to the action but an integral and important component of the film and the movies storyline. There are a number of examples of Italian western scores that take this integration to another level, by this I mean that there are more than a handful of examples within the genre where there is a musical instrument utilized within the story and obviously the composer has been able to use these and integrate his score further with the action of the movie, prime examples are of course Leone’s FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, where the pleasant sounding chiming of a watch penned by Maestro Morricone becomes more of a sinister and foreboding sound because it is used by one of the movies main protagonists to begin a gunfight and also it is utilized to mark the time when each party in this gunfight must draw their weapon and shoot as it winds down and eventually stops. Probably the best known use of an instrument within an Italian made western is from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Leone and Morricone again, this time the instrument being a Harmonica, which in the hands of the films central mysterious figure, who has taken his name from the instrument takes on an ominous and fearful persona.
Then we have SABATA scored by Marcello Giombini, and directed by Frank Kramer, now in this example there are a number of instances where the score becomes integral to the action because of the instrument used by one of the main characters, Banjo played by William Berger, walks around town plucking out a lovely little tune on his ukulele and even plays his adversaries a tune before gunning them down in the street or where ever they might be. The instrument has a sawn off rifle concealed inside it and when Banjo has finished entertaining his opponent he uses the instrument to dispatch them. Giombini even incorporated the use of sleigh bells within his score because the character Banjo wore bells on his trouser legs and jingled as he walked. Also Banjo played music to another of his victims in SABATA this time on a church organ, Giombini also made good use of this within his score and not just within that scene. In fact music for gunfights were the pinnacle of any Italian western score, and were often magnificent set pieces filled to brimming with soaring trumpets solos, aggressive sounding guitars, choir and bells and chimes. It is hard to actually describe just how much impact the Italian western score has made upon film scoring in general, even today in adverts and television programmes and motion pictures when a confrontation between individuals or parties of people is being acted out on screen, invariably music either from an Italian western or written in the same style as an Italian western is utilized, and people watching “get it” they understand the concept and the connection . They realize either consciously or sub-consciously where the idea comes from and where the music has originated from, so the impact and influence of the spaghetti western score has lasted and is still popular and recognized now some three decades on. The most recent examples of Italian western style music being utilized in a movie have been in one of the latest PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies and also the same composer worked in a spaghetti sounding theme into his scores for the Guy Ritchie directed SHERLOCK HOLMES capers. So although many of the Italian Maestro’s who wrote these atmospheric, original, quirky and attractive western scores have passed away they left the world a rich and full musical heritage to draw upon, listen to savour and enjoy.

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 My quest to find composers to interview was not an easy one, I began before I had internet or even a fax machine, so I had to write letter after letter, in fact my first interview with Alessandro Alessandroni was carried out via letter, only meeting him some 4 months later in London. My interviews with Piero Piccioni, Nico Fidenco, Franco Micalizzi, Francesco De Masi, Stelvio Cipriani and singer Peter Boom were also carried out via letter, only meeting Micalizzi later in Rome and also meeting with Piccioni’s son Jason when he was in London. But all of the Maestro,s were very helpful as was BEAT records who put me in contact with these composers and artists. Let us not forget that Italian cinema did not consist solely of western movies, as we all know genres come and go, audiences tire of certain types of movie and want something different and I think more than any one else Italian filmmakers were able to gauge this shift in taste and also were able to adapt to it, especially after they had been nearly ruined by Hollywood’s film companies exodus from their shores years before. Cinecitta produced, many types of films, sex movies, romances, crime capers, giallo’s, comedies, period dramas, historical pieces, political slanted pictures, horrors, war films etc and excelled at all of them and accompanying all these movies were infectious and original musical scores, written arranged and conducted by numerous Maestro,s, some of which are interviewed on this blog.

THE GREATEST FILM SCORES OF DIMITRI TIOMKIN.

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What happens when you combine the music of one of the worlds most respected film music composers and have the worlds leading symphony orchestra perform it. Well you get a superb collection of marvellous and magical music played to perfection.
Dimitri Tiomkin was one of Hollywood’s most revered and respected composers of film scores and he was responsible for creating lush and lavish music for some of the best known movies to come out of tinsel town, the composer had a talent for creating so many scores for movies that not only worked perfectly in conjunction with the movie but also these vibrant and tuneful works had a life all of their own away from the images that they were originally intended to enhance.  Tiomkin began his career in the period that many refer to as the Golden age of film music. It was a time when cinema screens were dominated by rip roaring swashbucklers, intense and risqué romances, dastardly villains, cleaner than clean heroes and heroines and good old weepy’s, many of which contained storylines that were not exactly water tight or historically correct but none the less were good old fashion entertainment, that were uncomplicated and provided escapism for the watching audiences. Everything during this period was pretty much black and white within the area of the plots or storylines, good was good and bad was at times downright evil. It was during this period that Tiomkin along with Alfred Newman, Erich Korngold, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, Miklos Rozsa, Hugo Friedhofer, Bernard Herrmann and their like, penned sumptuous and thrilling scores that are now regarded as classics and these often majestic, emotive and stirring works were to become the blue prints for many a modern day film score, acting as inspiration for the film composers that followed. Tiomkin’s connection with music for film began back in his native Russia, the composers professional debut was in the picture houses of St. Petersburg, where he would accompany Russian and French silent films. He also provided accompaniment for the ballerina Thamar Karsavina on piano when she performed on army post tours and improvised again on the piano during performances by the comedian Max Linder. 
 
 
These experiences and the skills that he collected whilst working within this environment were to stand him in good stead for what was to follow when he re-located to the United States and the hills of Hollywood to pursue a career as a movie music composer. Tiomkin began to score movies as early as 1929, one such example was MGM’s  DEVIL MAY CARE, which was a historical musical that included an Albertina Rasch ballet sequence filmed in Technicolor, which had music by Tiomkin.  The composer worked prolifically throughout the 1930,s through the war years of the 1940,s, where he was responsible for writing the music to a number of documentary/news films for the United States war department such as BATTLE OF BRITAIN and BATTLE OF RUSSIA both in 1943 and THE NEGRO SOLDIER and TUNISIAN VICTORY in 1944. After the war Tiomkin began to work on numerous Hollywood productions, such as IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, DUEL IN THE SUN, RED RIVER etc, working with directors such as Howard Hawks, Frank Capra,  King Vidor, Anatole Litvak  and  Richard Fleischer, to name but a handful. The 1950,s were to prove to be a fruitful time for the composer as he scored numerous films that are now looked upon as classic examples of American cinema, HIGH NOON, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, LAND OF THE PHARAOHS, THE THING, GIANT, FRIENDLY PERSUASION, GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL, WILD IS THE WIND, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, RIO BRAVO, LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL ,THE MEN which introduced Marlon Brando to cinema audiences and his highly acclaimed music for RHAPSODY OF STEEL and many more including the now famous theme for the television series RAWHIDE, which starred a fresh faced Clint Eastwood before he became a household name via his role in the westerns of Italian director Sergio Leone. The 1960,s too were good for fans of the enigmatic Tiomkin, he worked on some of that decades biggest blockbusters and enhanced and supported movies such as, THE ALAMO, 55 DAYS AT PEKING, THE UNFORGIVEN,THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE SUNDOWNERS, THE WAR WAGON and CIRCUS WORLD with his unmistakable and original sounding musical fingerprint. Also at this time  Tiomkin began to produce movies and we saw his name appear on the credits of films such as MACKENNAS GOLD as co-producer. 
 
 
 
 thumbs_DT102LThis excellent recording features a number of the titles I have already mentioned, it begins with THE OVERTURE from the 1950 production of CYRANO DE BERGERAC which starred Jose Ferrer, I must admit this is always a movie I forget as being scored by Tiomkin, but score it he did and provided the movie with a jaunty, exuberant and positively charged soundtrack which lent much to the films overall persona and impact.  This is a short lived cue but certainly makes it’s mark and sets the scene for the music which is to follow. Track number 2, is a suite from the score that is probably Tiomkin’s most famous scoring assignment,  THE ALAMO, which has a running time of nearly thirteen minutes, this suite encompasses the central themes that the composer wrote for this epic western/war film. It begins with the Overture. This opens with a sorrowful faraway sounding horn that evokes an atmosphere of loneliness but also conveys a sense of pride and patriotism. The horn plaintively performs the opening bars of the films title music, the theme is enlarged upon by the addition of more brass and strings the theme builds in a subdued fashion until it segues into an instrumental rendition of the now famous,  THE GREEN LEAVES OF SUMMER, which Tiomkin co-wrote with lyricist Paul Francis Webster the Overture also includes the haunting TENNESSEE BABE (Sweet Lisa), heard here as an instrumental arrangement, the Alamo theme then returns and acts as an introduction to the slightly darker sound of the Deguello theme performed on solo trumpet which is short lived but so effective. The music once again mellows and returns to a vocal performance of THE GREEN LEAVES OF SUMMER by the London Voices which closes the Overture in rousing fashion. Section two of the suite is the theme  that the composer penned to accompany John Wayne’s character Davy Crockett and his band of followers from Tennessee. This is a jaunty at times comedic sounding piece written for brass, woods and also strings that combine to create a contagious and entertaining piece.  We are then treated to Tiomkin’s imposing and powerful music for THE BATTLE in section three of the suite, the orchestra perform the themes for both the Mexican army of Santa Anna and also the massively outnumbered defending Americans, effectively creating a musical battle as it were, this is a rousing piece, filled with excitement and also it exudes a sense and atmosphere of desperation and hopelessness that is felt by the defenders who are fighting against overwhelming odds . The epilogue is section four within the suite and this builds to become  a beautifully performed version of the GREEN LEAVES OF SUMMER for orchestra and choir, which brings the suite to its thundering conclusion.   
 
 
 
 
 
The compilation continues with The theme, Cubana and Finale from THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, which was released in 1958 and starred Spencer Tracy who gave a compelling and convincing performance as Santiago the fisherman under the direction of John Sturges. The score garnered Tiomkin his fourth Academy Award. 
The music reflected perfectly the variable mood of the sea and also underlined the courage and determination of the old man, the three cues performed here are I think a perfect representation of the score and are executed by the LSO to such a high standard that it is hard to differentiate between these and the actual original score cues. Track number four is The Overture from the 1952 release THE FOUR POSTER, this is a fairly light and energetic sounding piece, strings, brass and percussion combine to create a lush and luxurious sound that has a romantic framework with an underlying current which is somewhat chaotic and humorous. Track five, is a suite from the composers 1956 score for George Stevens GIANT, Tiomkin’s score is expansive and filled to overflowing with the sound of Americana. Lush strings, choir and proud sounding brass flourishes are the order of the day as the composers opening theme literally bursts forth quickly establishing itself and setting the scene wonderfully for this classic movie. Tiomkin also wrote a haunting love theme for the film which was heard in various guises throughout the score and accompanied the volatile, amorous and emotional love triangle that develops between Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. The reoccurring theme was also heard as a vocal with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster which was entitled “There’ll never be anyone else but you”. Tiomkin was nominated for an Academy Award but lost out to Victor Young’s music for AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, Giant was actually nominated for nine Academy Awards but only managed to win one which was given to George Stevens for best direction. Tiomkin however is rumoured to have received a record fee for his work on the movie.
 
Track number six, is from the score for THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, which was directed by Anthony Mann in 1964. Representing Tiomkin’s powerful and emotive soundtrack we have here the love theme THE FALL OF LOVE. Although variations of the theme were utilized within the film, Tiomkin insisted that he record a version of the love theme specifically for the soundtrack album. This arrangement is a particularly poignant and emotive variation of the theme. With woods introducing the piece then segueing into solo violin before the string section perform a full working of the haunting and rich sounding composition punctuated delicately by harp and further embellished by subdued brass. For me this is one of the highlights of this compilation as it is performed with so much emotion and passion which clearly shines through. 
 
Track number seven, needs no introduction, as it is an iconic and classic song from cinema history. DO NOT FORSAKE ME, from the 1952 western HIGH NOON. The opening lines, DO NOT FORSAKE ME OH MY DARLING, ON THIS OUR WEDDING DAY are probably instantly recognizable to the majority of people. The song which was performed by Tex Ritter on the soundtrack and also Tiomkin’s instrumental variations of the theme played an integral and important part within the movie and not only heightened the tension and created an anxious atmosphere but also acted like a bridge between the movies scenes, augmenting and  highlighting the hands of the town clock approaching noon and heralding the arrival of a band of murdering outlaws on the midday train. The composer received an Academy award for his score and also for the song which had lyrics by Ned Washington.  The version for this compilation is performed marvellously by Andrew Playfoot, who vocalises with enthusiasm and energy, evoking the atmosphere of the original but also bringing new dimensions and nuances to the song via his performance. For Track number eight, we stay out west but move to the small screen as opposed to the silver screen of the cinema, RAWHIDE was a popular television series that found favour not only in the United States but also in the UK and beyond. Tiomkin composed a stirring and robust theme for this sagebrush saga which ran for three years and introduced the television generation to a young actor Clint Eastwood.  Lyricist Ned Washington provided the words for the now famous title song, Frankie Laine sung the song originally and it became become a worldwide hit.  Again as soon as one hears the opening of the song you know exactly what it is, this is an iconic and evergreen composition that combines Tiomkin’s thundering theme with aggressive and powerful lyrics which together create a glorious piece of television music history. The sound and style that was achieved here has since been parodied and mimicked by composers such as John Morris in BLAZING SADDLES and was also a great source of inspiration for Maestro Francesco De Masi and other Italian composers during the late 1960,s and early 1970,s in many scores for Italian made westerns, where they attempted to give title songs at least, an American or Hollywood sound. Performed on this compilation by Andrew Playfoot, who again, steps up to the mark and,(forgive the pun) takes the bull by the horns and makes the song his own, ably supported by the London Voices and underlined and punctuated by an energetic performance from the LSO. Track number nine, is from the 1954 production, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY which starred John Wayne who also produced the movie. Based on the novel by Ernest K Gann and directed by William Wellman this was in a way the first film of its kind in a long line of aeroplane calamity movies that were to follow. 
 
 
Tiomkin’s sweeping and exuberant sounding theme dominates the score and soars dramatically and luxuriously, enhancing the action and the emotion that is unfolding on screen. The composer received his third Academy Award for his sterling efforts on the soundtrack. The performance here by the London symphony Orchestra is magical and evokes perfectly a rich and full sound is Hollywood. 
The remainder of the compilation is a joy to listen to, it continues with THE HITCHCOCK SUITE, which includes music from DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951),Which were two of the four movies that Tiomkin scored for the famed director. There is also the alluring theme from WILD IS THE WIND (1957), performed on this recording by the excellent vocalist Whitney Claire Kaufman, THE SUNDOWNERS from 1960, the vibrant march from CIRCUS WORLD aka THE MAGNIFCENT SHOWMAN (1964),the mysterious and captivating LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955) and two selections from FRIENDLY PERSUASION (1956) which includes a charming and haunting version of the vocal THEE I LOVE performed by Whitney Claire Kaufman and Andrew Playfoot. This is magnificent collection of film music which is at times hard to believe all comes from one composer. The variation of style and high quality of music is stunning and also the performance by the London symphony is second to none, at times when listening I found myself doubting if this was indeed a re-recording as many of the performances were in my opinion so faithful to the originals. This compact disc is the first in what is advertised as an occasional series of live LSO performances that will concentrate on the greatest film music composers of all time. I look forward to the next release with great anticipation as I know that it will be as special and monumental as this one. Maybe a Dimitri Tiomkin volume 2, or some Korngold, Steiner, Newman etc etc the list is after all endless. The LSO and conductor Richard Kaufman must be applauded for bringing us this outstanding recording.  Presented very well, with notes on the composer and all the artists that are involved on the recording, including arrangers etc. Plus a brief history of the LSO and their connections with film scores and a track by track description and information on each film. This is an essential purchase. 

ALFRED NEWMAN.

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Alfred Newman was born in Connecticut in 1901, he was one of the eldest children in a family of ten.  He began to take a keen interest in music from an early age and aged just 5 years he began to have piano lessons and two years later was performing in public. He studied at the Von Ende school of music in New York, where he concentrated on piano under the tutalage of Sigismond Stojowski and counterpoint and composition under the watchful gaze of George Wedge and Rubin Goldmart. The young Newman made an impression on his teachers and won medals for his high standard of piano performance.  After his time at the school of music Newman continued to take further musical education from Arnold Shoenberg. During his teen Newman began to perform piano to support himself and also his family, after leaving the school and finishing his studies he was introduced to Broadway by the vaudeville producer Grace La Rue, he began to conduct a handful of shows and these became very successful and as they did Newmans reputation as a fine conductor arranger spread. He finally got his big break in 1920 when George Gershwin appointed him as musical director for THE GEORGE WHITE SCANDALS, which ran till the latter part of 1921. Newman continued to work on Broadway for just over a decade, he was involved in numerous productions that involved Gershwin, Jerome Kern and even Al Jolson. 
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 In 1930, Newman received a commission from Irving Berlin and the young composer travelled to Hollywood, Berlin had written the theme for a film entitled REACHING FOR THE MOON, and had asked Newman to be musical director on the movie.  Newman decided that he liked Hollywood and settled in California and it was at this time that the composer met Samuel Goldwyn who introduced him to the studio system. Newmans career is phenomenal and he is probably one of the most prolific composers of film scores ever, he wrote the music to well over 200 motion pictures and acted as musical director and supervisor on hundreds of others, he adapted lots of musicals which had been successful on Broadway when they were brought to the big screen and also worked with Charlie Chaplin, conducting the actors music for MODERN TIMES and CITY LIGHTS, it is also Newmans music that we hear at the beginning of every 20th Century fox movie and TV show, this has to be one of the most familiar pieces of music that is connected with the cinema. In 1940, Newman began to work for Fox, he was MD for the studio and not only wrote numerous film scores during this time, but also hired various composers and assigned them to films. 
 
 
 
It was Newman who championed Hugo Friedhofer and also gave Jerry Goldsmith his first big break in the film music arena. Newman’s music was to become a fixture within Hollywood and his sons David and Thomas carried on the family tradition by themselves becoming highly respected and sought after film music composers and his nephew Randy is also an Oscar winning composer and lyricist. In 1960, Newman decided to leave Fox and go freelance, and he was certainly not short of assignments, it was during this period that the composer wrote the powerful score for the western HOW THE WEST WAS WON and provided THE FLOWER DRUM SONG with its musical accompaniment. Alfred Newman garnered forty five Academy Award nominations during his long and illustrious career and won the Oscar on nine occasions. His musical career spanned four decades and his techniques and stylish orchestrations have had far reaching influences at times manifesting themselves within other composers works for the cinema.
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Alfred Newman passed away in February 1970, his last film score AIRPORT received an Oscar nomination just one month later.  Newman’s rich and sweeping soundtracks brought a new dimension to the movies he worked on and also like Max Steiner, Alfred Newman was an innovator and an inspiration to numerous other composers. He was also responsible for creating the Newman style for scoring motion pictures,  This System is a means of synchronising the performance and recording of a movie score with the film itself. A rough cut of the film is shown for the conductor to look at whilst in the recording session, the film is  marked with punches and streamers. Punches are tiny marks in the film, for two of every ten frames, creating a standard beat to help the conductor keep time. To synchronise music and action, the conductor then uses streamers, that are horizontal lines which move across the screen at a regular pace. This system devised by Newman revolutionized the way in which films were scored.  

 

GOLDEN AGE.

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The period referred to as the Golden age of cinema, was I suppose just that, it was a time when filmmakers seemed to be able to do no wrong with audiences and every day a new and exciting breakthrough was made within the motion picture industry. It was a time of rip roaring swashbucklers, intense and risqué romances, dastardly villains, cleaner than clean heroes and heroines and good old weepie’s, with storylines that were not exactly water tight but none the less good old entertainment. Everything was pretty much black and white within the area of the plots or storylines, good was good and bad was at times downright evil. But it was not just the movies that shone like precious and valuable golden nuggets during this period, music in motion pictures became an important and also a vital component of the whole filmmaking process.
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Directors and producers utilising this fairly new commodity to its full potential to enhance and support their projects. I think it would be fair to state that film music owes a great debt of gratitude to composer Max Steiner, who broke new ground with his score for the 1933 version of KING KONG. What was interesting and innovative about Steiner’s approach on this movie was that the composer actually scored the music to the action taking place rather than just providing the movie with a constant musical background or wallpaper, which had been the norm up until then.
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What Steiner started was soon to become the way forward for music in film or film music, thus the film score as we know it was born and rapidly evolved and improved as time passed, composers such as Korngold, Rozsa, Newman, Toimkin and Waxman became sought after by filmmakers and studios and their scores and style of writing has now become a reference for all other composers that have followed. But let us also not forget that whilst all this music was being produced in Tinsel town, British films too had a Golden age and composers such as Sir William Walton, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Sir Arthur Bliss, Richard Addinsell, Clifton Parker, Sir Arnold Bax, William Alwyn and Alan Rawsthorne were responsible for writing some great movie soundtracks during the 1930s and 1940s, a fact that is slightly overshadowed and neglected because of the Hollywood film score. But Alwyn, Williams and Walton in particular were responsible for creating a sound and a style that was to become synonymous with the British produced movie.
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It is quite unbelievable that it has not been till recent years that scores from British films from this period have been given any time or space by record companies, and it is thanks to labels like Chandos, Naxos and Silver Screen that collectors have got to savour the musical masterpieces created by these talented yet underrated composers. There were also composers in Europe that are most note worthy, who were very active and creative during this period. 
 
These include the French composers Georges Auric, Arthur  Honegger Jean Francaix and Henri Sauget, also we must not discount Dmitri Shotakovich and the great Sergei Prokfiev, who although thought of more as classical composers, worked their musical magic on numerous movies to great effect. So The Golden Age in film music was not restricted to Hollywood, therefore this section is dedicated to composers that worked in the United States, Europe and also in Gt Britain, and also composers that worked in more than one country such as Miklos Rozsa and Georges Auric