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Archive for the ‘Bernard Herrmann’ Category

Klaatu Rising: Bernard Herrmann’s “The Day The Earth Stood Still” Returns To CD

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Day The Earth Stood StillKlaatu barada nikto. With those three words, Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) saved the world from certain destruction at the hands of the eight-foot robot Gort in the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. Director Robert Wise’s film remains one of the most chilling and effective Cold War-era films, wrapping its plea for peace in a compelling, documentary-style sci-fi narrative. Chief among its assets was a score by maestro Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Taxi Driver). Herrmann’s intense, exciting themes will soon be reissued on CD by Kritzerland in a newly-remastered edition which is currently available for pre-order.

Reissue producer Bruce Kimmel notes, “It’s no surprise that every fantasy filmmaker—including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Carpenter, Peter Jackson, James Cameron and Christopher Nolan—has cited the influence of this picture upon their own. The film did everything right – from a superb screenplay by Edmund H. North (from a story by Harry Bates), to the beautiful cinematography by Leo Tover, to the stellar cast of Michael Rennie [as humanoid alien Klaatu, whose name later inspired a cult band – JM], Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe and Billy Gray (having a cast of great actors playing the reality of the story is what helps ground the film and make it timeless). The Day the Earth Stood Still, simply put, is a masterpiece and one of the most important science fiction films ever made. “

To accompany the film, Herrmann crafted his score to utilize unusual instrumentation – and most notably for the composer renowned for Psycho, no traditional strings. Instead, Herrmann employed electric violin, cello, and bass, Hammond and pipe organs, various percussion instruments (including vibes, glockenspiels, marimbas, timpani and gongs) and brass (such as trumpets, trombones and tubas), and most notably – two theremins. Herrmann also eschewed woodwinds to create a score unlike any other.

Hit the jump for details on what to expect on this new CD! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 26, 2014 at 13:16

As the Globe Turns: Universal Adds Classic, Possibly Rare, Soundtrack Material to Blu-Ray Box Set

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In 1912, an ex-dry goods merchant and owner of the nascent Independent Moving Pictures (IMP) studio stood in a New York office with five other movie moguls and made history.

These six men, organized by IMP founder Carl Laemmle, were keen to merge their businesses with an eye toward the growing big business of moviemaking. As they struggled for a title for their venture, Laemmle allegedly saw a wagon zip by on the street below with a grandiose name: “Universal Pipe Fitters.” Turning back to the window, he announced the venture would be named Universal, an apt name for the magnitude of what they wanted to accomplish.

A century later, Universal is one of the biggest entertainment corporations in the world and the longest-running American film company. Dozens of their blockbuster films sit toward the top of the all-time box office lists, and their bi-coastal studio backlot/theme parks in Los Angeles and Orlando are prime vacation destinations. For film fans, Universal has been keen to celebrate their 100th anniversary this year, releasing not only stunning restorations of classic films on Blu-Ray (JAWS hit shops last week, with boxes devoted to Alfred Hitchcock and Universal Studios Monsters due in the next few months along with the hi-def debut of Second Disc favorite E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) but at least one classic soundtrack in the form of the premiere release of Henry Mancini’s original film score to the classic Charade.

On November 6, the studio will release their biggest box set yet – a collection of 25 of their most classic films with value-added bonus content. But soundtrack enthusiasts will want to keep an eye on this package for the possibility of exceptionally rare film music. We explain all after the jump.

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The Man on Lincoln’s Nose: Intrada Expands Hitchcock Classic on CD

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What’s that sound? Is that…a plane buzzing low overhead? Not this time: it’s the sound of Bernard Herrmann’s classic score to Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, the benefactor of a beautiful new expansion by Intrada!

The 1959 thriller, written by Ernest Lehman as “the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures,” stars Cary Grant as an ad exec entangled in an incredible espionage plot, full of misdirection, mistaken identity, beauty (courtesy of Eva Marie Saint as the femme fatale), a violent biplane and a whiz-bang climax along Mount Rushmore. Hitchcock’s by-now traditional flourishes were in full effect: Saul Bass designed a thrilling title sequence, and Herrmann – in his fifth collaboration with Hitch – supplied a score to match the thrills onscreen, with a notable theme reused to stunning effect in one of The Simpsons’ many “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episodes.

As befits a collaboration so iconic, this is hardly the first release of the score, often re-recorded throughout the years and given a CD premiere in 1995 on Rhino. However, that release utilized some cues that were damaged or substandard, sonically – a problem that was thought to plague the score for all time until newly-discovered masters used for the film’s 50th anniversary video restoration in 2009 were worked on by score mavens Lukas Kendall and Neil S. Bulk. The result is a stirring score that’s never sounded better on disc.

This limited edition soundtrack is yours to order today; find a link and a track list after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

August 7, 2012 at 11:48

It’s Alive! FSM Inches Toward Finish Line with Their Final Herrmann Title

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Film Score Monthly’s 247th title (three more to go, folks!) is a keeper: the third-to-last score by Bernard Herrmann, for the 1974 horror flick It’s Alive!

The score to the Larry Cohen film about a murderous infant (effects of which were designed by a young Rick Baker!) was part of a Herrmann renaissance; the composer had moved to England after a falling-out with Alfred Hitchcock over the score to Torn Curtain, but was championed and utilized by a younger crop of directors, including Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese. Like De Palma’s Obsession after it, Herrmann pays some tribute to his works with Hitchcock, eschewing strings for a unique ensemble driven by brass and winds but maintaining the sort of short, semi-thematic motifs that were a hallmark of his work at the time.

This unlimited pressing of It’s Alive is near complete (save an unrecovered five-second cue) and presented from mono masters in the Warner vaults. It’s yours to order after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 7, 2012 at 15:06

Herrmann at Fox Box: A Surprising Sell-Out

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When Varese Sarabande announced their last release of the year to be “a whopper,” they weren’t kidding. What’s more surprising, though, is the reception it received.

Bernard Herrmann at 20th Century-Fox continues the label’s yearlong celebration of his life and work in what would have been his centennial year. (Compilations from his television work with Alfred Hitchcock and and expanded version of his co-written score to The Egyptian were other Varese sets honoring the composer this year.) Eighteen scores on 14 discs are inside the box, spanning nearly two decades and including some previously unreleased gems as well. From 1943’s Jane Eyre to 1962’s Tender is the Night and including some classics of contemporary cinema (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit), there’s a lot to pore over.

What makes this box so surprising, then? Since its announcement Monday, the set is likely within hours (if not less) of selling out its entire 1,000-unit pressing. Even at $199.98 for such a lavish box with a 108-page hardcover book of liner notes, that’s impressive – so much so that we’re running this post before we’ve finished our track annotations just so anyone who hasn’t seen the news can pick one up before it’s too late. So stop reading and start buying!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2011 at 12:00

Williams, Herrmann, Conti Join Varese Club

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The sleeping giant that is Varese Sarabande’s CD Club awoke for the second time yesterday, announcing four killer soundtracks from the film score vaults for your perusal.

Chief among the surprises in this week’s batch was the announcement of a John Williams score from the Universal Pictures film Midway (1976) – a major coup for fans of the Maestro. A gripping World War II drama starring Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Toshiro Mifune and a host of A-list actors, Midway sees Williams in true form, with heroic marches and romantic motifs. Until this disc, Midway remained Williams’ only score since 1975’s JAWS to not have a soundtrack release, having existed in full solely through a 1998 rerecording released by Varese. The 3,000-unit release is remastered almost entirely from the original master tapes (two tracks are sourced from mono music stems).

Varese’s other heavy hitter in the batch is the second and final volume of music composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann for the iconic television series The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In honor of the composer’s 100th birthday, this three-disc set presents in full the last nine episodes that Herrmann wrote music for the successful anthology series. (Volume 1 was sold during the last CD Club batch.) This one’s limited to 2,000 copies.

Composer Marco Beltrami is getting applause for his score for the upcoming prequel to 1982’s The Thing, and with a director’s cut Blu-Ray release of another film he scored, Mimic, having hit store shelves recently, Varese expands their original album for the CD Club. Beltrami scored the Guillermo del Toro film with the horror/suspense panache that made scores like Scream so popular. The deluxe Mimic will be capped at 1,000 copies.

The set closes out with a straight reissue of Bill Conti’s great score to The Karate Kid Part II, originally released as part of a box set in 2007 but available on its own in a limited run of 1,000 units.

All titles will ship the week of October 24 and can be ordered after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 11, 2011 at 11:47