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Archive for the ‘David Raksin’ Category

“Preminger At Fox” Salutes Director’s Hollywood Film Noir Music

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Preminger at FoxDuring Otto Preminger’s long and distinguished career, the director tackled virtually every genre of film: drama, thriller, musical, even absurdist comedy.  For the musicals, Preminger had scores by George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward (Porgy and Bess) and Oscar Hammerstein II and 19th century composer Georges Bizet (Carmen Jones).  His non-musical films also featured scores by illustrious talents, including David Raksin, Elmer Bernstein, Duke Ellington, and even Harry Nilsson!  A number of Preminger’s films for 20th Century Fox have been issued on DVD under the Fox Film Noir umbrella, including the all-time classic Laura (1944).  The score to Laura has already been released by the Kritzerland label on CD, and now Kritzerland is revisiting that classic along with four more titles in the Fox Film Noir series for a special 2-CDs-for-the-price-of-1 release containing music from five motion pictures.

Preminger at Fox features Raksin’s music for Fallen Angel (1945), Daisy Kenyon (1947), Whirlpool (1949) and a suite from Laura, plus Cyril J. Mockridge’s score for Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) which includes thematic material from the great Alfred Newman.  This limited edition of 1,000 units is one-stop shopping for some of the most dramatic music associated with Preminger’s impressive, 35-film career.  It’s due in the second week of September, but pre-orders placed at Kritzerland usually arrive an average of four weeks early.  Hit the jump for all of the details on Preminger at Fox, plus pre-order link and complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 30, 2013 at 10:08

Jazz Greats Benny Carter, Shelly Manne, Jimmy Rowles, Red Mitchell Featured On “Too Late Blues”

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Too Late Blues OSTBefore pioneering cinéma vérité techniques on groundbreaking films like Faces and Husbands, John Cassavetes was signed to direct his first major-studio motion picture with 1962’s Too Late Blues.  Handed the assignment on the strength of his first film, Shadows, Cassavetes was a brave choice to direct the story of jazz musician “Ghost” Wakefield and his struggle to stay true to himself while pursuing fame and romance.  This raw and revealing story starred Bobby Darin, no stranger to the darker side of the music business himself.  And the score was provided by David Raksin (Laura), who not only provided the traditional score, but also wrote the jazz tunes to be played by the crème of the crop of the West Coast jazz scene.  Now, the world premiere of the complete score to Too Late Blues has been announced by Kritzerland, featuring the contributions of such world-class players as Benny Carter, Shelly Manne, Jimmy Rowles, Red Mitchell and Milt Bernhart.

A rare few films have successfully brought jazz scores to Hollywood, but Kritzerland’s new release aims to restore the all-too-little-known Too Late Blues to the position of prominence it deserves among jazz-flecked films and scores like Anatomy of a Murder and Paris Blues (both by Duke Ellington), A Man Called Adam (Benny Carter), The Man with the Golden Arm (Elmer Bernstein), Alfie (Sonny Rollins) and television’s Peter Gunn (Henry Mancini).

As Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel points out, “There is a lot of jazz in Too Late Blues.  The easy way out would have been to do standards, but Raksin wrote all original music for the film, even for the source cues.  And what music it is – Raksin at his best, and Raksin at his best is as good as it gets.”  Kimmel also recognizes the contribution of trumpeter Uan Rasey, who worked his magic on films from Singin’ in the Rain to Chinatown.  The producer continues, “Raksin wrote one of his most exquisite and inspired themes for the film, which he titled ‘A Song After Sundown.’  It’s heard in jazz guises, within the dramatic score, and even as a vocalese performed by Stella Stevens’ character.  It’s a haunting, melancholy theme filled with sadness and yearning – classic Raksin, as are the jazz cues and the dramatic score.  It’s all of a piece – absolute perfection in the picture and wonderful to listen to outside the film as well.”

After the jump, we have more details on this lost jazz classic, as well as pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 15, 2013 at 13:23

That Was “Laura”: Classic Soundtrack Arrives on CD as Film Debuts on Blu-ray

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Laura OSTGoodbye, Laura.  Goodbye, my love…

Director Otto Preminger’s 1944 film Laura remains one of the film noir dramas against which all others will be measured, the rare picture that transcended its troubled behind-the-scenes production to become an all-time classic.  All the elements came together, from the cast (Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Prince, Judith Anderson) to the screenplay by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, and Elizabeth Reinhardt (based on Vera Caspary’s novel) to, memorably, the score by David Raksin.   The Academy Award-winning film makes it Blu-ray debut today, February 5, from 20th Century Fox, and Kritzerland is marking the occasion with the first-ever release of the complete score to Laura.

Laura was one of the earliest scores penned by Philadelphia-born David Raksin, who began his film career assisting Charlie Chaplin with the music of Modern Times.  Raksin’s monothematic score was built around his haunting melody that, in 1945, became the song “Laura” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.  “Laura” is said to be one of the most-recorded popular songs in history, with recordings having been made by everybody from Frank Sinatra to Seth MacFarlane (!).  Raksin found the perfect musical expression for the story of beautiful Laura Hunt (Tierney), whose murder is being investigated by detective Mark McPherson (Andrews).  Clifton Webb, as the foppish newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker, has many of the film’s best bon mots: “I should be sincerely sorry to see my neighbor’s children devoured by wolves” or “I don’t use a pen; I write with a goose quill dipped in venom.”  Following numerous twists and turns in the plot, Webb utters the famous farewell, “Goodbye, Laura.  Goodbye, my love…”

Kritzerland’s edition differs from all past releases of the score to Laura.  Hit the jump for all of the details as well as for order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 5, 2013 at 10:19