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“It’s A Wonderful” Soundtrack: Score to Frank Capra’s Classic “Life” Gets First-Ever Release

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KL_Wonderful_Life_12book_R1.indd“You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life.  Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?”

Each year, director Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life continues to lend a note of hope and inspiration to those discovering it for the first time.  The story of suicidal George Bailey (James Stewart) and the guardian angel (Henry Travers) who shows him what life would have been like had he never been born, It’s a Wonderful Life has transcended its modest origins to become an all-time staple of American cinema.  Yet curiously, the music to Capra’s beloved film, composed by the legendary Dimitri Tiomkin (High Noon, The Alamo), has never before appeared on an authentic soundtrack release.  The Kritzerland label has come to the rescue with a landmark release: the first-ever Original Soundtrack Recording for It’s a Wonderful Life.

Though nominated for five Academy Awards and recipient of one special Oscar for technical achievement, Capra’s film (based on a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern and featuring a screenplay by Capra, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett with contributions by Jo Swerling) was not a box office success upon its initial release.  It’s said to have lost more than half a million dollars for its distributor, RKO, despite placing 26th in box office revenues for 1947 out of over 400 movies.  The reputation of It’s a Wonderful Life was burnished in the era of television, when the movie became a staple of each holiday season.

When enlisted to provide the score for the picture, Russian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin (1894-1979) was in the midst of an illustrious career that would net him four Academy Awards and 22 nominations.  Tiomkin’s original score for the fantasy blended original themes with quotes of popular music, but underwent great alterations at the hands of the master director Capra.  He cut several cues, preferring those scenes to play without music, and rearranged the sequence of other cues.  Furthermore, Capra edited sections of cues, and even added cues from the scores of other films.  Though the end result was still memorable, it didn’t represent the composer’s original vision.  Kritzerland producer Bruce Kimmel describes the effect of hearing the newly-restored complete score as “a special treat…filled with Tiomkin’s wonderful sense of film and character and drama.”

After the jump, we have more details plus the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 9, 2014 at 11:09

You Must Remember This: TCM, Masterworks Compile “Classic Sound of Hollywood” From Mancini, Williams, Morricone, More

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Play It Again - Classic HollywoodOn April 1, Sony’s Masterworks division and Turner Classic Movies marked the cable network’s twentieth anniversary with a new 2-CD collection of vintage Hollywood movie themes. Play It Again: The Classic Sound of Hollywood continues the Masterworks/TCM series that has previously encompassed archival releases from Doris Day, Mario Lanza and Fred Astaire. Composers represented include Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Maurice Jarre, Elmer Bernstein, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone and John Williams.  Most of the tracks on Play It Again aren’t derived from the original film soundtracks, but rather from renditions played by the likes of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Boston Pops.

The first disc is drawn entirely from RCA Red Seal’s series of Classic Film Scores as recorded by conductor Charles Gerhardt and London’s National Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 1970s. It includes three suites from composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold featuring his themes from Of Human Bondage, Between Two Worlds, and The Sea Hawk. Underscoring the diversity of this set, the disc also contains cues from the sensationally steamy Peyton Place (Franz Waxman), the creature feature The Thing (From Another World) (Dimitri Tiomkin) and even the Biblical epic Salomé (Daniele Amfitheatrof).  In 2010, Masterworks reissued this series as it originally appeared on LP, orphaning a handful of recordings.  The three of these “stray” recordings are the Peyton Place main title, the “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salomé and the suite from The Thing.  In addition, the Korngold suites for The Sea Hawk and Of Human Bondage are different edits from those contained on the reissued Korngold CD in the Gerhardt series; this disc marks their first appearance on CD in over a decade.

What will you find on Disc 2?  Hit the jump for that, and more – including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

“Lethal Weapon” Box, “Superman Returns” and More Due from La-La Land

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Lethal Weapon OST Box

La-La Land never fails to amaze when it comes to Black Friday. The soundtrack label often saves some of its biggest and highest-profile titles for announcements on the shopping weekend (see 2010, 2011 and 2012) – and this year is no different, with two premiere releases of acclaimed scores, an expanded edition of a superhero sequel and a box set devoted to one of the biggest action film franchises of all time.

Police Academy OSTFirst up: call them slobs, call them jerks, call them gross – just don’t call them when you’re in trouble! Officers Mahoney, Thompson, Jones, Martin, Tackleberry, Barbara and Hightower (plus the reluctant Lt. Harris) were the misfit newbie cops in the 1984 comedy Police Academy, starring Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Michael Winslow and Bubba Smith – and while the series is perhaps best known for the increasingly madcap sequels it never seemed to stop spawning (the seventh film in the series bowed in 1994), its score by Robert Folk has long been in high demand. Now, for the first time, enjoy every cue from the film, including the unforgettably jaunty march for the recruits, and even Jean-Marc Dompierre and His Orchestra’s “El Bimbo,” a source cue that scores a classic gag in the unforgettable Blue Oyster Bar.  LLL’s release is limited to 3,000 units.

Gunfight at the OK CorralRussian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin was a master of the Western film score (hear his work on High Noon for definitive proof), and one of his greatest achievements, the score to John Sturges’ Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957), is finally available on CD in a 2,ooo-unit pressing. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas’ Hollywoodized portrayals of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday didn’t teach anyone facts about the real event, but it sure made for some great genre entertainment. This lengthy disc features the complete score in mono, with eight bonus stereo cues, source music and demos of the classic title song, originally sung by Frankie Laine but covered here by both singing cowboy/Disney voice actor Rex Allen and Bob Hope/USO sideman Tony Romano.  Laine’s recording is, of course, also included and in fact opens the album.

After the jump, a trio of men of steel and some of their most iconic music!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 4, 2013 at 08:31

The “Empire” Strikes Back: La-La Land Expands Classic Tiomkin Soundtrack Album

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And the next 200 starts today. La-La Land Records has announced their latest release, partnering with Sony Music for a long-in-development expansion of Dimitri Tiomkin’s score to The Fall of the Roman Empire.

The epic, Samuel Bronston production, which starred Alec Guinness and Christopher Plummer as Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus during the last days of the Roman empire, is notable for three unique traits: its standing among its contemporary sword-and-sandal epics for its intelligent tone and acting alongside its epic scale, its incredible financial failure and its score by Dimitri Tiomkin. The soundtrack, written for a grandiose orchestra with cathedral organ, is typically multifaceted and brash, and earned a Golden Globe (as well as an Oscar nomination) for Tiomkin’s efforts.

La-La Land’s limited edition, set to 2,500 units, is a bit unique in that it’s not the full and complete score (the masters of which have been difficult, if not impossible, to locate). Instead, the label remasters the original Columbia Records soundtrack LP from the original stereo tapes, and includes an additional eight bonus cues in mono. It’s yours to order after the jump. (And don’t forget about LLL’s next release on March 27…!)

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 13, 2012 at 17:44