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Archive for the ‘Franz Waxman’ Category

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 »

Kritzerland Heads Into The Arena With “Demetrius and the Gladiators”

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Demetrius and the GladiatorsTwentieth Century Fox’s 1953 Biblical epic The Robe boldly trumpeted on its posters, “The First Motion Picture in CinemaScope – The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses!”  So confident was Fox about the success of The Robe and indeed, the widescreen CinemaScope format, that the studio began production on a sequel (or “continuation,” as it was dubbed) before the first film had even reached theatres.  Screenwriter Philip Dunne, producer Frank Ross, art directors George W. Davis and Lyle Wheeler, and actors Victor Mature as the titular slave-turned-gladiator, Michael Rennie as Peter, and Jay Robinson as the notorious Caligula all returned for Demetrius and the Gladiators.  Director Henry Koster, cinematographer Leon Shamroy, and composer Alfred Newman – all still occupied with The Robe – gave way to Delmer Daves, Milton Krasner and Franz Waxman, respectively for Demetrius.  But though the sequel didn’t match the success of its predecessor, it was far from a disappointment and actually ranked as the fourth highest-grossing film of 1954.  In addition to its repeat performances from the above-mentioned actors, Demetrius also featured Ernest Borgnine, Susan Hayward, Anne Bancroft and Julie Newmar among its cast!  The picture has held up remarkably well, with no small credit due to Waxman’s score.  Kritzerland is premiering a new restoration of this grandiose soundtrack as its latest release, now available for pre-order.

Franz Waxman deftly incorporated Alfred Newman’s themes for The Robe into the sonic tapestry he devised for Demetrius and the Gladiators.  Kritzerland producer Bruce Kimmel writes that Waxman’s score “manages to display a modernist élan and power all its own. Demetrius and the Gladiators was this fabulously versatile composer’s first Biblical epic; as usual, he adapted his talents to a new genre with superbly dramatic dexterity. Beginning with a pulse-pounding ‘Prelude’ which twines Newman’s themes with his own, Waxman moves on to one stunning cue after another.”

After the jump: the lowdown on what sets the 2014 Demetrius apart from its past CD release, plus a pre-order link and the full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2014 at 10:20

There’s “A Place in the Sun”: Classic Hollywood Score Receives World Premiere Release

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A Place in the Sun1951’s six-time Oscar winner A Place in the Sun wasn’t Hollywood’s first adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel An American Tragedy.  The very first film version of the haunting novel came from Paramount Pictures and director Josef von Sternberg in 1931.  But the 1951 motion picture – starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters, directed by George Stevens – is the one most remembered by generations transfixed by Dreiser’s sad tale of desperation and ill-fated romance.  One of those six Oscar statuettes went to Franz Waxman (Sunset Blvd., Rear Window) for his score, yet Waxman’s memorable music – augmented by contributions from Victor Young and Daniele Amfitheatrof – never received a soundtrack album.  Kritzerland has rectified that, some sixty-plus years after the film’s release, having just announced the world premiere CD of Waxman’s A Place in the Sun.

Stevens’ film, based on Dreiser’s novel but with different names for the characters, concerns itself with the tale of lower-class youth George Eastman (Clift), caught between the affections of Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a poor fellow factory worker, and high-society gal Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor).  When Alice becomes pregnant, George takes matters into his own hands, with tragic results.  Waxman was the perfect choice to score this dramatic story.  Kritzerland describes the score as “brilliant,” and “distinguished by what is surely one of film music’s most beautiful and exquisite main themes. The heart and soul of Waxman’s score is ‘Vickers’ Theme,’ and it recurs throughout the score in many guises. It’s a stunning theme and one that captures the essence of the film with sublime perfection. But all of Waxman’s music for the film is sublime – there’s really not much more to say than that because the proof is in the hearing. This is film music as film music is meant to be – not padding, not filler, not sound design – film music designed to underscore the images on screen, the characters, the drama.”

What can you expect on this first-time soundtrack release?  Hit the jump to find more details, the full track listing, and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 16, 2013 at 10:07

A Paramount Package: Three Vintage Franz Waxman Scores Premiere On New Release

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Elephant Walk - Botany Bay - Stalag 17

Long before Andrew Lloyd Webber set Sunset Boulevard to music, Franz Waxman was Norma Desmond’s composer of choice, having created the score to the original Paramount picture.  But Sunset wasn’t Waxman’s only Paramount film.  Nor was it his only collaboration with legendary director and screenwriter Billy Wilder. Waxman’s scores for the studio are among his most renowned works – think of A Place in the Sun, Come Back, Little Sheba or Rear Window, to name three.  The Kritzerland label, already Waxman specialists thanks to such releases as Career, Taras Bulba and My Geisha, will soon combine three vintage Waxman-at-Paramount titles as one package.

Kritzerland has just announced the world premiere release containing Waxman’s scores to Elephant Walk (1954), Botany Bay (1953) and Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17 (1953).  None of these incredibly rare scores have been released before in any format, making this release all the more special for enthusiasts of the composer’s works.  Just six cues have survived from the Elizabeth Taylor-starring drama Elephant Walk, and all are presented in stereo sound on this new release.  On the other hand, nearly forty minutes of music – almost the entire score – has survived from the seafaring adventure Botany Bay, and these cues will be heard in mono.  From Wilder’s remarkable Stalag 17 – which starred Sunset Boulevard’s William Holden in an Oscar-winning performance – comes all of the surviving cues, in the mono sound in which they were originally recorded.

This limited edition of 1,000 units is due to ship the last week of July from Kritzerland, but pre-orders usually arrive an average of four weeks early.  Hit the jump for the label’s full press release on this essential value-for-money package, plus the complete track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 6, 2013 at 12:27

The True “Geisha”: Classic Franz Waxman Soundtrack Arrives on CD

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My GeishaKritzerland has a thing for Shirley MacLaine.

The label has just announced its ninth release of a score from a film featuring the Academy Award-winning actress and current Downton Abbey star.  Franz Waxman’s score to the 1962 Paramount film My Geisha is the latest to get the Kritzerland treatment.

As the titular geisha in a madcap, disguise-filled romp, MacLaine starred opposite Yves Montand, Robert Cummings, and Edward G. Robinson.  Norman Krasna (White Christmas, Let’s Make Love) brought his expertise to the mistaken identity plot, which was somewhat of a specialty of his.  Jack Cardiff, perhaps best known for directing the notorious Smell-o-Vision film Scent of Mystery, was in the director’s chair.  But in reissue producer Bruce Kimmel’s words, “what takes My Geisha to a whole other level is the radiant score by Franz Waxman (Sunset Boulevard, A Place in the Sun). There are many ways to approach scoring a comedy: you can accentuate the humor, you can underline the laughs, or you can try to make the music comic. Waxman’s approach was to score the story being told and to let the comedy speak for itself. Hence his music is filled to the brim with dramatic scoring and beautiful melody, including his exquisite main theme. That approach was perfect because it makes us care about the characters and the story.”

The film’s plot revolves around movie director Paul Robaix (Montand), married to famous actress Lucy Dell (MacLaine).  He wishes to have a success independent of his wife, so he departs for Japan to find a suitable lead for his film version of Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly.  But he’s unaware that Lucy is in hot pursuit.  She disguises herself as a geisha, and wins the part.  But Lucy soon becomes threatened by Paul’s affections for her other identity, Yoko.

There’s more after the jump, including the track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 25, 2013 at 16:16

Career Man: Franz Waxman Score to Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine Drama Premieres on CD

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Releasing vintage film scores has long been “all in a night’s work” for the Kritzerland label.  In June, Kritzerland issued Andre Previn’s score to the 1962 comedy All in a Night’s Work, a Paramount Picture starring Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine.  That was hardly the first onscreen pairing between the two offscreen pals, however.  Dino and MacLaine first lit up the screen together in 1955’s Artists and Models, MacLaine’s second film and the fourteenth starring the Martin and Lewis comedy team.  In 1958, Martin and MacLaine appeared opposite another Rat Packer, Frank Sinatra, in Some Came Running, and in 1959 came Career.  This groundbreaking drama based on James Lee’s off-Broadway play was brought to the screen by Paramount with a score by Franz Waxman (Rebecca, Suspicion), and that score is being released for the very first time by Kritzerland.

Martin and MacLaine were joined by a cast including Anthony Franciosa, Carolyn Jones, Joan Blackman, and Robert Middleton. The film was directed by Joseph Anthony, who previously worked with MacLaine on the film adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.  A powerful blacklist drama co-written by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Roman Holiday), the brave Career was rewarded with three Academy Award nominations – Best Art Direction (Hal Pereira, Walter H. Tyler, Samuel M. Comer, Arthur Krams), Best Cinematography (Joseph LaShelle), and Best Costume Design (Edith Head).

Kritzerland describes Franz Waxman’s score as “absolutely thrilling…from the exciting opening chords that lead directly into the big city them.  It is the kind of dramatic scoring that Waxman did so brilliantly. He gets inside the drama and the characters – the yearning, the hunger, the nastiness, the competiveness, the romance, the first taste of success, the bitter taste of failure after failure – it’s brilliant music from start to finish.”  Waxman was in the midst of a true golden age in the 1950s, during which period he also scored Billy Wilder’s Paramount classic Sunset Boulevard and other renowned classics like A Place in the Sun, Mister Roberts, Peyton Place and Rear Window, the latter with his old collaborator Alfred Hitchcock.  Though unrecognized for Career, Waxman took home the gold statuette for both Sunset and A Place in the Sun.

What bonuses will you find on this new CD?  Hit the jump!  Plus: the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 19, 2012 at 14:18