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12th Anniversary Special

 

 

Above pictures of composers conducting (clockwise from left):
Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, and Max Steiner -
all of them represented on the lists below.

 

Film Music Review began as an online webzine with Volume 1, Number 1 on 8 July 1998.

In that first issue there were 6 scores and 4 compilations reviewed, with the highest ratings going to Max Steiner's KING KONG (Marco Polo re-recording) and John Williams CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (Arista expanded CD). Unfortunately, due to a computer malfunction, all these early reviews were lost.

These are some of the comments received after the first issue in 1998:

  • "Clearly you have a long view of this art form - and that is good!" -- Bob Bowd
  • "I was very impressed when viewing your site...I appreciate your taste in film music" -- Matthew Gear
  • "Enjoyed your web site - nice job and very informative"--
    Randall D. Larson
    , Editor, Soundtrack Magazine
  • "I want to congratulate you on your new site - for me it's one of the best review sites on the net (or in print) simply because it gets to the 'meat' of the story without all the fluff and nasty personal grudge stuff that seems to be standard at some other sites" -- Mark Northam, Publisher, Film Music Magazine
  • "Excellent site - straightforward, no nonsense and to the point. Every film music buff should visit it." -- David Wishart, the late prolific CD producer and writer

Now one of the longest-running webzines of its kind, Film Music Review has grown to an impressive size with over 1,000 Book, CD, and DVD reviews.

Volumes 1- 7 of Film Music Review no longer available online but most of the CD reviews are included as document files in a special e-book on DVD which includes audio examples and a video program. The e-book is titled:

A Guide to Film Music (4th edition)

 

Send any comments or questions about this special to:

FMR 12th Anniversary

 

 

 

 


Are you a film music fan or
collector or both?

You are invited to read any of the reviews and articles on FMR.

Here is the link to the current issue:

Vol. 12/No. 3 (Summer 2010)

 

 


If you enjoy music from older films, this DVD is highly recommended. It includes music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, David Raksin, Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Franz Waxman.

This DVD is well worth adding to your collection:

Music for the Movies: The Hollywood Sound

 

 

 

 

 


 

12th Anniversary

Our Writers Pick Their Favorite Film Themes & Songs

Twelve Greatest Motion Picture Themes and
Best Motion Picture Songs by Steve Vertlieb

Twelve Themes + Twelve Songs by Steven A. Kennedy

A Double Dozen Of Film Music Delights by Roger L. Hall

 


 

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Twelve Motion Picture Themes & Songs

By Steve Vertlieb, Contributing Writer


Greatest Motion Picture Themes

While the director, writer, actors, and set decorator provide the validity, meaning, and ultimate value of a motion picture, it is solely the responsibility of the composer to set the stage for what is to come. The composer of music for a motion picture faces the unique responsibility and challenge of both setting the stage, as well as extending an invitation to the audience to share the importance of what the film makers have created. A mediocre musical theme will leave an audience bored and disinterested in the presentation to follow, but a powerful, thematic musical statement will whet the palate, set the senses pulsating, and deliver the excitement needed to sustain interest in the approximate two hours unspooling behind the lens. Therefore, it is essential for the composer to captivate the listener and conquer his attention while the main titles begin.

Musical content is invaluable to the integrity of a cinematic creation. Without the presence of a compelling signature theme under the credits, an audience must work all the harder to understand and embrace what lies before them. To the composer lies the ultimate responsibility of capturing the interest and attention of the spectator. It is his thematic salutation that will dictate both the mood and atmosphere of the visual stage, creating either an air of interest and involvement or ultimate boredom with the presentation. It is possible for a good film to survive a bad or uninvolving musical score, but the creative artists must strive that much harder, then, to achieve their goals. Conversely, great scores have saved more bad pictures than critical appraisal will allow.

To select the twelve or so most compelling film themes from some eighty years of sound motion pictures would comprise an unrealistic competition between artistic giants, and so such a limiting list must ultimately be based upon the personal prejudice and preference of the individual listener. It becomes, then, a list of personal favorites.

What does follow, however, is a “short list” of what this writer believes to be a representative sampling of the most influential themes in motion picture history and is, it must be noted, a purely personal compilation dictated by the distinct advantage of occupying my own individual heart and ear drums.

 

  • KING KONG (1933) – Max Steiner wrote the triumphant theme for, perhaps, the first important motion picture score of the sound era, and his work remains today as astounding an achievement and influence as it was when first released…the musical heart of the most thrilling fantasy/adventure film ever conceived and realized.
  • THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) – Hugo Friedhofer’s soaringly hopeful main title sequence masterfully conveys the emotional toll and heartache of veterans returning home from the second world war, and the promise of new hope in a country re-born.
  • SCARAMOUCHE (1952) – Victor Young’s gorgeous musical visualization of chivalry and romance, when valor and idealism reigned proudly across Parisian landscapes, powerfully conveys the youthful promise of honor, brandishing swords and swordsmen.
  • THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (1954) – Dimitri Tiomkin’s soaring and beautiful theme captured the majesty and serenity of flight itself with this ethereal tribute to the skies.
  • PRINCE VALIANT (1954) - Franz Waxman’s rich, enchanting homage to the gallant spectacle and daring exploits of the famous newspaper comic strip hero comes gloriously to life with his remarkable overture honoring the dreams and fantasies of young boys everywhere.
  • THE BIG COUNTRY (1958) – The thrilling theme by Jerome Moross sets the stage for the scenic grandeur and scope of this panoramic western saga.
  • BEN-HUR (1959) – Miklos Rozsa, perhaps the screen’s greatest composer, brings glorious culmination to his long career with the stunning main title sequence for one of the greatest motion pictures ever filmed.
  • NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) – Bernard Herrmann memorably captures the dizzying frenzy of Alfred Hitchcock’s quintessential thriller with a complex, intricate score, matching the director’s unforgettable visual landscape, note for image.
  • THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) – Elmer Bernstein’s pulse pounding opening statement sets the blood flowing with joyous expectation.
  • EL CID (1961) – Composer Miklos Rozsa once again brings the glorious legend of a valiant warrior vividly to expression with his grand, exquisite musical salutation.
  • HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962) – 20th Century Fox’s long time musical director, Alfred Newman, sets the MGM lion ablaze with one of the most exciting and memorable film themes ever written.
  • SUPERMAN (1978) – Modern film’s greatest screen composer, John Williams, creates one of the most exhilarating themes of his meteoric career for this hugely popular take on “The Man Of Steel,” properly described by one adoring critic as “the composer’s Christmas gift to the world.”

The influence and inspiration of these powerful themes commands attention in a world overcome by cynicism and despair. Their hypnotic legacy, and power over our collective spirit, memory, and senses is incalculable.

 

 

Best Motion Picture Songs

  • “Over The Rainbow” – 1939 – Composed by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, immortalized by Judy Garland in MGM’s THE WIZARD OF OZ remains forever in our collective hearts a song of hope, and tender yearning for a new world…an idealistic land where dreams come magically true.
  • “When You Wish Upon A Star” – 1940 – Composed by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney’s PINOCCHIO – Perhaps the most enchanting tune ever heard in a motion picture, expressing the eternal wish for happiness, serenity, acceptance, and love, as sung by the near angelic voice of Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Crickett.

  • “White Christmas” – 1942 – Composed by Irving Berlin for Paramount’s HOLIDAY INN, the Bing Crosby classic has become not only the most famous Christmas tune ever written, winning the Oscar for Best Motion Picture Song for that year, but has become the best selling single recording of all time.
  • “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – 1944 – Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane composed this perennial Christmas classic for MGM’s beloved MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, although in later years Martin claimed sole responsibility for its writing. Vincente Minnelli directed the story of a family being uprooted from its traditional St. Louis home, while Judy Garland’s magically tear filled performance of the Christmas song reprised her sentiment five years earlier in THE WIZARD OF OZ that “there’s no place like home.” Hers has become its definitive recording.
  • “Laura” – 1945 – David Raksin and Johnny Mercer penned this unforgettable love song written for a young woman who may or may not have been murdered. Gene Tierney played the exquisite lady in question, while Dana Andrews was the police officer obsessed with her painted image on canvas. Reportedly, David Raksin’s favorite recording of the song was performed by Frank Sinatra for his “Where Are You” album with Gordon Jenkins at Capital.
  • “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” – 1946 – Composed by Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert for Walt Disney’s SONG OF THE SOUTH, and interpreted by the cherubic James Baskett as Uncle Remus, this pied piperish tune left an indelible imprint upon the hearts and minds of children of all ages, and has come to symbolize youthful innocence and wonderment.
  • “That’s Entertainment” – 1953 – Composed by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz for MGM’s production of THE BANDWAGON, sung exuberantly by Fred Astaire, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, and Jack Buchanan, is as rousing a show business anthem as Irving Berlin’s “There No Business Like Show Business,” a joyous pantheon to the world of entertainment.
  • “Three Coins In The Fountain” – 1954 – Composed by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, this haunting musical prayer, sung wonderfully by Frank Sinatra at the start of his unparalleled motion picture comeback, became a theme for romantic optimism during the 1950’s.
  • “The Man That Got Away” – 1954 – Composed by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin for the superb remake of A STAR IS BORN. Designed by producer Sid Luft as a comeback vehicle for his wife, Judy Garland, the film is a masterpiece of brilliant direction by George Cukor, writing by Moss Hart, and performances by Garland and James Mason. The stunning presentation of “The Man That Got Away” remains one of cinema’s defining moments, and a scintilating showcase for what has been rightly been called “the most enduring voice of the century.”
  • “All The Way” – 1957 – Composed by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen for Paramount’s bio-pic of comedian Joe E. Lewis, THE JOKER IS WILD lit the screen with a searing, eloquent performance by Frank Sinatra in the title role of the comic, burning up the soundtrack with his haunting rendition of the Cahn/Van Heusen tune.
  • “Our Love Affair” – 1957 – Composed by Harold Adamson, Harry Warren, and director Leo McCarey for his remake of his own earlier film, LOVE AFFAIR, this second version, AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr holds the title for the quintessential romantic tear jerker, while the title theme sung by Vic Damone remains the singer’s favorite, and one of the most popular love songs ever written or performed.
  • “The Song From Raintree County” – 1957 – Composed by John Green and Paul Francis Webster for MGM’s epic production of RAINTREE COUNTY, the wondrous overture and song, performed by Green and Nat King Cole, continue to effect their spellbinding power over audiences and music lovers alike. Green’s remarkable song and score are monumental achievements in motion picture scoring history.

 


--Compiled by Steve Vertlieb

 


Twelve Film Themes + Twelve Film Songs

By Steven A. Kennedy, Contributing Writer

A special brain teaser for FMR’s 12 th anniversary was posed by Roger. Pick just 12 of your favorite movie themes and songs. For this list, I tried to pick some of the film themes that I have given me pleasure from a variety of different films and my list reflects a bit of favorite themes that I have played over the years and whose familiarity makes them personal favorites.

When all was said and done, I had 19 themes selected, which I thought was pretty good. As with any list, you could probably ask me the same question and get a different answer on any given day.

But when I thought about it, themes that came easily to mind were the ones that made the final cut.

Film Themes

1.        DR. ZHIVAGO: Lara’s Theme— Maurice Jarre

2.        HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE: Hedwig’s Theme –
John Williams

3.        MARATHON MAN: Theme— Michael Small

4.        THE MISSION: Gabriel’s Oboe – Ennio Morricone

5.        MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS: Waltz— Richard Rodney Bennett

6.        THE ODD COUPLE: Theme – Neal Hefti

7.        THE PINK PANTHER: Theme – Henry Mancini

8.        SOMEWHERE IN TIME: Love Theme— John Barry

9.        SPARTACUS: Love Theme – Alex North

10.    STAR WARS: Main Theme— John Williams

11.    TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: (Childhood)— Elmer Bernstein

12.    VERTIGO: Love Theme (Scene d’Amour)— Bernard Herrmann

 

Film Songs

The songs were a lot harder to fine tune, but for the most part, these melodies tend to grace my piano more than many others.

1.        "An Affair To Remember" from AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957) -- music: Harry Warren/ lyrics: Harold Adamson and Leo McCarey

2.        "Around the World" from AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1956) --
music: Victor Young/ lyrics: Harold Adamson

3.        +"Chim Chim Cheree" from MARY POPPINS (1964) --
music & lyrics: Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman

4.        "Goldfinger" from GOLDFINGER (1965) -- music: John Barry/
lyrics: Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

5.        "I Will Wait For You" from THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (1965) --
music: Michel Legrand/ Norman Gimbel (English) - Jacques Demy (French)

6.        "Laura" from LAURA (1945) -- music: David Raksin/ lyrics: Johnny Mercer

7.       "Moonlight" from SABRINA (1995) -- music: John Williams/
lyrics: Alan and Marilyn Bergman  

8.       +"Moon River" from BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (1961) --
music: Henry Mancini/lyrics: Johnny Mercer

9.        "On Green Dolphin Street" from GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947)--
music: Bronislau Kaper/ lyrics: Ned Washington

10.    +"The Shadow Of Your Smile" from THE SANDPIPER (1965) --
music: Johnny Mandel/ lyrics: Paul Francis Webster

11.    "Thee I Love" from FRIENDLY PERSUASION (1956) --
music: Dimitri Tiomkin/ lyrics: Paul Francis Webster

12.    "Unchained Melody" from UNCHAINED (1955) --
music: Alex North/ lyrics: Hy Zaret

+ = Oscar winner

-- Compiled by Steven A. Kennedy

 

 


A Double Dozen Of Film Music Delights

By Roger L. Hall., FMR Editor


For this anniversary, I have selected these favorite film themes and also, for the first time, some of my favorite movie songs including musicals, but only those written expressly for the movies.

There are twelve of each making that a double dozen of memorable film music delights.

As any film music fan knows, it is extremely difficult to pick just 12 favorite film themes or songs since there are so many great ones from the past. Some of them were picked for last year's FMR anniversary. But there are also others on this list not named before, including the songs. All of them are on my list of Top 100 film scores and songs from the 1930s to 1970s in my book, A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC.

Both themes and songs are listed in chronological sequence:



Film Themes



KING KONG (1933) - Main Theme
(Max Steiner)

This is considered by many as the first major Hollywood film score and remains one of the best today. The music by Steiner perfectly matches the action and sentiment of this classic fantasy film. I first watched KING KONG when I was a teenager and it premiered on WOR-TV in New York. I sat in front of our family TV each night for one week in the mid-1950s when it had its TV premiere on "Million Dollar Movie." I still remember the thrill I had from watching the film and listening to Steiner's magnificent opening theme for KONG. It was then that I became aware of the importance of music in a film.


KINGS ROW (1942) - Main Theme (Erich Wolfgang Korngold)

This majestic theme was among the best of Korngold's film scores while he worked on Warner Bros. films. One moviegoer reportedly went to see this film when it was first released just to hear the film score and not really watch the film. That's how effective this score was to '40s moviegoers. It seems an extreme oversight that this superb Krongold was not even nominated for an Oscar that year.

 

THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943) -
The Vision (Alfred Newman)

Alfred Newman received a well deserved Oscar for Best Score for this very respectful religious story of Bernadette and one of its most moving scenes was known as "The Vision" when the "beautiful lady" is first witnessed by Bernadette (beautifully acted by Jennifer Jones). This music featuring humming chorus and strings is one of most intensely emotional themes in any film and still brings tears to my eyes when I hear it.

LAURA (1944) - Main Theme (David Raksin)

One of the great film noir classics of the 1940s, it features the unforgettable main theme which runs throughout the film. David Raksin's score is one of the first to employ a single main theme that runs through a series of variations on that theme. This terrific film noir and score was overlooked in the Academy Awards categories that year. The haunting Raksin theme was later made into a hit song, with lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer. Raksin's own recording of a suite from LAURA which is based on that main theme stands out as the best version of this milestone score.


THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) - Homecoming
(Hugo Friedhofer)

I love this film about three servicemen returning home after World War II. Hugo Friedhofer's touching film score adds the right amount of joy and sadness of these three returning servicemen. The opening theme perfectly sets the mood of optimism of these servicemen returning to Boone City and is among the most poignant in any film. For me, this is the greatest film ever made about the suffering and struggles of servicemen returning home in wartime. Friedhofer's reinforces these feelings perfectly and the score is his crowning achievement in a long and distinguished career.

 

PICNIC (1956) - Theme and "Moonglow" (George Duning)

Though this film of a drifter (William Holden) falling in love with a beautiful young girl (Kim Novak) is somewhat dated today, Duning's music score still holds up remarkably well and the famous scene when the two lovers dance spontaneously at a summer picnic features this famous theme, which became a huge hit record as "Moonglow and Theme from PICNIC," recorded by Morris Stoloff and His Orchestra.

 

VERTIGO (1958) - Main Theme (Bernard Herrmann)


I believe this is Bernard Herrmann's greatest score among many supreme film scores. Some people might prefer NORTH BY NORTHWEST or PSYCHO, but for me VERTIGO with that constantly swirling theme, accompanying the brilliant titles by Saul Bass, is Herrmann's masterpiece among his film scores. His music continues to dazzle and delight and his ability to write such intensely emotional music is just amazing. Like all the film scores on my list, I never tire of listening to this mesmerizing film theme and score.

BEN-HUR (1959) - Prelude (Miklos Rozsa)

Truly one of the greatest epic films ever made and the superb film score by Miklos Rozsa is one of the greatest film scores as well. BEN-HUR is No. 2 on my list of 100 Essential Film Scores. Rozsa was a classically trained composer who delighted in doing research for the historical films he scored. This one doesn't contain any original Roman music since none survives, but does contain a few Greek melodic fragments that Rozsa found. But what is more important is Rozsa's deeply spiritual score that moves effortlessly between with dark and light themes. The opening Prelude brilliantly introduces the main themes of the film and is a masterpiece of film scoring. I believe BEN-HUR is Rozsa's greaestt film score.


TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) - Main Theme (Elmer Bernstein)


Elmer Bernstein's simple and sensitive film score makes all the difference in this excellent film starring Gregory Peck. Bernstein's ability to keep his score childlike is an excellent example of using less to achieve more. This was Bernstein's favorite score and it is mine as well. It is a beautifully realized achievement in film scoring and deserves the praise it has received.


BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) -
South American Getaway (Burt Bacharach)

For many years I was a guest on Ron Della Chiesa's radio program, MUSIC AMERICA, around the time of the Oscar telecast. On every occasion I could think of I included this jazzy uptempo cue from Burt Bacharacvh's Oscar-winning score. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" (which also won an Oscar) may be better known, but "South American Getaway" perfectly matches the scenes of the bandits being chased by federal troops in Bolivia. Some didn't like the fact that Bacharach didn't write traditional "western" style music and many beleived the wordless voices were actually a well known group known as "The Swingle Singers." But Bacharach said they were not the ones used and he used a studio chorus. Next time you watch this enjoyable western, listen for that theme during the chase and see if it doesn't fit the scenes and maybe also bring a smile to your face like it always does to mine.

PATTON (1970) - Main Theme (Jerry Goldsmith)

Along with many other film music fans, I believe that Jerry Goldsmith should have received far more Oscars than the one he received for THE OMEN. I also believe that his opening majestic and moving theme for PATTON was his best in all the many films he scored. The echoing trumpet is a marvelous touch for representing Patton's love of military history, leading to a full orchestral splendor for Patton's military valor. This is one of the best films of the 1970s and also Goldsmith's best score of that decade.

 

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) -
Hymn For The Fallen (John Williams)

From the first time I heard this stirring theme, I have been awed by the ability of John Williams to compose such an incredibly moving hymn for those who had died in World War II. I beleieve it is no accident that Williams is the best known and most popular of our time. He has composed so many memorable themes that I won't even try to list them [see this 75th brithday tribute to him].

This theme from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN has taken on a life of its own and has been played in numerous concerts and also at funerals for the war dead. I believe among all the memorable themes by John Williams, "Hymn For The Fallen" is his most inspiring.

 

 

 

 


Film Songs

It is just as difficult to pick favorite film songs as it is for film scores. Rather than write about each of my song picks separately, I'll just mention a few comments here.

I have always been a fan of musicals (including the Broadway ones which are included on this list). Therefore, half of my twelve favorites are from movie musicals, from 1937 to 1956. The others are either theme songs ("Moon River" and "The Shadow of Your Smile") or featured songs in a comedic film ("Thanks For The Memory" and "The Look Of Love" ), or a dramatic film ("All The Way" and "Nice To Be Around").

 

"They Can't Take That Away From Me" from SHALL WE DANCE (1937) -
Music: George Gershwin/ Lyrics: Ira Gershwin

From my favorite Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical, this song was the only by George Gershwin even to be nominated for an Oscar. It lost to "Sweet Leilani."
Gershwin's good friend Oscar Levant was so upset he made this bitter remark about it: "I'd like to say something about the composer of Sweet Leilani, Harry Owens. His music is dead, butt he lives on forever!" [quoted in A GUIDE TO FILM MUSIC]

 

 

"Thanks For The Memory" from
THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938 -
Music: Ralph Rainger/ Lyrics: Leo Robin

This bittersweet love song sung by Shirley Ross and Bob Hope (it became his theme song) was an Oscar winner. The film version of the song is longer than the one available on records. I've always liked the casual manner the way it is sung and the lyrics seem just right. I played this song on my old radio show when I signed off for the last time.

 

 

 

"Over The Rainbow" from THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) -
Music: Harold Arlen/ Lyrics: E.Y. Harburg

An enormously popular song that would be on many people's favorite movie song lists, maybe at the top of their list. Judy Garland's beautiful and tender singing of this Oscar-winning song has never been topped. It is her signature song and one of the great songs from any movie.

 

 

"When You Wish Upon A Star" (1940) from PINOCCHIO (1940) -
Music: Leigh Harline/ Lyrics: Ned Washington

Another song that became a theme song, in this case for Walt Disney Studios. This song was also an Oscar winner and sung in the film with simplicity and sensitivty by a former vaudeville entertainer, Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards, the voice of Jimminy Crickett. I believe this is the greatest song from any Disney animated film and also PINOCCHIO is the best animated film ever made.

 

"Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive" from
HERE COME THE WAVES (1945) -
Music: Harold Arlen/ Lyrics: Johnny Mercer

I love the slang lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer that seem to fit the hopeful feelings in this World War II era musical. The best recording of the song is by Johnny Mercer himself.

 

 

"Singin' In The Rain from
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)
-
Music: Nacio Herb Brown/ Lyrics: Arthur Freed

Like "Over The Rainbow" this is another no-brainer. But how many film fans know that this great song was first written way back in 1929? It was used over the years in many MGM musicals before the 1952 musical with Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. Gene Kelly's singing of this song is a classic and his superb dancing just adds more icing to the cake.

 

 

 

"True Love" from HIGH SOCIETY (1956) - Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter

A tender simple song in waltz tempo and beautifully sung by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in this enjoyable movie musical, one of the best from the 1950s. This was one of Cole Porter's best love songs written for a movie musical and was nominated for an Oscar.

 

"All The Way" from THE JOKER IS WILD (1957) -
Music: James Van Heauen/ Lyrics: Sammy Cahn

One of Frank Sinatra's greatest love song performances in a hard-hitting drama about entertainer Joe E. Lewis. The song won an Oscar for the team of Van Heusen and Cahn and deservedly so. The Sinatra recording with Nelson Riddle's terrific arrangement on Capitol Records is a gem.

 

"Moon River" from BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (1961) -
Music: Henry Mancini/ Lyrics: Johnny Mercer

Still another very popular movie song, this time by the great songwriting team of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, who both received Oscars for Best Song of the Year. When Mancini was asked who his favorite singer was for this song, he named Audrey Hepburn from the film, because she sang it so simply and directly without any high voltage arrangement behind her. I'd agree with him since this is really a very simple and touching song and Audrey Hepburn sings it that way.

 


"The Shadow Of Your Smile" from
THE SANDPIPER (1965) -
Music: Johnny Mandel/
Lyrics: Paul Francis Webster

I believe this is the most beautiful movie song of the 1960s, even better than "Moon River" which is saying a lot. The lyrics by Paul Francis Webster are exquisite poetry and Johnny Mandel's tune is pure
genius. The fact that this song theme is used throughout the film and does it so effectively with its subtle modifications and modulations just adds to its appeal. Unfortunately, the film itself is a big letdown, but the song did receive a well deserved Oscar.

"The Look Of Love" from CASINO ROYALE (1967) -
Music: Burt Bacharach/ Lyrics: Hal David

I picked this one for personal reasons because it was the song both me and my future wife liked when we were dating. It became our favorite song, especially as sung by the softly purring voice of French singer, Claudine Longet (the former wife of Andy Williams). The biggest hit record was by Dusty Springfield and Burt Bacharach also made a popular recording of this song. Too bad it was from such a silly film satire of the James Bond movies. But the song remains a well crafted example of beautiful songwriting.

Cinderella Liberty

"Nice To Be Around" from
CINDERELLA LIBERTY (1973) -
Music: John Williams/ Lyrics: Paul Williams

Here is an example of the wide versatility of John Williams, as both an expert composer of film scores and also a fine songwriter too. The wonderful conversational lyrics by Paul Williams (no relation), are perfect for this moody jazzy movie song. The brilliant harmonica playing of Toots Thieleman gives just the right expression to this sad and poignant love song, which is more effectively presented than the dreary and downbeat film. This is probably the best song by John Williams from his early career. Later on, he would have others, such as "Moonlight" [see Steve Kennedy's favorites listed above].

 

--Compiled by Roger Hall

 


 

Other FMR Links

 

100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th Century

 

You can read previous anniversary picks at these links:

11th Anniversary Special

10th Anniversary Special

9th Anniversary Special

8th Anniversary Special

 


 

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