Tuesday, November 12, 2019

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Day Seven: The Scores, 1954

Is there any branch more exclusive than the Music one? In looking up the usual trivia of previous nominees, past winners, etc., I found that of the thirteen composers nominated - and I'm including both Musical and Non-Musical categories - all but two were either previous nominees, previous winners, or on their first of many nominations. Only Larry Adler and Leonard Bernstein, both up for Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, were one-and-dones, though it's worth noting that Saul Chaplin, a co-winner for Scoring of a Musical Picture, would once again triumph in that same category for co-adapting Bernstein's West Side Story compositions for the cinema.

The nominees after the jump, starting with the non-musicals....

The Caine Mutiny
Max Steiner
past three-time winner, 23rd of 24 nominations

The music is terrific on its own, but feels out of place when watching - not as dark as it could be.

Larry Adler
first and only nomination

Surprisingly weird, quaint. A perfect fit.

The High and the Mighty
Dimitri Tiomkin
past winner, seventh of 14 nominations for scoring

Would that the rest of the movie could be up to the quality of its main theme.

On the Waterfront
Leonard Bernstein
first and only nomination

Suspenseful, raw, effective.

The Silver Chalice
Franz Waxman
past two-time winner, tenth of twelve nominations

Boy, these epics really do all sound the same!


The High and the Mighty is the earworm, sure, and actually won the Academy Award. But I'm petty enough not to give credit for the one thing that movie did right, especially since a film's score should complement what's happening on screen, not fool you into believing the movie is better than it actually is.  As far as narrative impact and appropriate pairing of music and image go, the winner is clear:


Now, on to the nominees for Best Musical Score:

Carmen Jones
Herschel Burke Gilbert
adapting the music of George Bizet
second and final nomination for scoring

The Glenn Miller Story
Joseph Gershenson / Henry Mancini
adapting the music of Glenn Miller
first of two nominations for Gershenson; first of seven scoring nominations for Mancini

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Adolph Deutsch / Saul Chaplin
adapting the music of Gene De Paul
past winner, fourth of five nominations for Deutsch; past winner, third of five nominations for Chaplin

A Star is Born
Ray Heindorf
adapting the music of Harold Arlen
past two-time winner, 14th of 17 scoring nominations

There's No Business Like Show Business
Alfred Newman / Lionel Newman
adapting the music of Irving Berlin
previous year's winner, past five-time winner before that, 32nd of 43 scoring nominations for Alfred; second of nine scoring nominations for Lionel



So - a little bit of agreement, a little bit of disagreement...what are ya gonna do?

Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Supporting Actor: from The Barefoot Contessa, Edmond O'Brien; from The Caine Mutiny, Tom Tully; and from On the Waterfront, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, and Rod Steiger.

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