Tuesday, October 12, 2021

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Cinema '62: Best Adapted Score

Our first category is Adapted Score, or as it was known at the time, Scoring of Music - Adaptation or Treatment. Four of these nominees are musicals, while one of them is an "adaptation" (read: orchestration) of a score by Jackie Gleason. The nominees:

Billy Rose's Jumbo
George Stoll
adapting the music of Richard Rodgers
past winner, eighth and final scoring nomination

A long-in-the-works adaptation of a Rodgers & Hart extravaganza that last played Broadway in 1936, Billy Rose's Jumbo is about a circus whose biggest attraction is its elephant, and whose biggest liability is the owner's gambling problem. Some really terrific songs, orchestrated to give the appropriate feel of a circus spectacular. Highlights include "Over and Over Again," "The Circus is On Parade," and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World."

Michel Magne
adapting the music of Jackie Gleason
first and only nomination

In a story he conceived, Jackie Gleason stars as a mute janitor in a Paris neighborhood who befriends the daughter of a prostitute. Nick Davis once wrote of William Hurt, "he seems privately, priggishly ecstatic about what a Sensitive Guy he is," a line I kept coming back to while watching Gleason at work here. Besides the basement set, the best thing about the movie is its score, beautifully French in that EPCOT way, doing most of the heavy lifting in regards to sentiment and whimsy. An album I'd buy!

Frank Perkins
adapting the music of Stephen Sondheim
first and only nomination

Adaptation of the 1959 Broadway smash, ostensibly about the life of exotic dancer Gypsy Rose Lee, but really about her showbiz-mother. Naturally, the highlights are "Rose's Turn," "Let Me Entertain You (Act II)," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," and "You Gotta Get a Gimmick," and since this is a scoring category, let's applaud the incidental music that makes "Let Me Entertain You" and "Some People" into recurring themes charting their rise and fall and rise and fall, as though both songs are constantly looping in Mama Rose's head.

The Music Man
Ray Heindorf
adapting the music of Meredith Willson
past two-time winner, 16th of seventeen nominations for scoring

Adaptation of the 1957 Tony Award winner, in which a conman tricks a town into paying to turn their boys into a marching band, not knowing that he has no skill or experience, just a handsome face and gilded tongue. Highlights include "76 Trombones," "Shipoopi," "Marian the Librarian," "Till There Was You," and so many others. Scoring works mostly as a stinger, sometimes using "76 Trombones" as underscoring, really brought to its fullest potential in a climactic chase sequence that uses every damn song in the score, giving everyone their own theme. 

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
Leigh Harline
adapting the music of Bob Merrill
past winner, seventh and final nomination for scoring

A musical adaptation of how the Brothers Grimm went from educational and biographical writing to the fairy tales we know and love, with three of their stories dramatized. Highlights include "Overture," "Ah-oom" and "The Gypsy Dance." Love Harline: a Disney veteran, he knows what fantasy-adventure sounds like.


As far as effective and memorable scoring goes - and that is, after all, what we're deciding here - I have to co-sign the Academy's decision and award my own vote to:


Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Supporting Actor: Ed Begley (Sweet Bird of Youth), Victor Buono (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?), Telly Savalas (Bird Man of Alcatraz), Omar Sharif (Lawrence of Arabia) and Terence Stamp (Billy Budd).
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