Sunday, October 9, 2022

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1946: Original Score

Well, now that we've discussed most of the films screened, let us move on to the Academy Award nominees! Starting with Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, which includes two films up for Best Picture - and one film that must content itself with this lone nod:

Anna and the King of Siam
Bernard Herrmann
past winner, third of five nominations

It is funny to me that the western world came to agree on an "eastern" sound for music without having to incorporate instruments from the region. Herrmann's themes here play within that realm, of course, but they are no less effective for it - Herrmann is, after all, a master of his craft. Wakes you up during the main titles, moves you melancholically during Lady Thiang's monologue, and provides the proper stings for when the culture shocks really hit Anna. 

The Best Years of Our Lives
Hugo Friedhofer

Does what a movie score should do: underlines the emotions on screen without overwhelming the performances...or the picture! You can't call it unobtrusive exactly, but it does blend exceptionally well so that it's not the first thing you come away from the movie talking about. Distinct from other drama scores of the time, even of this year? I don't does, to me, feel like it's riding the coattails of the juggernaut.

Henry V
William Walton
first of two nominations

At first, it seeks to get you in that mindset of Elizabethan England and its streets, the woodwinds taking us to the past. It then gives us the hallmarks of proper epic scoring, culminating with the Battle of Agincourt at its suspenseful, steady drive, at parallel velocity with the horses as they ride and die in battle. The choir - triumphant, the angels blessing Henry. One is overwhelmed by the emotion of the moment already, but Walton's score guarantees that you feel the majesty of it.

Franz Waxman

This is an interesting nomination because the original music in Humoresque consists of variations on preexisting classical pieces, which I suppose counts as original, though the original themes are of course essential to the construction. And gosh, they're effective: I said before, his Tristan+Isolde had me rewinding that sequence almost immediately. A little something for the real hardcore music nerds/students.

The Killers
Miklós Rósza
previous winner, tenth of sixteen scoring nominations

An example of a movie score that introduced a memorable theme and did get credit for it! You and I and grandma know the Dragnet theme - even if we first heard it as the "Mathnet" theme from Square One - but it all started as the very official-sounding intro to a suspense score, a real spit on the sidewalk, walk through the dirty streets, rough a guy up score. There's tragedy here, brutality - you can hear it.


Oscar's winner was Friedhofer for The Best Years of Our Lives. At this point in the evening, it was only the second win for that film, following a triumph in Best Film Editing and a loss in Best Sound Recording (to The Jolson Story). This is where the steamroll really began.

But I am not part of that steamroll. My vote goes to:


Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Original Screenplay: The Blue Dahlia, Children of Paradise, Notorious, Road to Utopia, and The Seventh Veil.

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