Thursday, July 20, 2023

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1948: Best Score

The nominees for Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture consist of four Best Picture nominees and Joan of Arc. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre did not make it here, though its composer, Max Steiner, was nominated for Johnny Belinda. And only one composer was showing up for the first time - and wound up winning! The nominees:

William Walton
second and final nomination

Here Walton uses diegetic sources (the players' accompanists), subtly weaving in his own underscore until it overtakes, the familiar, stereotypical medieval music suddenly overtaken, the drama of the play within the play overtaken by the King's outburst. Walton's a master at this throughout, a perfect complement to Olivier's own medieval modernity.

Hugo Friedhofer

Everything is here: the theme slowly building into a holy chorale until it transcends into something haunting and comforting - the music must be the Voice of God in this scene, and it is...beautifully so. 

Johnny Belinda
Max Steiner

A very Steiner score (the opening titles music is very reminiscent of some of his Gone with the Wind stuff), and who doesn't like that? Serves its purpose.

The Red Shoes
Brian Easdale
only nomination; Golden Globe winner for Best Score

This is what it's all about, and dammit, Easdale delivers. This is music that would make a career, hypnotic, playful, eerie...

The Snake Pit
Alfred Newman

Not unpredictable, but what it needs to be - he doesn't overshadow the action, just punctuates it.


The Oscar went to The Red Shoes, making Brian Easdale the first British composer to win an Oscar. But we can see I like the score for Joan of Arc just as much. Which way to vote? Finally:

composed by

Tomorrow, the nominees for Best Actress: Ingrid Bergman (Joan of Arc), Olivia de Havilland (The Snake Pit), Irene Dunne (I Remember Mama), Barbara Stanwyck (Sorry, Wrong Number), and Jane Wyman (Johnny Belinda).

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