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Star-crossed lovers must overcome pride, feuding families, societal classes and conventions, prior marriages or engagements, racial prejudice, cultural barriers, physical and mental illness, temporal and physical distance, wars, revolutions, and even death itself. Montague and Capulet supporters alike would agree that some of the most beautiful film music has been inspired by the very powerful force that is romantic love.

“I didn’t want to be born. You didn’t want me to be born. It’s been a calamity on both sides.” (Now, Voyager, 1942)

Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) defies her overbearing mother and goes on to discover love, heartbreak and eventual fulfillment. The fantastic and genial Max Steiner, the father of film composers, created one of his most lavishing masterpieces for this romantic psychological drama.

“I love you. I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I’ve even loved you before I saw you.” (A Place In The Sun, 1951)

One of the best love stories ever-rendered into glorious black and white film. Young, ambitious George Eastman (who is now in love with rich, gorgeous, and sophisticated society girl Angela Vickers) sees his promising future; dreams and fantasies crash due to the unexpected pregnancy of his former flame factory worker Alice Tripp. Some decisions have tragic consequences. Franz Waxman composed an exquisitely romantic score with sinister undertones, the perfect match for this tragic love story.

“You call yourself a free spirit, a wild thing, and you’re terrified somebody’s going to stick you in a cage. Well, baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself… It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.” (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961)

I love Audrey Hepburn’s soothing voice singing the breathtaking song “Moon River”.  It is hard to contain your emotions in the presence of a melody of such grace and beauty. Let the uplifting and transcendent score of the dream maker and heartbreaker Henry Mancini flow through us and inspire our spirits. Like a vessel adrift in a powerful musical river, “wherever you’re going I’m going your way.“

“I know everything I need to know about you. I love you. I know you’re good, and kind. I know you’re colored and I… And I think you’re beautiful!” (A Patch of Blue, 1965)

By judging one another based on the content of their characters, and placing the needs of the other before their own, selfless love transcends racism and prejudice in this touching, bittersweet, and heartbreaking inter-racial romance in the 1960s. It tells the love story of an uneducated abused blind white girl, and a kind well-educated black businessman.  Jerry Goldsmith beaded a gorgeous musical necklace for this wonderful and heart warming film.

“I shouldn’t admire it now. I should find it absurdly personal. Don’t you agree? Feelings, insights, affections … it’s suddenly trivial now. You don’t agree; you’re wrong. The personal life is dead in Russia. History has killed it.” (Doctor Zhivago, 1965)

Maurice Jarre crafted exquisite musical poetry that mends our souls. Verses of love and passion will always find admirers despite the poisonous doctrines and the incredible hardships imposed by oppressive regimes. The human spirit continues to endure and triumph, while the Bolshevik Revolution shrinks to a dark footnote in history.

“Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me… it brought me to you. And I’m thankful for that, Rose. I’m thankful. You must do me this honor. You must promise me that you’ll survive, that you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.” (Titanic, 1997)

James Horner glorious score is without doubt his crowning achievement. Celine Dion’s performance of “My Heart Goes On” still gives me goose bumps. The brief but enduring romance between a poor artist boy and a rich aristocrat girl aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic is certainly an inspirational story. James Cameron was truly “the king of the world” in 1997.

Love Titanic

Notable Romantic Film Tunes

City Lights (1931) – Charles Chaplin (previously featured in Comedy Tunes)

The Gay Divorcee (1934) – Max Steiner

Anthony Adverse (1936) – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Gone with the Wind (1939) – Max Steiner (previously featured in Epic Film Tunes)

Wuthering Heights (1939) – Alfred Newman

Dark Victory (1939) – Max Steiner

The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Franz Waxman

Now, Voyager (1942) – Max Steiner

Casablanca (1942) – Max Steiner

Kings Row (1942) – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Jane Eyre (1944) – Bernard Herrmann

Beauty and the Beast (1946) – Georges Auric

Forever Amber (1947) – David Raksin

The Adventures of Don Juan (1948) – Max Steiner

A Place in the Sun (1951) – Franz Waxman

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) – David Raksin

Moulin Rouge (1952) – Georges Auric, William Engvick

Roman Holiday (1953) – Georges Auric

Sabrina (1954) – Frederick Hollander

Summertime (1955) – Alessandro Cicognini

East of Eden (1955) – Leonard Rosenman

Picnic (1955) – George Duning

Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing (1955) – Alfred Newman

Peyton Place (1957) – Franz Waxman

An Affair To Remember (1957) – Hugo Friedhofer

A Summer Place (1959) – Max Steiner

The Apartment (1960) – Adolph Deutsch, “Theme from The Apartment” (originally “Jealous Lover”, 1949) by British composer Charles Williams

Summer and Smoke (1961) – Elmer Bernstein

Splendor in the Grass (1961) – David Amram

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Henry Mancini

Walk On The Wild Side (1962) – Elmer Bernstein

Charade (1963) – Henry Mancini

Cleopatra (1963)- Alex North

Doctor Zhivago (1965) – Maurice Jarre

A Patch of Blue (1965) – Jerry Goldsmith

Far From The Madding Crowd (1967) – Richard Rodney Bennett

Romeo and Juliet (1968) – Nino Rota

Love Story (1970) – Francis Lai

Wuthering Heights (1970) – Michel Legrand

Summer of 42′ (1971) – Michel Legrand

The Way We Were (1973) – Marvin Hamlisch

Somewhere In Time (1980) – John Barry

Romancing the Stone (1984) – Alan Silvestri

A Room with a View (1985) – Richard Robbins

Out of Africa (1985) – John Barry (previously featured in Epic Film Tunes)

St. Elmo’s Fire (1985) – David Foster

Dangerous Liaisons (1988) – George Fenton

Ghost (1990) “Unchained Melody” (originally from the film Unchained, 1955) by Alex North)

Howards End (1992) – Richard Robbins

Remains of the Day (1993) – Richard Robbins

The Piano (1993) – Michael Nyman

Much Ado About Nothing (1993) – Patrick Doyle

Age of Innocence (1993) – Elmer Bernstein

Forrest Gump (1994) – Alan Silvestri

Il Postino (1994) – Luis Enríquez Bacalov

The American President (1995) – Marc Shaiman

Sense And Sensibility (1995) – Patrick Doyle

The English Patient (1996) – Gabriel Yared

Emma (1996) – Rachel Portman

Titanic (1997)- James Horner

As Good as it Gets (1997) – Hans Zimmer

Life is Beautiful (1998)- Nicola Piovani

Shakespeare in Love (1998) – Stephen Warbeck

The Red Violin (1999) – John Corigliano

The Cider House Rules (1999) – Rachel Portman

Chocolat (2000) – Rachel Portman

Amelie (2001) – Yann Tiersen

Pearl Harbor (2001) – Hans Zimmer

Girl With A Pearl Earring (2003) – Alexandre Desplat

Pride & Prejudice (2005) – Dario Marianelli

Jane Eyre (2011) – Dario Marianelli

The Artist (2011) – Ludovic Bource (previously feature in Comedy Tunes)

Anna Karenina (2012) – Dario Marianelli

Romeo and Juliet (2013) – Abel Korzeniowski

During the 1940s and 50s, gifted directors together with Hollywood legends (Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden, Humphrey Bogart) crafted stylish crime dramas combining the following elements:

– a deceitful, manipulative, double-crossing, but extremely beautiful and sexually appealing lady (a “Femme Fatale”);

– a cynical, and ethically compromised male main character, usually (but not necessarily) a private eye, or a detective;

– a visual style that emphasizes black-and-white photography, high-contrast lighting, distorted shadows, dark city streets, cigarette smoke, and fog.

The French critic Nino Frank coined the term “Film Noir” in 1946 to describe these films.

 

Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) dramatically descends her grand staircase and, proving she has completed her plunge into a delusional state of mind, delivers the film’s most famous line: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” Sunset Boulevard (1950), one of the greatest films of American cinema, stands at the pinnacle of the “genre”. Franz Waxman composed a poetic, reflective and unforgettable score for the movie.

 

“Goodbye, Laura. Goodbye, my love.” Columnist Waldo Lydecker, police detective Mark McPherson, playboy Shelby Carpenter and every other man in the film will fall under the love spell (and eventually become obsessed with) the beautiful and highly successful advertising executive Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), or with her notorious portrait. Composed over one weekend by David Raksin, the exceptionally sophisticated and haunting title theme song “Laura” will become one of the most recorded and performed songs of the 20th century (lyrics by Johnny Mercer). It clearly has become one of the film’s most endurable legacies. Both Laura (1944) and Sunset Boulevard (above) were honored in 2005 as two of the top 25 film scores in the American Film Institute’s “100 Years of Film Scores” list.

 

“In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” (Written by Orson Welles to be delivered by his character Harry Lime). The Theme from The Third Man (1949) is simply brilliant, full of suspense, shadowy betrayal, and postwar fear. Anton Karas wrote and performed the score using only the zither (a string musical instrument). It was no cuckoo clock; it easily topped most international music charts in 1950.

 

“The Fault… is Not in Our Stars, But in Ourselves…” (William Shakespeare).

Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychoanalyst at a mental hospital in Vermont. She protects the identity of an amnesiac patient accused of murder. Miklós Rózsa bejeweled the famous dream sequence (designed by Salvador Dalí) of the film Spellbound (1945) with one of the most moving, thrilling, passionate and beautifully paranoid orchestral scores ever composed. Although the score won the Academy Award, Alfred Hitchcock didn’t like the music because “it got in the way of his direction” (quote from Rózsa).

 

Finally, I would like to highlight the scores from two late film noirs: Sweet Smell of Success (1957), and Touch of Evil (1958). Elmer Bernstein and Henry Mancini, two young and upcoming composers at the time, crafted these works of genius. Bernstein’s furious jazz and orchestral score done in collaboration with the Chico Hamilton Quintet is one of the top film music masterpieces in the 1950s.  Mancini’s crime jazz score is sinister, sleazy, swinging, and very cool.

 

 

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Notable Film Noir Scores

 

The Letter (1940)- Max Steiner

Rebecca (1940) – Franz Waxman

The Maltese Falcon (1941) – Adolph Deutsch

High Sierra (1941) – Adolph Deutsch

Laura (1944) – David Raksin

Double Indemnity (1944)  – Miklós Rózsa

Spellbound (1945) – Miklós Rózsa

The Lost Weekend – (1945) – Miklós Rózsa

Mildred Pierce (1945) – Max Steiner

The Big Sleep (1946) – Max Steiner

The Killers (1946) – Miklós Rózsa

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) – George Bassman

Dark Passage (1947) – Franz Waxman

Brute Force (1947) -Miklós Rózsa

Force of Evil (1948) – David Raksin

Key Largo (1948) – Max Steiner

The Third Man (1949) – Anton Karas

White Heat (1949) – Max Steiner

Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Franz Waxman

The Asphalt Jungle  (1950) – Miklós Rózsa

D.O.A (1950) – Dimitri Tiomkin

Strangers On A Train – (1951) – Dimitri Tiomkin

Suddenly (1954) – David Raksin

The Night Of The Hunter (1955) – Walter Schumann

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) – Frank DeVol

The Killing (1956) – Gerald Fried

Sweet Smell of Success (1957) – Elmer Bernstein

Touch of Evil (1958) – Henry Mancini