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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

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” (To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962)

Harper Lee’s uplifting and magnificent story, including the damaged (but pure-hearted) Arthur “Boo” Radley saving the children from Bob Ewel, and Atticus’ moral imperative to defend the vulnerable are all priceless gifts that give humanity some hope.  The utterly moving music created by the inspired maestro Elmer Bernstein catapults the film to heartbreakingly beautiful heights.

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” (Godfather, 1972)

The great film composer Nino Rota’s score is truly an offer no one can refuse. Prepare to be captivated by Italian folk themes, amazing instrumentation, and emotionally charged melodies that capture the amazingly complex moods of one of the best films of all time. Without doubt, it stands as one of the most beautiful and inspired instrumental scores ever written.

“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” (Chinatown, 1974)

Roman Polanski’s neo-noir is a stylish depiction of evil, greed, and corruption connected to land dealings and water rights’ disputes in California. The mysteriously haunting score composed by Jerry Goldsmith in only ten days is a perfect match for the film. Considered by many as one best scores of all time in great part due to the memorable mournful trumpet solos.

“You talkin’ to me?” (Taxi Driver, 1976)

Bernard Herrmann’s last film score was for Martin Scorsese’s brilliant portrait of urban alienation and decadence. The unforgettable jazzy and orchestral music is dark and ominous, strange and ethereal, subliminal and dissonant. It is the perfect companion for Travis Bickle descent into a nightmarish world of madness, delusion and violence.

“I tell you those voices soared, higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994)

‘Red’ (Morgan Freeman) and the other residents of Shawshank were unchained by the ‘Italian ladies’ singing “Canzonetta sull’ aria” (Mozart, “Le Nozze di Figaro”). Prepared to also fall in love with the haunting, dark and dramatic original piano music composed by Thomas Newman. The score is truly inspirational and a central element of this brilliant and miraculous story.

“The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay!” (Radio Show The Shadow, 1930). James Cagney would reply “that’s for yaps and small-timers on shoestrings” (Angels with Dirty Faces, 1938). As far as musical inspiration for great film composers go, the weed of crime does pay indeed.

Crime

Notable Crime Tunes

On the Waterfront (1954) – Leonard Bernstein

Perry Mason (1957 TV Series) – Fred Steiner

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – Elmer Bernstein

Dr. No (1962) “James Bond Theme” – Monty Norman, arranged by John Barry

The Pink Panther (1963) – Henry Mancini

Mission: Impossible (1966 TV series) – Lalo Schifrin

Wait Until Dark (1967) – Elmer Bernstein

Cool Hand Luke (1967) – Lalo Schifrin

Ironside (1967 TV series) – Quincy Jones

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) – Michel Legrand

The French Connection (1971) – Don Ellis

Dirty Harry (1971) – Lalo Schifrin

Klute (1971) – Michael Small

The Godfather (1972) – Nino Rota

Papillon (1973) – Jerry Goldsmith

Serpico (1973) – Mikis Theodorakis

The Sting (1973) – Marvin Hamlisch and Scott Joplin

Chinatown (1974) – Jerry Goldsmith

The Godfather: Part II (1974) – Nino Rota, Carmine Coppola

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) – David Shire

Night Moves – (1975) – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Midnight Express (1978) – Giorgio Moroder, “Chase”

Dressed to Kill, 1980 – Pino Donaggio

Body Heat (1981) – John Barrry

Blade Runner (1982) – Vangelis

Once Upon a Time in America (1984) – Ennio Morricone

Beverly Hills Cop (1984) – Harold Faltermeyer, “Axel F.”

Blue Velvet (1986) – Angelo Bedalamenti

Miller’s Crossing (1990) – Carter Burwell

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Howard Shore

Basic Instinct (1992) – Jerry Goldsmith

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Thomas Newman

Se7en – (1995) – Howard Shore

The Usual Suspects (1995) – John Ottman

Fargo (1996)  – Carter Burwell

Hamlet (1996) – Patrick Doyle

L.A. Confidential (1997) – Jerry Goldsmith

Dark City (1998) – Trevor Jones

Mulholland Drive (2001) – Angelo Badalamenti

Road to Perdition (2002) – Thomas Newman

Mystic River (2003) – Clint Eastwood

Sin City (2005) – Robert Rodriguez, assisted by John Debney & Graeme Revell

Zodiac (2007) – David Shire

Sherlock Holmes (2009) – Hans Zimmer, “Discombobulate”

The Town (2010) – Harry Gregson-Williams, David Buckley

Sherlock (2010 TV Series) – David Arnold

Drive (2011) – Cliff Martinez

Epic films are larger than life. They project into the movie screens with an aura of greatness what the human spirit is able to aspire to, and what it can ultimately is able to endure.

“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” (Gone with the Wind, 1939)

Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler turbulent love affair during the Civil War and Reconstruction is the most successful film in box-office history. Max Steiner’s haunting and spectacular “Tara’s Theme” is a true musical treasure, and one of the most famous melodies in film history. The score for which “the father of film music” is possibly best known, led to the conversion of many skeptics. The film producer David O. Selznick, who has previously been opposed to original film scores, turned into a true believer, as revealed by his well-known comment “really fine musicians are recognizing that scoring is a new form of musical art.”

“May God grant me vengeance, I pray that you live till I return” (Ben-Hur, 1959)

Miklos Rozsa blessed the ultimate Biblical epic with a powerful, magnificent, and glorious score. “Circus Parade (Parade Of The Charioteers)” during the chariot race is not only the climax of this blockbuster film, but also possibly the pinnacle of all epic film music. Watching this movie in the big screen is one of my childhood’s treasured cinematic memories.

“He was a poet, a scholar and a mighty warrior…He was also the most shameless exhibitionist since Barnum & Bailey” (Lawrence Of Arabia, 1962)

Maurice Jarre’s evocative, majestic and breathtaking score is a film and musical composition masterpiece. The sweeping, romantic, and exotic overture is epic on a grand scale. The melodic music mesmerizes you like the incredible power and vastness of the Arabian Desert.

“Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom You have shared with us. He brought us joy…we loved him well. He was not ours. He was not mine.” (Out Of Africa, 1985)

The inspiring, lavish, and all-encompassing music for this epic romantic drama film is one of the most memorable scores ever written. “Main Title (I Had A Farm In Africa)” is stunningly beautiful with gloomy undertones that are somehow emotionally over-whelming. Only a very skillful master like John Barry could conjure in melody the fundamental nature of Denys and Karen’s relationship. The composer of Somewhere in Time (1980) and Born Free (1966) had an incredible gift to transport us to other times, and to melodically depict the astounding African scenery “at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”

“So, your Holiness, now your priests are dead, and I am left alive. But in truth it is I who am dead, and they who live. For as always, your Holiness, the spirit of the dead will survive in the memory of the living.” (The Mission, 1986)

The film portrays the moral and spiritual conflicts faced by Jesuit priests converting natives of South America into Christianity, as they are confronted with the need to conform to Portuguese and Spanish politics of colonization and slavery. The natural beauties of the Iguazu pierced by a crucified priest flowing down the falls.  The ugliness of human sin and suffering transformed through religious penance into the beauty of liberation. A slave trader reading about charity and pure love in Corinthians Chapter 13, right before choosing to take up priesthood. Robert Bolt (a former Marxist) deciding to write the script of a stirring religious movie. An inspired Ennio Morricone producing exquisite acoustic splendor through violin and oboe. As Cardinal Altamirano, one has to see the hand of God in all these labors of love.

Although some may argued that the golden era of epic films has passed, I believed that as long as humans can hope, dream and love new epic masterpieces will continue to be forged. Don’t despair; new epic musical works of genius will continue to reach our ears and our hearts for years to come.Image

Notable Epic Film Scores

Captain Blood (1935) – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

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

Alexander Nevsky (1938) – Sergei Prokofiev

Gone with the Wind (1939) – Max Steiner

Henry V (1944) – William Walton

Ivan the Terrible (1944) – Sergei Prokofiev

Captain from Castile (1947) – Alfred Newman

Samson and Delilah (1949) – Victor Young

Quo Vadis (1951) – Miklós Rózsa

Ivanhoe (1952) – Miklós Rózsa

The Robe (1953) – Alfred Newman

Prince Valiant (1954) – Franz Waxman

The Ten Commandments (1956) – Elmer Bernstein

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) – Malcolm Arnold

Ben-Hur (1959) – Miklós Rózsa

Spartacus (1960) – Alex North

King of Kings (1961) – Miklós Rózsa

El Cid (1961) – Miklós Rózsa

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Maurice Jarre

Taras Bulba (1962) – Franz Waxman

Cleopatra (1963) – Alex North

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) – Dimitri Tiomkin

Becket (1964 film) – Laurence Rosenthal

Lord Jim (1965) – Bronislau Kaper

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) – Alfred Newman

Doctor Zhivago (1965) – Maurice Jarre

A Man For All Seasons (1966) – Georges de la Rue

War and Peace (1966) – Nino Rota

The Lion in the Winter (1968) – John Barry

Ryan’s Daughter (1970) – Maurice Jarre

Papillon (1973) – Jerry Goldsmith

The Wind and the Lion (1973) – Jerry Goldsmith

Barry Lyndon (1975) – “Sarabande” from Suite in D minor (HWV 437) by George Frideric Handel

Gandhi (1982) – George Fenton, Ravi Shankar

A Passage To India (1984) – Maurice Jarre

Out of Africa (1985) – John Barry

Henry V (1989) – Patrick Doyle

1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) – Vangelis

Braveheart (1995) – James Horner

The English Patient (1996) – Gabriel Yared

Titanic (1997) – James Horner

Joan of Arc (1999) – Éric Serra

The 13th Warrior (1999) – Jerry Goldsmith “”Valhalla”

Gladiator (2000) – Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard

The Passion of The Christ (2004) – John Debney

Troy (2004) – James Horner (replacement score) / Gabriel Jarred (rejected score)

Alexander (2004) – Vangelis

Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – Harry Gregson-Williams

The Painted Veil (2006) – Alexandre Desplat

Tristan & Isolde (2006) – Anne Dudley

Atonement (2008) – Dario Marianelli

Australia (2008) – David Hirschfelder