When composer Alfred Newman conducted the music for the title song of the classic, Anastasia (1956), his obvious choice to get onboard was crooner Pat Boon. The iconic singer infused a mystic romanticism to the song, Anastasia, with a rivulet like flow. And the effect was mesmerising. The song was not only a chartbuster, it also became a cult classic.
Once while talking about the grand old musicals of Hollywood, Steven Spielberg famously said, “I may have directed memorable films, but I could never create a Come September or The Sound of Music. They remain a class apart in the history of international cinema.” Going by this rare-known statement of the filmmaker, one has to also admit that such films are seldom made any longer.
Directors who presently rule the roost in Hollywood like Martin Scorsese or Christopher Nolan are undoubtedly brilliant. Yet, this generation is leagues behind a Victor Flaming, David Lean or Robert Mulligan in their limited sense of music. However, there are Grammy and Oscar winners even now, quite like a La La Land. Sadly, there is no Maurice Jarr or a Sonny Burk.
Going down memory lane, an unknown incident crops up in creative minds. Whilst composing the music of Gone With The Wind, Max Steiner was in two minds about the usage of violins and cellos. He wanted to opt for bass and twelve string guitars. As he discussed this further with his musicians, and after thoroughly reading the original script, Max understood that he was wrong. So, he used violins, cellos, and the piano instead, creating ideal musical effects.
Hans J. Salter, the music director of Come September, left it to Bobby Darin to create the lilting title music and the song Multiplication. Bobby lived up to his reputation and created musical history. Malcolm Arnold used a whistling in The Bridge on the River Kwaii quite effectively. It contributed for an inspirational mood to the British prisoners of war.
There was a sublime essence about film music of the ’50s, and early ’70s. According to Sir Alan Parker “Edelweiss of The Sound of Music, has a unique freshness and romanticism. Every song of the grand musical composed by Richard Rodgers is immortal.” Chim Chim Cher-ee of Mary Poppins also became very popular because of its melody.
David Lean’s combination with Maurice Jarre created film music history with Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago and Ryan’s Daughter. The faultless use of the horns sections for the little score of Lawrence of Arabia was peerless. Mandolins, and piano accompanied with violins and cellos made Lara’s Theme, from Doctor Zhivago, legion. The English flute with clarionet and piccolo counters for Ryan’s Daughter’s theme music made it a connoisseur’s delight. Popular composer Lalo Schifrin termed it a lesson for music directors.
Francis Ford Coppola possibly has the most sharp sense of music amongst his contemporaries. His teaming with maestro Nino Rota for The Godfather gave film music a new dimension. The song Speak Softly Love which musically explains the romance of Michael Corlone and Apollina, is an all-time favourite. String and wind instruments were most effectively used for the music.
If From Russia with Love’s title song earned Satyajit Ray praise, noted singer Daliah Lavi never sang a single number in Lord Jim. The reputed singer of My World Can Be Your World just acted in the film well enough to match the versatile Peter O’ Toole. Sophia Loren’s sonorous voice had Peter Sellers fall in love with her.
Musical memories remain sweet nostalgia for countless cine admirers the world over. And as Coppola rightly stated, “Music is the soul of any film be it a background score or song.”...