Monday, May 28, 2007

Film Scores

Terry Teachout ponders film scores and contemplates whether "any classic Hollywood comedy from the golden age [has] a great or even near-great musical score," a question asked by a reader. Alex Ross responds; both think no.

Carl Stalling, you guys. The great comic film scores are Looney Tunes, and I'm not talking about the Schoenberg, either.

Updates from Alex and Terry (at the original locations), and a question from Terry about Scott Bradley, whose work I evidently need to get to know. I have not seen a Tom & Jerry in decades.

I'm going to second their nomination of Korngold's score for The Adventures of Robin Hood as one of the great film scores, for one of the great films of the last century. It's an adventure film, true, but one with a smile and a laugh at its heart. I'd put it at least 50% in the realm of comedy.

Tim Hulsey and Marc Geelhoed have opinions on this subject too.


Anonymous said...

Good points by all.

The first great scores were for silent films (say, Alexander Nevsky) and that the soundtrack has to add dramatic heft when there is no action or dialogue to do the same. The best comedies of the "Golden Age" were wonders of scriptwriting, with barely a breath between scenes for anything but the barest of musical cues. (Looney Tunes have stretches of dialogue-less action that gives the film score the best chance to add to the action.)

Dramas, thrillers and adventure movies all have mood-setting opportunities which provide for some memorable scores. Comedies at best have set-piece scenes that can have good music if it doesn't have to stand back for the dialog. One of the best examples of this (no, it's not a masterpiece, just a good illustration) was Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines (1965), whose plot had lots of set-pieces with a pilot, his plane and no dialog, giving Ron Goodwin a chance to stretch the orchestra and provide good support.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, excellent points.

Terry is linking to a couple of other people who had comments.