Monday, November 16, 2009

My favorites: Film score and composer - what are yours?

Notice how the title of the post is singular - film score and composers, rather than the plural film scores and composers.

That's quite deliberate. Some time back I thought about authoring a post listing my 10 favorite film scores and some of my favorite composers. A truly comprehensive, well-considered list would take some time, however. so that list will have to wait for a future date - if, indeed, I can ever settle on THE 10 greatest scores.

I WILL say however, that picking out my favorite film score and composer is beyond easy. My favorite score is the one for what is probably my favorite film, Vertigo, and the composer is the legendary Bernard Herrmann.
Here's the theme from it:

But my favorite piece from the film is the "Scene d'Amour," with Kim Novak's achingly beautiful reveal, as seen here (NOTE: DO NOT watch this if you have not seen the film - it contains major spoilers).

Ah, but that's still not my favorite piece of Herrmann music. And no, it's not the shower music from Psycho, brilliant as that is. That's the most INFLUENTIAL piece of film music, but it's not my favorite. My favorite film theme - the one that I dream of conducting in front of an orchestra someday - is the theme to Hitchcock's North By Northwest. Just thinking about it thrills and exhausts me.

And just think: None of Herrmann's Hitchcock scores - not a single one - was ever even NOMINATED for an Oscar. That, to me, is the Academy's most galling oversight.  (Herrmann did win an Oscar for The Devil and Daniel Webster, but still ...)

Finally, here's the clip that prompted me to write this post: a VERY nifty collection of Herrmann scores that serves well to remind us he wasn't just Hitchcock's guy.

So what are your favorite Herrmann scores? For that matter, who are your favorite film composers and what are your favorite film scores? Let's turn this into a REAL free-for-all! Comment away! 


ME said...

It's hard for me to list anyone else. Hermann is the best! I think all the movies you mentioned are at the top of his work.
Another film with great composing of the day is How to Marry a Millionaire - Alfred Newman which is Randy Newman's uncle, which is a fantastic movie musician of today!

Allison Dickson said...

Herrmann is definitely in my Top 3 favorite composers, followed by Thomas Newman (his recent work on Wall-E is brilliant as well as the score for American Beauty and The Shawshank Redemption).

I love Phillip Glass, particularly for the work he did on The Truman Show (along with Burkhard Dalwitz, of course).

One of my favorite recent scores is the one from There Will Be Blood by Jonny Greenwood. Brilliant. I love heavy strings, and the off-kilter percussion made it one of the most memorable pieces of movie music I'd ever heard. I hate that the Academy's weird rules regarding original scores kept it from being nominated.

Scott Copeland said...

Since I agree with the Hermann love, let me post a more recent choice.

I have worn out my copy of Philip Glass' score for The Fog of War. That and Wall-E are the two scores I've listened to most in the past year.