Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Overlooked at the Oscars (Well, Underlooked Anyway) Part 3

From the time I first loved movies, the musical scores have always played a large part in my admiration for a film.  Over the years I kept a mental list of the scores I loved the best, music that moved and thrilled me. Eventually, when I became interested enough in what went on behind the camera to see who did what, I had a revelation -- every single one of my favorites were written by Bernard Herrmann.   I also love Elmer Bernstein, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklos Rosza and other greats.  But there was always something about Herrmann that caught at my heart and mind before I even knew who he was.  He was the ultimate romantic, his music lush and gorgeous.

This picture of Herrmann is taken from his cameo in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.
He did win one Oscar in 1942, for The Devil and Daniel Webster.  It was a good score, but after that, Herrmann never won another Oscar.  This is the man who composed incredible music for so many great and popular movies, much of it music that is well-known -- Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Citizen KaneThe Day the Earth Stood Still, Fahrenheit 451, Jane Eyre, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Herrmann's personal favorite), and many more.  Herrmann was a ground-breaker as well as a classical composer.  The Day the Earth Stood Still stands out with instruments and sounds that became standard for science fiction movies.  At the end of his career, Herrmann composed a marvelous, jazzy, dark score for Taxi Driver, music quite different from his previous work, and it was perfect for that movie.  He died right after he recorded the soundtrack for the studio.

So, I suppose he was not totally overlooked at the Oscars, but I think he should have won enough Oscars to cover every coffee table in his home.  I will never understand the thinking of the voters during his career.  Herrmann was a giant in the movie industry, and was treated like Tom Thumb by the Oscars.  I thought some of my readers might enjoy hearing some of my favorites by Herrmann, so I have posted some really good pieces, most of which are 2-3 minutes long.  Wonderful stuff...


Fahrenheit 451




Jane Eyre




Citizen Kane




The Ghost and Mrs. Muir




The Day the Earth Stood Still




Taxi Driver




20 comments:

  1. Herrmann was indeed a fabulous crafter of movie scores. Besides the ones you listed, I'm also partial to his grand, bombastic scores for the handful of classic Harryhausen films, from THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.

    Glad to see you getting back into the blogging game, Becky! Happy New Year to you and yours!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh you are so right about the Harryhausen films! Another score he did of a similar type movie is also a favorite -- Journey to the Center of the Earth. That wonderful descending organ bass...thrillling. Happy New Year to you too, Jeff!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Herrmann is wonderful! More than a year ago I also highlited some of his movie scores. I've never watched The Devil and Daniel Webster, but in all the other films, his music is one of the main attractions. I especially like The Bride wore Black, directed by François Truffaut.
    Happy New Year!
    Kisses!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to see you, Le! I'd like to read your article on Herrmann. I'll search for it ... I've never seen The Bride Wore Black, and I hope to sometime soon if I can find it.

      Delete
  4. Hi Becky. This is my first visit to your site, but I can tell you, it won't be my last. I hope your time away from blogging has been rejuvenating and that you will be around more regularly in this new year.

    A score certainly adds so much to a film. Sometimes, the score is what makes a film even more beloved to me. One of my absolute faves is from "Now, Voyager."

    These audio clips you included are lovely. I especially like "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."

    The Academy didn't always get it right, did they? They often overlooked actors and actresses, sometimes not even giving nominations (let alone the win!) for absolutely brilliant work, so it's not surprising that Bernard Hermann didn't get his due either.

    Happy new year to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, Voyager is definitely a hightlight for Herrmann. Wonderful music ... you are quite right how often the Academy seems totally clueless about really great performances in every field. Well, we know what's good! Glad you came by, Patti.

      Delete
  5. I didn't realize Bernard Hermann was involved with all these movies – he certainly was a talented man. Thanks for this tribute!

    P.S. I just borrowed "The Ghost & Mrs Muir" from some relatives; I admit I've never seen it before. I'll be paying even closer attention to the score, now that I've ready your post. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boy, do you have a treat coming with your first-time with The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I'd love to know what you think of it. It's one of my top all-time favorites. It is hard to believe how many great scores Herrmann did. What a talent!

      Delete
  6. Herrmann was a master as were some of the others you mentioned. The OSCARS have always been bogus and rarely a good barometer for what is or was great. Too political and too commercial so his being mistreated by the Academy only means he is in good company.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too true, John ... Herrmann is just one of many who were passed over because of politics. I think the movies, especially the classics, have given American movies a great and unique treasure of music. Thanks for coming over!

      Delete
  7. Love the selections you chose, Becky. It is hard for me to even imagine that Bernard Herrmann didn't win Oscars for "Citizen Kane," "Vertigo," "N by NW," "Psycho" and "Taxi Driver." You are so right, there should've been Oscars covering every coffee table in his (hopefully very large) house.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If I had tried to provide clips to all of the scores I love, my post would have been 3 pages long

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wonderful as always Becky. Glad you are doing what you are great at - discussing movies, themes, actors etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to see you here, you old bag ... since you're my sister I feel free to be appropriately mean! Thanks so much for your compliment -- means a great deal to me.

      Delete
  10. While I love the Oscars, I am always gritting my teeth over the overlooked! I expect that Leonardo will get overlooked for Gatsby this year and that will set my teeth on edge again! Wonderful to see you back, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I know what you mean about expecting a great performance to win and grinding your teeth when an inferior one gets it! Thanks for welcoming me back, Chick!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The quality of Herrmann's work compared to the number of nominations received from the Academy could garner him the nickname of the Edward G. Robinson of composers.

    What a treat to listen to the clips you chose to remind us of what a treasure we have in Bernard Herrmann's film scores.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Becky, I couldn't agree with you more about Herrmann not getting his due at the Academy Awards. My faves of his are: THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, THE DAY THE EARTH THE STOOD STILL, and--best of all--VERTIGO. His falling out with Hitchcock was so sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vertigo is such a special score it kind of stands by itself, doesn't it? I agree about the Hitchcock debacle ... too much ego, such a loss!

      Delete
  14. I'm so glad you liked the clips, CW ... they are all hauntingly beautiful. You gave me a good laugh with "Edward G. Robinson of composers"! There's another definite overlooked at the oscars!

    ReplyDelete