Tuesday, June 23, 2015

For the Love of a Princess

Every time I start to write something more meaningful than just how hard Horner's death has hit me, I... can't.  Not yet. But I have been listening to music.  There's an online movie music station that has been streaming Horner scores all day.  I've been listening while at work, and mostly handling it okay (the station appears to have a limited selection of CDs), and then a cue will start that completely undoes me.

This was one.

I wore the score to Braveheart out many years ago, and I don't think I've listened to it in since then.  This was always my favorite cue, and the sheer emotion of it just got to me.  (I do find it interesting looking at in which scores my favorite cue is a quiet one, and which ones it's an action one.)

Monday, June 22, 2015


I decided to check the news before I went to bed, and I found out James Horner died today in a plane crash. You know how there's some things you just can't process? This was one of them. I can't say it's fully sunk in yet, but I've been crying now for a half hour, so, I guess this is real. He is gone too soon, too young. Damn it, this hurts.

After Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner is the next most influential film score composer on my life. His music has been part of my life since Star Trek II came out in the theater, and it has never gone away. There isn't a week that goes by where I don't listen to something of his. These past couple weeks, it's been his wonderful score to The Wolf Totem, a score I haven't been able to get enough of.

My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and all my fellow fans and listeners. Farewell and RIP, James Horner. Your music meant more to me than you can know.

I can't listen to a film score yet, this is too raw of a hurt, but this piece feels right.

I can't fathom this. It's too heartbreaking. And I can't stop crying.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Goldsmith scores - quick reviews - 'C' - part two

Of these, I've only seen Chinatown.

Chain Reaction (1996) - I own the CD, but it is still unopened.  I have to keep a few CDs unlistened to for a rainy day!  This is one of them.

The Chairman (1969) - This score has one of my absolute favorite main titles of all time.  Unfortunately, I can't say I'm all that enamored of the rest of the score, though it still gets a fair amount of play time, because it's good writing music.  I love the themes in the main title, but they don't figure into the score much, so I always finish listening to this score slightly disappointed.  But the main title will always remain one of my favorites.

The Challenge (1982) - A good but not great score.  Interesting that it follows Chairman alphabetically, because I had the two of them paired on a playlist, as they are a good match with the Asian themes.  This is another score that is good for writing, but I don't really listen to it on its own.

Chinatown (1974) - Probably my favorite of the scores on this page, though I don't listen to it all that frequently.  It's one I think I'm confusing with another score, as I always think I don't like this one, then I listen to it, and am like, but wait, this score is great!  Nicely noir, but not all that dark.

City of Fear (1959) - creepy, dark, noirish score.  Way darker than Chinatown.  I should probably listen to this one more than I do.  It's quite cool.

Here's the main title to The Chairman.  The very first time I heard this, when it hit the part that starts at about 2:00 minutes, I burst into tears because I wasn't expecting that full version of the theme after the quiet lead-in, and it was so beautiful.  What's that the kids say these days?  It hit me right in the feels?  Strangest phrase ever.  LOL.  (And yes, music often makes me cry.)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Not-Your-Average Disney Tag

How fun!  Hamlette tagged me for this.  Disney movies, The Wonderful World of Disney (tv show), and Disneyland were such formative factors in my life!  My mom has been going to Disneyland since the very first week it opened.  I remember E tickets, and the first time we went to the park with this pass my aunt got that enabled us to go on all rides, all day, no tickets.  I remember attending Disneyland's 25th Anniversary (ye gods, they are currently celebrating their 60th this year!) which was very very special at the time.  I still have a bag with the 25th Anniversary logo design on it that I've kept all these years, for no good reason whatsoever.

I know when most people think Disney, they think the animated movies... but I grew up on so much live-action Disney, where the Disney animated movies we saw were only a handful.  So my first Disney thoughts still run to live-action.

#1:  Favorite Disney movie of all time?
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).  It's been my favorite since I was a kid.

#2:  Favorite Disney character?
Oh man...  Erm.  It's probably a tie between Tonto (The Lone Ranger) and Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean).

#3:  First Disney movie seen in cinemas?
I have no idea whatsoever.  Most likely Fantasia or Pinocchio or 20,000 Leagues.  They re-released a lot of the classics while I was growing up.  Of first run Disney movies ...(runs off to check list of Disney movies and when they came out...)  Okay, it was most likely The Rescuers (1977).

#4:  What Disney item do you collect the most?
Anything from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Stills, posters, etc.  And The Lone Ranger merchandise.  Have tons from that as well.

#5:  What is your favorite Disney song?
Whale of a Tale, of course!  (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

Though, I admit I really really love listening to Sean Connery sing in Darby O'Gill and the Little People.  Never gets old.

#6:  Which Disney voice actor would you most like to meet?
Peter Ustinov!  (From the animated Robin Hood) Because... Peter Ustinov!  (And besides, his Prince John remains one of my favorite Disney animated characters.)

#7:  Favorite Disney movie that is not a classic?
The Jungle Book (1994, not the animated version) or Dragonslayer (1981).  Love them both.  The former has Sam Neill, and John Cleese, and Cary Elwes, and was also the first thing I saw Lena Headey in.  I have never seen the animated Jungle Book film, nor do I have any desire to, but I love this movie so much.  It's beautiful and fun and serious and full of adventure.  I love the plot, love Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli, and, it's one of my favorite Sam Neill roles, not to mention it has a great score by Basil Poledouris.

Dragonslayer is dark, more adult Disney, but it remains one of the best dragon movies, with a great twisty plot.  I love Caitlin Clarke as Valerian, and Sir Ralph Richardson as the wizard is just brilliant.  The only thing I'm not fond of in this movie is the score.  I'm afraid I have never been a fan of Alex North.

#8:  Flounder, Sebastian, or Scuttle?
Who?  (I'm guessing from others who have done this tag that they are characters from The Little Mermaid.  Alas, that's probably my least favorite Disney animated movie, so none of them.)

#9:  Saddest moment in a Disney movie?
Dumbo, "Baby Mine." If I don’t walk out of the room before that scene starts, I will bawl buckets.  I get teary just thinking about it. 

#10:  Which Disney princess has the best sidekicks?
Snow White!  She gets the seven dwarfs.

Bonus question:  Of the lesser known Disney movies, what one would you recommend?
The Rocketeer. It's such old-fashioned, delightful fun.

I'm not going to tag anyone, because most of the bloggers I follow have already done this, but if you love Disney, I'd love to see what your favorites are!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sir Christopher Lee

Very sad news today.  Thanks for so many fabulous roles over the years. From the famous ones -- James Bond, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Dracula -- to the lesser known movies... I haven't seen a film his presence didn't improve.  Rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Goldsmith scores - quick reviews - 'C' - part one

Now, here's four scores I love love LOVE... and I haven't seen any of these films (or television show, in the case of Cain's Hundred)! 

Caboblanco (1980) - Great Spanish-flavored score, (and a good listening pairing with Breakout).  I wore this one out some years back, and so don't listen to it as much as I used to, but it still a great score.  Favorite cue:  "The Final Act Begins."

Cain's Hundred (1961-62) - love this one.  Have not listened to it much because I'm saving it.  I am a huge fan of Goldsmith's early 60's sound.  It greatly appeals to my inner self, and Cain's Hundred reminds me a lot of Goldsmith's score to The Stripper (1963).  They both have the same feel, the same emotional resonance, and that sound just never gets old for me.  Favorite cue is probably just the theme from the show.

Capricorn One (1977) - One of the first famous Goldsmith "action" scores I listened to, back on LP.  Favorite cue:  "Breakout," of course.  Bring it on!  Though I'm also really fond of "Kay's Theme."  The two were back-to-back on the original album, and I always liked the contrast.  All the old LPs seemed to have the same pattern.  The first side would end with an amazing action cue, and side B would begin with a version of the love theme.  It was awesome.

Cassandra Crossing (1976) - This one and Rio Conchos are probably my two most-played Goldsmth scores of all time.  It would be no coincidence that both of these scores match my mood a lot, if that makes any sense at all.  It's one of the things that has always attracted me to Goldsmith's music over every other film composer:  I find a mirror of my inner self in his scores.  No one else's music does that (except classical composer Ralph Vaughn Williams), and Cassandra Crossing's score is me.  This is a score I don't write to, mostly because I sing along with it and I can't write to things I want to sing along with.  (Yes, I sing along with stuff that isn't particularly singable.)  Favorite cue:  "Helicopter Rescue."

None of these are really on youtube, but here's the awesome end credits from Cain's Hundred.

Monday, June 08, 2015

"Yeah, man, but it's a dry heat!"

Today is the first day of serious, genuine summer heat this year.  I was up at 7 for my jog, and it was already too hot.  It's over 100 today.  My struggling A/C is not working all that well today (while still costing me a fortune in electricity), so it's up to 87 in the living room already, while my bedroom is up to 94 (it gets sun on three walls... alllllll daaaaayyyy lonnnnnng, sunup to sundown.  Nothing can keep that room cool).  Made working from home a tad uncomfortable.  Cats are all flaked out on the tile floor... might be joining them. 

Heat makes me ancy.  So, I started thinking about movie quotes.  (As one does in broiling weather.  "It must be the heat!")  And not quotes about heat, despite evidence to the contrary.  No, I was thinking about quote length.  Most of what my family quotes on a daily basis is short stuff.  A line or two.  But occasionally, we get going.  Really going.

Like, once upon a time, I could quote all the speeches from Henry V... that's the Ken Branagh movie version of the speeches, not the full Shakespeare ones, cuz it was the movie I was in love with. "Upon the king..." was always my favorite.  But time's slipped by, and I've forgotten my Henry V.  Alas and alack.

So, what do I quote, in full, with regular frequency?

Well, I can do this scene in my sleep...

Nemo: "I asked you to leave, Professor."
Aronnax: "You also asked me ashore today, to show me man's inhumanity to man. Why?  To justify this?  You're not only a murderer, you're a hypocrite. The proof lies out there!"
Nemo:  "You call that murder? Well, I see murder too, not written in those drowned faces out there but the faces of dead thousands.  There are the assassins, the dealers in death, I am the avenger.  Is murder a right reserved for that hated nation that has taken everything from me, everything but the secret of this boat and the energy that propels it... they tried, they cast me into prison and when they failed... when they failed, they tortured my wife and young son to death.  Do you know the power of love, Professor?"
Aronnax: "Yes, I believe that I do."
Nemo: "What you fail to understand is the power of hate.  It can fill the heart as surely as love can."
Aronnax: "I'm sorry for you.  It is a bitter substitute."

Er... yes, a bit dark, but it's burned everlastingly in my memory (another quote for the same movie).  It's from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a great, powerful scene between Professor Aronnax and Captain Nemo.  Disney isn't all kittens and puppies, I'm afraid. 

On a lighter side, I can also do this one from the John Wayne Western, Rio Lobo:

Solider: "Captain!  Which direction you think that yank's taking us?"
Cordona: "South.  I can't see the stars, but we should be heading south."
Soldier: "Well, you're wrong, Captain.  Which side of a tree do you think moss grows on?"
Cordona:  "The north side."
Soldier: "Well, the moss is on this side, and right now, we're going north."
McNally: "Sure, we're going north.  Half of Sheridan's army is south of here.  Only way to go is around ''em.  I don't know if I can get you through... but it's your idea, captain, and you're stuck with it."
Cordona: "You better not be trying something, Colonel.  You might be sorry for it.  Lead on."

Which is probably the most random scene to have memorized ever, except -- those lines are spoken over one of my favorite Jerry Goldsmith cues from that movie.  I recorded it off television so I could listen to the music, and the dialogue came with it.  It took another twenty-five years after I recorded that on my cassette tape before a real CD finally came out, and now, doesn't it figure, I can't hear that cue without having to fill the missing dialogue in myself.

Then probably the longest scene I can think of, that my sister and I can do anytime, anywhere, in stereo...

One - down at the roadblock, we've just begun
Two - the guards are through
Three - the major's men are on a spree
Four - the major and Wladislaw go through the door
Five - Pinkley stays out in the drive
Six - The major gives the rope a fix
Seven - Wladislaw throws the hook into heaven
Eight - Mayonnaise has got a date
Nine - The other guys go up the line
Ten - Sawyer and Gilpen are in the pen
Eleven - Posey guards points five and seven
Twelve - the major and Wladislaw go down to the delve

 And where's Donald Duck?
 Donald Duck's down at the crossroads with a machine gun
 And he better not be asleep or we'll all be in trouble!

Thirteen - Franko goes up without being seen
Fourteen - Zero hour
Mayonnaise cuts the cable, Franko cuts the phone
Fifteen - Franko goes in where the others have been
Sixteen - We all come out like it's Halloween
And shoot every officer in sight.
Ours or theirs?
Let's start out with theirs, huh?  Okay, let's take it from the top without all the ad libs...  One - Down at the roadblock we've just begun....

and so on and so forth.  Sometimes we quote the later version, "Gilpen's got a date?" because we can.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Goldsmith scores - quick reviews - 'B' - part three

Breakout (1975) - I think anytime the word "breakout" is used in any Goldsmith score, it means you're in for something great.  It's like a code word for great Goldsmith music about to happen...  Anyway, I love this score, and it gets played a lot.  Great Spanish-flavored score, with a nice mix of slow romance and action.  Favorite cue is "Breakout Part 2/Here They Come."  I love that cue so much I played it twice in row, cuz once isn't enough.

The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970) - This one I've only heard once previously.  Quite the mixed sound in this one.  Downright creepy half the time, but also has some traditional classical cues in a baroque style, but with a jazzy undertone that's quite fascinating.  Overall it has a very nervous, paranoid sound that will probably be good for writing, but I have not needed that sound yet, so it will be saved for a rainy day.  No favorite cue yet.

The 'Burbs (1989) - Delightful score!  Fun stuff here, but I love it cuz it never quite falls into silly.   Just stays fun.  Favorite cue: "Klopek House," of course, with it's delightful Western theme and ricocheting bullet sound effects.

Of these films, I've only seen Breakout.

Can't find any of my favorite cues on youtube, so here's the end credits from The 'Burbs.  The theme I particularly like starts about a minute in, then goes right into the Patton-esque theme right after.  Dig it all!  This score makes me grin.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Goldsmith scores - quick reviews - 'B' - part two

Wow, the "B"s provide some pretty spectacular scores, and there's more upcoming tomorrow.

Basic Instinct (1992) - A favorite since it came out. Great score, very atmospheric.  I play this one a lot, for both listening and writing.  Favorite cue:  Main Title. 

The Blue Max (1966) - Absolutely fantastic score!!  One of my all-time favorites.  Could probably listen to this one every day and never tire of it.  Not enough superlatives exist to encompass my love for this soundtrack.  It's beautiful, haunting, soaring, and has some fantastic aerial dogfight music.  Favorite cues... (besides the whole score???) "Attack" and "Retreat" are the cues I wait for the most.  And "A New Arrival."

The Boys from Brazil (1978) - I used to listen to this one all the time.  I had the LP and nearly wore it out.  I don't listen to it regularly any more, but I still really like it, with its deceptively cheerful waltzing theme.  Because I listened to that LP so much, I'm still partial to that short version, even though I own the expanded version as well.  Favorite cue: I admit I'm partial to the side A suite from the LP.  It's long and covers all the bases.

Breakheart Pass (1975) - Also a long-time favorite.  This one gets a lot of play time.  Great Western train music.  This is a quite upbeat Western score, not dark, and it's great to put on in the morning to get revved up for the day.  Favorite cue:  "Breakheart Pass," I just adore how music can capture the feel of a train, and this cue in particular thrills me.

Of these movies, I've seen Basic Instinct, The Boys from Brazil, and Breakheart Pass.  I've seen parts of Blue Max, but it's one of those films that I love the score to so much, I don't want to see the movie and get the movie images in my head instead of the ones I have. 

The following two youtube videos are the main titles from Blue Max and Breakheart Pass.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Goldsmith scores - quick reviews - 'B' - part one

Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985) - I need to listen to this one more often.  I really dig this score but tend to overlook it.  Sweet theme, nice action music that is reminiscent of his King Solomon's Mines score (also 1985, so no coincidence).

Bad Girls (1994) - Modern Western score that I listen to occasionally.  Has a nice mix of action, emotion, and gentle. Solid, but not a favorite.  Favorite cue: "Ambush."

Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) - This gets played very rarely.  I do like some of the themes, and it's got some nice moments, but overall it's twangy and quirky and just not my type of music.  Favorite cue: "The Guest."

Bandolero! - (1968) - A long-time top favorite that gets a LOT of play time by me.  Very solid Western score with a great main title.  There's no cue in this one I don't like, but I have always been particularly fond of "Across the River."

Monday, June 01, 2015

Goldsmith scores - quick reviews - 'A'

Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies (1973) - A mostly light and kind of silly score.  This is only the second time I've listened to it, and alas, it doesn't hold much appeal for me.  No favorite cues.

Air Force One (1997) - I've never been able to get into this score.  You think I'd like it, lots of action, but other than a brief Russian theme, this score is ultimately forgettable.  No favorite cues.

Alien (1979) - Of the four scores I listened today, this is the one I know and like the best.  This a good writing score, when I need something dark and creepy.  I have two versions of this, the original album and the complete.  I usually write to the complete version, but listen to the short album when just in the mood to hear it.  Favorite cue:  "The Landing."

Alien Nation (1988) - A rejected score.  Why anyone rejects a Jerry Goldsmith score is beyond me.  This is one I listen to rarely, but it has some stuff I like in it.  Favorite cue:  "Got a match?"

Of these four movies, I've only seen Alien, so can't speak to how any of the others fit (or would have fit) the films they were written for.  Alien, despite its production conflicts regarding the score, would not be half as effective without that music.

But why is the rum gone?

Part of the reason I haven't been posting much lately is that I'm just not watching any movies right now.  I used to watch several movies a week, and now... maybe a couple a month?  And those have either been re-watches, or not been worth writing about, for the most part.  I'm also burnt out from work, and from sitting in front of a computer all day, and the last thing I want to do in the evening is sit on the couch some more.  I'm done sitting!

Instead of watching movies, I've been listening to movie soundtracks.  This lets me stay up and active around the house - cleaning, exercising, playing with the cats, anything but sitting - but still enjoy one of the things I love most in life.  I recently decided to run through all my Jerry Goldsmith scores, A-Z.  Like most of us, I tend to get stuck in ruts, and I've got twenty or so scores of his I listen to all the time, and some quite often, some I love but wore out years ago, and some... almost never.  A revisit lets me re-discover some of the music I own that I've forgotten about.

So, I thought I'd post very quick reviews as I run through the scores.  Not that many people will be interested, I'm sure, but it'll be good for me, so I can refer back to the list at some future point, when I need it.  If there's a particular cue I really love, and it's on youtube, I might post a link.

I own over 150 scores by Goldsmith... so have some tea and settle in.  Or feel free to wander away for awhile!  My feelings won't be hurt! :-D