‘Oh this country is but an empty shell/A clearing house for heaven a clearing house for hell’
All We Make Is Entertainment
This year the category was split into Best Original And Best Adaptation Scores, but I’ve bunched them together:
Official Nominations: Tom Jones. Cleopatra. 55 Days At Peking. How The West Was Won. It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Irma La Douce. A New Kind Of Love. Bye Bye Birdie. The Sword In The Stone. Sundays And Cybele.
Tom Jones: A light and suitably fluffy suite of music which mimics the lighthearted antics on screen. The slower, more poignant pieces are the most enjoyable, but there isn’t any memorable theme which you’ll recall after the film is over, surprising then that this picked up the official win.
Cleopatra: Alex North gets another nomination (he totalled 15 without a win) for the epic, his soundtrack features, as you would expect, a lot of Eastern instrumentation, sweeping string sections, all giving an evocative whole. Again, the main theme isn’t overly memorable, but a variety of the single pieces are emotive without managing to stay in the memory.
55 Days At Peking: Similarly epic to Cleopatra, Dimitri Tiomkin’s score for 55 Days At Peking is more immediate and punchy, less lavish, more energetic. An odd mixture of Eastern sounds, Old Western themes, and military marches, it’s a difficult score to swallow in one piece, but rewarding nevertheless. It is again let down though by lacking a memorable theme, though ‘Moon Fire’ comes close.
How The West Was Won: Tiomkin passed duties on this one to Alfred Newman, and it is regarded as one of Newman’s best. A rousing score, another epic, this one is more grounded in classic, robust American sounds – it’s a Western soundtrack at heart – big and bold. Finally we get a memorable main theme!
It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World: Ernst Gold creates a madcap score, a main theme which has a few memorable moments. if anything it’s evocative of a massive circus, with clowns and trapeze artists flying and falling. Some of the individual character themes are strong too, with Captain Culpeper’s being particularly memorable.
Irma La Douce: Andre Previn picked up a win for his adapted score of the French musical. The central piano theme is quite nice, but the rest of the soundtrack is forgettable.
A New Kind Of Love: Erroll Garner and Leith Stevens create a jazzy, snoozy score for the romance, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before – typical smokey bar mellow, smooth jazz.
Bye Bye Birdie: Johnny Green and Charles Strousse adapt Strousse’s stage music to the screen, giving a lighter, less raunchy tone. Notable for a number of songs, the incidental music simply mimics these and not a lot more.
The Sword In The Stone: Hardly the most fondly remembered Disney animation from a musical perspective, The Sword In The Stone nevertheless carries some weight. Sherman’s fun songs merged with the music of Bruns make an oft-forgotten, yet still enchanting score.
Sundays And Cybele: Maurice Jarre’s score is a mostly soft one, again there isn’t anything too powerful, but it’s a subtle approach to the slightly uneasy, and hurting tragic events on screen.
My Winner: How The West Was Won. The Sword In The Stone.
My Nominations: The Pink Panther. The Great Escape.
For my list of nominations I’ve cut way back on the chaff and only selected the two best examples of soundtrack for the year, two entries which coincidentally were shockingly omitted (or in the case of The Pink Panther held back until the next year’s Awards). Henry Mancini’s theme for The Pink Panther is one of the most iconic pieces of movie music – simply by hearing the first 2 (or 4) notes you know what it is, and where it is from. The rest of the soundtrack is equally strong, giving a cosmopolitan air of crime capers, jazzy notes, and sultry tones. Equally, Elmer Bernstein’s theme for The Great Escape is just as iconic, acting as both a rallying cry, and a two finger salute. The theme appears frequently in other movies and shows, and sports events, taking on a life of its own. The rest of the soundtrack too features stellar work, with bombastic pieces of hope, and a selection more poignant, slower pieces.
My Winner: The Great Escape.
Disagree with my choices? Let me know in the comments and poll below!
There was no official award for Best Make Up this year so I have made my own selections.
My Nominations: Jason And The Argonauts. Cleopatra. The Birds. The Comedy Of Terrors
Jason And The Argonauts is most commonly, and unsurprisingly, remembered mostly for Harryhausen’s groundbreaking special effects, but a fair amount of work went into the Make-up too. Cleopatra obviously has stellar work in all departments, Make-Up included (Alberto De Rossi, Vivienne Walker, Robert J Schiffer), while The Birds uses Make-Up effectively in a few scenes to heighten the fear in the aftermath of recurring attacks (Virginia Darcy, Howard Smit). Finally, The Comedy Of Terrors employs a variety of well worn and innovative techniques thanks to Betty Pedettri, Carlie Taylor, and Verne Langdon.
My Winner: Jason And The Argonauts.
Let me know what your pick for the Best Makeup of 1963 would be in the Poll and comments below!
One month closer to the big Vine shake up, and one final month of frantic 8pm F5ing. July was an improvement over June, which wasn’t very difficult given June’s scant offerings:
Fisher-Price Nursery Rhymes Projector Lightshow: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0056FSALU
It’s a crib projector which plays songs, tells stories, and projects images onto the ceiling to disturb your baby to sleep.
Ultrasport Men’s Men Function Softshelljacket – Victoria/Blue, Small: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006HCSBME
It’s a coat for the tiny man, smooth like a horse’s neck. I gave it to my wife.
H2D VI Professional Ionic and Infrared Hair Straighteners: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00KLTEMMW
It’s a very good set of straigheners. Not to be used on horses.
Philips Disney Princess Children’s Night Light and Projector – 1 x 0.1 W Integrated LED: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00J3O9LHC
It’s a projector which doesn’t play music or tell stories, but projects images onto the ceiling to disturb your baby to sleep – with added Princesses!
The categories for sound this year were split into mixing and editing, but I’ll bunch them together. This was the first year that the Sound Editing category appeared, with It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad Word picking up the win, while How The West Was Won won the Sound Mixing Award.
Official Nominations: It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad Word (for mixing and editing). A Gathering Of Eagles. How The West Was Won. Bye Bye Birdie. Captain Newman MD. Cleopatra.
My Winner: How The West Was Won.
My Nominations: How The West Was Won. Cleopatra. 8 And A Half. The Birds. The Haunting. The Great Escape. Jason And The Argonauts.
My nominations see an almost entirely different roster, with the rip-roaring The Great Escape joining the fold and displaying high quality in the sound fields. 8 1/2 perfects Fellini’s technique of having the actors mouth random dialogue and having the sound, and indeed script added after filming completed, while a whole world of sounds are created in Jason And The Argonauts by Cyril Collick, Alfred Cox, and Red Law to breathe even more life to Harryhausen’s creations, and to create more depth to the mythological world. The Birds and The Haunting are two of the most powerful horror movies of the decade from a sound perspective – both using sound in startling and unusual ways, both using sound as the first harbinger. The calming at first, yet ever more sinister tweets and flapping of wings becomes overpowering and creates a claustrophobic mood in Hitchcock’s classic, while Wise essentially makes sound the central evil presence in his powerhouse. Using a variety of gimmicks, from shouting off camera to pre-recorded soundtracks for his cast to react to, it is the creaking and whispering and shrieking which give the house its character, and make the visual effects all the more effective.
My Winner: The Haunting.
This double disc edition has plenty of interesting features- cast and crew chats, deleted scenes with director introductions, and a super hero feature narrated by Mr S. L. Jackson.