Official Nominations: Exodus: This features a vast and epic soundscape of brass and strings to evoke images of wide empty spaces filled with battle and despair. The oft covered main theme is still hard hitting today.
The Alamo: A typical Western soundtrack with Southern influences and more than a hint of tragedy. Dimitri Tiomkin was by this stage the most well known Western composer and he raises the bar once again here.
Elmer Gantry: The main themes are packed with church bells and ominous crashes of percussion, while the backing strings race and twitch almost maniacally. Andre Previn receives yet another nomination in the Drama category, and doubles his joy in the musical category below.
Magnificent Seven: A stonking main theme which is as joyous and energetic as anything you will hear today, the entire soundtrack is filled with poignancy and bitter notes. Elmer Bernstein was no stranger to the Academy at this point, earning his second well deserved nomination.
Spartacus: Suitably military sounding, we can imagine endless marches, flag waving, and the glory of Rome while the more tender moments are a bit too light and fluffy and not nearly tragic enough for my tear-filled ears. Alex North would receive 15 nominations but never pick up the win.
Song Without End: This was the official winner in the Best Musical score category and while most of the music is piano led and not overly memorable, the importance is that the soundtrack was recorded before the film was made. Everything is frantic and played at a million miles an hour which adds a certain charm for metallers like me. Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman grabbed the gold.
Bells Are Ringing: A typical musical soundtrack full of tuneless brass which sounded badly dated the second it was released meant Previn picked up another nomination but it is not one to remember.
Can Can: See above for Nelson Riddle’s effort.
Let’s Make Love: See above, though slightly less dated for Lionel Newman and Earle H Hagen’s work.
Pepe: This has some inspired Spanish guitar, though more often than not Johnny Green’s piece gives way to old school Hollywood cheese.
My Winner: The Magnificent Seven
I’m only adding a single new nomination to the list, a soundtrack which still reverberates in the public conscienc today and whose influence can be seen many a movie palying at your local now- Psycho: Hermann single handedly invents the music of horror cinema here with his racing rhythms, jagged and jarring string section. Spartacus. Magnificent Seven. The Alamo. Exodus.
My Winner: Magnificent Seven