Official Nominations: Summer Of 42. Mary Queen Of Scots. Nicholas And Alexandra. Shaft. Straw Dogs. Fiddler on The Roof. Bedknobs And Broomsticks. The Boy Friend. Tchaikovsky. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.
This year we had two categories for score – Best Original Score (Dramatic) and Best Original Song Score or Adaptation. The had no clue what they were doing in other words. We’ll stick them all in a single category. Summer Of ’42 was winner of the Dramatic Category. Michel Legrand’s classy central theme is a fine mixture of strings and smooth jazz which evokes an easy nostalgia without too much sentiment. The rest of the soundtrack largely follows a similar smooth style and features variants on the main theme. John Barry’s surprisingly tender score for Mary, Queen Of Scots features Vanessa Redgrave’s vocal talents and a softer approach than you may expect given the subject matter while Richard Rodney Barrett’s Nicholas And Alexandra has similarly tender moments but feels more grand.
Shaft is clearly the odd one out in the category, with nothing else sounding remotely like it. Issac Hayes fills the score with modern funk sounds while retaining an old world jazz feel. The final entry in the Dramatic division is Jerry Fielding’s Straw Dogs – a score which begins softly, almost idyllic, but builds with notes of tension and becomes increasingly pounding and violent, obviously echoing the film. Fiddler On The Roof, and most of the other soundtracks on the adaptation front don’t really deserve to be here as they are so populated by spoken parts or actual songs, but fine. John Williams won the Oscar for Fiddler – the music isn’t that great and most of the songs are standard musical fluff. Bedknobs And Broomsticks is not a film I have ever enjoyed, too cloying and sentimental and the music does nothing for me aside from making me want to leave the room if it’s on, while The Boy Friend is an odd Ken Russell adaptation with songs from the 1920s, an era which again does little for me. Tchaikovsky is weird too as it features music from the composer as filtered by Dimitri Tiomkin. My pick, and is there really any other choice, is Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory by Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley, and Walter Scharf. The songs and the music inspire such wonder in successive generations as few soundtracks ever have before or since, and remain timeless.
My Winner: Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
My Nominations: Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. Shaft. 200 Motels. A Clockwork Orange. A Fistful Of Dynamite. The French Connection. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song. THX 1138.
Only two make it to my list. A Clockwork Orange I understand not being included by many people, given that the majority of the soundtrack is existing work – if Tchaikovsky can get nominated, then so can this. There are some original pieces here, but few films have used music so dramatically and emphatically as this one. The French Connection features a lot of echo, repeated notes, spontaneous jazz, and near out of tune moments – there’s something ‘off’ about it, an unsettling tone which heightens the surrounding mystery. Morricone does it again in A Fistful Of Dynamite – a soundtrack with many obvious nods to the past spaghetti westerns, but plenty of moving moments of its own, with great use of whistling, strings, and operatic voices again. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song sees an unknown Earth, Wind, And Fire merged funk and jazz to craft a soundtrack which was released before the movie in a neat advertising stunt, while 200 Motels saw Frank Zappa and co freaking out in style. Lalo Schifrin’s score for THX 1138 is suitably creepy and futuristic – lots of voices mingled together with ultra low rumbling bass and piercing strings to give an epic operatic feel. Any of these are worthy winners.
My Winner: THX 1138
Let us know your winner in the comments!