Best Music (Scoring): 1963

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.

Sword_In_Stone_ST4901

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!

Best Music (Scoring) – 1961

Actual Nominations: (Score of a Dramatic or Comedy): Breakfast at Tiffany’sHenry Mancini El CidMiklós Rózsa FannyMorris Stoloff, Harry Sukman The Guns of NavaroneDimitri Tiomkin Summer and SmokeElmer Bernstein

(Scoring of a Musical): West Side StorySaul Chaplin, Johnny Green, Sid Ramin, Irwin Kostal Babes in ToylandGeorge Bruns Flower Drum SongAlfred Newman, Ken Darby KhovanshchinaDimitri Shostakovich Paris BluesDuke Ellington

The actual winners were Breakfast at Tiffany’s and West Side Story. Mancini has just the right mix of Jazz, class, and old Hollywood that this doesn’t feel irratating or dated, while West Side Story is renowned for, if nothing else, it’s music.

My Nominations: Again, I’m not differentiating between the groups but I don’t think I can do any better than the Academy this time, so my win goes to Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Best Original Song- 1961

Actual NominationsMoon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Music by Henry Mancini; Lyric by Johnny Mercer. Bachelor in Paradise from Bachelor in Paradise – Music by Henry Mancini; Lyric by Mack David. Love Theme from El Cid (The Falcon and the Dove) from El Cid – Music by Miklos Rozsa; Lyric by Paul Francis Webster. Pocketful of Miracles from Pocketful of Miracles – Music by Jimmy Van Heusen; Lyric by Sammy Cahn. Town Without Pity from Town Without Pity – Music by Dimitri Tiomkin; Lyric by Ned Washington

Batchelor In Paradise:  Another annoying Mancini, dated, rambling song with lyrics about nothing and a sound straight out of a shopping mall glory hole. It is twee, but surprisingly has some sort of memorable tune.

El Cid: The Falcon And The Dove: This is a different beast entirely, sounding huge with the full orchestra backing, especially when merged with the introduction piece. It does show some aging but it has more of a timeless feel and at least the melody is memorable. It does feel like a bunch of lyrics were thrown in to the epic scoring last minute, but the song still pays off.

Pocketful Of Miracles: The intro may sound like Jingle Bells, and the singing may sound like a group of girl scouts dancing around your garden but it is jolly and has a catchy, advertisement like tune.  After hearing it I feel like I’m being forced into buying a pair of trousers. Or a gun.

Town Without Pity: This is a decent enough song, sung with that late 50s rock drawl with the likes of Elvis and Holly loved to use. There’s a jazzy drunkeness to it and an underlying current of sadness.

My pick from the actual nominations matches the real winner, with Moon River. It’s one of those few movie songs which both transcends the movie and becomes something special in its own right, and also evokes images of the film when its opening notes are heard.

Moon River

My Nominations: Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Moon River). Love Theme (El Cid). The Young Ones (The Young Ones). 101 Dalmations (Cruella De Vil)

My Winner: The Young Ones

My win goes to The Young Ones, mostly due to memories of the TV show. It’s still a great song without these memories and much faster than Moon River.

The Young Ones

Let me know if my ears need a re-tuning, or if I have missed one of your favourites, and have a go at the super-exciting poll!