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Filmtracks On Cue

On Cue for June, 2006:

6/29/06 - Eye of the Needle/Last Embrace: (Miklós Rózsa) --Expanded Review-- "After the end of the studio contract system for composers in the early 1960's, one of the most displaced artists was Miklós Rózsa. The legend was as far removed from the biblical epics the 50's and 60's that had served as the climax of his career, and after taking several years in the 60's removed from film music all together, he resumed regular freelance scoring duties in the late 60's and 70's. Unfortunately, few of his scores from the last dozen years of his career accompanied memorable films. His collaborations often produced unimpressive results or, in the case of Fedora and Billy Wilder, ruined his professional relationships. While Fedora and Time After Time are truly the last of his great scores, Rózsa's remaining few scores weren't as evident as the composer's decline in health as some might suggest. Rózsa would go on to live for another decade after finishing his film score career, with the recording process simply taking too much energy for him to muster...." **** Read the entire review.

6/24/06 - The Rose Tattoo: (Alex North) --Expanded Review-- "During the production of great literary adaptations in the 1950's by Paramount and other studios, Alex North was the up and coming composer of choice. North's scores for Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951 qualified him for what critics lauded as one of the better literary adaptations of the period, 1954's The Rose Tattoo. Tennessee Williams' original story is a lesson in symbolism, with a tattoo of a rose serving as the primary representation of love and perfection. The plotline centers around a feisty widow in the process of self-punishment for the loss of her perfect husband, and the complications of the heart that result when new men walk into her life. With the concepts of the story restrained to a stylized theatrical level, the setting of Alabama and the conservative art direction are overshadowed by individual performances, including Italian actress Anna Magnani, whose difficult transition to an English language film was awarded with an Oscar...." ** Read the entire review.

6/21/06 - Dragonslayer: (Alex North) --Expanded Review-- "When you look back at the sword and sorcery age in Hollywood (otherwise known as the early to mid-1980's), it's hard to figure out exactly what drew so many people to that particular fascination with fantasy all in one short term. But for film score collectors, the era was marked with a series of large-scale, ethnically diverse epics, leading on screen and on album up to its pinnacle with Willow in 1988. But even before then, scores by Basil Poledouris, Trevor Jones, and James Horner captured our attention with their bold themes and robust orchestral employment for the genre. The name you often don't associate with the others is Alex North, a man seemingly out of place among all the young, rising stars of the digital age. North was in the latter stages of his career by 1980's, but still a favorite of film score collectors and the Academy, which honored the composer with an Oscar nomination for Dragonslayer opposite Chariots of Fire and Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1982...." * Read the entire review.

6/18/06 - Under the Volcano: (Alex North) --Expanded Review-- "Neither this movie nor the respected novel by Malcolm Lowry on which it was based can be described in any way as an uplifting experience. The story is the disturbing portrayal of a day in the life of a hopeless drunk, lost forever in the dirty ditches of Cuernavaca, Mexico. A former British consul to the area, the primary character has lost his job, his wife, and is occupied with his own drunken condition each day. His efforts to drink himself sober are complicated when his prayers are answered and his wife returns from New York to visit him. The day they spend together is both bittersweet and grim, and in the end, the ditch awaits once again. The legendary John Huston directed the film after his illnesses had already begin to take his life, and the film is noted for its keen ability to convey the cognitive problems involving alcoholism without resorting to the usual techniques of defocusing and spinning by the camera itself. Much of the credit for this triumph..." ** Read the entire review.

6/14/06 - Maverick: (Randy Newman) --Expanded Review-- "The early 1990's were a rebirth for the Western genre in Hollywood, and yet while heavily dramatic Westerns were taking home Academy Awards for Best Picture, along rolled Maverick, the first comedy Western to take advantage of the genre's sudden surge of popularity. You really didn't have to be a fan of the 1950's "Maverick" television series that inspired this film, though there's a twist at the end of the movie that will please you if you were. The screenplay by William Goldman takes a page or two from his own Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but actually has more in common with his other classic Paul Newman and Robert Redford collaboration, The Sting. Director Richard Donner teams up again with Mel Gibson from their Lethal Weapon exploits (Danny Glover makes a cameo here, too), and Gibson does well in the Bret Maverick role originally portrayed by James Garner on TV. Garner is given his own role as a marshal in the new Maverick..." *** Read the entire review.

6/10/06 - Face/Off: (John Powell) --Expanded Review-- "The third English-language feature from acclaimed Hong Kong director John Woo, Face/Off is an exhibition of the director's fiercely independent styles in showing violence. With fight sequences choreographed like a ballet, Face/Off is eye candy for those who enjoy the art of spraying bullets and is even more representative of Woo's overarching styles than his previous Broken Arrow effort. The problem with this Woo film in particular is that it requires you to think even less than you normally would for any of his films, suspending all belief in logic to buy into the essential plotline that a diligent cop and master criminal medically swap faces and assume the identity of the other. The film makes some laughable attempts at posing questions about the intellectual aspects of these face transplants, and how they affect the behavior of both men, but make no mistake about it: Face/Off is just another cheap thrill for fans of preposterous violence and totally unnecessary destruction of physical property...." ** Read the entire review.

6/6/06 - Airplane!: (Elmer Bernstein) --Expanded Review-- "The ultimate anthology of cliches from classic comedy films, Airplane! is a film that defied the direction of modern comedies in an era when the genre was dominated by the kind of satirical and cynical ideas of Woody Allen. The object of this parody was the rash of airplane horror films that arose with Airport and lasted through all the variants of its sequels, as well as Paramount's own Zero Hour from 1957. The trick to Airplane! that made it such a fantastic parody was its purely unashamed used of sophomoric humor, with jokes so dumb and tasteless that they actually became funny in unison. So predictable was the 1980 film that it led to its own sequel, though the original Airplane! will be long remembered for, among other things, changing how people react to the word "surely." Composer Elmer Bernstein was at a point in his career when his comedy-writing skills were in high demand. The early 1980's will be remembered by Bernstein collectors as the era of Airplane!, Trading Places, and Ghostbusters..." **** Read the entire review.

6/2/06 - The Black Cauldron: (Elmer Bernstein) --Expanded Review-- "In the mid-1980's, the Walt Disney animated film division was suffering through the worst times in its history. All but dead since 1977's The Rescuers, Disney was counting on The Black Cauldron to pull itself back into the animated forefront, and as part of that plan, the film was to be vastly different from its previous ventures. It would feature no songs, incorporate computer enhancement to hand-drawn images, receive a PG-rating, and be presented in 70mm. Despite all of these new aspects, or perhaps because of them, The Black Cauldron was a monumental failure. It would take The Little Mermaid four years later to resurrect the lost animated division at Disney, and it would be a dozen years before audiences would have the opportunity to view the film again on video. Technically based on Lloyd Alexander's "The Chronicles of Prydain," The Black Cauldron would chronicle "The Book of Three" and "The Black Cauldron," two of five books in the series...." *** Read the entire review.

Page created 7/13/06, updated 7/14/06. Version 2.1 (Filmtracks Publishing). Copyright © 2006, Christian Clemmensen. All rights reserved. "Real Audio" logo and .ra are Copyright © 1996, Real Audio ( "Academy Awards" and the Oscar statue are ® AMPAS, 1996.