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 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 9:51 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Strange...I couldn't find any previous threads about this soundtrack in the archives.

Anyway, I was listening to this soundtrack yesterday, and found that whereas I initially had been somewhat underwhelmed by its predisposition to underline "subdued intensity", I now found it to be a wonderful experience from start to finish. My favourite part is undoubtedly the song track (the love theme?), a melancholic and beautiful tune. But there's also a lot to be said of the more percussion-driven and "sturm und drangey" parts. Really a soundtrack that grows on you.

This is, of course, the Broughton rerecording. As most of you know, I usually prefer rerecordings to original recordings so that Rozsa's score is allowed to shine in all its sonic glory.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 10:24 AM   
 By:   Logied   (Member)

Like many of the great film composers, Rozsa hit so many home runs (Like Ben Hur) that some of his doubles and triples tend to be forgotton and JC is one of those. Thanks to Intrada and Boughton it still runs the bases.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 10:32 AM   
 By:   soundtrakker   (Member)

My favourite part is undoubtedly the song track (the love theme?), a melancholic and beautiful tune.

Track 15) GENTLE KNAVE
Brutus summons his boy servant Lucius to bring his lute and sing to him at bedside, resulting in this piece for soprano and harp from the John Dowland hymn Now, O Now, I Needs Must Part. Upon singing the boy falls asleep instead, and as Brutus puts the boy to bed, the melody becomes a warm piece for strings.

Thus saith the album notes from this awesome re-recording by the mighty triumvirate of Bruce Broughton, Daniel Robbins, and Douglass Fake.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 10:44 AM   
 By:   Les Jepson   (Member)

I agree, this is a great score. One of my fabourite bits is the last few seconds of the otherwise unused overture. It's used immediately after Antony's [Brando] riot-inducing speech on the Senate steps. He turns away from the enraged mob, turns toward the camera, and smirks. The use of this particular extract of music at this paticular point always makes me smile and think: film score composed by Miklos Rozsa and spotted by Alex North.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 5:46 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

The MGM production of JULIUS CAESAR, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, is one of the earliest examples of Hollywood’s use (mid-1953) of stereophonic sound in a motion picture, pre-dating the deluge of stereo brought on by Fox with its release of THE ROBE in September of that year.

That stereo should accompany JULIUS CAESAR, a black-and-white film, as well as another MGM release in stereo, the Technicolored YOUNG BESS, also at this early time, is probably a testament to MGM’s regard for Rozsa’s music and how it would positively affect the presentation of these films.

If you are lucky enough to have the Turner Classic Movies network, you can still hear/see these two films in stereo as they were originally presented. (JULIUS CAESAR was also once available on a laserdisc in stereo for those who care to seek it out.)

Also airing occasionally on TCM is the replacement “Overture” originally connected to JULIUS CAESAR (when Rozsa’s was discarded), Johnny Green conducting the MGM Studio Orchestra in a rendition of the “Capriccio Italienne”. Unlike most movie overtures, this has music and picture: the MGM Orchestra playing in a concert hall setting (also in black-and-white like the feature it accompanied).

(Green later did a series of 5-6 “MGM Concert Hall” shorts featuring the MGM Orchestra in Color and CinemaScope and Stereo. Some of these have already appeared on scattered DVDs.)

For whatever reason (perhaps they don’t know), this Overture film never seems to be physically connected to the film screenings anymore and plays randomly within the TCM schedule, unconnected to the feature showings. Strange.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 5:53 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

I don't think it's so darn strange, Manderly, considering that it was a boondoggle to begin with and never should have been "attached" in the first place. Green was a very gifted man, but also the possessor of a very big ego, and this led to his abusing his authority (as head of Metro's music dept.) by scrapping Rozsa's overture, which obviously fit the film and set the mood for the drama, and inserting his own mug conducting a fine classical piece which had no business being conected with Shakespearean tragedy or ancient Roman history. Shame on him. And good riddance. It's only too bad thyat they apparently never filmed Rozsa's overture so that it could be restored to its rightful place as curtain-raiser for this fine film.

 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 7:57 PM   
 By:   CH-CD   (Member)



Anyone know what the chances of "Julius Caesar" or "Young Bess" turning up on DVD are....in STEREO, of course ????????????????????

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 9:52 PM   
 By:   joec   (Member)

It's only too bad thyat they apparently never filmed Rozsa's overture so that it could be restored to its rightful place as curtain-raiser for this fine film.

Was the JC Overture ever recorded (besides Intrata's version)? A complete JC would make a great FSM title!

NP Man from Uncle - volume 2

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 10:33 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

….. I don't think it's so darn strange, Manderly, considering that it was a boondoggle to begin with and never should have been "attached" in the first place. Green was a very gifted man, but also the possessor of a very big ego, and this led to his abusing his authority (as head of Metro's music dept.) by scrapping Rozsa's overture, which obviously fit the film and set the mood for the drama, and inserting his own mug conducting a fine classical piece which had no business being conected with Shakespearean tragedy or ancient Roman history. Shame on him. And good riddance. It's only too bad thyat they apparently never filmed Rozsa's overture so that it could be restored to its rightful place as curtain-raiser for this fine film……


We can discuss Johnny Green’s ego (as well as that of Rozsa, who wasn’t exactly humble either); we can discuss overreaching authority on Green’s part (though we don’t question his overreaching authority when he hired Rozsa in 1948, and when he totally rebuilt the MGM music department); we can discuss whether Green actually had any part in scrapping the Rozsa overture (inasmuch as Green was not part of the production department which supervised the shooting and budgeting of films at MGM); we can discuss whether John Houseman, a respected MGM producer, made the decision, had input into the decision, or just followed along blindly with Joe Mankiewicz; we can discuss whether the “Capriccio Italienne” was decided upon (over Rozsa’s Overture) BECAUSE it was in a different mood than the film; we can discuss whether, once the decision to use the “Capriccio Italienne” was decided by the powers that be, Rozsa would have agreed to conduct it or would have refrained in a petulant manner; and we can discuss whether, if Rozsa HAD conducted the “Capriccio Italienne” we would even be having an argument about its relevance.

What is pointless to discuss is whether the “Capriccio Italienne” piece should be physically attached to JULIUS CAESAR. It WAS presented that way in the original roadshow engagements by the studio and if you believe that a film should be presented in its original form, good or bad, then that’s the way it is. (Otherwise, we need to cut out those non-Welles portions from the negative of “The Magnificent Ambersons” and run only a partial picture, and we should stop running Von Stroheim’s “Greed” and destroy it because that film as it exists, doesn’t reflect the director’s vision, and we should cut the entire “Born in a Trunk” number [much as we like it] from Garland’s “Star Is Born” because it is the work of the studio and not director George Cukor’s artistic vision.)

Hindsight re-thinking of moviemaker’s intents always seems pointless to me. Why do we waste time with this second-guessing?
I saw JULIUS CAESAR originally with its Johnny Green-conducted overture, had no problems with it, and enjoyed it and the film.

Of course, when we went to the theatres in those days they were just “movies” made to entertain us, not deathless works of art to be studied, analyzed, and dissected by future generations of film-school graduates.

I don’t want to pick on you, Preston. You (and others) abhor the dropping of Rozsa’s Overture (which I love, by the way), and I understand that---while I simply think the decision to present another vision for this film is OK and I have no real problem with it.

(If it were a model of ineptness, like presenting Spike Jones and His City Slickers doing an overture of “ ‘Arrividerci, Roma’ with Variations”, then I might agree with you---although THAT could also be an entertaining accompaniment to this film!……….. big grin)

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 11:05 PM   
 By:   El Cid   (Member)

Intrada did a first-class job with their re-recordings. The only problem is that there aren't more of them!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2003 - 11:13 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Was the JC Overture ever recorded (besides Intrata's version)? A complete JC would make a great FSM title!.....


I seem to recall that Bernard Herrmann once recorded this Overture on one of his English Decca compilation recordings.

(.....And did Rozsa, himself, record it for one of his 3 Polydor recordings?)

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 8:47 AM   
 By:   soundtrakker   (Member)


Was the JC Overture ever recorded (besides Intrata's version)? A complete JC would make a great FSM title!


Charles Gerhardt re-recorded Rozsa's JULIUS CAESAR Overture for a 1977 LP, which was later released on the CD SPECTACULAR WORLD OF CLASSIC FILM SCORES (RCA 2792-2-RG). This 4 minute 30 second track has got to be my all-time favorite Gerhardt release, and I own his entire film soundtrack series.

According to the album notes:

The "Julius Caesar Overture" was originally written as a curtain-raiser for the 1953 film, but was removed by MGM top executives and replaced by Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien" which was their idea of how to set an audience in the right frame of mind for Shakespeare. Miklos Rozsa revised the Overture extensively for an album by Bernard Herrmann devoted to Shakespearean film scores, but it never made it onto that album.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 9:28 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

The MGM production of JULIUS CAESAR, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, is one of the earliest examples of Hollywood’s use (mid-1953) of stereophonic sound in a motion picture, pre-dating the deluge of stereo brought on by Fox with its release of THE ROBE in September of that year.

One of them, perhaps, but FANTASIA was much earlier, as you know.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 11:03 AM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)

It always has seemed to me that Fantasia was individual instruments bouncing around rather than normal stereo.
However, I have a list of over 90 flat films from 1953 that had stereo before The Robe. Many of these stereo tracks are lost. These were the oldest stereo mags and many rotted completely and did not survive. Other studios just didn't keep them (columbia, warner Bros.). to me the saddest loss is the stereo track for Calamity Jane. Still remember seeing this in stereo during 1960s reissue.
Young bess was not originally released in stereo until AFTER the release of The Robe. I have an article from the New York times that MGM has recalled the film and is blowing it up to 1:85 to 1 (fake wide screen to compete with The Robe?). Most flat films of that year have thier dialogue dead center the whole time but the dialogue for Bess is all over the place tom conform tothe new 1:85 ratio.
Other films of that era were advertised as stereo but didn't have stereo for the entire film.
All the Brothers were Valiant had stereo only for the Opening reel and the final two reels.
MGM seems to have lost the stereo for Valleyof the Kings, another Rozsa film. The entire film was stereo (the pressbooks feature stereo prominently in all the ads.)
Warner Bros. has managed to retrieve the lost stereo from private prints for many of the early scope films, but once past the end of 1955 they have not. we still do not have the missing stereo for Giant, Auntie Mame and later Warners scope films. The stereo on Gypsy is not the original stereo but a remix using the stereo tracks for the album master (which thankfully existed without the album reverb.)
Fox has most of their tracks but is still missing stereo for Three Faces of eve, Hatful of Rain and Adventures of a Young Man.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 11:04 AM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)

bTW - Rozsa DID record the Overture and also filmed it!! Turner does have the recording but not the film. the Julius caesar tracks are still in stereo at Turner!!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 4:17 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Dear Manderly,

Thanks for your thoughtful message, and no, I don't think you're picking on me. By the same token, I hope you didn't feel I was intending anything personal on you in my first post.

"We can discuss" indeed many of the interesting points you raise, and I only wish we were in close enough priximity that a trip to a nearby pub could facilitate such a conversation. In any case, in this projected discussion, I would find much on which to agree with you. After all, you'll note that I did say that Johnny Green was very gifted, and I happen to consider myself a fan of his, (and have ever since as a child I listened to his Gershwin recordings with Fred Astaire).

Sorry, though, I can't agree that it's pointless to discuss the Tchaikovsky overture's placement with CAESAR. And I certainly can't agree that we wouldn't be having this discussion if Rozsa had conducted it. We're talking aesthetics, here, not the cult of personality. I don't care if TCHAIKOVSKY HIMSELF had conducted it, it still had no place with JULIUS CAESAR. The operative word, it seems to me is, "IF," when you say, "If you believe that a film should be presented in its original form, good or bad, then that's the way it is." Because, you see, although perhaps you yourself believe that, I don't. I think there is merit in preserving original versions of all films, but I definitely prefer SOMETIMES to see the later versions of certain films which preserve or restore the film-maker's original intentions but which may have not been the first versions to see daylight. Would you rather watch the 1960 version of SPARTACUS or the recent restoration? Me for the latter. Would you rather watch the Sam Spiegel version of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA or the David Lean? Again, I'll opt for Lean. And I could go on with many other examples.

If you enjoyed CAESAR with the Tchaikovsky, I have no desire to tarnish that memory or say that you shouldn't have enjoyed it. Speaking only for myself, however, I have absolutely no interest in seeing that version of CAESAR, but I would love it if somebody took that Rozsa recording and, since the concert footage seems to be lost, used it in conjunction with a frame blow-up or still or set of stills so that we could view CAESAR with wall-to-wall Rozsa -- he was, after all, the composer of this film, not Tchaikovsky -- and, above all, an appropriately thrilling and dramatic entree into Shakespeare's immortal drama. But that's just the kind of hairpin I am.

Sincerely,

Preston

PS: Interesting about all those re-formatted MGM movies. They pulled that stunt with the great Minnelli musical THE BAND WAGON, and not for the betterment of the film, as you can imagine. Every once in a while TCM runs a letter-boxed version of KISS ME KATE with absolutely no explanation, but I assume it, too, was one of those "pseudo-Cinemascope" re-formattings. Incidentally, here in L.A. we recently got a rare chance to see KISS ME KATE in 3-D, and THAT was the way I wish it could always be shown. In 3-D, KATE, a very good musical film, plays like gangbusters and becomes a great musical film, IMHO.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 6:55 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....PS: Interesting about all those re-formatted MGM movies. They pulled that stunt with the great Minnelli musical THE BAND WAGON, and not for the betterment of the film, as you can imagine. Every once in a while TCM runs a letter-boxed version of KISS ME KATE with absolutely no explanation, but I assume it, too, was one of those "pseudo-Cinemascope" re-formattings. Incidentally, here in L.A. we recently got a rare chance to see KISS ME KATE in 3-D, and THAT was the way I wish it could always be shown. In 3-D, KATE, a very good musical film, plays like gangbusters and becomes a great musical film, IMHO......

This has been an interesting exchange, Preston, though we’re probably boring others to death!

In the 1953 period, before CinemaScope in September, but after Cinerama (in 1952), the studios decided that “widescreen” was a new way to attack the inroads of TV.

And so the studios began shooting their movies in widescreen. For all intents and purposes, this meant that the Director of Photography would expose the negative full-Academy frame, as usual, but he would creatively compose his image so that the theatre would “hard-matte” the top and bottom of the image, throw on a shorter focal length projection lens, and create a larger widescreen image (usually at a ratio of 1.85-1, but very occasionally at 1.66-1 and 2-1) on his theatre screen (the image having been composed properly by the cameraman for this widescreen re-purposing).

But……this meant that all the product that the studios had in the can would be useless once widescreen was being touted, and so they simply released these “canned” films to theatres “suggesting” to them that they crop top and bottom of the image (which hadn’t been composed for this) as creatively as possible. After they centered the titles, some projectionists would stand there and rack the picture up and down depending on the scene/shot, other lazy ones would simply project the center of the image, while others would rack to the top of the image, thus keeping actor heads from being cut off and letting the bottom of the image fall where it might.

YOUNG BESS and JULIUS CAESAR took this re-framing in the theatre approach. Among the studios, MGM sent out memos suggesting that their older non-widescreen shot pictures be run at 1.75-1 as the best compromise. It wasn’t. These older pictures didn’t work well at that ratio or any other except 1.33-1. I assume this is what you mean by “pseudo-CinemaScope re-formatted” films. True widescreen films, as I’ve stated above (and I’m not talking CinemaScope here), were composed/framed/shot to be exhibited in widescreen. (If you’re not otherwise particularly sensitive to image composition one of the secret giveaways as to which is which is the studio’s trademark. Most studios didn’t want their trademark to look bad so they made newly designed art, and re-shot them for use on widescreen films. If it’s got an old 1.33-1 trademark it’s probably intended for the original format, if it’s got a new widescreen trademark, it’s been planned for widescreen projection.)

On the other hand, KISS ME KATE was one of the newer-shot pictures (all references to 3-D aside). It was composed for 1.85-1 to be projected that way at the major theatres in 1953 (and “protected” in 1.33-1 to accommodate those theatres who hadn’t yet installed their widescreens). And so, the widescreen transfer that runs on TCM and appeared on the last re-mastered laserdisc is the only really correct “as-the-cameraman-intended” version, like it or not.

We both saw KISS ME KATE in 3-D at the Egyptian! The picture, itself, is delightful, but this print was appalling. The picture was first of all, projected 1.33-1 (as were a number of other widescreen 3-D films at that festival----all for projection convenience---with so many films to deal with and the lack of a wide special silvered wide-screen, SabuCat’s Jeff Joseph told me), and the print, itself, is incorrectly made. The left side of the image, as well as the top and bottom of the image were all “cropped” off when this print was manufactured. (On the Home Theatre Forum message board, there is a complicated and detailed explanation of why this happened in the making of this print as well as in the recent DVD transfer. Turner/Warner are now aware of the problem, though what they will do about it is another matter.)

I don’t want to offend you Preston, but the fact that you didn’t notice this, like most audience members, is the stuff that gives cameramen like myself, nightmares. Many young people today (and I’m not talking about you, Preston----I suspect you’ve got some life experience already behind you big grin ), actually prefer seeing older widescreen (not CinemaScope, again) movies full-frame because they see more top and bottom of the image, and not because the cameraman wants them to, but simply because it’s there. Perhaps because of the “edginess” of today’s cinematography, it seems like viewers don’t pick up on the classical composition techniques that these older films had. There were very precise understandings of where the horizon line would be placed in a long shot, where the head and chin would be cropped in a close-up, how much head room would be allowed above actors in a medium or long shot, how much “lead” space would be planned in the “look” direction of an actor, etc. etc. etc. When one of them is projected incorrectly for me I am constantly trying to squirm in my theatre seat trying to get the composition back to its proper balance. I love KISS ME KATE, the 3-D is wonderful, but I found it very hard to look at from a compositional standpoint.

As Louis Armstrong says in closing HIGH SOCIETY (VistaVision – 1.85-1)……

“End of Story…..”

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 9:18 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

on Green’s part (though we don’t question his overreaching authority when he hired Rozsa in 1948, and when he totally rebuilt the MGM music department)

And did Green hire Rozsa in 1948? MR speaks only of an executive named L. K. Sidney, "one of the kindest and sweetest men I had ever met in the studios." Rozsa, in Double Life, has Green arriving only with the later Dore Schary administration in 1951 or 1952. Fred Karlin's book has Green as m.d. from 1949. So does Katz's Film Encyclopedia.[i/] Can anybody confirm the facts here?

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 9:34 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

we can discuss whether Green actually had any part in scrapping the Rozsa overture (inasmuch as Green was not part of the production department which supervised the shooting and budgeting of films at MGM); we can discuss whether John Houseman, a respected MGM producer, made the decision, had input into the decision, or just followed along blindly with Joe Mankiewicz; we can discuss whether the “Capriccio Italienne” was decided upon (over Rozsa’s Overture) BECAUSE it was in a different mood than the film; we can discuss whether, once the decision to use the “Capriccio Italienne” was decided by the powers that be, Rozsa would have agreed to conduct it or would have refrained in a petulant manner; and we can discuss whether, if Rozsa HAD conducted the “Capriccio Italienne” we would even be having an argument about its relevance.

These are interesting questions, Manderly. I'm pretty sure that some of Rozsa's published remarks (though not those in Double Life)attribute this choice to the unnamed studio music director. I think Rozsa had some respect for Green. He says nice things in D.L. and he dedicated the "Quo Vadis Suite" to Green. But Rozsa was openly dubious about Green's compositional abilities. If Rozsa had a fraught relationship with his nominal boss, well, isn't that true for many of us?

The thing about Capriccio Italien is that it's second-rate Tchaikovsky and its title (in this context) sounds like a very unfortunate joke!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2003 - 11:48 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

The JC Overture recorded by Gerhardt (RCA) and Rozsa (Polydor) is actually a melding of the film's overture and prelude. Rozsa prepared this version in the 1970s by (as Dan Robbins discovered) literally cutting and pasting over his original score! Dan was only able to untangle the mess with the aid of the partial overture snippet that somehow wound up in the picture (after the funeral oration). The original film overture does seem a rather short piece for on screen presentation. Perhaps that fact had something to do with Green's (or whoever's) decision to scrap it.

 
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