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The 1968 Composer Countdown, Part One
Posted By Scott Bettencourt 8/25/2017 - 9:00 PM
While doing film history research for my day job, I came upon a fascinating document titled “Composers and Prices as of October 1, 1968.” An A-list director (who worked with many top composers throughout his career, and whose films inspired at least three unused scores) was preparing his next project, an adaptation of a Tony and Pulitzer-award winning play, and a list of possible composers (and their expected fees) was prepared for his consideration.
 
Having just completed my “last” edition of the top 40 countdown, I thought the discovery of this document might provide a good opportunity to use it as the basis of a composer countdown from the perspective of 1968. 
 
On the original document, the composers were listed under 17 different pay categories (asking prices) – I will not specify the asking prices here, especially as some of these composers are still alive and even working. However, the top two on the list are long deceased, so I will list their rates in the third and final part of this series, to give some financial perspective to the list.
 
The facts I include about each composer -- age, filmmaker relationships, awards and nominations, top grossing films -- are as of October 1, 1968. However, during that period, accurate box-office information for films was not as easily available as it is now, and the trade papers reported the films’ "rentals" -- the amount the studio received from the theaters -- not the full grosses. Rentals tended to be a little more than half of the grosses, though the percentage varied from film to film, with the studios contracting to get a bigger cut from films that were expected to make more money. (A relatively more recent example of this occured in 1987, when Lethal Weapon had higher grosses than Predator but smaller rentals, since Schwarzenegger was a bigger star than Gibson at the time so Fox contracted for a larger percentage of Predator than Warners did for Lethal.)
 
However, unlike today, where the trade papers and websites like Box Office Mojo have reliable and regularly updated box-office totals, in decades past that kind of information was much harder to come by, with the rentals-versus-grosses disparity only adding to the confusion. So my lists of the top grossing films for each composer are not nearly as complete and accurate as I would like -- let the reader beware.
 
Ironically enough, that A-list director -- whose films often featured brief or restrained scores -- didn’t end up using an original score for the film in question. 

17A. LUCHI DE JESUS
 
AGE: 45
BIRTHPLACE: New York, New York 
 
At that time, De Jesus had not yet scored a feature film, and his scoring credits as of 1968 consisted of episodes of That Girl.  He went on to score a handful of features in the 1970s including memorable black-themed action films like Slaughter, Detroit 9000, Black Belt Jones, Friday Foster and Adios Amigos, as well as episodes of Macmillan and Wife, Banacek, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman and CHiPs. He died in 1984 at the age of 61. 
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Film Score Friday 8/25/17
Posted By Scott Bettencourt 8/24/2017 - 9:00 PM
Intrada has released two new CDs this week -- a remastered version of one of Pino Donaggio's finest and most popular scores, for Brian DePalma's 1984 erotic thriller BODY DOUBLE, with the new edition adding Jonathan Elias's original music for the film's trailer; and a second volume of Alan Silvestri's Emmy-winning music for COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY.


The latest limited edition CD from Varese Sarabande's Varese 500 series, already sold out from the label's website, is a rerelease of Bernard Herrmann's score for the lavish 1959 film version of Jules Verne's JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

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Aisle Seat 8-29: Twilight Time, 4K, Phenomena
Posted By Andy Dursin 8/22/2017 - 9:00 PM
Two very different films with “Summer” in their respective titles are part of Twilight Time’s latest batch of limited edition Blu-Rays, timed to coincide with these dwindling (say it isn’t so!) days of Summer 2017.

Paul Newman teamed up with director Martin Ritt and brilliant writers Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. for the duo’s first (of three) William Faulkner adaptations, THE LONG, HOT SUMMER (117 mins., 1958). 

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Aisle Seat 8-22: August Sizzler Edition
Posted By Andy Dursin 8/21/2017 - 9:00 PM
A strange sequel that’s half “Alien” rehash and half “Prometheus” follow-up – albeit with none of the latter’s “bigger questions” actually being addressed – Ridley Scott’s ALIEN: COVENANT (**, 123 mins., 2017, R; Fox) serves up a serviceable but ultimately unsatisfying ride over narrative terrain we’ve covered many times over by now.
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The "Last" Top Forty Composer Countdown, Part Ten: Where Are The Rest Of The Composers Now?
Posted By Scott Bettencourt 8/18/2017 - 9:00 PM

BARRINGTON PHELOUNG
 
TOP GROSSING FILMS: 
1. Shopgirl--10 
2. Hilary & Jackie--4 
3. The Mangler--1 
4. Truly Madly Deeply--1
 
Still best known for the hit Inspector Morse TV series, he’s stayed busy with its sequel series Inspector Lewis and prequel Endeavour
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Film Score Friday 8/18/17
Posted By Scott Bettencourt 8/17/2017 - 9:00 PM
La La Land has announced three new CDs expected to begin shipping next week: a greatly expanded, two-disc edition of James Newton Howard's epic score for the Road-Warrior-on-the-water futuristic adventure WATERWORLD, which also features Mark Isham's "music box" theme, the one survivor of Isham's tenure as the film's first composer; an expanded version of Alan Silvestri's score for the 1984 romantic adventure hit ROMANCING THE STONE, which began the composer's 33-years-and-counting collaboration with director Robert Zemeckis; and a two-disc set featuring the remastered LP tracks from two gorgeous later scores by the great Franz Waxman -- PEYTON PLACE and HEMINGWAY'S ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG MAN.


Intrada plans to release two new CDs next week. For those who want to know exactly what they are, go to this comment thread on our site. 

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Aisle Seat 8-15: THE GOOD, THE BAD and MR.MOM
Posted By Andy Dursin 8/14/2017 - 9:00 PM
One of three John Hughes-written vehicles from the summer of ’83, MR. MOM (***, 91 mins., 1983, PG) was a box-office hit that kicked off a run of domestic comedies making Hughes one of Hollywood’s major players throughout the rest of the decade. Now on Blu-Ray – and in widescreen for the first time ever on home video – Shout Factory’s upcoming Collector’s Edition pays tribute to this admittedly-antiquated audience favorite that was released at a time when such comedies could actually become commercial hits in the marketplace (not so much today, obviously).
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The "Last" Top Forty Composer Countdown, Part Nine: Where Are These Other Composers Now?
Posted By Scott Bettencourt 8/11/2017 - 9:00 PM
CHRISTOPHER GORDON
 
1 EMMY NOMINATION 
BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 
TOP GROSSING FILMS: 
1. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World--93 (U.S. gross in millions)
2. Daybreakers--29  
3. Mao’s Last Dancer--4  
 
His most recent feature to get a U.S. release was Anne Fontaine’s Adore, starring Naomi Watts, Robin Wright and Xavier Samuel, with fellow Australian Antony Partos receiving an additional music credit. 
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Film Score Friday 8/11/17
Posted By Scott Bettencourt 8/10/2017 - 9:00 PM
Composer Daniel Licht died on Wednesday, August 2nd, of natural causes. Born in Detroit, he followed his music studies at Hampshire College with a career as a jazz musician in New York. It was his college friend and classmate Christopher Young who encouraged him to move to Los Angeles, where he worked as a programmer and synth player on Young's scores before launching his own composing career. A fan favorite for such orchestral genre scores as Thinner and Bad Moon, Licht had his greatest success as the episode composer for all seven seasons of Showtime's Dexter. He is survived by his wife and son as well as a sister and other relatives; his family requests that any donations in his honor be made to Hampshire College or the National Cancer Institute. A more detailed obituary, written by Jon Burlingame, can be found in Variety.
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The "Last" Top Forty Composer Countdown, Part Eight: Where Are They Now?
Posted By Scott Bettencourt 8/4/2017 - 9:00 PM
CRAIG ARMSTRONG
 
1 GRAMMY, 2 NOMINATIONS
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES: Moulin Rouge, Ray 
TOP GROSSING FILMS: 
1. The Great Gatsby--144  (U.S. gross in millions)
2. The Incredible Hulk--134  
3. Ray--75 
4. World Trade Center--70 
5. The Bone Collector--66 
6. Love, Actually--59 
7. Moulin Rouge--57 
8. Me Before You--56 
9. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps--52  
10. William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet--46 
 
Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 3D remake of The Great Gatsby proved to be the composer’s highest-grossing film, as well as moving his work into an appealingly melodic direction, a trend he has continued with such scores as Far from the Madding Crowd, Victor Frankenstein, and Me Before You.  He has been unusually prolific in mainstream cinema recently, with other recent projects including Bridget Jones’s Baby and a shared scoring credit (with Adam Peters) on Oliver Stone’s Snowden. This June he was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 
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September 22
Charles Previn died (1973)
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J.A.C. Redford records his score for the Twilight Zone episode “What Are Friends For?” (1986)
John Addison wins his only Emmy, for the Murder, She Wrote episode “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes;” Allyn Ferguson wins his only Emmy, for Camille (1985)
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