Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds: Part I

The face that punked a nation would like a hug, please.

On the eve of Halloween in 1938, Orson Welles mounted a fake newscast of Martians invading Earth, and he managed to terrify a significant chunk of Americans into believing little green men had landed and were starting to massacre humanity. Or maybe it was the Nazis, as others believed.

Adapted from the classic H.G. Wells novel by Howard Koch and performed by Welles’ Mercury Theatre troupe for CBS, The War of the Worlds was either the ultimate prank taken far too seriously, or it simply captured the mass fear of invading forces just a year before the outbreak of WWII.

On the one hand, you can’t blame Welles for sticking to his guns and performing the show without any mid-drama disclaimers to alert listeners that the whole broadcast was 'someone behind a white sheet shouting 'Boo!' but he did establish a significant precedent: that if you package things correctly, some people will believe almost anything.

To prove the point (or rather, exploit the novelty of creating a bit of infamy), a Spanish version of Koch’s script was performed in Ecuador in 1949, with tragic results; and some local American stations took a poke at the concept, notably Buffalo’s WKBW in 1968 with their own adaptation.

In addition to other re-mountings of the 1938 production, there was also Without Warning, an original teleplay in 1994 (aired by CBS) in which the concept was transposed to a live CNN-type news feed.

Perhaps the most intriguing re-conceptualization of the script happened this past March thru April Fool’s weekend at Toronto’s Harbourfront World Stage, where The Art of Time Ensemble not only performed the radio play in front of an audience, but designed the production to resemble a fly-on-the-wall experience, with live foley and band.

Prior TV dramatizations of the mass-hysteria that pricked a nation – Studio One’s 1957 production of The Night America Trembled, and the 1974 TVM The Night That Panicked America – featured recreations of the radio studio environment in excerpts or vignettes, but this 2011 performance gave audiences an opportunity to experience the complete play, and a sense of the workings involved in a live radio performance, with the actors, sound effects man, and musicians just a few meters away.

Directed by Andrew Burashko, AOTE’s production was also preceded by a half-hour tribute to composer Bernard Herrmann, who scored / conducted the Mercury Theatre dramas in addition to classic Alfred Hitchcock films such as Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960).

(This year marks the centenary of the composer’s birthday, and I’ll have a set of DVD reviews of classic Herrmann-scored films still unavailable in Region 1 land, but of course, widely available in Spain, because unlike Fox in America, Spain’s home video labels realize the classic film market hasn’t collapsed on a global scale, and people don’t want to re-buy All About Eve, An Affair to Remember, Patton, and The Sound of Music for the 4th time.)

So in this first part of a new series (Yes! Another one!), I’ve uploaded a review of the AOTE production, plus an interview with director Andrew Burashko [M], who discusses the project’s genesis, the Herrmann suite, and his plans to mount a live version of “I send you this cadmium red,” with Daniel Brooks directing Gavin Bryars’ dramatization of the correspondences between John Berger and John Christie.

And I’ve added reviews of The Night America Trembled [M], part of VSC’s Studio One 3-volume series released in 2002 on DVD; and Without Warning [M], which did get a fleeting DVD (and now OOP) release via Madacy, but I happened to videotape when it was broadcast by Hamilton’s CHCH for Hallow’s Eve.

Yes, I'm that olde, and I've a storage locker of this ephemera that I'll continue to mine until invading little green men ring the doorbell, masquerading as Girl Guide cookie vendors.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Soundtrack Reviews

Apparently someone got married today.


More important is Hot Docs, which begins this week and is apparently the world’s biggest showcase of short and long-form docs on planet Earth. The selection is diverse (with a slight slant towards human misery), and screenings are scattered across the city – meaning unlike TIFF, there are venues in and around Bloor Street.

(TIFF used to screen festival films before things were centralized in and around Queen Street, and while not a bad thing per se, I do miss the waves of dog-tagged festival goers trodding along Bloor, looking dazed from too many movies, not enough fluid intake, an a sense they’re in some weird inter-dimensional plain where time has been frozen for about 2 weeks. Don’t pretend you’ve no idea what I’m talking about.)

I plan on seeing a handful of films, and I’m delighted to say none were advanced reviewed in NOW Magazine, so nothing’s been spoiled so far. I’ll have reviews and links over the next week.

In the meantime, I’ve uploaded a quartet of long-delayed soundtrack reviews which all happened to come from Lakeshore Records: Marcelo Zarvos’ engaging Beastly [M], Cliff Martinez’ Lincoln Lawyer [M], Chris Bacon’s Source Code [M], and Tyler Bates’ Super [M] (sandwiched between a number of source songs).

Coming next is an interview with Andrew Burashko, whose Art of Time Ensemble recently mounted a live performance of Orson Welles’ Halloween prank The War of the Worlds, plus some related links.

Who got married again?

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Mortal Kombat: Part I

Next week Canada will make use of the $300 million allotted to a federal election, and we’ll vote in what hopefully will be the lesser idiot for Top Job, or at least the lesser evil, and if the bigger idiot manages to climb back into the seat he’s wasted for the past few years (hmmm… what stone-faced, power-mongering dolt could that be?), perhaps the shifted ratio of official opposition power will remind the Top Idiot that sometimes listening to the populace is part of the job.

The beauty of a democracy with free speech is that you can actually use terms like idiot quite freely, but idiots dominate democracies, monarchies, dictatorships, and despotic personalized kingdoms, so perhaps there’s a better system out there wherein the populace can get their leader through a combination of brains, brawn, and skill, and if you’re a pinhead, you lose your soul and spend an eternity swirling around with people as dumb or ‘dumber’ as you.

Imagine being surrounded by arrogant & corrupt ministers building acres and acres of outhouses and gazebos (hundreds of Tony Clement), bulldog mouthpieces who deny everything because it’s a genetic disease (thousands of John Bairds), and soulless power mongers just like Steve.

Why, the inability to exert one’s ego past myriad mirror versions of yourself would drive you into an eternal state of jealousy, madness, and maybe inertness.

Most likely, Harper would still win if the mettle tests were reduced to Mortal Kombat. He’d just take a hockey stick and start beating away at his opponents, crowning each ‘flawless victory’ with a badly crooned Beatles song. Of course, he’d probably want to keep the souls of the vanquished for himself, and would throw a terrible tantrum, breaking his hockey stick in front of Shang Tsung, and whimpering the famous ‘Mortal Kombat’ battle cry.

"Go ahead. Test 'your might', snapperhead."

When Mortal Kombat – the film – debuted in 1995, it wasn’t the first adaptation of a video game, but even after 16 years, it remains one of the best. It’s silly & absurd, but perhaps because the game it was inspired by Jean-Claude Van Damme, MK follows the familiar martial arts formula of combat, honor, team building, faith in higher mystic powers, and plenty of action sequences.

In today’s climate, MK is a classical video game film, and I’ve dissected its merits and lesser failings in a review [M] of New Line / Warner Home Video’s shiny new Blu-ray, but it’s worth noting how the franchise is being reinvigorated again after being exploited in every outlet during the nineties. After a sequel, animated series, live-actions series, and further video game upgrades, the original still stands tall, and it also remains one of director Paul W.S. Anderson’s best films.

Anderson’s gift lies is making striking visual montages using classical film techniques – lighting, composition – set to kinetic electronic music, and effects that are often a perfect marriage of practical and digital effects. In its day, MK was cutting edge, and it is worth noting how the effects still hold up well, including the animatronic puppet hybrid used for Prince Goto – something no one would bother with today, even though Goro is fairly effective in conveying a menacing, egotistical power-monger like you-know-who.

New Line / WHV have also released the sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, on Blu-ray, but even the HD transfer might not convince ardent MK fans to complete their franchise collection. It’s good that it’s out there, but it’s still MK: Annihilation.

The TV series has been released on DVD in the U.K., but it’s either the pilot episode, or a 5-disc set that contains 10 of the 22 episodes that aired in 1998. The full series was apparently available at one time in Australia, via 6 separately sold volumes. Of course, it’s MK Conquest, and co-stars a young and utterly terrible Kristana Loken (Painkiller Jane).

I may in the near future attempt to watch the aforementioned franchise nadirs as related material for a blog on the bevy of music that was composed for the video games and filmic offshoots, but for now, it’s better to set that aside, and focus on the latest attempt to re-launch the characters in a YouTube serial, courtesy of Warner Premiere Digital.

The online serial, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, resets the MK universe into something more tangible, with an elite special ops team going after terrorist gangsters. Among the familiar names are bad boy Kano, (in)human weapons Scorpion and Sub Zero, and Sonya Blade (played by Jeri Ryan).

The fact the series is headlined by a mature actress is a new twist, and a smart one, considering the casting of athletic models and martial artists didn’t exactly save the 1998 TV series from the cancellation ax. I’ll post a review when all 10 episodes have aired, but for now, the curious can catch up on episodes 1 thru 3 via YouTube.

The fact one can’t say Mortal Kombat without hearing the battle cry in the background of one’s brain is a brilliant piece of marketing, and apparently the urge to scream MK resides in many folks, as a recent contest tries to suggest. This Google search offers up some variants, but don’t even think of trying the cry, because your neighbours will hear you, and know exactly what you attempted to accomplish so foolishly.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Limited Editions and Such

Coming next are several soundtrack reviews, but here’s an op-ed that begged to be written.

Last week the venerable Douglass Fake, bigwig of Intrada Records, posted a concise editorial blog on the nature of limited edition CDs, and why some titles sell out faster than others – a familiar headache with collectors of pretty much anything, if we think about it.

A friend and his best buddy are huge fans of graphic artist Tyler Stout, and both have observed the changes that occurred over the last 3-5 years where the work of a respected but lesser-known artist now rapidly sells out, largely due to speculators, and a mania of some To Have Everything, because They Must Have It, Just Plain Love It, or for others, can flip it on eBay for absurd prices.

I won’t rattle out specifics, except that after server crashes and incomplete payment processes at vendor sites, the new methods used to sell Stout’s posters may have changed, but the art still tends to disappear in minutes. More incredible, moments after a sellout, a batch of posters are listed by speculators who just bought a poster, just listed it online, and if you buy-it-now from them, they'll mail you the poster when it arrives - instant speculation without leaving one's seat.

It’s free market at its meanest, and it’s enraged people who just want to enjoy his art but have no hope in freakin’ heck of ever owning a piece, unless they sit at their computers and wait for a poster’s first sale announcement; try out the artist’s own lottery system when he sells his personal allotment of copies; or bow to the power of speculators on eBay. It’s not fair, but it’s the norm, and the artist I’m sure is perplexed when some of his work lingers for weeks or months, while other works are gone in minutes.

There’s also the period where the feeding frenzy to own plateaus, and prices on eBay bottom out until an item becomes rare, and things escalate again to a level where they won’t return to Earthly norms (a process that can take a year or two).

Posters, DVDs, and soundtrack CDs are commercial forms of art, and ideally what fans don’t want is a pattern of behaviour and events which ensure a small minority are privy to the pleasure of said art. The argument that often comes up is ‘Why not make more?’ The case of art on either format isn’t all that different: it amounts to rights, production costs, and sometimes time limits where the company may have a limited window to sell their inventory at list prices before rights expire, and they may have to unload excess copies at discounted prices.

Stout’s situation is he’s contracted to produce a limited run of posters, because Universal, for example, owns The Thing, and unless they decide to license the images for another run, you’ll need to pony up a G-note to buy Stout’s gorgeous poster in auctions.

Douglass Fake’s explanation regarding limited soundtrack albums is much more different, particularly in regards to the way soundtracks are licensed now compared to 25 years ago when Intrada began as a label, and I bought their first LPs.

As Fake describes:

“Unlike the norm years ago, most of the limited edition CDs we release today have their costs loaded up front, not in back. We often pay the royalties and mechanicals (publishing) at first signing, before the project actually goes into production. And all of the restoration, mastering, printing, manufacturing and packaging costs come on the front end as well. Whether we sell all copies or none, the costs remain. To err on the side of caution is far better than erring the other way…

“In a nutshell, for every instant seller there's a slow seller... followed by a non-seller. Multiply that by numerous labels all cranking out exciting (and sometimes not exciting) releases every week, all competing for your dollar... and you've got a warehouse full of guesses.”

Put another way, few labels today can afford to maintain inventories of stock for years, because as fans know, we don’t buy everything any single label releases anymore.

A label's worst fear is dead stock, so things have to move reasonably fast. Some solutions include selling older stock at a special discount for holiday-themed specials, or deleting dead titles – the latter a boon to previously hesitant collectors, but an aggravation for first-time buyers who plunked down list price. That happened to Intrada’s lovely CD of Christopher Young’s Species, which seems surreal when it’s one of his more enjoyable scores, but all I can assume is a) the prior promo CD was enough music for some; b) Intrada’s CD was bought primarily by Young fans and completists; c) buyer demographics shifted again, and Young, being a veteran now, is less known by a newer generation who rarely buy CDs .

The labels have a serious quandary: Do people still need to own physical media? Is the concept of ‘limited collector’s edition’ really worth annoying collectors who feel they’re being cut out of what 25 years ago was a fair chance to own and enjoy a one-time release?

Physical tends to mean permanent to fans; if you can touch it, read it, insert it into a player, and file it on a shelf, it has a sense of longevity which a burn, an on-demand product, or a digital product doesn’t. The fact someone cared to produce an art directed booklet, tray art, and design CD silkscreen means something, and collectors by nature like getting stuff. It’s just part of the DNA.

But as Fake points out, it’s hard to judge what titles will sell out and enable the label to recoup its costs and have extra for the next project. However, the ability to judge means there’s actually wiggle room to adjust the pressing run of a limited title, but what keeps the figure low is the need to recoup as many expenses as possible within the shortest time-frame because contractual agreements have evolved into something in line with the way studios release films to theatres: they too need to make the most up-front to recoup costs, which itself has radically reduced the time we have to catch a film. The limited window of theatrical engagement plays into (if not fosters) fickle film-going behaviour, in terms of how long a film remains on a moviegoer’s Must See list before it loses its attractiveness and is kicked off by the newest new release.

The same tends to happen with soundtracks because the market is much bigger, covers more national boundaries, and reaches more people than before because of online and mail order vendors. Pricing is less of an issue, in terms of finding a competitive price with limited editions, because at this stage, if it’s one of those released today-gone by evening titles, the time previously spent on price shopping is replaced by just getting the order processed.

That means some limited titles will not be seen again for a while. 15-20 years ago, the average limited run may have been 3000-1500 for a global market with less collectors, but there are many more now, so the situation Intrada and other labels are facing is almost like making a production plan based on tea leaves: If more collectors are out there, why not make a larger run that’s commensurate with the market? If classic and long-in-demand titles don’t sell out in a week or a month, is the affected title a missed gem that needs to benefit from word-of-mouth, or is it a failure, but only through the magic mirror of 2011 buyer behaviour?

Why, or perhaps one should ask, How, can Film Score Monthly continue to produce a prolific roster of limited releases that remain in print long enough for fans to acquire within a period that’s favourable to recession-era wallets?

I don’t’ know, but perhaps FSM's online magazine subscriptions aid in making the label’s roster limited to more reasonable quantities, or perhaps rabid speculators haven’t been aware of FSM’s own series of gems.

Maybe it’s the specificity of a composer who may no longer be relevant to newer generations, and was never liked much by veteran collectors n the first place. Perhaps it’s the uniqueness of a specific title never available before that guarantees a faster sell-out. And it may be freakish voodoo, where at one specific time, a lot of people just happen to want a particular title over others.

My griping with limited and instant sell-outs stems from the changes in the release models which previously favored current and eventual buyers, and the production of physical releases which not all studios find particularly important.

The trade-off is a tough one: whereas a front-of-line, major label's music department aide may no longer reciprocate an indie label’s queries with runarounds, year-long periods of incommunicado, indifference or rudeness (it has happened to the best), the deal now for some labels perhaps border on ‘Well, if you guys really, really want to release it, here are our non-negotiable terms.’

Why? Perhaps because from a major label’s angle, the time devoted to contracts, scoping archives, and shared production costs for title X is only worth the while if a proposed project can be done within an efficient time-frame.

The indie label, I’d assume, must therefore be savvy in the process of coming prepared to the bargaining table with as much research, sample campaign art, and advance contractual work done ahead of time. They must also do that first release very well to ensure it snags a productive relationship with the major label, and once both are familiar with their wants, needs, and available back catalogue items, there’s wiggle room to create a definitive release.

Perhaps indie labels do struggle with the issue of left-out, latecoming buyers & collectors, and whether the current (and antiquated) album model needs to be brought in line with the realities of the digital age. Maybe a split-run agreement would help: press CDs for ardent collectors, and issue digital albums for the rest, just so the music remains in circulation, and all that hard work wasn’t for an ephemeral product. Both Varese Sarabande and Silva Screen are among major indie soundtrack labels who do this, and from a consumer's angle, it's great (although CD-only releases are still applicable to Varese's limited CD Club titles, so the vicious circle still continues).

For titles previously unreleased or once issued on obsolete media formats (LP, VHS, wax tablet, bag of trained Mexican jumping beans), a major purpose of any article or review is to make readers aware X exists, and maybe one day it'll make it to a contemporary medium.

It's one thing to pine for art that's near impossible to acquire and enjoy due to format obsolescence, but there’s nothing worse for readers than getting their interest pricked… and then discovering the 'new' title in question is no longer available, particularly if it’s less than a month old.

‘Nuff said.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Big Science on the IMAX screen, Part I

2011 marks the year NASA's shuttle crafts are set to retire, with each 'flying brick' earmarked for museum archiving, where the general public will be able to see the worl's most successful spacecraft program.

NASA's first major ventures - the disposable Saturn rocket - was big, expensive, and used up a lot of resources, whereas the shuttle vehicles were designed for re-use, often characterized as 'space taxis' capable of being launched into space with specific cargo (such as satellite) slated for release into Earth's orbit, or parts necessary for reparing existing Big Science crafts, such as the Hubble Space Telescope - itself given one last tech upgrade and polish by NASA.

The timing for new (or remastered) IMAX space docs on home video is ideal, and the first wave actually began last fall, although Hubble 3D [M] (Warner Home Video) is perhaps more timely, since it documents what may be the telescope's last servicing.

The massive device that's enabled us to see far beyond our realm was first given a salute in the 2005 doc Hubble: 15 Years of Discovery [M] (SPV), which combined facts with images from Hubble, and striking animated montages of forming galaxies and stars created by John Dubinski.

Dubinski's amazingly hypnotic work showcased in the DVD Gravitas: Portraits of a Universe in Motion [M] (2006).

Hubble 3D is also the latest IMAX space film by Toni Myers (whose been involved with Big Space films as an editor, writer, producer, and director), and marks another collaboration between Myers and composers Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon, who've been scoring IMAX films since North of Superior (1971), as well as most of the space docs.

Their prior space film was Space Station 3D [M] (2002). and like Hubble 3D, both have been released on Blu-ray by WHV in flat and 3D versions.

To compliment the former, I've also uploaded a review of Inside the Space Station [M] (2000), a Discovery Channel doc that's heavier on facts than grandiose visuals.

Each of the IMAX reviews have links to related films & interviews - including director Toni Myers [M] and composer Maribeth Solomon [M] - and because this series begins with things telescopy, I've added a review of Solarmax [M], (Sling Shot Entertainment), another doc from 2000 that's also available on Blu-ray via Warner Music.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Cancon I: A Ticket to the Heavenly Mother Lode

Cancon [can-conn], in its broadest scope, stands for Canadian Content, as well as government rules that define how much Canadian content a radio station, cable TV station, and other media outlets must broadcast, carry, publish, etc. to ensure native talent isn’t being smothered by foreign product.

In its best form, the rules helped foster a positive regard for Canadian music, which had been given short-shrift by radio stations in favour of top 30 material from the U.S. and abroad.

The stations’ reasoning: ‘Why play some schmo from Yorkville who sings in a coffee shop instead of The Beatles?’

The Gov: ‘Well, because the schmo or schmoette might actually be good, and giving said schmo/ette a venue to reach the masses might also get people interested in some of the stuff that’s coming out of their own back yards.’

Cancon regulations mandated stations must play at least 36% Canadian music – which gave a third more air space to local talent. The down side? Bureaucratic rules that at one time declared Bryan Adams’ music ‘not Canadian enough’ because his co-writer in 1992 wasn’t a Canucklehead.

That’s called the Pinhead Syndrome / Syndrome duh cerveau mince et ouchie, where rules with good intentions backfire into a state of ridiculousness that leaves no one happy.

In Canadian film, the situation was much more different due to a long history of film exhibition being controlled (still is) by foreign companies, or at least companies whose parent entities are foreign.

For the sake of time (mine), space (of which there’s actually plenty here), and the fact I’ll revisit the topic in later blogs, I’ll skirt over a few things, but preamble here about what will be an ongoing series on Canadian films you may never have heard of, or if you’re part of a certain generation, remember as sucking quite mightily… and perhaps were wrong in assuming local = crap.

Here’s a simple FAQ for novices:

Q: I know we make films. Why is this a big deal for writers like you?

A: We do make films, and we could and should make more, but it’s a very complicated situation that’s quite different from the U.S.

Our distribution network was effectively handed over to foreign companies way back in the twenties and thirties, and even if there are national distributors and exhibitors (which there are), the preference is on films that will earn profits, of which a Hollywood blockbuster will always trump a local film funded by a mouthful of private, government, and corporate entities.

If you read the final section of the End Credits to a Hollywood film, you’ll see MGM, Fox, Warner Bros., Sony.

At the end credits of a Canadian film, you don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the logos and formal acknowledgements to the funding agencies, sponsors, promissory notes, and broadcast guarantors posted before the fadeout that precedes you dashing down the aisle to the loo for some needed bladdertorial relief.

Here’s a favourite situation:

The late Phillip Borsos was a fine filmmaker, a bit of a wunderkind who made a series of highly regarded short films before making a splash with The Grey Fox (1982). The TIFF Bell Lightbox [TBL] recently had an anniversary screening which itself was a good publicity opportunity to remind people of good films you can’t see easily due to the complicated financing that was in vogue during the seventies and eighties.

Not only is the film nowhere to be found on home video – it’s never appeared on DVD – but neither is Borsos’ other film, The Bethune: Making of a Hero (1990),one of the first major co-productions between the west and China.

Also one of the most expensive films ever made by us.

So… Where is it?

I have a taped copy from a pay TV airing on Betamax. It did receive VHS releases, but it’s never been available on DVD, never seems to air on TV, never airs in its longer form on the CBC, and the documentary that chronicled its troubled production has disappeared into oblivion.

Here’s another one: Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993) recently screened at the TBL as part of the Cinematheque’s salute to Cancon and the upcoming Juno Awards (not Genie, not Gemini. Juno = music.)

Want to see it? Too bad, because this critically acclaimed film seems to be the victim of International Funding Syndrome where – I’m assuming – it can’t be released on home video again until every participant signs off in agreement.

I counted 10 firms and agencies from 5 counties, according to this basic tally.

Some of these films do appear on TV, but home video remains elusive, even though the Gould film appeared on VHS, laserdisc, and DVD once. At least with these relatively recent films, their owners and distributors are traceable, but it gets much more complicated when we jump back another 20 years to the seventies and early eighties.

In Ontario, for example, we had a bit of a film boom in an era known as the tax shelter years. An investor could write off a significant chunk of money if it went into a film that starred Canadian citizens, and / or was written, directed, produced and scored by Canadians.

Savvy producers realized some major Hollywood actors had either retained their Canuckle passports, or enjoyed dual citizenship, which is why some films tended to favour aging stars like Glenn Ford (Happy Birthday to Me), Robert Vaughn (Starship Invasions), or Leslie Nielsen (Prom Night).

As described in the commentary track for David Cronenberg’s Fast Company (1979), these films also tended to be shot close to winter because investors weren’t sure how much money they’d have for a proposed production until accountants had done draft tax returns, so a number of films were reportedly shot within very tight schedules to ensure the investment would qualify for the ending tax year.

Another factor that’s probably a marriage of cheeky urban myth / reality is the mélange of private investors who have to sign off on any home video deal, if not who actually owns a movie made decades ago that’s been out of circulation for at least 10-15 years or more.

The joke was most tax shelter films were funded by dentists, but there’s probably some truth in there. I’m not a dentist (the concept of putting fingers in strange mouths is off-putting, which is why I studied film instead), so I can’t confirm how many orthodontists may have contributed to Snow-bound Bunnies in Banff, Beaver Tales of Yore, Margaret’s Maple Adventure, or the two solitudes cultural ice-breaker, Fleur de Lis: The Deflowering of Saint Julie de Mont-Petit, based on the infamous case of a Quebec City prostitute who travelled to the island of Inukkavaluut off Baffin Island, and ‘serviced’ local cobalt miners because of a Holy Vision of Jean-Marc Neuilly-Neuilly Poussee-Blanche-Douche, the Patron Saint of Bubble Bath Oil.

More seriously, the tax shelter films have become (for some) Holy Grails of lost films, because we either remember them from TV, discovered them on VHS and Beta, or heard of them as great undiscovered works of cinemaduh fromage.

[caption id="attachment_1861" align="alignleft" width="300" caption=""Omee gad! It's the phone !" / Notice how the ill-chosen font for PHOBIA seems to read HAIR from this vantage point?"]

"Omee gad! It's the phone !" / 
Notice how the ill-chosen font for PHOBIA seems to read HAIR from this vantage point?

Like Bells aka Murder by Phone (1982), directed by Michael (Around the World in 80 Days) Anderson, and Phobia (1980), directed by John (The Maltese Falcon) Huston – works of cinema I like to call Mortgage Movies, because their production probably paid for the mortgages of new homes these directors purchased in Pasadena.

I’ve been engaged to write a chapter to a horror anthology on Canadian horror films, and I’m ‘professionally obliged’ to research tax shelter movies, so the fruits of my research will likely bleed now and then into reviews of Cancon films you’ve never heard of but should – either because they’re good, outstanding & neglected cultural treasures, or crap.

So the hunt is on, and so is this series, which I’m calling Cancon (original, isn’t it?).

The first isn’t true Cancon in terms of its producer, director, writer, composer and lead star (stop it – I’m getting to the point), but Charlton Heston’s Mother Lode [M] (1982) co-stars Nick Mancuso and the province of British Columbia, was shot by the late, great Richard Leiterman, and is available on DVD in a lovely widescreen transfer from Warner Home Video.

The other film coincidentally co-stars Mancuso and was also shot by Leiterman, and is indicative of a solid movie made by us which disappeared from distribution, but is now available as an import via Echo Bridge.

Ticket to Heaven [M] premiered at TIFF in 1981, and won four major Genie awards (not Juno. Not Gemini.) including Best Film, Actor (Mancuso), and Supporting Actor (Saul Rubinek), and it’s a terrifying drama based on the true story of a man rescued from the Moonies cult in the seventies.

Both Mother Lode and Ticket to Heaven were also part of the first films to appear on Canadian pay TV (First Choice, and Super Channel being the main ones in Ontario), and their trailers were constantly running before the picture was scrambled except for paying subscribers.

The Ticket trailer frankly scared the crap out of me, because it looked like a horrible tale akin to The Wicker Man (1974). Mancuso plays a man whose mind and body were ultimately usurped by a dangerous cult, and the film actually lives up to the trailer’s potential because the filmmakers’ point was to catalogue the often surreal measures pushed onto newcomers at the isolated camp where indoctrination and brainwashing began. It’s worth buying the DVD because the first third of Ticket is filmed and edited in a chilling documentary style.

It’s a pity it’s only available as a budget DVD rather than a special edition on Blu-ray, but that’s part of the ignominious existence of the good Canadian films that floated above derivative fodder during the film boom of the seventies and eighties.

At least the Mother Load DVD was done right. There’s no commentary track, but writer / producer Fraser Heston provides a good overview of the film’s production in a lengthy featurette. Clearly the younger Heston, as well as the DVD’s producer, cared enough for the film to bother, which puts the disorganized state north of the 49th parallel to shame.

One of the most important sources for vintage Canadian films is a pair of U.S. labels – Scorpion Releasing, and Code Red (which folded last fall, but product is still available). In most cases, their releases are treated as special editions, and it begs the question: Is it a case where no one cares up here, or are the distribution agreements stateside cleaner and leaner, with less dentists to track down?

I really want to know, and hopefully through further reviews of Cancon classiques and fromage, we’ll find out.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Dog Tales II: Lassie Goes to War!

Corracciones: Coraggio di BILL!

Lassie’s wartime experience was somewhat different in her second film, Son of Lassie, where Pal the dog played both Lassie and her not-so-bright offspring Laddie, and it’s the latter who gets whisked off (almost as a prank) to Norway on a reconnaissance mission, only to get separated from his master Joe, dodging evil filthy Nazis until the inevitable reunion, and fast flight, fight, and straight trip home to June Lockhart and her big hugs and kisses.

In his third film, billed again as Lassie, Pal plays an orphaned pooch named Bill adopted by a teenage Liz Taylor in Courage of Lassie, which really should’ve been called Courage of Bill. Bill eventually runs into multiple hardships, gets donated to the war effort, becomes a war dog, is paired with a combat unit in the Philippines, and is sent back home due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, where more havoc is wreaked on a local level, resulting in a near-mauling of Liz, and a courtroom trial deciding his fate.

Seriously. This is a kiddie film.

I’m not sure what the hell Warner Bros.’ brass were thinking, but this is the strangest entry among the first four Lassie films, and yet it kind of works, and is fascinating for the jarring plot and mood shifts that happen every 20-25 mins. It’s compelling, dark, bizarre, and only a handful of scenes are really kid-friendly, which is why the studio recut the trailer into a faux happy doggy montage for a 1972 reissue round as a matinee series.

If kids were traumatized by Bambi’s mom dying, I wonder if they comprehended a dog experiencing shell-shock syndrome. I don’t think the producers were trying to compete with adult dramas like The Best Years of Our Lives (also released in 1946), but rather trying to make the franchise timely and fresh, but whether audiences were game for the upgrade is a mystery.

In the second film, Lassie / Laddie’s war experience was the direct result of a gag, whereas in Lassie / er, Bill’s third film, it’s realist social commentary. Besides, the only way you could re-direct Lassie into another cinematic war adventure was through official military channels as a war dog.

That aspect and the dog’s trauma initially seem absurd (Bill gets PTSD flashbacks), but there’s little way any creature could survive bombs, gunfire, and daily near-death experiences without some mental trauma, and it’s not dissimilar from adopting a dog that’s been abused in the past, and gets defensive and snarly when it smells alcohol among rowdy men.

Trauma even figures in the fourth film, Hills of Home (1948), where Lassie refuses to cross water because her prior owner would mock-drown her for letting a sheep get killed. Not exactly kiddie stuff.

In any event, in this second installment of Dog Tales, I’ve uploaded a review of Courage of Lassie [M] (Warner Home Video), as well as a review for a newfound rarity: War Dogs [M], a 1942 propaganda film produced by Monogram to motivate folks into donating their dogs for the war effort.

It’s a bit technically rough at times, but makes for a natural compliment to the Lassie film because it covers in more docu-drama style war dog training. It’s also FREE, because it’s part of that increasingly large pool of movies and other media now in the public domain – works whose copyrights have lapsed, and are essentially available gratis to read (Project Gutenberg Canada, and its main hub, Project Gutenberg), hear or view (via Internet Archive).

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Hot & Bothered: The Chase, by Arthur Penn and Sam Spiegel

Perhaps the hottest and most bothersome elements in The Chase (1966)

From March 24 thru April 6, the folks at the TIFF Bell Lightbox [TBL] ran a retrospective of an unlikely film hero, American director Arthur Penn. It’s actually easy to forget his role as part of the wave of new directors stemming from live TV who made striking contributions to filmmaking in the U.S., during the waning days of the studio system.

His final feature films – Target (1981), Dead of Winter (1987), and Penn & Teller Get Killed (1989) – weren’t classics, and his prior works from the mid-seventies were uneven, bloated, or just plain weird, as with Night Moves (1975), Little Big Man (1970), and The Missouri Breaks (1976), respectively.

He also contributed to a pair of anthologies – Lumiere and Company (1995), and Visions of Eight (1973), the latter having utterly vanished from distribution – but his major accomplishments were transposing gritty acting styles into his live teleplays, translating William Gibson’s superb play The Miracle Worker (1962) into a moving film (with a great Laurence Rosenthal score to boot), putting slightly odd spins on the western (The Left Handed Gun), and pushing the limits of onscreen violence as Production Code was on its death bed.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967) brought to the screen a heightened level of lawless behaviour, and a fiery shootout that remains one of the most violent death scenes in a major studio film. Warner Bros., who produced the film, also made Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch in 1969, and it isn’t a leap to assume that without the Code’s demise and Penn’s focus on slow, drawn-out death montages, Peckinpah wouldn’t have been able to go further with gore, dynamic editing, and slow-motion death throes.

TBL’s retrospective included most of the aforementioned films – Left Handed Gun, Bonnie and Clyde, Night Movies, and The Chase, plus Mickey One (1965), a bizarro ‘chase’ film where Warren Beatty plays an annoying comic on the run from mob elements. It’s another striking, trippy film that ain’t on DVD because it’s been forgotten, save for occasional airings on Bravo or TCM.

Pretty, isn't it?

The black & white cinematography’s stunning, and the jaunty, sleazy orchestral jazz score by Eddie Sauter features gorgeous Stan Getz solos. The album itself is worth snapping up on CD, and the LP, if you want the striking cover art.

Pity Alan Surgal never wrote another feature film, but perhaps he needed Penn to turn his peculiar concept into a kinetic film experience.

It’s hard to fathom whether the chase structure of Mickey One was the key aspect that brought Penn to direct Sam Spiegel’s production of The Chase.

The producer had reportedly wanted Brando to play the role of escaped convict Bubber Reeves in the fifties, but as time passed on, Brando got older, and he seemed better suited to play Sheriff Calder, with relative newcomer Robert Redford ideal for the young rebel Bubber.

In retrospect, given the few scenes Bubber actually has in the film, Brando would’ve been ill-served by the role – unless the original film concept was closer to the length and breadth of Horton Foote’s play.

Penn had already proven his knack with plays in TV and Miracle Worker, so producer Spiegel got what seemed to be the perfect director – someone who could handle strong subject matter, complex themes, big stars, intimate dramatic moments, and a complex array of characters in a lengthy narrative – which The Chase was, albeit bloated to 135 mins.

It is a flawed film, and my first impression maybe 15 years ago was straight boredom, but there were intriguing elements in the story, not to mention one of the most amazing casts ever assembled. Not one small role was cast with a hack; it was all quality, and they were all well directed.

The problem with the film lay in its midsection – something even the small audience at the Sunday April 3rd screening undoubtedly felt – but there was a marked difference in seeing the film on TV, and experiencing it on the big screen. The TBL’s print was fairly clean, with only the mono audio rather pinched to the mid- and high range, but it is a handsome production, and sometimes what plays as kitsch on video feels more organic on a big fat screen.

John Barry’s score had some moments of power, and even if Penn wasn’t happy with the way Spiegel supervised the film’s editing, it did move. I’d argue the first 45 mins. or so are textbook examples on how to string together disparate scenes of diverse townsfolk interacting in scenes that introduce and establish their superficial and secret relationships. The tricks are fluid, and would work in any genre, provided one constructed such an elaborate series of character intros properly.

Spiegel reportedly ‘tweaked’ Lillian Hellman’s script, but it’s obvious the play was fleshed out, characters may have multiplied, but somehow you don’t lose track of who’s who, nor who’s screwing who’s wife. Rewritten or just tweaked, that’s great story and script construction.

I’ve uploaded reviews of the film [M] (which is, incidentally, still available on DVD), as well as John Barry’s soundtrack album [M].

According to Barry biographers Geoff Leonard, Peter Walker, and Gareth Bramley, Spiegel wanted Leonard Bernstein (!) to score the film, which sounds nutty, except that Spiegel did produce Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront in 1954, which co-starred a young Brando, and featured a great original score by Bernstein with jazz elements.

Spiegel’s stature in film is significant because he was an independent producer who worked with major maverick talent; he also knew how bullish he could behave, so it made sense he could handle Kazan (On the Waterfront and The Last Tycoon), Orson Welles (The Stranger), John Huston (The African Queen), Joseph Losey (The Prowler), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Suddenly Last Summer), David Lean (Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia), Anatole Litvak (The Night of the Generals), and Franklin J. Schaffner (Nicholas and Alexandra).

For a man credited with 23 productions, a third is comprised of all-time classics. Spiegel was a man who sought out great talent, and now and then, trusted newcomers, of which Penn and contemporary Schaffner came from a generation of TV wonderboys.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

The Corman Touch

After a delicious Eric Roberts sandwich, Sharktopus homicidus is ready for a nice aftynoon nap.

Roger Corman's built a career making economical quickies, but there was a period when he was poised to move into the low A-realm, after building an increasingly respectable reputation as a director of Edgar Allan Poe shockers such as The House of Usher (1960) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964).

Von Richthofen and Brown (1971) was supposed to be the career maker, but UA's mishandling of the film soured Corman from directing for practically 20 years, during which time he set up a new company, New World Pictures, producing and releasing native and international products.

During that time, Corman went back to being a businessman and mentor, and he continues to be involved with low budget productions, such as Sharktopus [M] (Anchor Bay), reportedly the highest rated TV movie on the SyFy network thus far.

From the Blu-ray's  commentary track, one gets the impression he'd like to work with more money, but technology's allowed him to animate almost anything - including a half-shark, half octopus, with decapitations and elaborate explosions.

Now, few attempts to make a deliberately good-bad, bug-eyed monster movie work (Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus has its share of flaws, but came close, even tough all the money shots are in the trailer), but there is a special fromage factor in Sharktopus, which should please fans of no-budget monster movies cut from the Corman cloth.

To the other end, there's Philippe Resonnances [M] (Synapse Films), which comes pretty close to transcending the major limitations of its DV production values. Not unlike Sharktopus, the giant bug effects and attack sequences generally work in what's a decent riff on Ron Underwood's Tremors (1990). Shot on DV, this French film took some time getting to Region 1 land, but it's a good work sampler from a director who just needs a bit more cash and extra time to refine the script into something less overtly derivative.

Coming next: Marlon Brando's mumbling bubberesque performance in Arthur Penn's The Chase (1966), a film whose tension is derived not from whether 'Bubber' Reeves (shiny-faced Robert Redford) lives through a conflagration of small town hate, but exactly how does the salmon dress worn by actress Janice Rule (The Swimmer) maintain an unbearable level of cleavage in spite of gravity, and a persistent, southern summer breeze.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

The Curious Case of Veit Harlan

Time is tight today, so I’ll actually forego the usual editorial blather and direct you to a review of Felix Moeller’s Harlan: In the Shadow of Jud Suss [M] (2008), released last fall from Zeitgeist Films.

Who was Veit Harlan? In short terms, a star director during the Third Reich  - he directed the last film produced under Goebbels’ watch, Kolberg [M], in 1945 - and later a disgraced filmmaker after he refused to accept any blame, nor make apologies for helming the anti-Semitic film Jud Suss in 1940.

Moeller’s doc is more about how the specter of that film, if not Harlan’s career and stature as an artist, affected family members, and whether the infamous film is as racist and dangerous as some historians claim.

In addition to interviews with all of Harlan’s surviving children – including the late Thomas Harlan, Maria Korber, Jan Harlan, and Christiane Kubrick – the extras include a lengthy interview with filmmaker Alexander Kluge, and an additional interview with Harlan’s granddaughter Jessica Jacoby.

Some critics have found Moeller’s doc half-finished, or a half-examination, with insufficient attention given towards the elephant in the room, so I’ve added a review of Jud Suss [M], which is available on DVD in the U.S. with extra historical materials and an audio commentary.

Coming next: ridiculous monster movies, and a review of bubberfilm The Chase (1966), which screened yesterday at the Tiff Bell Lightbox as part of their salute to Arthur Penn.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Doing it right: Gerhardt, Korngold, and RCA

It’s quite possible many households during the seventies had at least one of Charles Gerhardt’s classical recordings done by RCA for Reader’s Digest. When I was a brat, my mother used to babysit in the apartment where I initially grew up, and even after we moved to Cuesta Verde- I mean, North York, she maintained ties with a few of the old apartment friends, and babysat one monster child named Richard.

The kid was a smash & grab creature who twice – twice – fiddled with the knobs and handles in his mother’s VW bug and crashed the car into our garage door. He also yanked a large stuffed fish pillow from under my head and made my cranium strike the concrete floor.

The bastard was a classic terror child – when my mother and I dropped by his mum’s apartment to slide a letter through the door slot, I peeked under the door and saw nothing but littered busted toys all across the carpet – but his mother worked for RCA, and the trade-offs for bruised brains and crunched garages were free portable radios, free kid’s albums (like the RCA Camden Dr. Seuss LPs), and the odd classical title – or so it seemed.

It wasn’t until maybe my early teens that I pulled our Gerhardt’s re-recording of Max Steiner’s Gone with the Wind, and while I wasn’t blown away with the music, the very existence of film music on a record seemed unique. It wasn’t until a few years later that I made the connection between the Tony Thomas-produced Max Steiner LPs I was buying at Sam Record Man with the GWTW LP, and realized the RCA album was part of a series released by the label during the seventies, and were largely still in print.

I’ve written before what a bitch it was to get a label’s full roster in Canada – we just didn’t get more than half the titles of any label’s series because of import issues, or the distributor not giving a damn – so I only learned of other volumes based on what was listed in the liner notes or album sleeves, and it never seemed to end.

You bought one LP, and Bang! there were Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn albums. Some I never managed to find because they didn't get reissued, but both the Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Waxman and Max Steiner albums remained available in Canada.

The history of these Classic Film albums is somewhat simple in that they were a natural offshoot of the RCA-Reader’s Digest classic sets and individual releases, but what made them unique for the time was the extreme care Gerhardt and co-producer George (son of Erich Wolfgang) Korngold extended to the music.

As 'Gene Tyranny' writes in All Music, he approached the composers and worked out what music to focus on, and how to arrange it. Then had themes and dramatic cuts fleshed out into flowing  suites and extracts that not only captured the classic sound of Golden and Silver Age composers, but emphasized their brilliance as masters of orchestral writing.

It is fair to say at this point that Gerhardt probably encountered elitism among critics, fellow producers, and even snooty concert composers who felt anything film-related was rubbish. Not serious, not relevant, and a waste of time. The albums were like best-of hit collections for the idiot masses, to be spun like Mantovani and anesthetized listeners in place of intellectual or emotional provocation.

I started it all!

Gerhardt’s decision to engage in a series of LPs was daring for the time, because prior to the first release – The Sea Hawk: The Film Music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold – few film composers treated themselves to suites & themes albums.

Alfred Newman did a few for Decca, as did Max Steiner for RCA, Victor Young for Decca, Dimitri Tiomkin for Coral, Elmer Bernstein for Decca and in the sixties for Ava Records, but they were all either rare suites / one-off albums done during the fifties, or hit themes dumbed-down for the easy listening crowd.

You can’t say the composers were to blame, even when they produced the LPs or arranged the music for easy to swallow spoon-sizes. The fifties were not that friendly to film score LPs, and the increased push to have a hit theme song in a film decided not only what music was released, but how.

Newman’s Anastasia did get an LP release, but so did Pat Boone’s single version. Tiomkin’s Dial M for Murder only appeared as part of a theme collection of ‘romantic’ and moody themes rather than re-recorded score cuts.

Young re-recorded small suites of themes for Decca's 10" LPs, but perhaps the first move to re-record a chunk of a score for a single album came from Warner Bros. Records., where in-house music director Ray Heindorf (re-billed simply as "Heindorf") supervised the productions of Young's For Whom the Bell Tolls and Miklos Rozsa's Spellbound in 1958, under the label's new hi-fi sound imprint, Vitaphonic Stereo.

Both WB re-recordings were slowly paced, schmaltzy, and lacked the fury endemic to the original screen recordings (or the composers' own suite recordings from the forties).

Themes-from-and-inspired-by albums didn’t yet exist, but wishy-washy-themes-from-plus-these-other-great-hits were popping up on the horizon, mostly in re-recorded collections suited for every taste and loungy, leisure room persuasion. Most of those collections littered the used LP bins for years, and none of the ones I sampled were ever any good. They cluttered used shops for a reason.

Gerhardt’s approach included fidelity to the composer’s vision (or pretty damn close to), the music’s dramatic impact (or least evocative of its impact when experienced with sound and picture), and as a representation of the composer’s best creative work. The music was also performed and recorded and engineered like fine classical music, and the albums had a wonderful flow – either mimicking a concert, or a rousing musical experience that, like a Shostakovich symphony, was meant to blast from your high-end hi-fi system.

The albums were so well engineered that they were released in stereo, in Quadraphonic sound, and later on CD in Dolby Surround when that process was in vogue during the eighties and early nineties.

From a purist’s stand, the morphing sound designs might have been annoying, but the multiple releases did illustrate the instincts of Gerhardt and fellow series producer Korngold: if you make the album with sincere professionalism, it will have legs.

It’s not wrong to assume the Gerhardt-Korngold high standard influenced other producers to exceed expectations in other music idioms when crafting their own albums. (One can see similarities with Elmer Bernstein's Film Music Collection, which the composer set up in the seventies to record and release suites and single score albums of neglected music by marginalized composers.)

Not unlike RCA’s Living Stereo series of the fifties, the Gerhardt albums remain superb recordings deserving of praise for their engineering and the producers' innate good taste that pretty much ensured the music reflected the peak quality of the era in which it was composed, rather than the polar extreme - UA’s series of wretched re-recordings produced by Leroy Holmes that turned stirring music into echoey, slowed-down ugliness typical of bad seventies orchestrating, and bad recording techniques. (Even Decca tree albums sounded better.)

The fact the masters still sound good is also a tribute to the RCA crew who took care of them and ensured the multi-track elements could be flexed into Quad, Dolby 4.0, or punchy 2.0 Stereo.

The Classic Film Score series also seemed to motivate Tony Thomas into believing he too could ride on the Gerhardt wave and release LPs of original archival score material in smaller runs, mining unreleased acetate material from the Max Steiner Society, or utterly forgotten music by Hans J. Salter, Miklos Rozsa, and even Alfred Newman – notably the latter’s Captain from Castile, which Gerhardt re-recorded a few stellar theme selections, too.

Each competing effort fed off the other, and even if one could credit John Williams’ Star Wars for rekindling an interest in large orchestral scores with classical designs, the interest in going back to old, ignored catalogues seemed to begin when Gerhardt released that first Korngold LP which became a best-seller.

Yes, it was Korngold, not Newman or Hugo Friedhofer, but it got the ball rolling.

So while the other major labels were keen on putting out other Williams-y scores, indie labels sprouted up and took advantage of some classic music languishing in studio vaults. Varese Sarabande raided the Decca archives, and sometimes did their own restoration of newly found masters (Island in the Sky, Themes from Horror Movies), acetates, or previously unreleased material.

Varese probably would’ve sprouted on its own, but RCA’s ongoing and in-print series sure helped.

That brings me to the actual RCA run, which gets complicated because the LPs were released individually, in a boxed set with additional music, reissued on LP in their original shorter running times, reissued on CD in the same manner, reissued in Germany with more music, reissued in Dolby Surround, and now we’ve come back again with the entire RCA run of the original album releases back in action in CD and MP3 formats.

The best catalogue and dissection of the series was done in 1998 (!) by R. Mike Murray for Film Score Monthly Daily. This link has probably gotten more hits in the last six months than in 1998, and bless FSM for keeping it active online.

Murray gives an overview of the series, breaks down what music was & wasn’t on which release, and he tries not to make your head hurt.

The new run from RCA on their Red Seal imprint features new masterings, which do sound different from the Surround Sound versions from the late eighties, but that makes sense because upwards of 11 years have yielded a few major technological advancements, as well as re-appraisals of how to apply digital gear.

When Tony Thomas released Newman’s Captain from Castile on his Delos LP label, the original source was the set of Mercury 78s, albeit processed a bit with then-novel sound enhancement gear. That approach also extended to the Facets CD, and it was also applied in the eighties when Thomas released an Alfred Newman compilation for the Varese CD Club series, featuring Castile extracts from an older Mercury release, heavily reprocessed into a stereophonic, boom-friendly sound design. Prior to the Screen Archives complete score release, I had to reach back to the Mercury LP of the fifties to get the cleaner true mono recording.

Silly, isn't it?

It just illustrates how a new sound enhancing toy is sometimes overused to ‘open up’ older recordings because few understand the new toy's far-reaching effects years later. Ergo, producers always learn less is sometimes more and where a specific toy works best, and nowhere else. What’s remarkable is how Gerhardt and Korngold got it right so many times 30+ years ago.

So, without further editorial blather, I’ve uploaded the first four reviews of the remastered Gerhardt-Korngold Classic Film Score series lot, starting with the David Raksin [M], Franz Waxman [M], Alfred Newman [M], and Dimitri Tiomkin [M] albums.

For those whose first exposure to any of the represented composers starts with this re-launched series, dig into Gerhardt series, and if you like the wares of any composer, go nuts.

Seriously. There’s so much music out there now in complete form, and you owe it to yourself to look back if your listening habits are saturated with the same stuff released in the last 10 years. Of course you won't like all of it, but you will find someone whose music will impress, and your tastes will suddenly begin to broaden, branching to classic film music, classical music, period hits, and new re-recordings and idiomatic versions. Things always expand from a hungry interest.

Seriously. It’s all good.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor
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