Welcome to my Classic Film Scores tourney. Before I proceed with the regulatory rigmarole, allow me to offer my thanks to Rain, who graciously allowed me to partially plagiarize his tourney format, and even lift passages from his rule descriptions almost verbatim.
I. Here, “classic” denotes the era in filmmaking prior to 1976; meaning that any film score which postdates John Williams’ Jaws (outside the confines of the year in which it premiered, 1975) is ineligible. So as to forestall ambiguity, hereafter, except in cases in which the score was composed after the premiere of a film, the date of the film’s public debut will be considered the date of the score. This means, for example, that Richard Einhorn’s score for The Passion of Joan of Arc, though written for a 1928 film, is ineligible, as it was composed in 1988. On the other hand, “recreated” scores (such as that recently done for Metropolis) are eligible, as long as the original composer is credited.
II. “Film score” is defined as:
a. An original musical composition written specifically for the film in which it appears. This is differentiated from what is commonly referred to as a “soundtrack”—a collection of catalogue musical pieces which appear alongside or in the place of original music composed for a film (this includes, but is not limited to, rock, classical, jazz, ragtime, etc.). For example, neither the music featured in American Graffiti nor 2001: A Space Odyssey is eligible, as they are comprised of music written by composers independent of the film production.
However, this does not preclude original film music composed after the themes of another composer (credited or otherwise). For example, this means that both Dimitri Tiomkin’s original musical score to Portrait of Jennie (based on themes by Debussy), and Charles Strouse’s Bonnie and Clyde (based on “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” by Flatt & Scruggs) are eligible.
This also does not preclude original music composed for a film, but not used in the final cut. For example, both Bernard Herrmann’s Torn Curtain (replaced by an original composition by John Addison) and Alex North’s original score to 2001 (replaced by various classical catalogue pieces) are eligible.
b. An original musical composition not conceived in Musical form. This is here defined as music in which lyrics/songs are employed as an integral narrative device. This does not preclude scores in which original choral music is used in the service of background accompaniment; or scores in which brief segments of this form are interspersed, whether as a complement to the diagetic world of the film’s action or setting, or as a momentary “departure” from its main structure. For example, whereas both Sergei Prokofiev’s original cantata Alexander Nevsky (in which the action is frequently accompanied by solo or choral voices) and Max Steiner’s Casablanca (in which “As Time Goes By”, and various other songs, play a prominent role in establishing the diagetic setting of the film’s action) are eligible, Bock & Harnick’s Fiddler on the Roof (which tells the story of Tevye fundamentally through lyrical songs) is not. Furthermore, Burt Bacharach’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (which features both a single, brief song interlude, as well as solo and choral vocal accompaniment) is eligible; whereas Alan Price’s O Lucky Man! (in which the song interludes are integral to the film’s narrative) is not. A little discretion may be required. (Oft-times, a score’s categorization for Academy Awards will be a short-cut in determining its eligibility.)
1. Brackets are decided upon purely by random draw. If the match-up seems unfair, please consult your clergyman/therapist/celestial chart for the possible culprit.
2. To vote in any given bracket, you must have either:
a.Seen both films.
b.Listened to both scores on audio CD, in at least mostly complete form.
This tourney is just for kicks, and not a winner-take-all deathmatch, so I trust it to the voter’s discretion to decide what comprises “mostly complete.”
To weigh in with the obligatory controversial mandate (as well as dispense with some of the obvious prejudices and egomania of the tourney host ), while I would, of course, strongly prefer the voter to have actually seen the films on which their respective scores were based (as one of the leading virtues of a score is its fluency in commenting upon the action of the film), it is not, as noted above, a requirement. Indeed, I would argue that, to the person who possesses both the cultured musical ear and fluent understanding of cinema, some filmic compositions betray their superior musicianship and skillful conception even when heard in isolation from the film. For example, there is at least one film composition (which shall, for the present, go unnamed) included in the list below of which I confess to regarding as something of a litmus test to see purely whose musical tastes are worthy of my respect. As ever, as neither this tourney nor my opinion is anything to get worked up over, I would take it friendly if the contributor would receive the whole enterprise with a very discreet and humorous pinch of salt.
3. In the event of a tie, sudden death rules prevail--next vote takes it. If there is still no vote 24 hours later, I call it. See also disclaimer below.
4. There are 64 drafted entrees in the tourney, as well as 32 "wild card" spots. During Round 1, you may nominate a composer and film of your choice. If someone seconds your nomination, it secures a wild card spot. The system is first come, first served. Everyone gets a max of 4 nominations/seconds--mix and match as you please. You may not second your own nomination. If there are wild card spots open by the end of the 16th bracket, additional noms/seconds will be forthcoming for everyone. If there are still open spots by the end of Round 1, the host reserves the right to fill all remaining vacancies with the film score(s) of his choice.
5. In Round 2, the wild cards are pitted against the winners from Round 1. In Round 2, you may not vote in the bracket in which your nominee is competing. Those who seconded the nominations CAN vote. In Round 3, everyone gets to vote again regardless of which score is competing.
6. So as not to skew the tourney too unfairly in favor of any particular composer, there will be allowed a max of
In special cases in which more than one composer is responsible for a film’s score (such as Dimitri Tiomkin’s Portrait of Jennie, in which one cue was composed by Bernard Herrmann), the only exemption from this rule will be if either composer’s contribution is relegated to a separate, and inferior, citation in the film’s credits (as in the case of Jennie); or if it is omitted altogether. (The exception to this is if no composer is credited, as in the case of The Magnificent Ambersons, where segments of Herrmann’s original score were replaced by cues written by Roy Webb. In such cases, the author of the majority of a film’s score will be considered the sole author.) Therefore, neither the contributions by Herrmann in the first instance, nor Webb in the second, would be considered as counting against their max, in the case of these respective films being drafted/nominated. Lyricists are, of course, automatically disqualified from consideration (see guideline IIb).
7. Please do not make “deals” with other participants to vote in/for your nominees/pet favorites. Otherwise, I might get my friends in the mental health field to relocate Christou to a minimum-security institution near you.
And, as no “legal” document is complete without a disclaimer...
Disclaimer: I must add that I have made a point of intentionally drafting a few rather “obscure” entrees which I fully expect to be received with some reticence (however, as noted above, almost all of the drafted scores are available with the film on DVD, or separately on audio CD; and most are available on both). One of the motivating purposes of this tourney is to edify, not to be popular. As mentioned before, if there is a tie, or if no votes have been cast for an entrant, I will call it. However, if I feel that an “obscure” choice is consistently undermining the democratic process, I want to assuage any supposed anxieties by emphasizing that this factor will wield a strong influence upon how my deciding vote is cast. As in all things, I ask the contributor only for a little indulgence.
The 64 drafted entrees:
Vertigo*& (Bernard Herrmann) - WINNER
* - Complete score available on audio CD.
# - Complete score available on audio CD import.
@ - Partial score available on audio CD.
The 32 wild-cards:
ROUND 1; Bracket 1:
The Red Shoes (Brian Easdale)
Chinatown (Jerry Goldsmith)