Category Archives: Uncategorized

RIP Jim Nabors (1930-2017)

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The sad news broke yesterday that the legendary Jim Nabors, famous for his role as Gomer Pyle in The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. passed away at the age of 87. He entertained audiences for decades, not just as the lovable Gomer, but also with his magnificent singing voice. In fact, I’ll never forget the first time I heard him sing; it was in an episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and for whatever reason Gomer was going to sing at a club (I don’t remember why, in fact I don’t even remember the song) and to my unending surprise when he started singing this beautiful deep voice came out. It was so different from his “regular” voice that I was convinced he’d been dubbed over, and when I told my parents this they insisted that no, that was his real singing voice. I was entranced ever since.

Jim Nabors “Back Home Again in Indiana” (2014)

Outside of television, Nabors might best be remembered as the one who serenaded racing fans with the song “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the start of the Indianapolis 500, a tradition he maintained for over 30 years (his final performance of the song came in 2014).

Rest in peace Jim Nabors, you are sorely missed.

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Film Music Central turns 2!!

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Happy Bloggiversary!! Today Film Music Central is officially TWO years old! And how this blog has grown in the last year! This time last year, I took stock and noted that the blog had 261 followers. Well, as of today, Film Music Central has 423 followers and I’m confident of hitting 500 within a few months if not sooner.

I continue to be overwhelmed by all the support and feedback I’ve received in the past two years. Launching this blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In the past year, I’ve gotten to interview film composers, listen to exclusive soundtracks, and my audience has expanded to new heights!

Year 3 is going to be interesting. Right now I’m on track to graduate at the beginning of May, but I’m not sure where I will be in terms of employment. Rest assured the blog isn’t going anywhere, but it is possible (depending on where I am after graduation) that I will be blogging less, but I hope that is not the case.

At any rate, right now I’m happy to celebrate that the blog is still going strong after 2 years and here’s to many more! Cheers!!

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Film Music Central Turns 1!!!

1st-birthday

Happy bloggiversary!! Has it really been a year since this grand experiment got started? Actually it’s been a year and two days, but let’s not split hairs here. Last November 14th, after much thought and hesitation, I took the leap and began posting on a blog I’d dubbed “Film Music Central.”

As much as I wanted to blog, I admit I was scared of the reaction (if any) that I would receive. Would people like hearing about film music, would they be bored, would anyone come read my posts at all? I thought all these things, but I decided to do it anyway, because (I reasoned), if nothing else, it will give me a chance to practice my writing skills. But (to my unending delight), readers did come…oh boy did they come!!! My initial goal of 100 followers in my first year was completely obliterated (261 and counting) and I’ve gotten more compliments and feedback than I ever imagined!

And to think it all started with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (I know the timestamp says December 3rd, it’s a long story but that post was actually published the first time on November 14th, honest!). After deciding I was going to run a blog full time, and about film music no less, I racked my brains for days trying to decide where to start. And then it dawned on me….why not start with Disney music? And so I began with Snow White…and the rest is really history!

To everyone who has ever stopped by the blog, thank you. To everyone who has liked, encouraged and offered support, thank you! Seeing how the blog has grown and flourished in its first year, I can’t wait to see what happens in year 2!!! Cheers! -Becky

The Underappreciated Music of STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK

Note: This is published on behalf of Carl Wonders, who doesn’t have a blog of his own but wanted to contribute to the blogathon 🙂

When thinking about a topic for The Music of Star Trek Blogathon hosted by Film Music Central, I eventually decided on a score that, much like the film itself, seems to have fallen in the proverbial crack between the excellent STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN and the immensely entertaining STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (although the score to the latter film is certainly polarizing). But in addition to it being somewhat overlooked, this particular soundtrack holds a special place for me.

STAR TREK III introduced me to the world of film scoring.

No, really. Of course, I had been aware of movie theme songs for a long time (my childhood was marinated in all things STAR WARS), but in terms of underscore, this was the film that made me sit up and notice.

The moment comes about halfway through the movie. The Klingons have landed on the Genesis planet and are tracking an away team of Saavik, David Marcus, and a rejuvenated Spock. Suddenly, and without warning, the sun begins to set on the rapidly aging planet. As both Kruge and David watch, there is this emotional swelling of fluttering strings playing over the scene. It only lasts for about 30 seconds, but I had never consciously noticed a moment so brought to life by the underscore quite like that. Ever since then, I was hooked.

David Marcus
(amazingly, this cue, “Sunset on Genesis” was not included in the original release of the score).

The Score

Of course, this isn’t the only part worth mentioning in the soundtrack. Overall, I think ST:III gets overlooked by those who simply think of it as James Horner doing a rehash of his score to the previous movie. While many of the themes are no doubt similar, I think this is a very superficial and unfair critique. Its popularity was certainly not helped by the rather abysmal first CD release, which is missing a lot of quality music yet found room for an embarrassing disco version of the theme song. Ugh.

The score, like the film itself, is much more emotional and personal than it’s predecessor, and the orchestration suits that very well. In many ways, it’s a more mature score than ST:II, and is one that is more suited to sitting down and listening to rather than something to have on in the background. There is a subtlety here that isn’t really present in ST:II, especially in the lower registers, and if you’re not paying attention you might miss it.

Of course, the Kirk and Enterprise themes are both there from the previous film, and while I absolutely love the Jerry Goldsmith theme, these two from Horner might be my favorite character themes from the films (I’ve always thought of the Goldsmith theme representing Star Trek itself rather than any particular character). Horner also makes the best use of the original Alexander Courage fanfare of any of the composers, particularly in a moment that I will get to later, typically rotating the theme across multiple sections (primarily the horns and trumpets).

I could spend several thousand words walking through every track on the CD, but in the interest of space (and the attention of the readers), I’m going to focus on a few key, standout sections, in addition to the sunset scene I mentioned above.

Stealing the Enterprise

This sequence is easily the best in the film and the score, and with the possible exception of “The Enterprise” from STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, this may be my favorite cue in the entire series. If you want just the highlights of what Star Trek music is, this is James Horner’s Star Trek distilled into a fantastic 8:42. The entirety is a wonderful romp that perfectly fits the action on screen, as Admiral Kirk and his party, well, steal the Enterprise.

Some highlights:

There’s an interesting theme that Horner brings in with the horns right when the team beams over to the Enterprise. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember hearing it anytime before or after this scene. In addition, nowhere in the series is the Alexander Courage fanfare better used than in the moment right as the Enterprise is set to pull away from space dock. The music builds as Courage’s theme moves through the orchestra until the order for “one-quarter impulse power” is given, and the ship slowly starts to move.

“Gentlemen. May the wind be at our backs. Stations please.””Gentlemen. May the wind be at our backs. Stations please.”
The U.S.S. Excelsior, and particularly Captain Stiles, receives a piano/mallet percussion-based melody that I can only really call the “pompous-ass” motif. It makes an appearance pretty much any time the Excelsior crew is on screen, such as the moment when Stiles is interrupted while filing his nails (!!). I also refer to it as the “pompous-ass” motif because it underscores the scene with Mr. Adventure, right before Uhura locks him in the closet. It’s also worth noting that James Horner would later adapt this into a secondary theme for Timothy Dalton’s character, Neville Sinclair, in THE ROCKETEER.

“This isn’t reality. This is fantasy.””This isn’t reality. This is fantasy.”
The final 2:30 of the cue is a perfect example of building and releasing tension. The Enterprise is heading towards the giant space doors, but it’s unclear whether they are going to open. Then, at the last minute, Scotty works another miracle, and the Kirk theme is reprised in triumph as the Enterprise exits and turns towards space. For a moment, a lyrical rendition of the Enterprise theme plays once, but is interrupted by the approaching Excelsior. After some back-and-forth between Stiles and Kirk, the Enterprise warps away. As the shiny-new Excelsior begins to power up its fabled transwarp drive, Horner supplies some gloriously over-the-top “revving up” music until, just like in the movie…nothing happens.

“Kirk…if you do this, you’ll never sit in the captain’s chair again.””Kirk…if you do this, you’ll never sit in the captain’s chair again.”
Other Highlights

“Bird of Prey Decloaks” is another back-and-forth cue that plays the Kirk theme off of Horner’s Klingon theme. The latter theme is another polarizing bit among Trek music fans. I happen to think it’s fine; Goldsmith’s is so good it’s not really fair to compare them. My favorite moment is when it looks like Kirk has won the battle, and there is a tremendous trumpet counterpoint playing over Kirk’s theme. Then, the crew slowly realizes that they’ve overtaxed the jury-rigged Enterprise, and the tone takes a turn for the worse…

“I dinna expect to take us into combat, you know!””I dinna expect to take us into combat, you know!”
I also have to mention the next scene, where Kruge orders the death of one of the landing party (which ends up being David), and we see Kirk’s reaction to the news that the son that he just was reunited with is dead. In addition to being some of Shatner’s best acting in the series, it’s particularly striking that the entire sequence is (appropriately) unscored.

“Klingon bastard, you’ve killed my son…””Klingon bastard, you’ve killed my son…”
Another glaring omission from the original CD, “A Fighting Chance to Live” chronicles the final moments of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Slightly dissonant strings play over a mournful version of the Enterprise theme as Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov set the auto-destruct sequence and beam away just as the Klingon boarding party arrives. Interestingly, there is a percussion underscore for the actual destruction of the ship, which I never realized was there until I heard it on CD (and is perhaps the first and only appearance of the “thunder sheet” in Star Trek music).

“Destruct Sequence 1. Code: 1-1-A””Destruct Sequence 1. Code: 1-1-A”
“Genesis Destroyed” contains another favorite moment of mine, where Kirk , climbs to the top of cliff, having just defeated Kruge, and looks out over the doomed landscape of Genesis. While I go back and forth on the merits of the actual Genesis “theme” (it’s really a take on Holst’s Uranus: The Magician), it works well here. This is particularly true when contrasted with the Spock theme and then the classic early Horner trumpet flourishes as the bird of prey warps away from the exploding planet.

The Final Dawn on GenesisThe Final Dawn on Genesis
Finally, ”The Katra Ritual” is another evocative piece of music, starting quietly with rumbling percussion that slowly builds, adding strings, gong, and orchestra as the Fal-Tor-Pan is performed. This sequence, along with the sunset moment I mentioned at the beginning, were really what got me into film music to begin with; a journey that started more than 30 years ago…

“Sometimes the needs of the one, outweigh the needs of the many.””Sometimes the needs of the one, outweigh the needs of the many.”
…and the Adventure continues…

Mickey’s Christmas Carol Review: Christmas in July Blogathon 2016

This was my entry to Drew’s Christmas in July Blogathon 2016 🙂

Drew's Movie Reviews

Last up for today is Bex, the gal behind Film Music Central, and her review of the 80s Disney holiday special Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  Bex examines all sorts of songs and scores in films on her site. So if you enjoy film music, be sure to give her site a look. Now, here’s what she has to say about her favorite holiday special.


Mickey's Christmas Carol

When I was growing up, I’m pretty sure I watched every animated Christmas special ever made (and that’s not a bad thing). One of my favorites was Mickey’s Christmas Carol, released by Walt Disney Studios in 1983. Growing up, the only copy of this story that we had was recorded onto a blank VHS tape from a live television program, which was fine until the VCR went bust and the family switched to DVD only. You can imagine my joy when I spotted a DVD copy…

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Beyond the Cover: Goldfinger (1964)

I know this is extremely late, but I didn’t feel right not sharing this (even though i was really sick) so here is what I was going to share with the Beyond the Cover Blogathon hosted by Now Voyaging and Speakeasy

Book Banner

Like many movies adapted from books, I didn’t realize that Goldfinger was adapted from a novel until I’d already watched the movie many times. Goldfinger was released in 1964 as the third film in the James Bond franchise and is considered the film that really made James Bond a global phenomenon.

It was about two years ago when I read the Goldfinger novel itself for the first time. It was published in 1959 and was…interesting, to say the very least. To read any of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, I always have to remind myself that he lived and wrote in a different era, when…certain words that I won’t repeat….were considered acceptable. That being said, it IS a good story.

As far as the general plot goes, the Goldfinger film is strikingly faithful to the book (I repeat, in general, not quite in all the specifics), but I thought I would list some of the differences.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that in the book, Bond identifies Goldfinger as being part of the sinister SPECTRE organization. The reason he travels around the continent in his fancy car is to drop off bars of gold at various locations so that SPECTRE agents can pick them up and use them to finance their evil deeds. In the film, by contrast, no relationship with SPECTRE is ever implied, and Goldfinger is made out to be an extremely greedy man who is only out for himself.

And then there’s Pussy Galore, one of the most memorable Bond girls to ever grace the silver screen. In the film, she is mysteriously “immune” to Bond’s charms for most of the story, but she finally “gives in” in a sequence that as become more uncomfortable to watch the older I’ve become. The film doesn’t give an explanation as to why Pussy is so adept at resisting Bond’s charms, but the book certainly does: in the original novel, Pussy Galore is the lesbian leader of a gang (explains a lot about her doesn’t it?) In fact, in the book, Pussy seemingly strikes up a relationship with a girl that Bond rescued earlier (Tilly Masterson, she dies in the film, but lives in the book).

Goldfinger’s lead henchman Odd Job also has an expanded role in the novel, which gives a complete description of his karate techniques (one scene shows Odd Job splitting a huge fireplace mantel in half, a technique that impresses Bond so much that he feels compelled to shake Odd Job’s hand, even though he is the enemy). Following that, there is a disturbing scene where Goldfinger discovers a cat has mysteriously messed up the hidden camera that had been filming Bond previously (this all takes place at Goldfinger’s country estate in England, a place the film refers to but never visits). Before Bond’s eyes, Goldfinger takes the cat, throws it to Odd Job and says “Here Odd Job, something for dinner!” (How gruesome!)

If you like the Goldfinger film, you will probably also like the Goldfinger book, just be aware that Ian Fleming can use some….let’s say vulgar language that wouldn’t be acceptable in today’s society.

Hope you enjoyed this,even though it’s so late!

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R.I.P. Harper Lee (1926-2016)

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I’m pretty sure I was in middle school the first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird. I remember thumbing through my mother’s old copy and being enthralled by the story of Scout’s childhood. And I remember when I finished the story, my mom asked me what I thought to be a very strange question (at the time). She asked me: “Who is the mockingbird in the story?” And being young, I didn’t understand what she meant at first.

Later, when I was in high school, I had to read the novel again, and this time I realized what my mom had meant: a mockingbird should not be killed because it does no harm. And by that same measure, John Robinson should not have been killed because he was accused of a crime he didn’t commit, which makes him a figurative “mockingbird.” When I told my mom that I had figured out the answer to her question, she told me to never forget it, because it was a very important thing to remember. And for all these years, I still remember that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Rest in Peace Harper Lee.