The Encyclopedia of Film Composers 1442245492, 9781442245495

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“HOLLYWOOD’S FINEST” GATHERED TOGETHER. To find a photograph with two or three Hollywood composers pictured together is rare. A picture of twenty-three such men is a treasure trove. This photograph was taken at the Los Angeles Friar’s Club in 1946 when Bramwell Coles, head of the Salvation Army’s International Music Department in London, visited Hollywood. Meredith Willson, a longtime admirer of the Salvation Army, organized a luncheon in Coles’s honor. Photofest Seated (left to right) are Franz Waxman, Dimitri Tiomkin, Meredith Willson, Bramwell Coles, Earl E. Lawrence, and William Grant Still. Standing (left to right) are Abe Meyer, Leith Stevens, William Broughton (grandfather of current film composer Bruce Broughton), Anthony Collins, Johnny Green, Miklós Rózsa, Victor Young, Werner Heymann, Leo Shuken, Arthur Bergh, Alex Steinert, Robert Emmett Dolan, Frank Skinner, Wilbur Hatch, Carlos Morales, and Louis Lipstone.


ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD Lanham • Boulder • New York • London

Published by Rowman & Littlefield A wholly owned subsidiary of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 Unit A, Whitacre Mews, 26-34 Stannary Street, London SE11 4AB Copyright © 2015 by Rowman & Littlefield All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hischak, Thomas S. The encyclopedia of film composers / Thomas S. Hischak. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4422-4549-5 (hardback : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-1-4422-4550-1 (ebook) 1. Film composers—Biography—Dictionaries. 2. Motion picture music—Bio-bibliography— Dictionaries. I. Title. ML102.M68H572 2015 781.5'420922—dc23 [B] 2014040469 ™ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992. Printed in the United States of America

For Dawn Van Hall, who loves the movies

CONTENTS Abbreviations ix Format for Entries


Acknowledgments xiii Introduction xv FILM COMPOSERS




Title Index


Name Index


About the Author





Academy Award winner Academy Award nominee also known as born British Academy of Film & Television Arts Award BAFTA nomination Golden Globe Award winner Golden Globe nomination United Kingdom United States former Soviet Union




fter the biographical information and a discussion of the composer’s work, there follows a list of feature film credits. For each movie the year of release is followed by the title, awards won or nominated for, director, and country or countries that produced the film. For foreignlanguage movies, the English title under which it was released in the United States is usually used. British and American movies that had a different title when released in the other country have the alternative title listed as aka

(also known as). If a film was given a different title for television broadcast or video release, that is also noted as aka. Only feature-length movies (including documentaries) that played in theatres are listed. A film is listed under a composer’s credits if he or she is the sole or one of two composers of the score. Movies in which three or more composers contributed to the soundtrack score or films in which a composer’s song or theme is interpolated into another artist’s soundtrack are not included.




nce again I must thank first and foremost my wife, Cathy, for the hours she devoted to reading, proofing, and providing input on the manuscript. I continue to value her accuracy as much as her knowledge and in-

stincts. Thanks also to movie music expert and devotee Glenn Wooddell, CD producer Marilee Bradford, photo expert Ron Mandelbaum at Photofest, and editor Stephen Ryan at Rowman & Littlefield.


INTRODUCTION Movie Composers, or Who Wrote Miss Gulch’s Theme?


he composers and lyricists of movie musicals are often famous. Their songs sometimes become hits and due recognition follows. Composers for nonmusical movies are rarely famous. Only a handful receive much recognition. Even Oscar-winning composers often fall into obscurity. Yet the music for, say, Gone with the Wind, is as essential to that film as the song “White Christmas” is for Holiday Inn. Everyone knows Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas”; how many even recognize the name Max Steiner, the composer of the Gone with the Wind score? Both men wrote thousands of pages of sheet music but Berlin wrote songs and Steiner wrote scores. Songs are recorded, replayed, and become a part of our national consciousness. Movie scores (even the best of them) only faintly echo in our heads. The music is rarely heard outside of the context of the movie for which they were written. In fact, when a movie composer has a big hit, it is usually when the theme song of the film is set to words and becomes a song, as with “Goldfinger” or “Born Free.” It seems the song will always win out over the score. Consider the Hollywood classic The Wizard of Oz. Harold Arlen wrote the music and E. Y. Harburg penned the lyrics for the delectable songs. Yet it was Herbert Stothart who composed most of the rest of the music heard in the movie. The insistent, menacing music that accompanies Miss Gulch on her bicycle is as memorable, in its own way, as “Over the Rainbow.” Yet we are not even sure who wrote it. Several studio composers contributed to The Wizard of Oz. It was probably Stothart who wrote this theme, since he composed most of the nonsinging parts of the soundtrack. But the point remains that The Wizard of Oz would be less effective without Miss Gulch’s theme and all the other unsung music that fills that movie.

This book is about 252 composers who wrote for the movies. A few of them also composed songs, but for the most part they are true film composers: they created scores. A handful of these artists were or are famous enough that the public knows them well: Henry Mancini, John Williams, Danny Elfman, Randy Newman, Marvin Hamlisch, Paul Williams, and a few others. It is not a very long list. Film students and movie enthusiasts will recognize a great many more names, extolling the virtues of Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barrie, Franz Waxman, and others. But as talented and awarded as these composers are, they are not as familiar to audiences in the same way as actors, directors, or even producers are. Like the music they write for the screen, the composers contribute to the effectiveness of the movies but are only noticed subconsciously. That is the nature of movie music. The score supports the movie without (hopefully) overpowering it. Our memories of the most catchy or thrilling movie music are connected to the film itself. One can recall with a delightful shudder Bernard Herrmann’s music for the shower scene in Psycho. Yet listening to that music out of context or not knowing the scene it was scored for, it intrigues but fails to ignite. The finest film music lives on because it is so closely associated with the visual images on-screen (and in our memory). One cannot listen to the “Pink Panther Theme” without visualizing the cartoon panther. The exotic main theme from Lawrence of Arabia immediately conjures up visions of the vast, hot, dry desert. The beguiling theme from Laura brings us back to that suspense movie and the way the dead Laura haunted every place she had been. This is the true legacy of movie music. What worked so effectively on the screen continues to work in our minds when we hear the music again. xv


Movies have always been musical. The early silent filmmakers often came from the stage where a piano in the pit was an integral part of the melodrama being performed. (The term “melodrama” actually means “music drama.”) Silent films were usually accompanied by live music as well, be it a rickety, out-of-tune upright piano in a neighborhood cinema or a mammoth pipe organ or large orchestra in a movie palace. No one expected the characters to talk, but there was no reason for a film to be completely silent. Some scores for silent movies were written with the film in mind (some themes even became famous) but often a generic collection of music sufficed. The early talkies continued the musical tradition, replacing the piano or organ with a recorded full orchestra. When sound movies became popular, the musical score was given more prominence and composers wrote specific music for specific scenes in specific movies. This introduced the integrated film score, and ever since, filmmakers have understood and appreciated the importance of the movie composer. The 252 composers covered in this book have been selected because of some significant contribution they made to movie music. Some have many credits and remained active for decades. Others may have had extensive music careers elsewhere and only scored a film on occasion. Included here are world-famous concert composers who also dabbled in films. Some are young with limited credits but promising careers. All deserve recognition. Both Hollywood and foreign film composers are included. The emphasis may be on the American and British film industry because those movies are obviously more familiar to English-speaking audiences. Yet any study of the art of screen scoring must include such accomplished foreign composers as Georges Delerue, Nino Rota, and Mikis Theodorakis. Each composer’s entry consists of biographical information, a description of the composer’s career and musical style, and a complete list of feature film score credits. “Complete” is a wishful word when it comes to screen scores because hundreds of movies do not credit who wrote the music. Sometimes more than

one composer was hired to work on one film. Other times a composer was paid to arrange or orchestrate music by another writer. So I have only included movie credits in which the composer was either the sole writer or one of two composers who scored that film. In addition to the year and the country that made the movie, I have included the director for each film. I do this not to support the argument that the director is the primary creator of a movie but rather to show the collaborations between the composer and certain directors. The relationship between a director and the composer is a tricky but essential one, and when that collaboration is successful, it is easy to see why certain directors preferred to work with certain composers over and over again. It is hoped that the list of a composer’s films and directors will give the reader not only a sense of that artist’s career but maybe even capture the temperament of a person’s body of work. In the 1970s, serious attention began to be paid to screen composers and a number of books on the subject were written. Some of these have been updated since and others have joined them over the decades. Yet these books end up talking about the same twenty or thirty composers when there are hundreds who have made noteworthy contributions to the art of film music. It is the intention of this work to fill in that huge gap. This is not a critical study in which superior music is praised and inferior work is berated. Instead the purpose is to describe the musical accomplishments of each composer and try to capture what is significant in each composer’s best scores. Researching and writing this book has given me a new and deeper appreciation for the movie composer. Music I strongly or vaguely remembered came flooding back to me as I listened again to their scores and wrote about each composer’s career. Music I had not heard before revealed the range and versatility of these composers. They have a talent for conjuring up strong emotions as we view images in the dark. Like that insistent music for Miss Gulch on her bicycle, the work of the movie composer cannot be erased from our consciousness.


A nally titled Scrooge), and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Addinsell left movies in the mid-1960s and became somewhat of a recluse, his only composing being for performer Joyce Grenfel’s West End revues and one-woman shows. He lived quietly with his longtime partner, fashion designer Victor Stiebel, and left the royalties for Warsaw Concerto to a neighboring family who was discreet about Addinsell and Stiebel’s relationship. Addinsell died at the age of seventy-three. Many of his screen scores are lost, but his one classical piece continues to find favor in the concert hall. While the dazzling piano and orchestra piece Warsaw Concerto is Addinsell’s finest composition, it is not typical of his screen music. His talent for scoring movies can be better heard in such films as Tom Brown’s School Days and South Riding, which contain traces of English folk music, or in The Black Rose and Fire over England, in which he employs a vigorous regal sound reminiscent of Edward Elgar’s work. For the Prince and the Showgirl, Addinsell wrote a lively waltz for the main theme, some delightful ditties for the music hall, a honky-tonk piece for the street, and some lighthearted pomp for the embassy. The music for the drawing room comedy Blithe Spirit is indeed spirited, with violins racing up and down the scale, while the propulsive music for A Tale of Two Cities is highlighted by a bold brass section that competes with a flowing string section. Addinsell’s music for the drama Love on the Dole is pure 1940s melodrama music, lush and full of orchestrated rise and fall of emotions. A similar sound is heard throughout the early David Lean film The Passionate Friends. A flowing accordion and string theme in The Greengage Summer (retitled Loss of Innocence in the States) is very delicate and evocative of simpler times. Perhaps Addinsell’s best comic score is the one he wrote for The Beachcomber, which is silly even as it uses an exotic South Seas flavor. While there are plenty of holiday carols in the 1951 A Christmas Carol/Scrooge, the main theme is a dark and heavy piece of suspense music one might expect in a spy thriller. Goodbye, Mr. Chips has an expansive main theme that alternates between reeds and strings but the

ADDINSELL, Richard (Stewart) (1904–1977) A British composer for the stage, concert hall, and screen, he is most remembered today for his popular concert piece Warsaw Concerto which came from one of his movie scores. Richard Addinsell was born in London, the son of a chartered accountant, and attended Oxford University to study law. But his interest in music encouraged him to leave Oxford and study at the Royal College of Music. Before completing his degree, Addinsell left school to write music for the London stage, particularly music halls and comic revues. He also composed incidental music for plays in London and New York, most memorably Alice in Wonderland on Broadway in 1932. Addinsell tried his luck in Hollywood in the early 1930s but ended up only doing some incidental music or arrangements for American movies. Discouraged, he returned to England where he was hired as one of the five composers for the movie musical His Lordship in 1936. The next year he was sole composer for the historical drama Fire over England and his score attracted enough attention to launch his screen career. Addinsell worked with such noted British directors as Victor Saville, Michael Powell, David Lean, Alfred Hitchcock, and Laurence Olivier throughout his career, and his list of credits is an eclectic mix that includes film adaptations of plays or classic literature, silly comedies, and patriotic melodramas during World War II. His most notable movie in the last category is the melodrama Dangerous Moonlight (retitled Suicide Squadron in the States) about a shell-shocked composer-pianist (Anton Walbrook) in bomb-ravaged Poland. The producers tried to get Sergei Rachmaninoff to write the concerto for piano and orchestra that is performed in the film, but he declined. Instead Addinsell was instructed to write a Rachmaninoff-like piece, and he came up with his famous Warsaw Concerto, a piece that has been performed and recorded many times over the years. Among the other memorable movies that Addinsell wrote for the British and American cinema are Blithe Spirit, The Prince and the Showgirl, Under Capricorn, Tom Brown’s School Days, The Black Rose, A Tale of Two Cities, the Alastair Sim A Christmas Carol (origi1


most memorable part of the score is Addinsell’s original boys’ school alma mater. For Hitchcock’s feverish melodrama Under Capricorn set in Australia, Addinsell composed a fluid theme in which a guitar plays against a string orchestra suggesting both romance and dread. Addinsell’s last screen project, the dark contemporary drama Life at the Top, has a romantic theme played on strings that contrasts effectively with a solo trumpet for the gritty scenes. Although Addinsell had a scattered and incomplete musical education, he is considered one of the more “clas-

sical” of British screen composers. There is a consistent high quality in his thirty-five feature film scores, not to mention versatility. Unfortunately a lot of his early screen sheet music is lost and all that remains are faded prints and some recordings with poor-quality sound. Musicologist Philip Lane has reconstructed some of Addinsell’s music from these inferior tracks and had the scores orchestrated and recorded. Fortunately one of the finest British screen composers of the 1940s and 1950s can be better appreciated today.

Credits (all films UK unless stated otherwise) Year



1936 1937 1937 1937 1938 1938 1939 1939

The Amateur Gentleman Fire over England Dark Journey Troopship (aka Farewell Again) South Riding The Beachcomber (aka Vessel of Wrath) Goodbye, Mr. Chips The Lion Has Wings

1940 1940 1941 1941 1941 1941 1942 1942 1945 1949 1949 1950 1950 1951 1951 1951 1953 1953 1954 1955 1957 1957 1958 1961 1961 1962 1962 1965

Blackout (aka Contraband) Gaslight Old Bill and Son Suicide Squadron (aka Dangerous Moonlight) Love on the Dole This England The Big Blockade The Avengers (aka The Day Will Dawn) Blithe Spirit The Passionate Friends Under Capricorn The Black Rose Highly Dangerous A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge) Tom Brown’s Schooldays Encore The Secret Cave Sea Devils Beau Brummell Out of the Clouds Paradise Lagoon (aka The Admirable Crichton) The Prince and the Showgirl A Tale of Two Cities Loss of Innocence (aka The Greengage Summer) The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone The Waltz of the Toreadors The War Lover Life at the Top

Thornton Freeland William K. Howard Victor Saville Tim Whelan Victor Saville Erich Pommer Sam Wood, Sidney Franklin Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, Michael Powell, Alexander Korda Michael Powell Thorold Dickinson Ian Dalrymple Brian Desmond Hurst (UK/USA) John Baxter David MacDonald Charles Frend Harold French David Lean David Lean Alfred Hitchcock Henry Hathaway (USA/UK) Roy Ward Baker Brian Desmond Hurst (UK/USA) Gordon Parry Harold French, Pat Jackson, Anthony Pelissier John Durst Raoul Walsh (USA/UK) Curtis Bernhardt (USA) Basil Dearden Lewis Gilbert Laurence Olivier (UK/USA) Ralph Thomas Lewis Gilbert José Quintero (USA) John Guillermin Philip Leacock (UK/USA) Ted Kotcheff



ing Stories, and the long-running Murder, She Wrote. His other compositions include the London stage musical comedies Cranks (1956) and Keep Your Hair On (1958), the ballet Carte Blanche (1959), and various instrumental pieces, such as trios and concertos for woodwinds and strings. Addison’s music is characterized by a lively sense of melody and his ability to be playful in his compositions. This is best witnessed in his delectable Tom Jones score. A slightly off-kilter harpsichord races through the music, even when it comes to the lovely waltzing love theme. Instruments not yet invented in the movie’s eighteenthcentury period, such as the saxophone, battle with the classical instruments in a deliciously chaotic manner. A similar frolicsome flavor can be found in the contemporary comedy-thriller Sleuth. Using pizzicato strings against the flute and saxophone gives the score a comic and witty air that supports the game playing of the two major characters (Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine). The nautical comedy All at Sea has a ridiculous sea chantey theme with giddy hornpipes adding to the movie’s offbeat charm. An expected solo violin in the classical vein is used as Sherlock Holmes’s theme in the thriller The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, but Addison has fun adding a waltzing motif when the famous sleuth (Nicol Williamson) goes to Vienna to meet Dr. Freud (Alan Arkin). Soon the two musical styles are at war, and the score turns rhythmic in a very effective way. Addison’s score for A Bridge Too Far is more straightforward with engaging march themes and a full orchestra soaring in a patriotic manner. It may not be highly inventive but the score is stirring all the same. Also conventional but very effective is his score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain. The movie was originally scored by the Hollywood master Bernard Herrmann, but the director and composer quarreled over the music and Herrmann was dismissed. Hitchcock chose Addison to write a new score for the Cold War thriller and critics complained it was not up to Herrmann’s high standards. All the same, the music moves in a forceful and driving way that matches the story’s suspense and Addison’s craftsmanship is not to be overlooked. Neither can one ignore the quieter scores Addison wrote for those small-scale, more intimate Richardson films earlier in his career. In The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, lonesome violins are set against a pathetic percussion march, giving the score a weary yet desperate force. The music is appropriately tawdry as it

ADDISON, John (Mervyn) (1920–1998) A British theatre, television, and film composer who also scored several Hollywood movies late in his career, he is probably most remembered for his eight films directed by Tony Richardson. John Addison was born in West Chobham, England, the son of an army colonel, and was educated at Wellington College for a military career. When his interests switched to music, Addison enrolled at the Royal College of Music in London to study composition, but his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. He served as a tank commander in Europe and participated in the unsuccessful Operation Market Garden to invade Germany. (This campaign was the subject of the 1977 movie A Bridge Too Far, which Addison scored.) After the armistice, Addison returned to the Royal College, completed his degree, and stayed on as a composition teacher. He was content teaching and composing for the concert stage but the brothers Roy and John Boulting convinced him to get involved in screen music. Addison scored the brothers’ 1950 thriller Seven Days to Noon, followed by six more of their films over the next decade. He scored many other low-budget movies in Britain during the 1950s but received little recognition. He first worked with Tony Richardson when he supervised the music in the screen version of Look Back in Anger in 1959. Addison composed the score for the small-scale but acclaimed Richardson screen dramas The Entertainer, A Taste of Honey, and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner before the two men had an international hit with the raucous period comedy Tom Jones in 1963. The movie won wide praise and many awards, including an Oscar for Addison. He went on to score subsequent movies by Richardson and other British directors, but Tom Jones had brought him to the attention of Hollywood and many of his post-1965 films were American. Highlights in his later career include such British and American films as The Loved One, All at Sea, Torn Curtain, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Start the Revolution without Me, Sleuth, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and A Bridge Too Far. Addison’s TV movies and miniseries include Hamlet (1970), Black Beauty (1978), The Bastard (1978), Centennial (1978), Charles & Diana: A Royal Love Story (1982), I Was a Mail Order Bride (1982), Dead Man’s Folly (1986), and The Phantom of the Opera (1990), as well as such series as The Eddie Capra Mysteries, Nero Wolfe, Amaz3


tries to be cheerful in The Entertainer. Whether in the music hall or at a beauty pageant, the music (used sparingly) is thin and unconvincing, just as the title character (Laurence Olivier) and his jokes are hollow. Addison also wrote the music for two vaudeville songs that Olivier sings in the film and they are expert pastiches of music hall entertainment.

As busy as Addison was writing for the screen, he dedicated a good deal of his time to his other compositions, from background music for British plays to concert works to American television miniseries. He became a resident of the United States in 1977, retired from movies and television in 1990, and died eight years later at the age of seventy-eight.

Credits (all films UK unless stated otherwise) Year



1950 1951 1951 1952 1952 1953 1953 1954 1954 1954 1955 1955 1955 1955 1955 1956 1956 1956 1957 1957 1957 1957 1958

Seven Days to Noon Pool of London High Treason Brandy for the Parson The Hour of 13 Paratrooper The Man Between High and Dry (aka The Maggie) The Black Knight Make Me an Offer One Good Turn That Lady Touch and Go Josephine and Men The Cockleshell Heroes Private’s Progress Reach for the Sky Three Men in a Boat The End of the Road The Shiralee Lucky Jim All at Sea (aka Barnacle Bill) Hell, Heaven or Hoboken (aka I Was Monty’s Double) Man in a Cocked Hat School for Scoundrels The Entertainer A French Mistress His and Hers A Taste of Honey Go to Blazes The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Tom Jones (AA) The Model Murder Case Girl with Green Eyes Guns at Batasi The Uncle The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders The Loved One A Fine Madness Time Lost and Time Remembered Torn Curtain The Honey Pot Smashing Time

John and Roy Boulting Basil Dearden Roy Boulting John Eldridge Harold French Terence Young Carol Reed Alexander Mackendrick Tay Garnett Cyril Frankel John Paddy Carstairs Terence Young (Spain/UK) Michael Truman Roy Boulting José Ferrer John Boulting Lewis Gilbert Ken Annakin Wolf Rilla Leslie Norman John Boulting Charles Frend John Guillermin

1959 1960 1960 1960 1961 1961 1962 1962 1963 1963 1964 1964 1965 1965 1965 1966 1966 1966 1967 1967

Roy Boulting, Jeffrey Dell Robert Hamer Tony Richardson Roy Boulting Brian Desmond Hurst Tony Richardson Michael Truman Tony Richardson Tony Richardson Michael Truman Desmond Davis John Guillermin Desmond Davis Terence Young Tony Richardson (USA) Irvin Kershner (USA) Desmond Davis Alfred Hitchcock (USA) Joseph L. Mankiewicz (USA) Desmond Davis 4





1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1974 1974 1975 1976 1976 1977 1977 1980 1982 1983 1984 1985

The Charge of the Light Brigade (BAFTA-N) Brotherly Love (aka Country Dance) Start the Revolution without Me Cry of the Penguins Sleuth (AAN) Luther Dead Cert Ride a Wild Pony Swashbuckler The Seven-Per-Cent Solution Joseph Andrews A Bridge Too Far (BAFTA) The Pilot Highpoint Strange Invaders Grace Quigley Code Name: Emerald

Tony Richardson J. Lee Thompson (UK/USA) Bud Yorkin (USA) Alfred Viola Joseph L. Mankiewicz (USA/UK) Guy Green (UK/Canada/USA) Tony Richardson Don Chaffey (Australia/USA) James Goldstone (USA) Herbert Ross (UK/USA) Tony Richardson Richard Attenborough (USA/UK) Cliff Robertson (USA) Peter Carter (Canada) Michael Laughlin (USA) Anthony Harvey (USA) Jonathan Sanger (USA)

ADLER, Larry (1914–2001) A harmonica virtuoso onstage, on the radio, and in the movies, he was also a composer who scored some American and British films during his unfortunately short screen career. Born Lawrence Cecil Adler in Baltimore, Maryland, to a Jewish Russian family who loved classical music, Adler taught himself to play the harmonica (or the “mouth organ” as he called it) as a boy, and by the time he was fourteen he was performing professionally. While most saw the harmonica as a folk instrument, Adler found recognition playing classical pieces as well as popular songs of the day. In New York City, he soon got the attention of orchestra leaders who hired Adler as a specialty performer. After touring in vaudeville and making records and radio broadcasts, Adler appeared on Broadway in such musicals as Smiles (1931), Flying Colors (1933), and Keep Off the Grass (1940), and starred in the revue Paul Draper and Larry Adler (1944). Adler toured with dancer Draper across the country and later overseas to entertain American GIs during World War II. Adler began working in movies in 1934, performing on the soundtracks of various films. His harmonica pyrotechnics can be heard in such movies as Operator 13 (1934), Many Happy Returns (1934), The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936), The Singing Marine (1937), Sidewalks of London (aka St. Martin’s Lane) (1938), Music for Millions (1944), and Three Darling Daughters (1948), and he appeared in six movies, usually as himself playing the harmonica.

Adler was even more popular in Great Britain after he appeared on radio there and was featured in a musical revue on the London stage. The sale of harmonicas in the British Isles increased twenty times and over three hundred thousand Brits were members of Adler’s fan club. By the late 1940s he was recognized as the greatest harmonica artist in the world and such distinguished composers as Darius Milhaud, William Walton, and Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote pieces specifically for Adler to perform on his “mouth organ.” Adler’s life took a tragic turn in the early 1950s when he and Draper were accused of being Communists by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Adler refused to name names or sign a loyalty oath, and even sued a concert organization for libel when it cancelled an engagement, calling Adler “pro-Communist in sympathy.” The trial resulted in a hung jury and in 1952 Adler left the States to live in England, never returning again. It was in Great Britain that his movie composing career began. He wrote the music for the surprise hit comedy Genevieve in 1953 and his score was nominated for an Oscar. Because Adler was blacklisted in the States, his name was removed from the credits for American showings of Genevieve and the Academy did not acknowledge his contribution in the nomination; thirty-one years later the Academy sent him an official nomination certificate. He went on to score six more British films, most memorably Jumping for Joy, King and Country, and A High Wind in Jamaica. While 5


A High Wind in Jamaica is an exciting adventure about some children trapped on a pirate ship and how they turn dastardly circumstances into a playful lark. The title song (lyric by Christopher Logue) is a narrative ballad sung by Mike LeRoy that opens the movie, then the full orchestra picks up the melody and turns it into a dramatic fanfare that echoes the crashing of waves on the rocks. When the ballad returns at the end of the film, it has the tone of an elegy. There is a pleasing theme for the scenes in which the pirate captain (Anthony Quinn) befriends one of the children (Deborah Baxter) and Adler provides a jaunty sea chantey for a seaside tavern. By this time he had abandoned the use of the harmonica in his screen scores so this soundtrack proves itself without his virtuoso performing. It is unfortunate that Adler left the movies after A High Wind in Jamaica. The famous harmonica artist might have become a known and respected screen composer. But then, much of Adler’s life was a case of “what might have been.” Autobiography: It Ain’t Necessarily So (1985).

remaining in Britain, he also scored the Hollywood movies The Great Chase and The Hook. Although Adler was free to return to his native country by the 1970s, he opted to remain in England where he continued to perform and record up into his eighties. The two most interesting screen scores by Adler are his first and his last. Genevieve is a delightful British comedy about an antique auto rally where two friends (John Gregson and Kenneth More) race their vintage cars from London to Brighton. The main musical theme, written and played by Adler on the harmonica, has a casual air, the piano playing the chords and the harmonica having fun with the gliding melody. The harmonica is also heard playing a radiant waltz which seems to skip with joy, a sparkling passage as the cars struggle through the streets of London, and a triumphantly silly tune when the autos arrive in Brighton. One of the highlights in the comedy is when an inebriated Kay Kendall plays a Dixieland jazz number on the trumpet (dubbed by Kenny Baker).

Credits (all films UK unless stated otherwise) Year



1953 1956 1958 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965

Genevieve (AAN) Jumping for Joy A Cry from the Streets The Hellions The Great Chase The Hook King and Country A High Wind in Jamaica

Henry Cornelius John Paddy Carstairs Lewis Gilbert Irving Allen, Ken Annakin (UK/So. Africa) Harvey Cort, etc. (USA) George Seaton (USA) Joseph Losey Alexander Mackendrick

ALEXANDER, Jeff (1910–1989) A multitalented Hollywood songwriter, arranger, conductor, and composer, he scored many radio and television programs and thirty-two feature films, including light comedies, westerns, and five Elvis Presley musicals. Born Myer Goodhue Alexander in Seattle, Washington, Jeff Alexander took piano lessons as a boy. By the time he was a teenager, Alexander was performing in vaudeville as a singer and dancer. As an adult he com-

posed and arranged music for Big Bands, ending up in New York City in 1939, where he wrote, arranged, and conducted the music for radio programs, including Benny Goodman’s Camel Caravan, Hollywood Star Playhouse, The Lucky Strike Show, and Amos ’n’ Andy. Alexander moved to Los Angeles in 1947, where he made his movie debut as composer and musical director for the animated short It’s a Grand Old Nag. When other composing assignments were not offered to him, Alexander became a



vocal arranger for movie musicals, supervising the singing in such notable films as On the Riviera (1951), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Because You’re Mine (1952), Jupiter’s Darling (1955), Hit the Deck (1955), It’s Always Fair Weather (1955), and Kismet (1955). The first feature film Alexander scored was the western Westward the Women in 1951 followed by twenty years of scores for movies of varying quality. He specialized in fluffy romantic comedies, such as The Tender Trap, The Mating Game, The High Cost of Loving, and Ask Any Girl, and westerns, as with Escape from Fort Bravo, Gun Glory, The Rounders, and The Sheepman, as well as combinations of both genres, such as Support Your Local Sheriff! and Dirty Dingus Magee. Alexander scored six Glenn Ford movies and such Presley vehicles as Jailhouse Rock, Kid Galahad, and Clambake. Among his other noteworthy films are Rogue Cop, Ransom!, All the Fine Young Cannibals, and The Wings of Eagles. In 1960, he turned to television and wrote music for several series, including Bachelor Father, My Three Sons, The Lieutenant, Valentine’s Day, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, and Julia, as well as some 1970s TV movies. Alexander also wrote songs for some of his films and TV shows, such as the hits “Come Wander with Me,” “The Wings of Eagles,” and “Soothe My Lonely Heart.” His works for the concert hall include a symphony, tone poems, and chamber pieces. Alexander retired from show business in 1980 and died nine years later from cancer. Hollywood used Alexander’s considerable talents in a variety of ways. He served as conductor, orchestrator, vocal arranger, music director, and composer as needed but he was rarely given very ambitious or high-quality projects to score. Even the lucrative Presley films had modest budgets and attention was put on the songs rather than the soundtrack scores. All the same, Alexander came up with some commendable music during his two decades in Hollywood. Perhaps his best score for a western can be found in Escape from Fort Bravo. The title theme is a robust anthem sung by a male chorus with some interesting key changes. There is the hint of tribal music in other passages, which gives the score a sense of locale and a touch of dignity. The folkish romantic theme becomes the languid ballad “Soothe My Lonely Heart” (lyric also by Alexander) that

is sung on the soundtrack by Bill Lee. Without slipping into cliché, Alexander came up with a western score that was fresh without moving far from the traditional. The score for The Wings of Eagles, a biopic about World War I flying ace “Spig” Wead (John Wayne), includes passages from “Anchors Aweigh” to “Aloha Oe” but Alexander provides some stirring music for the air scenes. There is also a twinkling domestic theme for remembering the family back home and a melancholy passage to score the troubled marriage of Spig and his wife (Maureen O’Hara). Another biopic, All the Fine Young Cannibals, is the thinly disguised story of jazz trumpeter and singer Chet Baker (Robert Wagner). Some blues and jazz standards are heard in the film but Alexander provides some expert original music as well. The main theme is a flowing blues that has an urgency and restlessness about it. Uan Rasey does the trumpet playing for Wagner on the soundtrack and Alexander gives him some rich, mellow music to perform. The movie may be a cliché-ridden travesty but it certainly sounds right. Alexander’s romantic contemporary comedies are pretty much interchangeable and often the music of one starts to echo another. Such pert and “modern” film comedies like The Mating Game, It Started with a Kiss, and The Tender Trap are more remembered for their title songs, which were written by others. Alexander fills in with chipper passages for the farce and generic merry themes for the romance. More satisfying are the scores for two comic westerns that Alexander did at the end of his Hollywood career. Dirty Dingus Magee starts in the middle of a chase and the music wastes no time in pulling out all the stops. The rousing main theme has Jew’s harp, player piano, and banjo, with a kazoo making sour comments as furious strings race along. There is a lazy cowpoke theme heard on a trombone that seems to laugh at itself, the saloon music is deliciously honky-tonk, and even the drumming of the local tribe seems to slip into a bit of jazz. Support Your Local Sheriff! has a rapid western theme with strumming banjos and lively harmonicas but crazy flutes to give it some sass. There are also fun player-piano passages and a wry cowboy ballad that refuses to take itself seriously. Parodying the conventional western score seems to agree with Alexander because his work sparkles in these two final efforts.



Credits (all films USA) Year



1951 1953 1953 1953 1954 1954 1955 1956 1956 1956 1957 1957 1957 1957 1958 1958 1958 1959 1959 1959 1959 1960 1961 1961 1962 1965 1967 1967 1968 1968 1969 1970

Westward the Women (aka Pioneer Women) Remains to Be Seen The Affairs of Dobie Gillis Escape from Fort Bravo Prisoner of War Rogue Cop (aka Kelvaney) The Tender Trap Ransom! These Wilder Years The Great American Pastime Slander (aka A Public Figure) The Wings of Eagles Gun Glory Jailhouse Rock The Sheepman The High Cost of Loving Party Girl The Mating Game Ask Any Girl It Started with a Kiss The Gazebo All the Fine Young Cannibals The George Raft Story (aka Spin of a Coin) The Murder Men Kid Galahad The Rounders Double Trouble Clambake Day of the Evil Gun Speedway Support Your Local Sheriff! Dirty Dingus Magee

William A. Wellman Don Weis Don Weis John Sturges Andrew Marton Roy Rowland Charles Walters Alex Segal Roy Rowland Herman Hoffman Roy Rowland John Ford Roy Rowland Richard Thorpe George Marshall José Ferrer Nicholas Ray George Marshall Charles Walters George Marshall George Marshall Michael Anderson Joseph M. Newman John Peyser Phil Karlson Burt Kennedy Norman Taurog Arthur H. Nadel Jerry Thorpe Norman Taurog Burt Kennedy Burt Kennedy

ALEXANDER, Van (b. 1915) A highly respected songwriter, bandleader, arranger, and composer for film and television, he scored seventeen mostly forgettable movies during his dozen years in Hollywood. Van Alexander was born Alexander Feldman in New York City and as early as his high school years was arranging music and conducting his own band. Alexander studied composition and music theory at Columbia University then began his professional career when he sold two orchestra arrangements to bandleader Chic Webb. The vocalist for the band was a young Ella Fitzgerald. Alexander wrote a jazzy version of the nursery rhyme ditty “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” for Fitzgerald and Webb and it became a resounding hit for the band, on records, and as one

of Fitzgerald’s signature song for decades. He was soon in great demand, writing arrangements for famous singing stars and Big Bands. Alexander formed his own band in the 1940s and toured the country with success but by the end of that decade the Big Band rage was waning. Alexander accepted bandleader Bob Crosby’s invitation to try Hollywood, so in the early 1950s he freelanced as an arranger for various studios. In 1954 he wrote and arranged an original score for the Mickey Rooney vehicle The Atomic Kid and that same year repeated both jobs on the TV series The Mickey Rooney Show. (It seems Alexander was the unofficial composer/arranger for Rooney in the 1950s, going on to score eight movies that the star appeared in and/or produced-directed.) Before retiring from movies 8


I Know Who You Are) has a better premise: two teenage girls (Sara Lane and Andi Garrett) randomly dial a phone number and announce the title phrase to the man (John Ireland) who answers. The fact that he has just committed a murder jumpstarts the plot. The score is less frantic, with some lyrical clarinet passages and a slow jazz theme for Crawford who plays the murderer’s mistress. The rest is standard suspense music with teasing repetition and blaring brass at the crucial moments. Both of these movies are considered campy cult favorites today, but at the time they did little to distinguish Alexander’s screen career. In the 1950s Mickey Rooney was trying to break away from his wholesome teenage image of the 1940s and looked for challenging projects. Playing the title role in the gangster film Baby Face Nelson was one of these, and Alexander scored it with a strident jazz soundtrack. With the look of a film noir and the temperament of a documentary, the movie has a stark appearance. The music is also fairly blunt, although some of the jazz is rather smooth and cool in some passages. The chase scenes are scored with bullet-like chords and screaming trumpets. It may all sound more 1950s than the plot’s 1930s setting, but it is a commendable score all the same. Perhaps the closest Alexander came to scoring a top-tier film is the prison drama The Last Mile. The main theme is a zesty jazz piece without a touch of the morose or melodramatic that would be expected for a story about the inmates on death row. The sound throughout is Big Band jazz, but there are enough dissonant and blue notes to make it clear we are not at the Savoy Ballroom. Such a strong score in a very watchable movie makes one realize how Hollywood never made good use of Alexander’s talents.

in 1968, Alexander scored gangster films, silly comedies, and horror thrillers, few of them first-class projects. Yet there were also some noteworthy efforts, such as When Gangland Strikes, Andy Hardy Comes Home, Baby Face Nelson, The Big Operator, and The Last Mile. Alexander found more substantial work in television, composing and arranging music for such series as The Donna Reed Show, The Farmer’s Daughter, Hazel, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie. Throughout his career, Alexander (sometimes under the name Al Feldman) made arrangements and cowrote many songs that were recorded, among the most popular being “I’ll Close My Eyes,” “Got a Pebble in My Shoe,” “There’s a Ship Comin’ In,” and another nursery rhyme hit “Where, O Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” He served as mentor to several younger composers and arrangers and even wrote a textbook about arranging music in 1950 titled First Arrangement. There is no question that Alexander’s musical strengths lie in his expert arrangements rather than in his screen compositions, but then he never got to score a first-rate or outstanding film. In most cases it is safe to say that the music was better than the movie. Two William Castle schlock thrillers, Strait-Jacket and I Saw What You Did, both starred an over-the-hill and overwrought Joan Crawford. Obviously patterned after the previous Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), the two movies make that Gothic thriller look rather subdued. Strait-Jacket opens with a scream, an axe murderess (Crawford) is pictured on the front page of a newspaper, and the jazzy-pop score begins. Crawford’s character has her own theme, a sexy piece of hot jazz, and the gory scenes are scored with frantic strings and police sirens. I Saw What You Did (And

Credits (all films USA unless stated otherwise) Year



1954 1955 1956 1956 1957 1958 1958 1959 1959

The Atomic Kid The Twinkle in God’s Eye Jaguar When Gangland Strikes Baby Face Nelson Andy Hardy Comes Home Senior Prom The Last Mile The Big Operator (aka Anatomy of the Syndicate)

Leslie H. Martinson George Blair George Blair R. G. Springsteen Don Siegel Howard W. Koch David Lowell Rich Howard W. Koch Charles F. Haas






1959 1960 1960 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966

Girls Town (aka The Innocent and the Damned) The Private Lives of Adam and Eve Platinum High School (aka Trouble at Sixteen) Safe at Home! 13 Frightened Girls! Strait-Jacket I Saw What You Did Tarzan and the Valley of Gold

Charles F. Haas Mickey Rooney, Albert Zugsmith Charles F. Haas Walter Doniger William Castle William Castle William Castle Robert Day (USA/Switzerland)

ALWYN, William (Smith) (1905–1985) A British composer, conductor, and renowned flautist who taught at the Royal Academy of Music for thirty years, he scored some of Great Britain’s finest films of the 1940s and 1950s. Born in Northampton, England, William Alwyn studied piccolo and flute as a boy. He was only fifteen years old when he was accepted at the Royal Academy, studying the flute and composition. After graduation, he played flute for the London Symphony Orchestra and then in 1925 returned to the Academy where he taught composition until 1955. Alwyn was first associated with movies when he was hired to play flute for a small orchestra that performed for silent films. He did not return to movies until World War II, when he was asked by the Ministry of Information to score a series of documentaries and propaganda features to boost British morale. After scoring twenty short films, Alwyn wrote his first feature score in 1942, the historical drama Courageous Mr. Penn. Although he wrote music for many other short and feature-length movies during the war, his best screen work came after the end of hostilities. Alwyn’s music for the American-British documentary The True Glory in 1945 brought him attention and his moody, entrancing score for director Carol Reed’s classic Odd Man Out two years later secured his screen reputation. He collaborated again with Reed on The Fallen Idol and The Ballad of the Running Man, and with other top British directors he scored such memorable films as The Winslow Boy, The Rocking Horse Winner, The Mudlark, Green for Danger, The Magic Box, and A Night to Remember. Alwyn also wrote scores for some Hollywood movies, including the swashbuckler The Crimson Pirate and the Disney adventures Swiss Family Robinson and In Search of the Castaways. Although he scored over seventy movies during his career, Alwyn spent most of his life teaching and composing noncinema music. His output for the concert

stage is impressive: five symphonies, eight concertos, four operas, and dozens of piano pieces, art songs, and chamber works. He was a founder of the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain, frequently conducted his own work and others, and often wrote about music. The William Alwyn Archive at Cambridge University contains much of his work, and some of Alwyn’s music that was lost has been reconstructed and recorded by Philip Lang and Christopher Palmer. Alwyn’s concert music often employed dissonance, and he experimented with twelve-tone serialism by creating his own tonal system, but his screen music is in a more traditional vein, particularly in his Hollywood films. The Crimson Pirate is filled with robust symphonic music that suggests exotic locales as well as tuneful marches and playful sea chanteys. The music in Swiss Family Robinson is also in the grand manner, a full orchestra exploding in the style of Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Miklós Rózsa. The same can be said for In Search of the Castaways, although there are more pleasing lyrical moments in that adventure movie. But such music is not what Alwyn is all about. It is the way he scores smaller and quieter movies that gives him distinction. The tender character drama The Fallen Idol about lost ideals has a minimalist score that creates suspense by breaking long periods of silence with ominous chords. On the other hand, there is plenty of music in the fantastical tragedy The Rocking Horse Winner about a British youth (John Howard Davies) who can predict racetrack winners when he rides his new rocking horse. There are sections of chaotic suspense as the boy discovers his strange powers and some frenzied sequences in which music echoes the demonic hold the rocking horse has over him. The boy (Andrew Ray) in The Mudlark is given lighter, more romantic music for his adventure with Queen Victoria (Irene Dunne), some passages even 10


recalling Arthur Sullivan’s merry tunes. Alwyn wrote a delightful calypso sequence for the comedy The Rake’s Progress (released in the States as Notorious Gentleman) and the music throughout is light and witty, just as it is in the Alec Guinness comedy The Card (The Promoter in the United States). Alwyn was given too few comic films to score, probably because he was considered a serious concert composer. He was expert in creating tension in his scores. The suspense in the medical mystery thriller Green for Danger is musicalized in a subtle way, the chords rising and falling to the tempo of a heartbeat. The tension in The Ballad of the Running Man is achieved through a percussion and brass score with a propulsive beat that might serve for a James Bond film. There is a majestic quality in the music for A Night to Remember as befitting its subject, the sinking of the Titanic. Yet the music has enough touches of dissonance to suggest the tragic fate of the ship and its passengers. Alwyn scored a handful of “Irish troubles”

movies, and they have their own kind of lyrical tension. A persistent kettle drum pervades the music in Shake Hands with the Devil. Furious violins underscore the action scenes in Captain Boycott and a solo female voice sings an Irish folk tune to set the locale in the quieter scenes. Alwyn’s finest Irish movie, one of the high points of the genre, is Odd Man Out, and his score for the melodrama is arguably his best. The film is an extended chase in whi