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Classic Film Scores: Laura / Forever Amber / The Bad and the Beautiful

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Album Review

As a body of music,. David Raksin's score for The Bad and the Beautiful has been lurking around collectors' circles for decades — Raksin himself recorded a suite distilled down from its most important sections for RCA Red Seal in the early '70s, and it has been frequently mentioned as one of the finer instrumental scores to come out of MGM. It wasn't until the link-up between Turner Entertainment and Rhino Records in the mid-'90s that issuing a proper soundtrack album finally became possible — as Raksin had not only composed but also conducted the original tracks and was still around to advise the producers, he did precisely that. The result is a 56-minute CD that is comprised of 47 tracks, including two unused takes of the main title music and one of the end title music — many of the other cues appear for the first time in their complete, uncut versions. The music itself varies between deliberate period-style writing, intended to evoke the Hollywood conventions of a bygone age — including hauntingly beautiful arrangements of "Don't Blame Me" and "Temptation," and some very clever adaptations, such as the Tchaikovsky pastiche entitled "Ilyich All Over" — and full-blown dramatic underscoring. The latter stretches tonality on the reeds, horns, and strings in all manner of unexpected directions without ever losing the audience or releasing you from the irony-laced arc of the story. The material has been assembled in the order in which it appears in the movie, which can make the several short cues between the longer, more dramatically cohesive tracks seem a little distracting; on the other hand, the presence of the extended version of "The Letdown," with its lengthy, beautifully haunting clarinet solo, is worth the price of the disc. The Bad and the Beautiful is essential listening, but its existence as a free-standing soundtrack does not diminish the value of Raksin's recording of his suite from the score, which has more musical and dramatic unity.


Born: 04 August 1912 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

David Raksin was among the most prolific and storied composers in Hollywood history, his career spanning across six decades and some of the most acclaimed films in cinema history. Raksin was born August 4, 1912 in Philadelphia, where his father was a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra in addition to conducting and performing in concert bands and for silent movies. The younger Raksin began studying piano as a child and by 12 was fronting his own dance band, even appearing on the local CBS radio...
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Classic Film Scores: Laura / Forever Amber / The Bad and the Beautiful, David Raksin
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