Music in
Films

1900 - 2000


Music in Films
 

Max Steiner
1888-1971

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Steiners's film music

Max Steiner, in full Maximilian Raoul Walter Steiner, (born May 10, 1888, Vienna, Austria—died Dec. 28, 1971, Hollywood, Calif., U.S.), Austrian-born U.S. composer and conductor. A prodigy, he wrote an operetta at age 14 that ran in Vienna for a year. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1914 and worked in New York City as a theatre conductor and arranger, and then he moved to Hollywood in 1929. He became one of the first and finest (if not subtlest) movie composers, establishing many techniques that became standard, with his scores for King Kong (1933), The Informer (1935, Academy Award), Gone with the Wind (1939), Now, Voyager (1942, Academy Award), Since You Went Away (1944, Academy Award), The Big Sleep (1946), The Fountainhead (1949), and many others.

1933 King Kong
1933  Flying Down to Rio
1934 The Lost Patrol
1934 Of Human Bondage
1935 Roberta
1935 Top Hat
1935 
The Informer
1938 Jezebel
1939 Gone with the Wind

1940 The Letter
1942 Casablanca
1942 Now, Voyager
1944 Since You Went Away
1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1948 Johnny Belinda
1956 The Searchers

1961 Parrish
1962 Rome Adventure

King Kong
 

King Kong is a 1933 American pre-Code monster adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose was developed from an idea conceived by Cooper and Edgar Wallace. It stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong, and opened in New York City on March 2, 1933, to rave reviews. It has been ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the greatest horror film of all time[5] and the thirty-third greatest film of all time.

The film tells of a huge, ape-like creature dubbed Kong who perishes in an attempt to possess a beautiful young woman (Wray). King Kong is especially noted for its stop-motion animation by Willis O'Brien and a groundbreaking musical score by Max Steiner. In 1991, it was deemed "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. A sequel quickly followed with Son of Kong (also released in 1933), with several more films made in the following decades.

1933 - King Kong - Max Steiner (Soundtrack)

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Flying Down to Rio
 

Flying Down to Rio is a 1933 American pre-Code RKO musical film noted for being the first screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, although Dolores del Río and Gene Raymond received top billing and the leading roles. Among the featured players are Franklin Pangborn and Eric Blore. The songs in the film were written by Vincent Youmans (music), Gus Kahn and Edward Eliscu (lyrics), with musical direction and additional music by Max Steiner. This is the only film in which Rogers was billed above famed Broadway dancer Astaire.

The black-and-white film (later computer-colorized) was directed by Thornton Freeland and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Lou Brock. The screenplay was written by Erwin S. Gelsey, H. W. Hanemann and Cyril Hume, based on a story by Lou Brock and a play by Anne Caldwell. Linwood Dunn did the special effects for the celebrated airplane-wing dance sequence at the end of the film.
 

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The Lost Patrol
 

The Lost Patrol is a 1934 American pre-Code war film made by RKO. It was directed and produced by John Ford, with Merian C. Cooper as executive producer and Cliff Reid as associate producer. The screenplay was by Dudley Nichols, adapted by Garrett Fort from the novel Patrol by Philip MacDonald. The music score was by Max Steiner and the cinematography by Harold Wenstrom. The film is a remake of a 1929 British silent film, also named The Lost Patrol.

The earlier film was directed and written by Walter Summers and is based on the same novel. The Lost Patrol stars Victor McLaglen, Boris Karloff, Wallace Ford, Reginald Denny, J. M. Kerrigan and Alan Hale.

The Lost Patrol was reprised in a number of films, the script was the basis for the 1936 Soviet film The Thirteen, set by director Mikhail Romm in the Central Asia desert during the Basmachi rebellion. This Soviet film was then adapted in Sahara, featuring Humphrey Bogart and the 1995 remake featuring James Belushi. Last of the Comanches is a Western remake from 1953.

Max Steiner - Main Title and The Sniper (From "Lost Patrol")

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Of Human Bondage 
 

Of Human Bondage is a 1934 American pre-Code drama film directed by John Cromwell and is widely regarded by critics as the film that made Bette Davis a star. The screenplay by Lester Cohen is based on the 1915 novel Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham.

Of Human Bondage -
Bette Davis, Leslie Howard 1934

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Roberta

Roberta is a 1935 musical film by RKO starring Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Randolph Scott. It was an adaptation of a 1933 Broadway musical Roberta, which in turn was based on the novel Gowns by Roberta by Alice Duer Miller. It was a solid hit, showing a net profit of more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

The film kept the famous songs "Yesterdays", "Let's Begin" (with altered lyrics), and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" from the play, along with a fourth song, "I'll Be Hard to Handle". Three songs from the play were dropped — "The Touch of Your Hand", "Something Had To Happen" and "You're Devastating". Two songs were added to this film, "I Won't Dance" (resurrected from the flop Kern show Three Sisters) and "Lovely to Look At", which both became #1 hits in 1935. The latter addition was nominated for the Best Song Oscar. The songs "I Won't Dance" and "Lovely to Look At" have remained so popular that they are now almost always included in revivals and recordings of Roberta.
 

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Top Hat

Top Hat is a 1935 American screwball musical comedy film in which Fred Astaire plays an American dancer named Jerry Travers, who comes to London to star in a show produced by Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton). He meets and attempts to impress Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) to win her affection. The film also features Eric Blore as Hardwick's valet Bates, Erik Rhodes as Alberto Beddini, a fashion designer and rival for Dale's affections, and Helen Broderick as Hardwick's long-suffering wife MadgePremiere – New York City September 6, 1935

 

The Informer
 

The Informer is a 1935 dramatic film, released by RKO. The plot concerns the underside of the Irish War of Independence, set in 1920. It stars Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Preston Foster, Margot Grahame, Wallace Ford, Una O'Connor and J. M. Kerrigan. The screenplay was written by Dudley Nichols from the novel of the same title by Liam O'Flaherty. It was directed by John Ford. The novel had previously been adapted for a British film The Informer (1929).

Along with Mutiny on the Bounty, The Informer was a big contender at the 8th Academy Awards, competing directly in all six categories they were nominated for (though Mutiny got eight nominations in total, given its three Best Actor nominations). The Informer won four Oscars: Best Director for Ford, Best Actor for McLaglen, Best Writing Screenplay for Nichols, and Best Score. In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
 

The Informer - 1935 - Official Trailer 

The Informer - Soundtrack Suite - Max Steiner

Jezebel
 

Jezebel is a 1938 American romantic drama film released by Warner Bros and directed by William Wyler. It stars Bette Davis and Henry Fonda, supported by George Brent, Margaret Lindsay, Donald Crisp, Richard Cromwell, and Fay Bainter. The film was adapted by Clements Ripley, Abem Finkel, John Huston, and Robert Buckner, from the play by Owen Davis, Sr.

The film tells the story of a headstrong young Southern woman during the antebellum period whose actions cost her the man she loves.

The film is based on a 1933 stage play. Tallulah Bankhead was originally slated for the stage role, but fell severely ill during rehearsals and was replaced by Miriam Hopkins.

JEZEBEL - William Wyler - The Ball

Bette Davis - "I'm Kneeling To You" - Jezebel

BETTE DAVIS - WILLIAM WYLER - MAX STEINER - JEZEBEL

Gone With The Wind
 

Gone With The WindYou’d be hard-pressed to find a more quintessential score from the Golden Age of cinema. This film’s main theme could not be more heartbreaking, grand and epically tragic, thanks to the legendary composer Max Steiner , who used music as a tool to develop characters. Steiner was instrumental in making Hollywood’s best film scores equally important as what was happening in the foreground, and created the blueprint for every film that followed.

The one that set the standard and broke the mold.  At 2:36, the longest score in the world up to that time, it was Max Steiner’s – the greatest film composer of the first half of the century.  While the film is sort of caught in the dated mores of a long-gone world, the music – Steiner was the first composer to insist that each character have their own theme, a standard used even today -  and Clark Gable stand above it, separately, both timeless. 

The most well known of Steiner's themes for the score is the "Tara" theme for the O'Hara family plantation. Steiner explains Scarlett's deep-founded love for her home is why "the 'Tara' theme begins and ends with the picture and permeates the entire score". The film went on to win ten Academy Awards, although not for the best original score, which instead went to Herbert Stothart for the musical The Wizard of Oz. The score of Gone With The Wind is ranked #2 by AFI as the second greatest American film score of all time.
 

Gone With The Wind - Soundtrack Suite (Max Steiner)
-00:00  "Main Title"
-04:04  "The O'Hara Family"
-04:54  "Scarlett Prepares For The Barbecue"
-05:39  "War Is Declared / The Death Of Charles"
-06:51  "Escape From Atlanta"
-09:00  "I'll Never Be Hungry Again!"
-10:21  "The Death Of Melanie"
-11:55  "Scarlett In The Mist / Rhett Leaves"
-14:38  "Flashback / Finale"

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1939). Composed and Conducted by Max Steiner, performed by the Warner Bros. Studio Orchestra.

Gone With the Wind - Trailer

Tara's Theme - Gone with the Wind

The Letter
 

The Letter is a 1940 American film noir directed by William Wyler, and starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and James Stephenson. The screenplay by Howard E. Koch is based on the 1927 play of the same nameby W. Somerset Maugham. The play was first filmed in 1929, by director Jean de Limur.

The Letter - 1940 - music by Max Steiner

The Letter (1940) - Trailer

The Letter (1940) - William Wyler -  Incredible opening scene

Casablanca

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; it also features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson. Set during contemporary World War II, it focuses on an American expatriate who must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her husband, a Czech Resistance leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.

Exceeding expectations, Casablanca went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, while Curtiz was selected as Best Director and the Epsteins and Koch were honored for writing the Best Adapted Screenplay—and gradually its reputation grew. Its lead characters, memorable lines, and pervasive theme song have all become iconic, and the film consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films in history.
 

The music was written by Max Steiner, who was best known for the score for Gone with the Wind. The song "As Time Goes By" by Herman Hupfeld had been part of the story from the original play; Steiner wanted to write his own composition to replace it, but Bergman had already cut her hair short for her next role (María in For Whom the Bell Tolls) and could not re-shoot the scenes which incorporated the song, so Steiner based the entire score on it and "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem, transforming them as leitmotifs to reflect changing moods.

Particularly memorable is the "duel of the songs" between Strasser and Laszlo at Rick's cafe. In the soundtrack, "La Marseillaise" is played by a full orchestra. 

Other songs include:

"It Had to Be You", music by Isham Jones, lyrics by Gus Kahn
"Shine", music by Ford Dabney, lyrics by Cecil Mack and Lew Brown
"Avalon", music and lyrics by Al Jolson, Buddy DeSylva and Vincent Rose
"Perfidia", by Alberto Dominguez
"The Very Thought of You", by Ray Noble
"Knock on Wood", music by M. K. Jerome, lyrics by Jack Scholl, the only original song.

 

Casablanca suite performed live by the John Wilson Orchestra - BBC Proms 2013

Casablanca - 1942 - Official Trailer

Casablanca - It Had To Be You

Casablanca - As Time Goes By 
Original Song by Sam (Dooley Wilson)

Casablanca - Knock On Wood 
Dooley Wilson 

Now, Voyager
 

Now, Voyager is a 1942 American drama film starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, and directed by Irving Rapper. The screenplay by Casey Robinson is based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Olive Higgins Prouty.

Prouty borrowed her title from the Walt Whitman poem "The Untold Want", which reads in its entirety,

The untold want by life and land ne'er granted,

Now, voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.

In 2007, Now, Voyager was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The film ranks #23 on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Passions, a list of the top love stories in American cinema. Film critic Steven Jay Schneider suggests the film continues to be popular due not only to its star power but also the "emotional crescendos" engendered in the storyline. The film had a cameo appearance during the theatre scene in the movie Summer of '42.

Now Voyager (1942) Soundtrack

Since You Went Away
 

Since You Went Away is a 1944 American drama film directed by John Cromwell for Selznick International Pictures and distributed by United Artists. It is an epic about the American home front during World War II that was adapted and produced by David O. Selznick from the 1943 novel Since You Went Away: Letters to a Soldier from His Wife by Margaret Buell Wilder. The music score was by Max Steiner, and the cinematography by Stanley Cortez, Lee Garmes, George Barnes (uncredited), and Robert Bruce (uncredited).

The film is set in a mid-sized American town, where people with loved ones in the Armed Forces try to cope with their changed circumstances and make their own contributions to the war effort. The town is near a military base, and some of the characters are troops serving Stateside.

Though famously sentimental in places, Since You Went Away is somber at times about the effects of war on ordinary people. Some characters on the homefront are dealing with grief, loneliness, or fear for the future. Wounded and disabled troops are shown in the hospital scenes.

Since You Went Away - 1944 

MAX STEINER - Since You Went Away - SUITE

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
 

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 American dramatic adventurous neo-western written and directed by John Huston. It is an adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, set in the 1920s, in which, driven by their desperate economic plight, two young men, Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), join old-timer Howard (Walter Huston, the director's father) in Mexico to prospect for gold.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was one of the first Hollywood productions to be shot on location outside the United States (in the state of Durango and street scenes in Tampico, Mexico), although many scenes were filmed back in the studio and elsewhere in the US. The movie is quite faithful to the source novel. In 1990, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - Trailer

Treasure Of The Sierra Madre - Soundtrack Suite - Max Steiner

Johnny Belinda
 

Johnny Belinda is a 1948 American drama film based on the 1940 Broadway stage hit of the same name, by Elmer Blaney Harris. The play was adapted for the screen by writers Allen Vincent and Irma von Cube, and directed by Jean Negulesco.

The story is based on an actual incident that happened near Harris's summer residence in Fortune Bridge, Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island. The title character is based on the real-life Lydia Dingwell (1852–1931), of Dingwells Mills, Prince Edward Island. The film dramatizes the consequences of spreading lies and rumors, and the horror of rape. The latter subject had previously been prohibited by the Motion Picture Production Code. Johnny Belinda is widely considered to be the first Hollywood film for which the restriction was relaxed, and as such was controversial at the time of its initial release.

The film stars Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead, Stephen McNally, and Jan Sterling. Wyman's performance earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Johnny Belinda - Official Trailer 

Max Steiner - "Johnny Belinda" - suite

The Searchers 
 

The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, set during the Texas–Indian wars, and starring John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece (Natalie Wood), accompanied by his adoptive nephew (Jeffrey Hunter).
The film was a commercial success. Since its release it has come to be considered a masterpiece and one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. It was named the greatest American western by the American Film Institute in 2008, and it placed 12th on the same organization's 2007 list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time. Entertainment Weekly also named it the best western. The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine ranked it as the seventh best film of all time based on a 2012 international survey of film critics and in 2008, the French magazine Cahiers du Cinéma ranked The Searchers number 10 in their list of the 100 best films ever made.

In 1989, The Searchers was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry; it was one of the first 25 films selected for the registry.

Max Steiner - The Searchers Soundtrack Suite - Original Soundtrack Theme from "The Searchers"

Parrish
 

Parrish is a 1961 American drama film made by Warner Bros. It was written, produced and directed by Delmer Daves, based on the 1958 novel of the same name by Mildred Savage. The music score was by Max Steiner, the Technicolor cinematography by Harry Stradling Sr., the art direction by Leo K. Kuter and the costume design by Howard Shoup.

The film stars Troy Donahue, Claudette Colbert, Karl Malden and Dean Jagger, with Connie Stevens, Diane McBain, Sharon Hugueny, Sylvia Miles, Madeleine Sherwood and Hayden Rorke. The film marked Claudette Colbert's last role on the big screen.

Parrish (1961) 1/3

Parrish (1961) 2/3

Parrish (1961) 3/3

Parrish - Soundtrack Suite - Max Steiner

Rome Adventure
 

Rome Adventure, 1962, also known as Lovers Must Learn, is a 1962 romantic drama film, based on the 1932 novel Lovers Must Learn by Irving Fineman. It was directed by Delmer Daves and stars Troy Donahue, Angie Dickinson, and Suzanne Pleshette.

Rome Adventure (1962) 1/2 

Rome Adventure (1962) 2/2 

"Rome Adventure"  - Soundtrack Suite