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The latest score CD from Intrada is the direct-to-video sequel BACKDRAFT II, which brings back two stars, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland, from the 1991 Ron Howard-directed firefighter mystery-thriller. Hans Zimmer scored the original film, but the new sequel features a score by veteran composer Randy Edelman, whose feature career began in the 1970s but is best remembered for a streak of hits in the 1990s including Kindergarten Cop, My Cousin Vinny, Beethoven, The Last of the Mohicans (a shared credit with Trevor Jones), Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Gettysburg, The Mask and While You Were Sleeping.
CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Backdraft II - Randy Edelman - Intrada Special Collection
Bomber - Guido & Maurizio DeAngelis - Beat
The History of Eternity
 - Zbigniew Preisner - Caldera
The Hustle - Anne Dudley - Sony (import)
Lancaster Skies
 - James Griffiths - Quartet 
L'Ossessa
 - Marcello Giombini - Digitmovies
Malevolence 3: Killer
 - Stevan Mena - Howlin' Wolf 
Nunzio
 - Lalo Schifrin - Quartet 
Ruba Al Prossimo Turo
 - Ennio Morricone - Digitmovies
Shazam! - Benjamin Wallfisch - WaterTower
Un Amore
 - Giorgio Gaslini - Quartet  
IN THEATERS TODAY

The Biggest Little Farm - Jeff Beal
Carmine Street Guitars - Dallas Good,Travis Good
Charlie Says - Keegan DeWitt
The Hustle - Anne Dudley - Score CD on Sony (import)
My Son - Laurent Perez Del Mar
Non-Fiction - no original score
Pokemon Detective Pikachu - Henry Jackman - Score CD on Sony
Poms - Deborah Lurie
Rafiki - no original score
Tolkien
- Thomas Newman - Score CD on Sony
Wine Country - Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin

COMING SOON

May 17
The Sentinel - Gil Melle - La-La Land 
The Son
 - Nathan Barr - Varese Sarabande
May 24
Avengers: Endgame
 - Alan Silvestri - Hollywood
Black Mirror: Hang the DJ
 - Alex Somers, Sigur Ros - Invada 
Hakkodasan
 - Yasushi Akutagawa - Cinema-Kan (import)
May 31
Fletch Lives - Harold Faltermeyer - La-La Land
Godzilla, King of the Monsters - Bear McCreary - WaterTower
Outlander: Season 4 
- Bear McCreary - Madison Gate
June 7
Being Rose - Brian Ralson - Notefornote 
First to the Moon: The Journey of Apollo 8 - Alexander Bornstein - Notefornote 
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
 - Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard - Varese Sarabande 
My Brilliant Friend - Max Richter - Deutsche Grammophon
June 14
Dragged Across Concrete - Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler - Lakeshore
Missing Link - Carter Burwell - Lakeshore
Date Unknown
Blanche Comme Neige
 - Bruno Coulais - Quartet
The Dennis McCarthy Collection vol. 1: The Television Movies
 - Dennis McCarthy - Dragon's Domain
Jaguar Lives!
 - Robert O. Ragland - Dragon's Domain
Le Plus Beau Pays Du Monde/Le Sanctuaire
- Rob - Music Box
Louisiane
- Claude Bolling - Music 
Maniac [re-issue]
- Rob - Music Box
Pumpkinhead
- Richard Stone - Notefornote


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

May 10 - Max Steiner born (1888)
May 10 - Dimitri Tiomkin born (1899)
May 10 - David Lindup born (1928)
May 10 - Jay Ferguson born (1947)
May 10 - Debbie Wiseman born (1963)
May 10 - Perry Blake born (1970) 
May 10 - Isaac Hayes begins recording his score for Shaft (1971)
May 10 - Laurence Rosenthal begins recording his score for The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976)
May 10 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things…” (1994)
May 11 - Nathan Scott born (1915)
May 11 - Recording sessions begin for Miklos Rozsa’s score to So Proudly We Hail (1943)
May 11 - Recording sessions begin for Cyril J. Mockridge’s score for Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)
May 11 - Elmer Bernstein begins recording his score for Hud (1962)
May 11 - Elmer Bernstein begins recording his score for Trading Places (1983)
May 11 - Michael Small begins recording his score for Kidco (1983)
May 11 - Alexander Courage begins recording his score for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
May 11 - Ron Jones records his score for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Up the Long Ladder" (1989)
May 11 - Recording sessions begin for Elliot Goldenthal’s score for Batman Forever (1995)
May 11 - Alan Silvestri begins recording his score for Eraser (1996)
May 12 - Gordon Jenkins born (1910)
May 12 - Burt Bacharach born (1928)
May 12 - Klaus Doldinger born (1936)
May 12 - Jacob Groth born (1951)
May 12 - Niki Reiser born (1958)
May 12 - Nitin Sawhney born (1964)
May 12 - Steven M. Stern born (1967)
May 12 - Ernest Gold begins recording his unused score for Used Cars (1980)
May 12 - Humphrey Searle died (1982)
May 13 - David Broekman born (1902)
May 13 - Ken Darby born (1909)
May 13 - Isaak Shvarts born (1923)
May 13 - Charles Gross born (1934)
May 13 - John Lunn born (1956)
May 13 - Alison Goldfrapp born (1966)
May 13 - Craig Safan begins recording his unused score for Wolfen (1981)
May 13 - Recording sessions begin on Basil Poledouris’ score for RoboCop (1987)
May 13 - Alan Silvestri begins recording his score to Predator (1987)
May 13 - Ira Newborn begins recording his score for The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991)
May 13 - Leon Klatzkin died (1992)
May 13 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Basics, Part 1” (1996)
May 13 - Jay Chattaway records his score for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Zero Hour” (2004)
May 13 - Robert Drasnin died (2015)
May 14 - J.S. Zamecnik born (1872)
May 14 - Kenneth V. Jones born (1924)
May 14 - Tristram Cary born (1925)
May 14 - The Adventures of Robin Hood released (1938)
May 14 - Frank Churchill died (1942)
May 14 - David Byrne born (1952)
May 14 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score for Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957)
May 14 - Alex North begins recording his score for Hot Spell (1957)
May 14 - Raphael Saadiq born (1966)
May 14 - John Williams wins the Emmy for his Jane Eyre score, and Pete Rugolo wins for the Bold Ones episode “In Defense of Ellen McKay” (1972)
May 14 - Michael Kamen begins recording his score for Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
May 14 - Michael Kamen begins recording his score for Die Hard 2 (1990)
May 14 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Enterprise episode “The Expanse” (2003)
May 15 - Bert Shefter born (1904)
May 15 - John Lanchbery born (1923)
May 15 - Freddie Perren born (1943)
May 15 - Brian Eno born (1948)
May 15 - Mike Oldfield born (1953)
May 15 - Andrey Sigle born (1954)
May 15 - Recording sessions begin for Bronislau Kaper's score for Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)
May 15 - Gordon Parks begins recording his score for Shaft's Big Score! (1972)
May 15 - David Munrow died (1976)
May 15 - Jerry Goldsmith wins his third Emmy, for Babe; Alex North wins his only Emmy, for Rich Man, Poor Man (1976)
May 15 - Billy Goldenberg records his score for the Amazing Stories episode "Secret Cinema" (1985)
May 15 - John Green died (1989)
May 15 - Dennis McCarthy records his score for the Enterprise episode “Shockwave, Part 1” (2002)
May 15 - Marius Constant died (2004)
May 15 - Alexander Courage died (2008)
May 16 - Jonathan Richman born (1951)
May 16 - Elmer Bernstein begins recording his score to Hawaii (1966)
May 16 - Alan Silvestri begins recording his score for Back to the Future (1985)
May 16 - Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score for The Shadow (1994)
May 16 - Recording sessions begin for David Arnold’s score for Shaft (2000)

DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

AIR STRIKE - Wang Liguang
 
"Veteran stunt coordinator Bruce Law is billed as 'action director,' and the non-CG physicality is indeed splashy, yet of an ilk that would be more appropriate in a Jackie Chan caper than a WW2 epic based on real historical events. (Too many vehicles crash into too many buildings simply so we can see things get smashed.) One design contribution that is at least conventionally appropriate is Wang Liguang’s score, which is duly performed by the London Symphony Orchestra."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety

A CURE FOR WELLNESS - Benjamin Wallfisch
 
"'A Cure for Wellness' tells the story of a young jerk (Lockhart, played by the icy Dane Haan [sic]) in financial services who tries to retrieve a missing board member from the sanatorium, located in the Swiss Alps. From the start something icky is afoot. Everything is blue and wet. The city sky is blue-grey and rainy. Computers glow blue. A man has a heart attack clutching a blue plastic cup by a blue plastic water cooler. Lockhart’s blue eyes narrow as he scoops up a dead office goldfish and throws it into the trash. Grindingly creepy music fills out the David Fincher-esque flavor of these early scenes. Swan Lake-like melodies dance on top of dark bass lines."
 
Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic

"'A Cure for Wellness' opens with a foreboding shot of a nightmarish edifice looming over the viewer at a canted angle. It’s not the creepy Swiss sanatorium where most of Gore Verbinski’s demented new film is set. No, it’s a Manhattan skyscraper, where a stressed-out office worker (Craig Wroe) takes a drink from the water cooler, then violently keels over and dies from a heart attack as the score thuds and groans furiously. Verbinski ('Pirates of the Caribbean,' 'The Ring') has never been a subtle filmmaker, but even by his standards 'A Cure for Wellness' is bold -- an epically long, giddily violent piece of Gothic storytelling, crammed to the gills with beautiful camerawork, obvious symbolism, and lots and lots of eels."
 
David Sims, The Atlantic

"What Verbinski is doing here amounts to a two-and-a-half-hour exercise in atmosphere, using all the tools at his command to create a sustained feeling of suspicion and dread -- from Benjamin Wallfisch’s ominous score to DP Bojan Bazelli’s green-tinged visuals (a partnership forged on Verbinski’s even more effectively psyche-scarring 'The Ring'). As in 'Shutter Island,' we’re led to wonder whether there’s merit to the protagonist’s paranoia, of if he’s simply merely going insane himself."
 
Peter Debruge, Variety

THE GREAT WALL - Ramin Djawadi
 
"Relying heavily on computer-generated graphics, the extended siege owes debts to the aforementioned movies, as well as 'The Lord of the Rings.' The story nevertheless hums along briskly, with playful banter between Damon and Pascal, noble sacrifices and a stirring musical score courtesy of 'Thrones' composer Ramin Djawadi."
 
Brian Lowry, CNN.com
 
"With an effectively rousing score from 'Game of Thrones' composer Ramin Djawadi, 'The Great Wall' grasps at being a battle-heavy epic where the stakes are high and the drums are always pounding. Here, the instruments are actually within the action itself in one of the film’s cooler elements as the percussion serves as a message to the troops during battle. But Zhang’s film never reaches the heights of the best fantasy action movies like 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, with its solid war scenes surrounded by weak connective tissue; it even makes '300' look like a masterpiece. The dialogue somehow manages to always say too much or too little, and the language gap between William and Tovar and the Chinese forces means that we’re constantly hearing something said and then seeing another character repeat it in translation. Other than the enjoyably silly banter between Damon and Pascal, there are few moments that endear you to anyone on screen. The movie’s tone veers from bombastic to goofy with speed but little grace."
 
Kimber Myers, The Playlist 
 
MOBILE HOMES - Matthew Otto
 
"Even when actual lives appear to be at stake, 'Mobile Homes' strains to deliver the dramatic intensity to match Matthew Otto's sparse, plaintive score. On a career level, this sub-Dardennes underclass drama should serve as a decent calling card for a raw young director with promise. But as a stand-alone work of cinema, it feels like a cheap holiday in other people's misery."
 
Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

1985 - Curtis Heath, Dutch Rall
 
"While the shadowy textures of black-and-white 16mm and a quiet melodic score effectively conjure melancholy echoes of the past, the motivation for revisiting such a bleak time in queer history may not immediately be clear. But Tan appears to be responding to the retrogressive entrenchment of hard-line conservative values and intolerance in pockets of American life today."
 
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
 
ON HER SHOULDERS - Patrick Jonsson
 
"Emotional delicacy is a major component to this documentary, which makes all of its bolder expressions especially magnified. This works in a positive way like whenever we see Nadia steal a grin or smile at the camera, after stepping outside a dressing room or noticing random kids goofing it up for the documentary cameras following her; 'On Her Shoulders' is much more than just sadness. But given this tonal balancing act, whenever the doc wants to add its own tears, as a sad string score sometimes does, it proves especially invasive. Being in the same room with Nadia says enough in the very powerful 'On Her Shoulders,' even when she is alone with her thoughts."
 
Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

"Her journey builds to that U.N. address, where Murad’s remarks are cut down and buried under layers of emotionally explicit music. In the moment, it’s intensely frustrating that Bombach doesn’t let us experience what her subject has been working toward (after all, the speech is pretty short), but the fact is her specific words are far less important than the United Nations’ decision (and ours) to take their spirit to heart. If 'On Her Shoulders' struggles for an ending, perhaps that’s because we have to supply our own. People like Nadia can’t fix the world, but this vital documentary is proof that it’s heroic enough just to be heard."
 
David Erhrlich, IndieWire

SICILIAN GHOST STORY - Anton Spielman
 
"Co-directors Grassadonia and Piazza make effectively sparing use of visceral realism to underline the vicious brutality of the mob. But the movie runs the full register of emotion under extremity through a misty lyricism whose landscape -- gnarly trees, dripping caves, nocturnal torches flashing out messages of resistance backed by plaintive ambient noise and a mournful soundtrack -- evokes the traumatized spirits of those who haunt it. Gliding between Giuseppe's trapped plight and Luna's own imprisonment within her fevered dreams (which involve meeting her lover in the bottomless lake that bridges their separate worlds), the film elides all boundaries between reality and fantasy, between sanity and a madness brought on by grief."
 
Ella Taylor, NPR

SILENCIO - Leoncio Lara

"Along with an ever-assertive score, the performances are suffocated by the film's melodramatic ambitions, putting actors in lose-lose scenarios: Noble’s absurd passage when he scuttles to find the stone constantly verges on overacting. The same hamminess comes in later character revelations, big twists that are also unraveled by logic when you think about them for more than two seconds. As Matthews becomes the lead to the script's mess of convoluted character arcs, it becomes exhausting to try to feel something from 'Silencio,' never mind watching a lead try to simply make sense of it all."
 
Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
 
"No longer sci-fi, 'Silencio' ambles toward its credits under a persistent paste of quavering strings: one of the more cloying soundtracks in recent memory. With the stone, the zone and its powers kicked into the background, 'Silencio' becomes a muddle of melodrama and thriller pretensions, alternating low-stakes phone calls, drive-arounds and gun-waving with painfully sappy backstory. ('Silencio' failed to learn from 'E.T.' and 'Close Encounters' that endearing families are built on conflict, not hugs.) The stone will be used to change the past again before 'Silencio' is over, but as resolution rather than complication, reducing what should have been a wellspring of drama to a rock in a box that’s nearly as inert as the rest of 'Silencio.'"
 
Andrew Whalen, Newsweek

"Though professionally slick enough in its packaging surface, 'Silencio' has little action and few engaging ideas. Instead, there’s a lot of poker-faced yakking about vague phenomena, and a weak attempt at twisty 'Inception'-like revising of reality. Purportedly the stone can only save one life at a time, requiring an equal sacrifice in return -- a dilemma that leads to multiple characters yelling at each other about just whose child must die to save another. We’re meant to find these tough choices primal and moving. But frankly, by that point, the story clearly lacks an emotionally genuine bone in its body -- though Leoncio Lara’s earnest orchestral score struggles to suggest otherwise."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety
 
A UNITED KINGDOM - Patrick Doyle
 
"Even that begs explaining, and though 'A United Kingdom' mentions diamond mining (a form of exploitation so corrupt it all but destroyed the Congo), as well as the importance of placating South Africa, it mostly gives the impression that scenery and sunsets were Bechuanaland’s most important resources, and that both were best appreciated by lovers -- as accentuated in postcard-worthy panoramas rendered heavenly by Patrick Doyle’s overripe orchestral score. After serving up a montage or two like that, to separate Seretse and Ruth is not only a crime against romance, but a real drama-killer, leading to a long series of boring scenes in which the couple try to get by as outsiders in their respective countries: Ruth stranded in her backwards new home as her black neighbors build their mud huts, while a business-suit-clad Seretse lingers on London’s margins. These two are meant to be together, as the film’s clever title suggests, though all the truly interesting things they accomplished happen only after that reunion."
 
Peter Debruge, Variety

"Very little time is spent describing Africa and its inhabitants, and Asante settles for generic scene-setting. The local people also are lightly etched, gathering quickly and mysteriously on momentous occasions or bursting into group song to express themselves. Still, Sam McCurdy's cinematography captures some of the lonely beauty of Botswana's dusty expanses and Patrick Doyle's score hits some romantic highpoints."
 
Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

VIPER CLUB - Gingger Shankar
 
"'Viper Club' impresses in dealing viewers (and its heroine) a tough, uncompromising resolution. Still, the suspense that should have heightened the film’s impact is lacking due to the slowly paced, inward-looking drama. Despite the good performances and thoughtful assembly (including Drew Daniels’ largely hand-held camerawork and a violin-driven score by Gingger Shankar), there’s a degree of tedium to sharing Helen’s plight. She’s in a highly dramatic situation that the film never quite captures."
 
Dennis Harvey, Variety 
 
"If 'Viper Club''s original setup keeps things interesting, the pedestrian and sometimes overtly sentimental filmmaking undermines what could have been a more powerful movie. Flashbacks of Helen teaching Andy to ice skate on a sun-dappled frozen pond, or watching him play hockey from the sidelines, are the sort of scenes that belong in a movie-of-the-week, while an omnipresent score by Gingger Shankar lays on the sauce way too thick at times."
 
Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

THE NEXT TEN DAYS IN L.A.

Screenings of older films, at the following L.A. movie theaters: AMPASAmerican Cinematheque: AeroAmerican Cinematheque: EgyptianArclightArena CineloungeLACMALaemmleNew Beverly, Nuart and UCLA

May 10
FOUR ROOMS (Combustible Edison) [New Beverly]
SHOCKER (William Goldstein) [Nuart]
STRANGE DAYS (Graeme Revell), BORN IN FLAMES [New Beverly]

May 11
BLACK AND MIRROR [UCLA]
THE CHIPMUNK ADVENTURE (Randy Edelman) [New Beverly]
CITY OF GOLD (Bobby Johnston) [Arena Cinelounge]
THE LOVE WITCH (Anna Biller) [New Beverly]
STRANGE DAYS (Graeme Revell), BORN IN FLAMES [New Beverly] 
THE TERMINATOR (Brad Fiedel) [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]

May 12
THE CHIPMUNK ADVENTURE (Randy Edelman) [New Beverly]
CHRISTOPHER STRONG (Max Steiner), ANYBODY'S WOMAN [New Beverly]
CITY OF GOLD (Bobby Johnston) [Arena Cinelounge]

May 13
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (John Carpenter, Alan Howarth) [Arclight Sherman Oaks]
BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (David Newman) [Arclight Culver City]
CHRISTOPHER STRONG (Max Steiner), ANYBODY'S WOMAN [New Beverly]
CITY OF GOLD (Bobby Johnston) [Arena Cinelounge]
THE GOLD OF NAPLES (Alessandro Cicognini) [Arena Cinelounge]
THE GREAT DICTATOR (Charles Chaplin, Meredith Willson) [Arclight Hollywood]
LOVE & BASKETBALL (Terence Blanchard) [New Beverly]
SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT (Marc Shaiman) [Arclight Santa Monica]

May 14
BABETTE'S FEAST (Per Norgard) [Arena Cinelounge]
THE BEING (Don Preston), BLOOD DINER (Don Preston) [New Beverly]
BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (Burt Bacharach) [LACMA]
FUNNY FACE (George Gershwin, Adolph Deutsch) [Arclight Hollywood]

May 15
ENOUGH SAID (Marcelo Zarvos) [AMPAS]
HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (Cyril J. Mockridge, Alfred Newman) [New Beverly]
MIKEY AND NICKY (John Strauss), BETWEEN THE LINES (Michael Kamen) [New Beverly]
WILD STRAWBERRIES (Erik Nordgren) [Laemmle Royal]

May 16
GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (Jerry Goldsmith) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
MEREDITH WILLSON'S THE MUSIC MAN (Meredith Willson, Ray Heindorf) [AMPAS]
MIKEY AND NICKY (John Strauss), BETWEEN THE LINES (Michael Kamen) [New Beverly]
REDS (Stephen Sondheim, Dave Grusin) [Laemmle NoHo]
SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (Ennio Morricone), PIGSTY (Benedetto Ghiglia) [Cinematheque: Aero]

May 17
THE DECAMERON (Ennio Morricone), OEDIPUS REX [Cinematheque: Aero]
GRINDHOUSE (Robert Rodriguez, Graeme Revell) [New Beverly]
HOUSE (Asei Kobayashi, Mikki Yoshino) [Nuart]
LOVING VINCENT (Clint Mansell) [Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts]
THE NEW YORK RIPPER (Francesco De Masi), NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN (Jack Eric Williams), DRILLER KILLER (Joe Delia) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
VALLEY GIRL (Scott Wilk, Marc Levinthal), THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (Air) [New Beverly]
 
May 18
THE CANTERBURY TALES (Ennio Morricone), TEOREMA (Ennio Morricone) [Cinematheque: Aero]
GOODFELLAS, HUSBANDS (Ray Brown) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
THE LOVE WITCH (Anna Biller) [New Beverly]
THE SECRET GARDEN (Zbigniew Preisner) [New Beverly]  
VALLEY GIRL (Scott Wilk, Marc Levinthal), THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (Air) [New Beverly] 

May 19
ANNA LUCASTA (Elmer Bernstein) [LACMA]
ARREBATO (Negativo) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]
CITY OF GOLD (Bobby Johnston) [Arena Cinelounge]
MERRILY WE GO TO HELL, FIRST COMES COURAGE (Ernst Toch) [New Beverly]
THE SECRET GARDEN (Zbigniew Preisner) [New Beverly] 
THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (James Horner) [AMPAS]
THE 10TH VICTIM (Piero Piccioni) [Cinematheque: Egyptian]

THINGS I'VE HEARD, READ, SEEN OR WATCHED LATELY

Heard: The Ant Bully (Debney), Tulip Fever (Elfman), Chocolat (Yared), Blood (Pemberton), Duck, You Sucker (Morricone), Utopia (Tapia de Veer)

Read: Ask the Parrot and Dirty Money by Richard Stark; continuing to read Foundation and Earth, by Isaac Asimov (this one may last until the end of the month if not beyond)

Seen: Long Shot, Shadow, Red Joan, Amelie, City Lights

Watched: Mystery Science Theater 3000: At the Earth's Core, Action ("Dragon's Blood"), Party Down ("Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception"), Alfred Hitchcock Presents ("Guilty Witness"), Penny Dreadful ("Grand Guignol"), Alias ("The Box, Part 2"), Rome ("Pharsalus"), Archer ("Killing Utne"), Sherlock ("The Final Problem"), Arrested Development ("Missing Kitty")

I recently came across a fascinating book titled And the Loser Is: A History of Oscar Oversights, by Aubrey Malone, a look at the history of the Academy Awards and a discussion of which achievements failed to win which ultimately should have. What made this book fascinating is not the subject matter but the fact-checking -- or rather, the apparent lack thereof. In the two random consecutive pages I happened to look at, I learned that --

Lina Wertmuller won the Oscar for Directing.
Barbra Streisand received four Oscar nominations for Yentl.
Cinematographer Gordon Willis was African-American.

As you might have guessed, none of these are true. Wertmuller was the first woman to receive a Directing nomination -- and the only one until Sofia Coppola -- but she didn't win. Streisand received zero nominations for Yentl (she did receive three Golden Globe nominations and won two Globes, but the book isn't about the Globes.) Gordon Willis is Causasian -- I can only assume the writer confused him with noted photographer/filmmaker Gordon Parks.

I'd almost be reluctant to look at the rest of the book -- I'd actually be disappointed if the rest of it is not as error-ridden.

Watching this weekend's new release Long Shot and, particularly, a re-viewing of Elaine May's amazing The Heartbreak Kid (not to be confused with the Farrelly brothers' ghastly remake) inspired me to make a list of my choices for the ten best (English-language) romantic comedies ever made (in chronological order):

My Man Godfrey
Ninotchka
The Shop Around the Corner
The Lady Eve
The More the Merrier
The Heartbreak Kid
Annie Hall
Moonstruck
Bull Durham
Groundhog Day


And here are some of the other films that may belong on the list:

Trouble in Paradise
The Awful Truth
Adam's Rib
Roman Holiday
The Apartment
Breakfast at Tiffany's
The Graduate
Two for the Road
Manhattan
A Room with a View
Broadcast News
Say Anything
When Harry Met Sally...
Metropolitan
Dave
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Clueless
Jerry Maguire
As Good As It Gets
The Big Sick


Some obvious choices I didn't include:

Bringing Up Baby -- I know people revere this one. For me, Hepburn's character too often goes over the line from madcap to deeply irritating.

His Girl Friday -- terrific movie, but Cary Grant's Walter Burns is such an a-hole that he really doesn't deserve to end up with Rosalind Russell's Hildy, which of course was never a problem in the original The Front Page since it wasn't an actual romcom.

Arthur -- funny lines and a spectacular John Gielgud, but I find Dudley Moore annoying in the role. That incessant laughing-at-his-own jokes...

I know people love Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail, but I've never been a particular fan of Nora Ephron's films, especially since the first film is about a stalker and the second is about a woman who falls for the millionaire  who destroyed her family business. I could go on about the bubble of privilege that I think informs Ephron's films but I won't -- but I do really like Julie & Julia, her final film, and after that and The Devil Wears Prada I wish Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci would make a comedy together every year. (Just as one example of Ephron's privilege bubble -- her parents were Hollywood screenwriters, and her madcap youthful antics were the inspiration for the play and movie Take Her, She's Mine)

And don't even get me started on John Hughes.

A friend suggested Charade, which I saw recently and loved even more than ever, but I feel like the thriller element keeps it off the romantic comedy list.

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Comments (5):Log in or register to post your own comments
Even though I'd been warned away from the film since I wasn't so high on its sort-of remake, What's Up, Doc?, I watched Bringing Up Baby for the first time earlier this year. Nail, meet head.

Even though I'd been warned away from the film since I wasn't so high on its sort-of remake, What's Up, Doc?, I watched Bringing Up Baby for the first time earlier this year. Nail, meet head.

I loved What's Up, Doc? when it came out (I was 11 at the time). I suspect I'd still enjoy it now, though I'm pretty mixed on Bogdanovich (my guilty pleasure favorite of his is At Long Last Love), but if nothing else it brought Madeline Kahn to the big screen. (Though I hear it wasn't a great production, I'm still a little sad I missed my chance to see her in Born Yesterday during my 1989 trip to NY).

I stopped reading the Kubrick biography by Vincent Lobrutto when it claimed THE OMEN had used O Fortuna by Carl Orff and MGM's big three were BEN-HUR, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO.

There's really no excuse for a book about a particular person or subject to be chronically error-ridden in this day and age when fact-checking is just a few mouse-clicks away.

Same with the Air Force One soundtrack - people thought it was only Jerry Goldsmith for a time but Joel McNeely helped him because they were short on time.

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