Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Surely you can't be serious

Elmer Bernstein's never-before-released score to the classic spoof Airplane! is finally going to get released by La-La-Land Records. Thanks to Film Score Monthly for the word (in today's Film Score Friday column). You can start ordering on May 12th and the CD (limited to 3,000 copies) will start shipping May 19th.

Bernstein's score is brilliantly bad: he once said his m.o. on that score was to pretend he was a Z-movie film composer who was getting his big break scoring a B-movie, so his music was very serious, sincere, and way too on-the-nose. I once tried to explain this to some guy who just didn't get it, and who kept saying "Why would you be deliberately bad?" Because Airplane! wouldn't have worked with the score to To Kill a Mockingbird, y'know, music that was actually good.

Also now out via Intrada is James Horner's score to Something Wicked This Way Comes, from the insanely prolific first decade of Horner's career (and also when he was writing far more notes, not just writing "play skakuhachi blast here"*).

* Hey! Here's a ditty about James Horner:
Little James Horner sat in a corner
Just as his deadline drew nigh
He paused and said "Um"
And then Prokofiev he hummed
And said "What a composer am I!"

Yeah, I'm being mean. (So was whoever wrote that for FSM back in the day.)

5/6/09 Addition: Lukas Kendall over at FSM had some followup:
Paramount Pictures has, over the years, never allowed their catalog titles to be issued by specialty labels. This was not some nefarious plot, it was just never a part of their corporate mindset to deal with the clearances involved for what is, in most cases, small-market items. A corporation is not a person, but nothing happens at a corporation without the people who work there. After many years, Paramount is changing but—without giving anything away—I want to caution collectors not to expect everything on CD, and especially not overnight.

There are two practical reasons. Like all the film studios, Paramount did have many of its scores issued on CD and LP at the times of the respective films, and the album rights to those titles are often with the record companies involved. Almost all of those Dot, ABC and Paramount Records releases are now part of Universal Music Group today. For other corporate reasons, almost all of the television properties (like Star Trek) are now administered by CBS. Also, like all the film studios, Paramount went through different periods of saving things (or not) and moving elements around, and while they have the scoring masters to many of their movies, they do not have the elements to many others.

A new day has dawned and the executives and staff at Paramount today are open-minded and working hard to make some collector dreams come true—witness Airplane!, and congrats again to La La Land for being first out the door with that. But there are a few things that could happen that would be guaranteed to be unhelpful. One would be if a label was lazy and put out a crappy album that ended up with a copyright claim on it (from a publisher, union, financing entity, performer, etc.). That would be bad news. So we’ll take care of our side of things.

But the other, non-constructive thing would be if somehow word filtered back to the executives that the fans were a bunch of ungrateful, demanding, crazy lunatics. (Did someone really suggest sending a thank-you gift to the home address of one of the executives? Please do not do that.) Not to say you shouldn’t continue to ask for what you want, and evaluate the CDs and their scores on their merits. I think it’s more of a “vibe” that the studios get from the fans that the studios work hard to make these CDs happen and are on our side. Remember, the employees' environment there has never been more demanding than today, in which cut-backs are happening throughout the entertainment industry.

Remember Dune (not a Paramount movie): “The slow blade penetrates the shield.”

I know I’m skirting the question: are we working on things? Yes, we are, but I won’t say what. It’s a real deliberate process by which we are meeting the executives and learning how they want to do things as far as masters, contracts, approvals, artwork, etc. I can’t stress enough that it is a privilege to be involved with the film library and it is by no means something that we or anyone one should think of as an entitlement. Be passionate—but be patient.

So thank you to the staff at Paramount and you the collectors who support these projects, and hopefully we’ll get some goodies out in the months ahead—and hopefully it will continue for years to come.
Tags: music

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