A long time ago… Jon and Andy started working their way down the AFI’s list of the Top 25 Scores, and they’ve finally reached #1 – Star Wars! This Star Destroyer-sized episode tackles such questions as: What were our hosts’ origin stories as film music nerds? Can you name that tune in fewer notes than Andy? How, indeed, does the sausage get made? And, what comes next?
Jon and Andy try for their own EGOT – Episode Glutted with Oscar Talk – as they hit the red carpet and present their takes on this year’s nominees for Best Score. The field includes one repeat customer, and four composers making their debuts on the podcast. Who will win? Who should win? Who shouldn’t win? Who’s already won? Who cares?
As God is our witness, #2 on the AFI’s list is Max Steiner’s score for 1939’s Gone with the Wind. Will Jon and Andy butt heads over stair-climbing music, again? Will they see eye to eye about the correct way to use a highlighter? And, how well were they each able to get into a movie that, uh, sure seems to like the Confederacy more than they do?
We’ve arrived at the Top Three on the AFI’s list, with Maurice Jarre’s score for the 1962 sweeping historical epic Lawrence of Arabia – so it is written! How does Jarre’s big main theme make such a compelling case for the romance of the desert? What far-fetched scheme did the producer originally have in mind for the film’s music, and how is that reflected in the final product? And, what apology does Jon owe to the citizens of Aqaba?
Find out how much praise we shower on the AFI’s #4 – Bernard Herrmann’s score for 1960’s Psycho! How did arguably the most famous of all film score cues result from ignoring Hitchcock’s specific instructions? What did Herrmann see in this film beyond even what Hitchcock perhaps intended? And, how would you spell the Psycho noise? Plus, a special appearance by Jon’s wife Becky for some insight into violin techniques.
We’ve made you a podcast you’d be hard-pressed to turn down! We finally cracked the AFI’s top five, with Nino Rota’s score for 1972’s The Godfather. What far-reaching historical traditions does the main theme come from? What somewhat nearer reaching did Rota do for some of the other music? And, how would this list look different if judged by how things sound played on car horns?
You’re not gonna need a bigger podcast – this one’s about John Williams’ 1975 score for Jaws, the #6 score on the AFI’s list! How did Williams change Spielberg’s conception of his own movie? In a score often remembered for its simplicity, how many different complex flavors does he actually bring? And, what one weird trick can let you know whether a shark is coming to eat you?
Not only is it the face in the misty light, but Laura – and its 1944 score by David Raksin – is the #7 on the AFI’s list! What in Raksin’s personal life helped inspire the famous theme melody? Why was it so bewitching for so many performers, for so many years? And, is it possible this whole podcast has been replaced by Sibelius at the last minute?
Thumbing their nose at the chance for some numerical serendipity, the AFI put Elmer Bernstein’s score for the 1960 epic Western The Magnificent Seven at #8 on their list. What makes this theme such an all-time great? Does this movie deserve it? And, Jon didn’t dare to write more parody lyrics, did he?
What’s the AFI’s #9 score, by Jerry Goldsmith – did you forget it? It’s Chinatown. What behind-the-scenes intrigue brought Goldsmith to work on this picture? Why is his main theme such a perfect fit for this story? And, what eye-opening scoop did our crack research staff (Andy) uncover?
Don’t worry, we won’t forsake you – we’ve finally cracked the AFI’s top ten, with Dmitri Tiomkin’s score for the classic 1952 western High Noon. How did this movie inadvertently change the whole landscape of the entertainment industry? How successful was Tiomkin at becoming an eccentric fixture on 1950s television? And, to what depth of dopiness will Jon stoop in writing parody lyrics?
What ho! – #11 on the AFI’s list is Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score for the 1938 Technicolor romp The Adventures of Robin Hood. Why did Korngold at first think he was the wrong man for the job? What does the score sound like both before and after it’s orchestrated? And, would you dare to take a drink every time we say the word “swashbuckler?”
We won’t keep you hanging – #12 on the AFI’s list turns out to be Bernard Herrmann’s score for the 1958 Hitchcock psychological thriller Vertigo! How do Herrmann’s musical suspensions perfectly serve the Master of Suspense? Why was this story of obsession such fertile ground for his distinctive compositional style? And, between Jon and Andy, who does the best terrible Jimmy Stewart impression?
Rampaging onto the AFI’s list at #13 is Max Steiner’s score for the 1933 fantasy adventure classic King Kong. Did Steiner invent film music in the first place? Does this music have more in common with modern scores or silent film accompaniment? And, whatever became of King Kong’s acting career?
John Williams makes his first appearance on the AFI’s list at #14, with his 1982 score for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Why does this movie ask so much of its music? What’s the relationship between a composer and a temp score? And, how loud are your keys?
In this special super-sized episode, Jon and Andy take a break from their countdown of the AFI’s list, and examine the five films and composers nominated for this year’s Best Original Score Oscar. These wide-ranging scores come at the question of what to do with film music from some very different directions. Who will win? Who should win? Join us on the red carpet!
Look, up in the sky, it’s John Barry’s score for 1985’s Out of Africa! In the #15 score on the AFI’s list, does the melody for the famous airplane scene get enough use through the movie? When should the music connect one scene to the next, and when shouldn’t it? And, was Sydney Pollack right when he said turning this material into a screenplay was impossible?
Franz Waxman’s score for 1950’s Sunset Boulevard is ready for its closeup! Jon and Andy bring some differing viewpoints to their discussion of #16 on the AFI’s list. What musical reference joke does Waxman use for his love theme? Should the score climb the stairs when the characters do? And, how comfortable were our 2017 armchairs?
Jon and Andy are excited to welcome a special guest onto the show! After their discussion of Elmer Bernstein’s score for 1962’s To Kill A Mockingbird, stick around to hear a chat with Emilie Bernstein – Elmer’s daughter and longtime orchestrator! How did Elmer focus in on the right perspective from which to tell the story? What distinctive scale makes the main theme sound wondrous? And, can Andy talk as low as Gregory Peck?
Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the 1968 sci-fi landmark Planet of the Apes was #18 on the AFI’s list the whole time! What technique does Goldsmith call on to sound so alien? What wacky instruments does he throw into the mix? And have we finally seen the last of Charlton Heston’s bare chest?
Another Kazan/Brando collaboration turns up as the AFI’s #19: it’s Alex North’s score for the 1951 film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ stage classic A Streetcar Named Desire. Why is North’s groundbreaking use of jazz so effective? Why was the music for the famous “Hey Stella!” scene deemed to be too sexy? And what does it sound like to go to crazytown?
Now it’s time for the AFI’s #20: Henry Mancini’s score for the 1963 farce The Pink Panther. Why is the iconic Pink Panther tune such a great melody? When does Mancini feel the need to “hit things with the comedy hammer?” And did Blake Edwards really make this movie just so he could go on vacation?
Miklós Rózsa’s score for the 1959 super-spectacular Ben-Hur trumpets its way onto the AFI’s list at #21. How were biblical epics like comic book movies? In such an immense film with such an immense score, what are the moments that don’t get any music, and why? And should we have been writing lyrics to all the love themes we’ve covered?
Counting down to #22 on the AFI’s list takes us to Leonard Bernstein’s score for the 1954 classic On the Waterfront. Were Lennie and Elia Kazan making the same movie? Is this the prettiest love theme ever? And, how is Jon’s Marlon Brando impression?
#23 on the AFI’s list is Ennio Morricone’s score for the 1986 period drama The Mission. Why is the music accompanying Robert De Niro’s redemption so powerful? Is the “Gabriel’s Oboe” theme too noodly? And, what did Jon say to Ennio when he briefly met him that one time?
Next up is #24 – Dave Grusin’s score for On Golden Pond (1981). When does Grusin decide to just score the scenery, and when does he dare to get inside Katherine Hepburn’s performance? What changed between 1981 and 1991 about how joy sounds? And what does this score have in common with Cheers?
Jon and Andy kick off their show by talking about #25 on the AFI’s list – Alfred Newman’s score for the 1962 epic western How the West Was Won. As they figure out what they’re doing, they consider: How should music be used for action sequences? Did Aaron Copland invent the “western sound?” And, how do you pronounce “Cinerama?”
Jon and Andy introduce themselves, and the show.