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Beau Brummel & James Schafer (1924/2008)


MissGulch
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Music really can say what words cannot and what words to use to describe the natural beauty in which James Schafer's score shapes the smallest gestures and intentions with feeling and mood. His music gives relevance to the boredom of the frivolous, foppish lives of the characters here. And then, the music carries us through an invisible veil right into a most sacred, intimate moment, or perhaps final moments that are inevitable for all of us. Such beautiful, remarkable music lingers and the noise of the world outside and even a human voice corrupts its memory all too soon. This composition belongs to Mr. Schafer for all time, it's his with eighteen world class musicians and these premieres are historic and so exciting! Could've sworn I heard a harp though? I did hear thundering applause when it was over, whistles and cheers! Bravo and congratulations, Mr. Schafer!

 

And Frank Zappa was wrong when he said "All the good music's already been written by people with wigs and stuff." Maybe, knowing Mr. Zappa, that was a challenge...

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Couldn't agree more, Miss Gulch. Sometimes the music reminded me of Korngold (in a very good way), but much of it was quite original sounding. I've already written to TCM to see if they plan to release the film with this soundtrack to DVD. I would definitely buy it.

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Kate, Mr. Foss,

 

Well, I am glad to hear that you both enjoyed the movie. Sad to say, that I was rather disappointed in BEAU BRUMMEL. Although the print was certainly beautiful. Probably in the best shape of any surviving Warner Brothers/First National Silent that I have seen.

 

James Schafer's score was OK, but definitely not up to the standard of the past Three Winners of the YOUNG FILM COMPOSERS COMPETITION, in my opinion. In fairness, Michael Picton, Marcus Sjowell, and Darrel Raby where all pretty tough acts to follow. Of the runner up scoring clips that were posted, I liked several of them over the Winners Musical entry. Schafer's score being much to heavy on String's with almost no Piano to speak of?

 

To me, BEAU BRUMMEL was over-long, and not all that exciting. Nowhere near as good as Barrymore's later Warner Brothers features like DON JUAN, or WHEN A MAN LOVES.

 

A 17 year old Teen-age Mary Astor looked quite ravishing as John's leading lady, but Carmel Myers stole much of her thunder. Astor and Barrymore's performance's were both strong. The Director Harry Beaumount did well in bringing out the emotions in the all the cast members. And the photography, and overall cinematography of the production was quite impressive through much of the film. But that's about all this movie had going for it.

 

Unfortunately, I just did not find the story all that compelling. The picture itself moved along at a plodding pace, and was relatively dull. Personally, I thought Tod Browning's THE SHOW (1927), with John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, and Lionel Barrymore, chosen for the previous years contest was a much better film!

 

BEAU BRUMMEL would not have been my first choice for the competition. I would have went with King Vidor's WINE OF YOUTH (1924), SALLY, IRENE, AND MARY with Constance Bennett, Sally O'Neil, Joan Crawford, and William Haines. Maybe the Richard Barthelmess feature THE PATENT LEATHER KID (First National, 1927), or perhaps Clarence Brown's THE COSSACKS (1928) with Gilbert, Adoree, and Nils Asther. I have been hoping for this last tile for years!

 

Sticking with Barrymore, they might have chosen THE SEA BEAST (1926), with Delores Costello instead? Then there is Norma Shearer's THE DEVIL'S CIRCUS (1926), Lon Chaney's THE MOCKERY (1927), Or how about the Marion Davies comedy THE CARDBOARD LOVER (1928), with Asther, and beautiful Jetta Goudal? So many choices, and no YOUNG FILM COMPOSERS COMPETITION this year? Or is there??? The TCM Promo still said "9th Annual"???

 

Kate,

 

Oh yes, almost forgot, David Davidson's score to WEST POINT was fabulous! They should hire that guy again to score William Haines SLIDE, KELLY SLIDE, or the John Gilbert feature MAN, WOMAN & SIN with Jeanne Eagels!

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I didn't fully like this film myself. James Schafer score was OK but did not enhance the visual experience.

 

I still believe that the decision to score this film was to satisfy Warner Bros. (after years of concentrating in the MGM films) probably because BEAU BRUMMEL was their first "A" picture (finally... I discovered from where comes some clips of footage from the cartoon DAFFY DUCK IN HOLLYWOOD).

 

Not all of the surviving silents are classics, and the fact that this film has never been shown on television is probably because it is not. In fact, the film was hard to follow and I fall asleep a couple of times. Films have to move... and this film did not have much in terms of narrative action nor move me to have an emotional reaction.

 

THE SEA BEAST is, by far, a much better film. But if they choose this film for corporate reasons, I would have chosen MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY instead.

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Wednesday morning's newspaper told me the hot ticket in the Arts was JERRY SPRINGER-THE OPERA at Carnegie Hall! Darn! I missed it! Pretty scary...

 

Well, gentlemen, maybe it's a generational thing as I'm new to silent film but in the hundred or so I've watched, and I can't speak to all the past winners of this competition, James Schafer's score is one of the best. Beau Brummel is not a silent film I would choose to introduce people to the genre but after watching it again I loved the score even more. The scoring to the winking Prince at the Inn is so perfectly done, in sync, it's just right. The middle of the film is sluggish and needed a scene with Maid Margery since that's where the energy and tension is- Mary Astor- only seventeen.Wow! There is lack of long shots which may explain the slowness and boredom (small, silly lives/cabin fever?) and I would love to hear what Mr. Schafer could do with a sweeping vista or a sea scene. His music shows he not only follows the action but is sympathetic to the emotion in minute detail, in my opinion, and the omission of the piano was intentional and correct.

 

In a perfect world, these films would be restored and made available with their original scores and also with new music like Mr.Schafer's. When I find a genie in a bottle, my third wish will be that all the pristine silent film prints ever made with the original scores and orchestration details would be found in a time capsule somewhere, opening the door to these superb new composers.

 

And the royal buffoon fanfare that marked each entrance of the tottering Prince of Wales was just genius- yes, I loved this score...

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  • 2 months later...

Just a heads up, James Schafer put up some of the Beau Brummel music on his website. I've been looking for the Brummel soundtrack since it was on TCM. Here's his site:

 

www.james-schafer.com

 

I forgot to put before that you can order a CD on his website.

 

-phil

 

Message was edited by: philipfry

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  • 6 months later...

Hi,

 

Obviously composers like to look up reviews about their work, so thank you everyone for the warm comments regarding my score on Beau Brummel.

 

I've noticed that some are wondering if I'm going to score another silent film like the other YFCC winners, I am and it's MOCKERY starring Lon Chaney. I'm currently working on it, and I expect it to be on TCM early next year.

 

Thanks,

 

James Schafer

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jschafer,

 

Thank you very much sir for sharing this information with us. Obviously I had been curious for many months as to what the next project might be? It is indeed exciting news that TCM is still having more of the great MGM Silents scored, and made ready for broadcast.

 

I know that Rodney Sauer, and Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra are presently working on King Vidor's BARDELYS THE MAGNIFICENT, and now you have been generous enough to inform us about THE MOCKERY being in the works as well. I have a scoreless copy of this film, but I have never watched it before. I am very pleased to hear that we should be seeing the premier with your new music score in the first half of the coming year! That is indeed wonderful news.

 

I only hope that TCM/ Warner's is likewise still working with some of your other fellow past YFCC Winners too. There are so many films that I am eagerly awaiting to see scored. First and far most in my mind is Colleen Moore's newly restored HER WILD OAT (First National, 1927), Next is probably Marion Davies THE FAIR CO-ED (1927) with Jane Winton, and Johnny Mack Brown.

 

Other superb choices would be King Vidor Classics like WINE OF YOUTH (1924), and PROUD FLESH (1925). John Gilbert features such as TWELVE MILES OUT (1927), and THE COSSACKS (1928). Harry Beaumont's FORBIDDEN HOURS (1928) with Ramon Novarro, and Renee Adoree. And the list goes on and on.

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Well, I hope that I please everyone and do at least a decent job on MOCKEY. I understand that there is a certain silent film style of music, but at the same time I'd like to put my own stamp on these scores I'm writing. I would never dishonor the film by using techno music (or something along those lines), but I'd like to not write the "expected" sound for these films. BEAU BRUMMEL I wrote my sound (if I do have one) with a silent film flavor to it, which is why I'm sure not everyone was too thrilled with my score.

 

I'm not too sure what the agendas are at Turner, if any of the other YFCC winners are still scoring silents or not. I also don't know what the future of the YFCC will be. I used to get many emails from people wanting to enter in the 2008 competition asking why it was canceled. I honestly don't know why TCM did that.

 

Thanks,

 

James

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jschafer,

 

I think I speak with the majority of fans in saying we very much do appreciate a more authentic sounding Silent film score. That is not a concern at all, So I hope that THE MOCKERY will not be to much of a reproach from your previous effort in that respect. I just can't get into stuff like the Alloy Orchestra for example. While they are talented no doubt, their music just does not go well with the films that they score most of the time.

 

I also think that most of us enjoyed the score for BEAU BRUMMEL very much. Including myself. Please understand that my comments were more directed toward the choice of film rather than your music. BEAU BRUMMEL would definitely not have been my first choice for a new score. Although, I was still grateful for the chance to view this rarity. You will be pleased to know that on several other forums, I read allot of highly complimentary comments about you score to this film as well.

 

As for your colleague's, I felt previous YFCC winner Darrel Raby did a marvelous job of scoring Tod Browning's THE SHOW in 2006, but his follow up for the William Haines Comedy SPRING FEVER left me cold. It was to say the lest rather disappointing. It was hard to believe that the same person could have written both scores. The music should have been lighter, bouncer, and when called for decidedly more romantic. This was after-all a William Haines comedy, not a Bagpipe concert! Which Raby's score practically made it seem to be.

 

Marcus Sjowell's scores to SOULS FOR SALE, and THE SMART SET I found to be both excellent. So I hope that he is still around, for additional projects.

 

Micheal Picton's efforts for THE TEMPTRESS and in particular THE RED MILL were fabulous. That being said you can't please everyone. I know a few people who are familiar with the original 1926 score of THE RED MILL by Victor Herbert, and have seen the film with this score preformed live. Those folks did not like Picton's score to THE RED MILL at all. I have heard a recording of the 1926 scoring suite, and it is fabulous. Yet in my opinion, Michael Picton's score for the film was outstanding too.

 

Silent movie music was actually tremendously diverse. Far from the stereotypical lone piano, or droning Pipe-organ. Some Theaters, actually had famed Tango Orchestra's in the 20's of nine players. A handful of these groups rose to great heights, and have sadly been mostly forgotten. Vintage Tango works extraordinarily well when accompanying the Silents. There seemed to be a Tango type for just about any on-screen situation. And of course the giant glittering Movie Palaces of the day boasted full scale symphonies. The proper music was considered a vital part of the overall presentation of a film.

 

In any event, I am very much looking forward to the premier of THE MOCKERY in the Spring. The very best of luck to you, in completing the project. And A Happy Halloween to you and your family!

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  • 4 months later...

Hello everyone,

 

Because I only have about five fans throughout the world, I'm letting you all know directly when MOCKERY will air on TCM. It will be Sunday July 5th at 12am Eastern. This will be a good time to utilize that DVR if you have it.

 

Cheers,

 

James Schafer

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Speaking for myself I adored that score for Beau Brummel and if your score for The Mockery is just as fine you will have no problems whatsoever gaining even more new fans.

 

I remember when it premiered I was watching and listening and at the same time typing on my message board "wow this score is gorgeous!".

 

Good luck with it. After being in the desert so long with TCM, waiting for some new premieres, we finally have something good to look forward to. :)

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Wonderful news! Factoring your five fans *;)* with the legions of John Barrymore, Mary Astor and Lon Chaney fans, it would make mathematical sense to put BEAU BRUMMEL and MOCKERY on dvd, maybe... just a thought (please, somebody) with supplemental material/interviews etc. directed toward music students perhaps. I've watched many silent films since, some on mute and your winning score for BEAU BRUMMEL will endure as inspired and narrative, really beautiful.

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