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Silent Films Getting The Bad Music Treatment.


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I know TCM says they are putting the best young musical directors to work on these silent films, but tonight I find their music loud and taking away from Buster Keaton. My grandmother played piano and did sound effects in the old movie days. Perhaps thats whats missing. But these new musical scores to go with these old time classics often don't JIVE. . I like TCM, but this thing of turning old movies over to young musical directors, Do they even have any concept of playing within the movie and not taking over. The music is so bad. I can't believe TCM takes pride in this awful new music for these old silent films. Whatever they are doing, it has nothing to do with the film. As they try to climb the ladder of success in the movie music world, they are ruining the old silent movies with their lack of trying to capture the movie or the moment. In other words, THEY STINK.

 

If they would take the time or the effort, they might find the music to these silent films that my grandmother once played. Instead these films are turned over to young hacks who butcher them with no feeling for the tiime or concept of the film, only driven by their desire to do better things than ruin old movies.

 

Message was edited by: WhyaDuck

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I am not a fan of the Alloy Orchestra either. Although some of their work is much better than this was. However, I am not big on lone Piano either. The score you heard tonight is from the 2003 Image Entertaiment DVD release.

 

I especailly would like to see this film given a really good orchestral score, as I have never heard a great score with this movie. The Gaylord Carter Theater Organ score on then KIno DVD was not one of his better efforts.Hopefully, STEAMBOAT BILL JUNIOR will be given a much better score soon?

 

THE GENERAL has a new edition coming out with Four different scores, including both Carl Davis, and Robert Israel! While this is a plus (In still I'm not big on The General), Why can't they release the Vince Giordano. and the Nighhawks, scored version of SHERLOCK JUNIOR? Their scoring is so much better than the Club Foot Orchestra music on the current DVD.

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I just got done, about a month ago, scoring six very short silent films that added up to about 22 minutes. In the past I've used records, played live piano (not well) and used - in the 80's - a digital guitar to score silent movies. This time I wrote it all out in conventional notation and played it back with what chintzy MIDI I have & synched it up. I "cheated" in some respects, re-editing films, cutting titles to uniform length etc - really making "art films" out of some of the source films. I showed the new program in Cincinnati this past August, and it was a big hit.

 

And I'm really thankful for that, as it was an INCREDIBLE amount of work. I'm a pretty speedy composer, or at least I like to think so. I couldn't believe how busy I was scoring even three minutes of silent film. It's like three hours work to one minute of film. I kid you not. Just imagine what it would be like doing a feature, or even jamming to one.

 

I appreciate Rosa Rio, Lee Erwin and Gaylord Carter and pretty well grew up watching silents scored by Carter and/or William Perry. I'm amazed that they could do it live. For younger audiences, though, such scores come off with too much baggage attached. The experience of taking in a silent with live theater organ or well-played piano can cure that problem, but I think we're to the stage now where the conventional silent movie score is not universally seen as the best possible solution in every case. I certainly appreciate Mont Alto's score for "The Delicious Little Devil" over the rinky-dink piano and sound effects that used to accompany comedy shorts in the 60s.

 

There are many silent films I've seen that had scores that I didn't like, and I usually just turn the sound off. I like watching silent films silent; I can imagine my own music, or just study the photography, cutting, acting, whatever. It is not practical to show them that way on television; you must have sound of some sort.

 

There are places where young avant-garde or industrial musicians play to a silent film once a month; playing music the average silent film buff won't dig, But their audience is mostly made up of young folks who otherwise don't generally see silent films, there for the musicians' sake. This type of screening is helping very much in building interest in silents among the young; this is essential to insuring a future for the medium.

 

This activity, and aspects of its style, spills over into some of the scores you hear. My feeling that such music has equal potential to pass or fail as a conventional Robert Israel styled score. It's not an inconvenience to hit the "mute" button and play a CD, or just to watch the film silent. No matter how you deal with it, bear in mind that it's really very hard work for a musician - whether you're Alloy, Mont Alto, Maria Newman, John Zorn, Donald Sosin, Jon Mirsalis, Philip Carli, Larry Marotta or me, there's nothing easy about it. I applaud anyone who tries.

 

spadeneal

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>I know TCM says they are putting the best young musical directors to work on these silent films, but tonight I find their music loud and taking away from Buster Keaton. My grandmother played piano and did sound effects in the old movie days. Perhaps thats whats missing. But these new musical scores to go with these old time classics often don't JIVE. .

 

I've been complaining about this for years.

 

TCM is ruining a lot of old silent films by removing all their old original piano tracks -- which people got used to hearing as far back as the 1930s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s, and TCM has been removing those classic tracks and adding new avant-guard, crappy, junky, keyboard sound-effects and odd electronic music to classic old films that ALREADY HAD FINE OLD PIANO SOUND TRACK SCORES FOR THE PAST 60 YEARS.

 

Why is TCM doing this? Have they gone crazy in Atlanta?

 

Do the young people they hire in Atlanta now not like old piano music and want some of this new punk and grunge music while they watch silent films? This is very disturbing and insulting to those of us who grew up hearing the original piano scores. I?ve been hearing them since the late 1940s, and I think TCM has gone nuts in removing them and adding this modern crappy noise to silent film sound tracks.

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>There are places where young avant-garde or industrial musicians play to a silent film once a month; playing music the average silent film buff won't dig,

 

Who gives a sh*t?

 

We don't need avant-garde industrial dope-smoking crack-using mind-blown hippies altering our silent film sound tracks.

 

These people should be rounded up by the music police, arrested, and sent to Devil's Island.

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>It's not an inconvenience to hit the "mute" button and play a CD, or just to watch the film silent.

 

That's an absurd statement. I never had to watch a film with the sound turned off before I started watching the last five years at TCM and the way TCM has ruined the original or the old classic piano sound tracks of films.

 

TCM swears it "does not cut" films, but it has "cut" out the old sound tracks I grew up with as a child, teenager, and young adult, and has inserted a buncy of crappy keyboard noise in place of the real sound tracks.

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*Why is TCM doing this? Have they gone crazy in Atlanta?>>*

 

Fred,

 

TCM is not doing this. The companies that rent/lease the films to TCM are the ones who replace the scores. It's likely rights issues involved or the renewal of copyrights. By changing the score, they can renew the copyright on films and keep them from falling into the Public Domain.

 

So, your beef is with the companies who rent/lease the films to TCM not with TCM.

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>TCM is not doing this. The companies that rent/lease the films to TCM are the ones who replace the scores.

 

TCM IS doing this. Don't you remember their "Young Composer" contest? TCM has added crappy noise to a lot of silent film sound tracks.

 

We were talking about this regarding the Cleopatra 1912 film:

 

"A restored version, funded by Turner Classic Movies and in the George Eastman House Collection, was shown on Turner Classic Movies on 10 August 2000. It has an original music score by Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida, and runs 88 minutes."

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0002101/alternateversions

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Yes, Fred I do remember the Young Composers Contest but that contest only lasted a few years.

 

Over the last year and a half there have been many complaints about the scores on silent films that weren't part of the Young Composers series.

 

You, yourself, have complained about this very topic on several different threads.

 

While the film the other night, *Cleopatra* had a score from the Young Composers series many times the films in question did not.

 

I should have been less general in my response.

 

Message was edited by: lzcutter

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My taste of silent music is like all music, it depends if I simply like it. It doesn't matter when or who composes it.

 

I said this in an older reply several months ago that I thought that the music Linda Martinez scored was very impressive (RIP Linda). I have on tape "Ragman" starring Jackie Coogan that TCM aired a few years ago. I absolutely love the music score in that film. She was a young genuis whos life ended too early.

 

Now here is a quirk - the movie "Nosferatu" 1922. I know that there are 2 different modern scores for it. The one that TCM has been airing for the past 2-3 years is the version I DO NOT LIKE.

The version the TCM has show around 2002-2005 is the one I DO LIKE. Does anyone knows what versions are these. I wish TCM air the one they showed approx 4 years ago. That music score was perfect for the film.

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hamradio,

 

The new Ultimate Edition DVD of NOSFERATU, released last November by Kino, has by far the best score I have ever heard with this film. And it is the original 1921 Orchestral score by Hans Erdmann, that accompanied the Berlin premier in 1922. The score is fully, and faithfully recreated. Truly spectacular. The gorgeous print restored by the Murna foundation, also completely blows out of the water any previous release of NOSFERATU on DVD!

 

Again this is the Ultimate Edition 2 disc DVD release, that replaced the previous Special Edition version which had two different scores. One by Donald Sousin and other by Art Zoyd, Both equally awful! You want the newer one with the original score, Hans Erdmann score, and Murna foundation re-mastered print.

 

TCM generally runs the Photo-play Productions version of NOSFERATU with the James Bernard score. A good version, but really pales in comparison to the latest one. For print quality it doesn't even come close. I am very surprised TCM hasn't picked up the Ultimate Edition version. It was released on DVD last November or december in the States. I fully expected they would be running it too. So a bit of a disappointment that they haven't purchased the rights.

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Thanks, I'll give the Kino version a try. Since it was released AFTER last Halloween, it might be the reason TCM haven't aired it. Maybe they will next month.

 

The problem is that I don't know which of the 2 previous versions I wanted played again, the Sousin or Zoyd.

 

Like all music this is personal taste. NOSFERATU is a silent that impressed me due to the character played by Max Shrek. A bit of unfortunate trivia is that he actually looks like that, poor man. He had only minor cosmetic makeup done, mostly the ears and teeth.

 

The score I like was the first time I saw NOSFERATU around 2002 or 2003. Composer still unknown.

 

Note: At the time I am writing this that annoying instit.bat virus is trying to download again to my computer. I got hit last night but this time I saw my modem status light flickering while nothing is being done. That virus rewrites your win.ini files (I still use Windows 98SE Plus!) I use XP rarely.

 

I keep an extra backup copy of win.ini just in case. Nortons Antivirus does intercept and get rid of the virus but doesn't stop the rewrite of the ini file. They should have special punishment for people who writes those things.

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*Fred Dobbs* wrote:

 

>> There are places where young avant-garde or industrial musicians play to a silent film once a month; playing music the average silent film buff won't dig,

>

> Who gives a sh*t?

 

*Spadeneal* and I both give a sh*t. You conveniently left out a later sentence in his post:

 

> This type of screening is helping very much in building interest in silents among the young; this is essential to insuring a future for the medium.

 

He's right. I don't particularly care for industrial music myself, but there is the eternally vexing question of how those of us who enjoy classic (old) movies get the next generation interested in them, which these people are trying to answer.

 

You continued:

 

> We don't need {slurs aplenty} altering our silent film sound tracks.

 

Our silent film sound tracks? Correct me if I'm wrong, but a lot of silent movies didn't have set sound tracks. And some of the movies that did have original scoring had pretty dodgy scores themselves. (If memory serves, Alfred Hitchcock had stock classical music standards used as the original score for *The Lodger*.) That's part of the reason TCM ran the Young Composers contest: to get soundtracks for movies that didn't have any.

 

Having said that, I can't help but think just how much wailing and gnashing of teeth goes on in these parts. I know there's one poster here who has complained that when TCM shows *Wings*, it's with the Wurlitzer organ instead of a newer score from the past several years that he considers better. The complaining almost made me hope that if TCM show *Wings* again, it woul be with the Wurlitzer score just to tick off the right people. Now, though, having seen your screed in favor or "our" tracks, I wouldn't mind if TCM showed *Wings* with the modern score just because they would be taking away "your" track. :-p

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Fedya,

 

I can't believe what I am reading here. There is nothing wrong with the Gaylord Carter Wurlitzer score to WINGS.Though understand that Carter's score is not the 1927 Orchestral score, and that was in-fact much different. Also this restoration is significantly older and not nearly as good as Kevin Brownlow's 1993 Photo-play Productions version with the Carl Davis score.

 

Putting this into perspective, the Carter score was recorded in the late 70's or early 80's, and released in 1985 on MGM laser-disc. However, the Telecine transfer was actually done 20 years earlier, clear back in 1965! It was a straight to Safety-stock from Silver Nitrate dubb, totally no frills, and while a decent transfer for the time, could have been better. The print quality is far superior, not just the music, on the more recent version. TCM should be able to play the Photo-play restoration , but Paramount simply won't let them. That was the whole point behind those previous post's you obviously glanced over. If you had actually read them you would understand this.

 

I don't like modern scores for Silent's either unless they are done well. Carl Davis is the standard. Although there are several other very talented Silent film accompanist's around. And other's that are just plain awful. There should be no plausible reason that the Photo-play version of WINGS has never seen the light of day on American television after having first-aired in Britain some 15-16 years ago. We are talking about the first Oscar winner for best picture here, And a movie made in this country, not it England. And yet believe it or not that is in-fact the case. I can find no evidence of an American television premier of this version at anytime. partly due to Paramount's total and complete disregard for it's Silent film Library. Call Ripley's!

 

By the way, many Silent films long before the talkies, or even hybrids had original music written for them. I can give you a plethora of examples if you want them.

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Just curious, what do you think of Carmine Coppala's score in Abel Gances "Napolean"? I think she did nice work and gave the main character Napolean his own "theme music".

 

I've heard that a fully restored version might soon be released, if so who will score it?

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hamradio,

 

 

The Carmine Coppola score to NAPOLEON on the 3 hour plus version, is in my own personal opinion quite excellent. I have just seen the 5 and half hour version and heard Carl Davis score. To be honest, I found it somewhat disappointing, by his standards. But a DVD set should be released of both versions. I'll admit that I am partial to the Coppola score, after finally getting to hear Davis effort. Maybe it's because it is what I am used to? If the situation were reversed, Who knows?

 

Part of the problem is that Universal owns the rights to the Coppola version, and Kevin Brownlow's Photo-play productions to the longer one. However, Brownlow and his people restored both versions. Universal didn't have anything to do with it. They merely released the 1981 re-issue. Much as Brownlow, Patrick Stanbury and Photo-play restored WINGS in 1993, and THE WEDDING MARCH in 1998. Paramount had nothing to do with them either. Yet they are still preventing these versions from being seen, which is quite frankly despicable!

 

It appeared that a compromise was reached on NAPOLEON earlier this year, and the DVD with both version would materilize. Then came the Universal Studios fire, and now the chances are once again rather unlikely.

 

 

 

VintageNapoleonMoviePoster1927.jpg

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*It appeared that a compromise was reached on NAPOLEON earlier this year, and the DVD with both version would materilize. Then came the Universal Studious fire, and now the chances are once again rather unlikely.>>*

 

If the loss of prints due to the Universal fire is what would hold up this film coming to DVD, I would hope that Francis Ford Coppola - who for too long kept the Brownlow-Davis restoration from availability in this country - would come forward and maybe with the help of his pals, George Lucas and Spielberg, pay to have the restorations authored to DVD.

 

It is likely a costly time and labor inducing job, but it would be nice for Coppola (and friends) to make this happen.

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hamradio, Lynn,

 

Here is another Paramount Silent that I am very surprised still has yet to pop up on TCM. It's been on DVD for over Two years now. By contrast to the far less than stellar stuff like the awful 1912 CLEOPATRA feature last Sunday, they might have been airing a Masterpiece like this movie instead.

 

DeMilleTENCOMMANDMENTS1923Poster.jpg

 

1315ten_commandments5.jpg

 

 

1315ten_commandments3.jpg

 

CecilBDeMilleTheTenCommandmentsPost.jpg

 

 

TenCommandments1923RichardDixLeatri.jpg

 

*Vintage Movie posters for Cecil B. De Mille's Epic film THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (Paramount, 1923) with Richard Dix and Leatrice Joy.*

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Jeffrey,

 

Are you sure it hasn't been on TCM? I could have sworn it was shown a couple of years back when they had the salute to DeMille and showed the two-part Brownlow documentary.

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Lynn,

 

I just added several more posters for the film to my previous post. I thought that I already had them on-line, but I couldn't find them. So I had to go back to Photobucket first and up-load.

 

Yes, I am positive that this picture has never, ever been broadcast on TCM before. THE KING OF KINGS (1927) has, but not the 1923 Silent version of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. I expected TCM would acquire the rights from Paramount, but apparently they never did?

 

Now what do you know about King Vidor's BARDLEYS THE MAGNIFICENT (1926) with John Gilbert, and Eleanor Boardman coming to DVD soon from Flicker Alley? Nitrateville reported this as a done deal in May. Silver Screen Oasis had mentioned it too. However, Ed, contacted Flicker Alley this past weekend, and discovered that they apparently had no plans to release this movie of any kind?

 

I mean Warner's still owns the film, so why would someone else put it out on DVD? I have no idea what kind of score the new version was given I am sorry to say, but it seems to have already been recorded?

 

Incidentally, Christine (Ann Harding), even saw the movie recently! Kevin Brownlow actually showed her what she believed to be a Pre-DVD release, and even re-marked on the stunning beauty, and clarity of the newly mastered print of this formally lost Gilbert feature.

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