Friday, January 18, 2008


Posters, Plaza, Los Angeles County Musuem of Art, Wilshire Blvd.

Photo: By/COPYRIGHT Ross Care

If you’re a fan of the music of Franz Waxman, and particularly of CIMARRON, one of the composer’s most impressive, if lesser-known scores, those of you in the LA area might be interested to know that LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is showing this rarely seen film as part of their Tuesday Matinee film programs.
I first discovered this score by finding a copy of the title song in the music collections of the Library of Congress, and was curious about it ever since.
Eventually there was a suite of rerecorded excerpts on an AEI LP, but recently Film Score Monthly’s recent restoration of the original soundtrack was a thrilling revelation for both fans of Waxman and of classic and unique western scores. Christopher Husted’s definitive liner notes present both a detailed discussion of Waxman and his score, and an equally exhaustive history of this troubled production that was one of the last big blockbuster epics produced by MGM and the studio system in general.
This 1960 version has been overshadowed by the original 1931 version (which won Oscars for “Best Picture” and Best Screenplay”). Indeed some members of the audience at LACMA’s recent screening of FORT APACHE just assumed the February screening was to be the ‘30s version. Due to the prestige of this original (featuring one of Max Steiner’s early scores) and the fact that the remake tanked at the box office the 1960 CIMARRON has rarely been seen since its original release and is not on DVD.
The film itself has been much maligned so I’m doubly curious to see what it’s really like, but with stars Glenn Ford and German actress Maria Schell, direction by Anthony Mann, and produced with all the remaining resources of the late studio era MGM, so how bad can it be? (We’ll see!)
However, this is definitely one of Waxman’s finest, most original western scores and the LAMCA screening is a chance to hear it and of course experience the film in its full CinemaScope big screen glory. Screening is at 1.00 pm, Tuesday, February 5 at LACMA’s Bing Theater. The epic film runs 147 minutes.
January 22 the same series will screen THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL in which Miklos Rozsa adapts his epic MGM symphonic style to a contemporary science fiction mode. On February 19 Nicholas Ray’s PARTY GIRL with dancer Cyd Charisse in one of her key dramatic roles, will be seen. Both films are also in CinemaScope, and both are not available on DVD. For fans of the MGM musical the gloriously Technicolored Esther Williams opus, NEPTUNE”S DAUGHTER (with the great Frank Loesser tune, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,”) will be seen on January 29.
And climaxing with Joan Crawford and John Garfield in HUMORESQUE on February 26, and also with music by Waxman.
I must say this always-excellent LACMA classic series has outdone itself for January and February!

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