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One of the Founding Fathers
by Jon Schuller

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I like to read movie credits, whether I'm in a theatre or watching my television at home. I believe it's a form of respect to acknowledge all the different people, their individual jobs and how many there actually are that make up how a film is made. I will sit in my seat until the entire credit list has been run; just the titles alone are fascinating. As in the theatre, all of these myriad people are vital to a successful performance or a completed movie. Familiar labels like writer, director, lighting, sound, make-up, wardrobe, set design, casting, choreographer, best boy, key grip, art director, carpenter, driver, cinematographer, caterer, best boy, production assistant, special effects (SFX) you get the idea by now, I'm certain. With today's even more complicated computer generated images (C.G.I.) there are entirely new and unique job titles and I've seen credit lists that may take as long seven to ten minutes to run through. I've listed just a few here, but there is one job that is critical to any production's success: Music. Without essential music, movies would be rather boring and short-lived. I have written about the history of movie music in some previous columns and about some of its pioneers who, not only transformed film into the medium we know and
love, but created classics of the movies and their everlasting compositions as well. Another one of these Founding Fathers was Jerry Goldsmith, born in Los Angeles in February, 1929, with a musical career that spanned more than 50 years.

We have a young boy who started to play the piano at six years but didn't really get involved until his teenage years. The story goes that he was sixteen in 1945 and saw the Hitchcock classic, Spellbound, with a musical score by the famous Miklos Rozsa. He enrolled in a course taught by Rozsa at USC but changed to a program at L.A. City College. He began to coach music and choral singing. He broke into television by working at C.B.S. and eventually some of his compositions were used for classic programs like Playhouse 90 and Climax! He would also make contributions to The Twilight Zone. By 1960 he began working at M.G.M. and scoring television shows like Dr. Kildare, Thriller and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

But Goldsmith's entry into film scoring came with the classic 1962 Kirk Douglas movie, Lonely Are the Brave. He also scored the biographical film, Freud, that starred Montgomery Clift, which garnered for Goldsmith his first Academy Award nomination; he lost out to Maurice Jarre for Lawrence of Arabia. Throughout the entire
decade of the '60s Goldsmith would score 46 television programs and movies. Just a few are Lilies of the Field (1963), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964), A Patch of Blue (1965), Our Man Flint (1966), Planet of The Apes, (1968) and The Illustrated Man (1969).

The 1970s would see an even greater output from this already masterful composer. Goldsmith would go through this decade with 65 movie and television show scores. Tora!Tora!Tora! (1970), The Waltons theme (1972), the classic Steve McQueen-Dustin Hoffman collaboration, Papillon (1973), Chinatown, one of the best films ever made and also on AFI's Best Film Score list (1974), The Wind and the Lion, starring Sean Connery (1975), The Great Train Robbery and the original Alien, both in 1979.

Goldsmith continued his phenomenal output as 1980 dawned: 37 film scores and 2 television series. Poltergeist and First Blood, both appeared in 1982, then Hoosiers, starring Gene Hackman (1986) and ending in 1989 with four movies, including Star Trek V. The 1990s brought him back up to 48 film scores and 2 for television programs. In 1991 he composed the music for Medicine Man, another Sean Connery vehicle, Mr. Baseball (1992), Malice, one of my personal favorites (1993), City Hall featured Al Pacino (1995), L.A. Confidential,
a great look-back on the Los Angeles of the early 1950s (1997), U.S. Marshals and Mulan both in 1998. Over the course of 3 years, starting in 2000, Goldsmith wrote for 8 projects.

This singular record is nothing short of amazing: a total of 208 film and television scores; 18 Academy Award nominations, winning 1; 5 Emmy wins out of 7 nominations; 9 Golden Globe nominations; 6 Grammy nominations; 17 Saturn Award nominations, 1 win.

As I mentioned at the beginning the incredible symbiosis of movies and music goes back to the earliest films as viewers, dumbfounded at first by seeing pictures movie, then speak, made it eminently clear that the new medium would be still-born without music to accompany, enhance and make films complete. Many movie personnel were classically trained artists and musicians and still are today and their individual disciplines became integral parts of every motion picture project. American-born Jerry Goldsmith joined the ranks of these men and women at the very beginning of his career as he honed his skills, gaining instant fame and recognition for his originality in music and scoring. He has attained a rank alongside his predecessors as musical geniuses who have created immortal works that, like the movies they wrote for, will live forever.

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Cinema Savant
Every other Thursday

My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.


Other Columns
Other columns by Jon Schuller:

But Can She Act? That's What I Want to Know

They're Not the Same People They Used To Be

Time Does Fly When We Watch Movies

Before Minimum or Maximum, There Was Only Prison

A Story of Bravery, Truth and Devotion

All Columns


Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).



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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Jon Schuller by clicking here.


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