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Film, Music Review
An Idle Mind..., Part II: Korngold's Film Scores
May 7, 2020 - Raleigh, NC:
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (May 29, 1897 - November 29, 1957), Wunderkind å la Mozart, was, after Shostakovich (September 25 (12, O.S.), 1906 - August 9, 1975), the greatest film composer of the 20th century,* but it takes some effort to see and savor his work as he originally intended it – thanks to America's arcane copyright laws, his movies are kept under mostly tight lock-and-key confinement, meant to enrich their current (offshore) owners in perpetuity. (For more about this hideous legal quagmire, click here; note that the law in effect protects film far beyond the lifetimes of the creators, thus rendering the age-old concept of 20-years-plus-a-renewal little more than a farce.**) Unlike Shosty's, Korngold's movies are not readily available – for free – online. Some are on YouTube, chopped up into small pieces, but I cannot in good conscience recommend them, although looking at a few clips may influence your decision to purchase a commercial copy.... (I am reminded of my childhood fascination with the word "blivet": ten pounds in a five-pound bag. That's what the copyright owners have forced on interested viewers, due to greed.)
In many instances, however, the music is available online, if not the original films.
So yes, you may obtain and see a good many of the films for which Korngold arranged or composed soundtracks – for a price.
And with that caveat, there follows a tabulation of these important classics of the Golden Age of Cinema. We've included the title and year, the IMDB film citation (embedded beneath the title), the Wiki citation (including in some cases fairly good précis), Korngold's musical role, and links for the film, excerpts, and/or the soundtrack or parts thereof. We've marked the ones thought not to be available commercially. Otherwise purchase copies from all the usual suspects.
Tip for searching online to buy: enter the title and the year to guide you to the correct edition as often there have been several film versions over the years. And IF you are going to purchase any of these, please consider doing so from https://smile.amazon.com/ and picking Classical Voice of North Carolina Inc. as the beneficiary.
PS The compilation files made up of many excerpts don't all relate to the films with which they start – and anyway, Y-T tends to yank URLs it thinks infringe on copyright somewhat at random – so if you are downloading, you may wish to check carefully before you begin and, even then, proceed with caution.
- Noah's Ark (1928) 2:15:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah%27s_Ark_(1928_film) (composer: stock music - 1957 reissue, uncredited) Excerpt 15:50 minutes silent https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfH_Vr8Npbc News clip 1:14 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpZdpfsOMfU More info: https://lostmediawiki.com/Noah%27s_Ark_(partially_lost_film_based_on_Bible_story;_1928)
- Ronny (French) (1931) 1:29:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronny_(1931_French-language_film) (music arranger - uncredited) & Ronny (German) (1931) 1:29:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronny_(1931_film) (music arranger - uncredited) More info: https://www.lost-films.eu/films/show/id/6 Not in Y-T. Audio excerpts (music by Kalman): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lAZj-Et_4Y & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAnyvVX3FmA Not available for purchase in either edition.
- Strauss' Great Waltz (1934) 1:20:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waltzes_from_Vienna (musical arrangement - as E. W. Korngold) Y-T: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk_OafBgzIU 1:16:44 OR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPEN0loMPmI 1:04:23 (It's an Alfred Hitchcock musical!)
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (1934-35) 2:13:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Midsummer_Night%27s_Dream_(1935_film) (arrangements of Mendelssohn's music & composer: additional music - bridging scenes - conductor - uncredited) Y-T 17 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmwK9xW4K5hE_axLk007fViICIVZCDQEb OR 12 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkLimRXN6NKyjrYrjvpPUOARfUWkQL7WX
- A Dream Comes True (1935) 8 minutes No Wiki listing. (Documentary short to promote A Midsummer Night's Dream; see https://letterboxd.com/film/a-dream-comes-true-1935/) (Self, uncredited, & music adaptor - uncredited) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B-YLW1pOuA (7:35). Not available for purchase.
- Rose of the Rancho (1935, with Gladys Swarthout) 1:25:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_of_the_Rancho_(1936_film) (Paramount, two sequences only: (composer: additional music - uncredited) Not in Y-T but see https://www.nytimes.com/1936/01/09/archives/gladys-swarthout-in-rose-of-the-rancho-at-the-paramount-last-of-the.html & TCM http://188.8.131.52/tcmdb/title/88653/Rose-of-the-Rancho/ Not available for purchase.
- Captain Blood (1935) 1:59:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Blood_(1935_film) (musical arrangements, uncredited) Not in Y-T except for trailer: 3:20 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HmoyQcoBd0
- Give Us This Night (1936) 1:13:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Give_Us_This_Night (conductor; film features Gladys Swarthout and Jan Kiepura and was made in collaboration with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II) Not in Y-T but see https://www.nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?t=20932, https://www.loc.gov/item/smor.1936-64/, & https://www.lovingtheclassics.com/pdmovies/give-us-this-night-1936.html. (Available from Pre-Code Classics, LLC - write to Garym502@gmail.com.)
- The Making of a Great Motion Picture (1936) 7 minutes No Wiki listing. (Short documentary: promo for Anthony Adverse) (uncredited) 6:53 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss7ONnzv--U Not available for purchase (unless perhaps it is included in one of the reissues of Anthony Adverse...).
- Anthony Adverse (1936) 2:21:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Adverse 2:21:00 ("In this film, the first half hour contains continuous scoring…. Korngold was awarded his first Academy Award.") 49 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLejuK5IfHVR4mZxlAv27sFkU16VrWz1yV (Note: this film depicts only part of the sprawling book on which it is based.)
- Hearts Divided (1936) 1:27:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearts_Divided 1:27:00 (composer: additional music, one scene only - uncredited) 46 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWdJhANG01-FgReZhAYonUlJbi7wrA3ww. See also http://www.san.beck.org/MM/1936/HeartsDivided.html
- The Green Pastures (1936) 1:33:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Green_Pastures_(film) 1:33:00 (conductor & composer, two sequences - uncredited) 12 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG7MuvjpoI4P3hL3ISdNF9J2Fgkf6yGfb or 48 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7L-ZRoUwPFV8Lt3Jqtvx16ik9ZlHNBgZ (All-black cast with Eddie Anderson, the Hall Johnson Choir, etc.)
- Another Dawn (1936-37) 1:13:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Another_Dawn_(1937_film) (conductor - uncredited) 16 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3FmElVR94fVf8Ace84ZRd0G64fmp5ixd
- The Prince and the Pauper (1937) 1:58:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prince_and_the_Pauper_(1937_film) 18 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG08Ix0pkoIcciXRCh_fH2WxcKOTTR7iJ
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) 1:42:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Robin_Hood (conductor - uncredited) 45 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeNYPsMcoYsMYgSEjNupi78ZA6ZtkyfWD or 49 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvSkvWGLzIcSOce-lqYt9bCvG9Qet0z-B
- Mr. Satan (1938) 1:19:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Satan_(film) (composer: stock music - uncredited) Not in Y-T or on dvd.
- Juarez (1938-39) 2:05:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juarez_(film) ("Korngold researched the music popular in Mexico at the time and realized it was not Mexican but … Viennese. He composed 3,000 bars of music for the score, at times emulating the rhythms of Chopin and Schubert; the second theme of the first movement of his Violin Concerto was drawn from his work for the film.") Not in Y-T but the 3:41 trailer is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sZbfHQCQXY
- The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) 1:46:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Private_Lives_of_Elizabeth_and_Essex ("The score is essentially operatic, with lush background music throughout, a rousing march theme for Essex and one of his 'most noble and heroic melodies' for Elizabeth. Korngold admitted that he conceived his film scores as 'operas without singing. 'Of the hour and half film, an hour of it is supported by the score, composed of rich dramatic and romantic themes.") 49 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWqXy80Qu6KRnunpBU0SytYHd8E12enNy
- The Mad Empress (Carlotta) (1939) 1:12:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mad_Empress (composer: stock music - uncredited) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwr60kL08iE&t=66s (ends at 1:12:00 with repeated material at end)
- The Sea Hawk (1940) 2:07:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sea_Hawk_(1940_film) ("Korngold's last score for swashbuckler films, widely regarded as one of Korngold's best. It includes symphonic score in all but twenty minutes.") 49 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKHDkiRyhLuTEr7vC14MamF2PIAxnfkPo
- The Sea Wolf (1941) 1:40:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sea_Wolf_(1941_film) (conductor & orchestrator - uncredited) 49 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoI_yFWJunOeHAOrMJMzfyUHjgixPPBhN
- Kings Row (1941-42) 2:07:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_Row (music) Russian dub(!) 2:08:36 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ib72ttlZkY (Ronnie's best flick.)
- The Constant Nymph (1942-43) 1:52:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Constant_Nymph_(1943_film) (conductor - uncredited) 37 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_UFwelgKhZwTAXc817XlnhAMN3ZvL4ur
- Between Two Worlds (1944) 1:52:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Between_Two_Worlds_(1944_film) (conductor - uncredited) 52 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLb8oiBbU3m0Aj9nMLhdkK5kbvVBQUzn6W
- Of Human Bondage (1944-45) 1:45:00 48 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Of_Human_Bondage_(1946_film) (music) 48 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4ZTEMWb2-yQQQaYktZMO7ssyz3zeVG OR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcBxqd4gm7U&list=PL-eZu_8ZKhRo4nnU6KltfaIWsvEFLVkNP
- San Antonio (1945) 1:49:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Antonio_(film) (music, uncredited; Max Steiner is billed as composer) Not in Y-T
- Devotion (1946) 1:47:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devotion_(1946_film) (music) 48 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLACz-ll7gjXi1BJus-XEMRhjl_XA7TvXx
- Escape Me Never (1947) 1:44:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_Me_Never_(1947_film) (music) 49 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5AGngZ_1JPlfZsfK9WeDAO9pNeCsHVe6
- Deception (1946) 1:55:00 Wiki 13 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6Xenrr_ATpElYkquz1GtEwoQ2bfY98Tc
- Adventures of Don Juan (1948) 1:50:00 Wiki en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventures_of_Don_Juan 1:50:00 (Korngold was to have written the music but production was postponed and he retired so it was scored by Max Steiner, who was no slouch….) 38 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYIBASwsYdSDo3cQoKK3mU3KWqVp8GSIq
- Magic Fire (Republic, 1954-1955) 2:00:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Fire 2:00:00 (arrangements of Wagner's music & actor – portraying conductor Hans Richter) With Spanish subs: 1:34:08 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dcaem82Z8zA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dcaem82Z8zA&t=40s & 5:23 clip with Korngold conducting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dre3Ue7ro4E
- Some of the Greatest (1955) 10 minutes No Wiki listing (composer: stock music - uncredited) Said to be a condensation of Don Juan with Barrymore but this seems unlikely. Not in Y-T or available commercially unless it is filler on one of the Adventures of Don Juan reissues.
- Eine Nacht in Venedig (1957) 3:30:00 No Wiki listing (composer, TV special) Not in Y-T or available commercially. 43 minutes of audio excerpts from Korngold's arrangements of music by the Strausses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzMd-QK9HSo
- Home Before Dark (1958) Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Before_Dark_(film) 2:16:00 (composer: stock music - uncredited) Not in Y-T.
- Up Periscope (1959) 1:52:00 Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_Periscope (composer: stock music - uncredited) 45 videos in a file https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwVrk-pqVumuMlX9Jves9szBqpPSOnAeE
And if that weren't enough, here are links to the greatest of Korngold's operas, Das Wunder der Heliane, (Part 1 & Part 2), and to his mentor Richard Strauss' most Korngoldian one, Die ägyptische Helena (information & recording). And finally, for much more information on the composer, click here.
*Ironically, Shostakovich and Korngold each produced 35 film scores or parts thereof.
**The Association for Recorded Sound Collections is among the non-profits lobbying extensively for a return to rationalization in our copyright laws. For much more information, click here and here.