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David Raksin AT M-G-M

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by Leonard Maltin
December 13, 2009 3:02 AM
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If David Raksin had done nothing but write the score for The Bad and the Beautiful he would merit a place in the pantheon of great film composers. He is equally celebrated for Laura and Forever Amber, but this welcome 5-CD collection presents some of his least-known work, mostly from...

the 1950s. Raksin once said of his career, “I was not the sort of guy who was about to settle for doing anything ordinary if I could help it.” This set proves that to be true. The Americana of Across the Wide Missouri and The Magnificent Yankee, the genteel settings for Kind Lady, and the lovely themes for The Vintage and Until They Sail are equally listenable, and of a very high quality. Movies like Right Cross, The Man With Cloak, The Girl in White, The Nest Voice You Hear..., Grounds for Marriage, and The Reformer and The Redhead were bread-and-butter pictures that weren’t destined for great acclaim, but Raksin was incapable of writing dull music for any of them.

This set was clearly a labor of love for Lukas Kendall, executive producer of FSM’s valuable CD series, who contributes a thoughtful essay about Raksin, and Marilee Bradford, whose informative and empathetic biographical notes and observations are worth the price of the disc. There are also rare photos and illustrations, including a whimsical caricature by Raksin’s first employer in Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin (for whom he adapted the music in Modern Times). Raksin was eminently quotable, as anyone who ever met him can attest. Late in his career a television producer who hadn’t liked the score he turned in changed his mind after hearing it again during a rerun broadcast. Said the composer, “That just goes to show that none of my music should be played for the first time.” (Film Score Magazine Golden Age Classics)

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