Sunday, June 18, 2017

Composing Greatness: #7. John Williams - "Cinderella Liberty" (1973)

Scene from Cinderella Liberty
Welcome to Composing Greatness: a column dedicated to exploring the work of film composers. This will specifically focus on the films that earned them Oscar nominations while exploring what makes it so special. This will be broken down into a look at the overall style, interesting moments within the composition, and what made the score worth nominating in the first place. This will also include various subcategories where I will rank the themes of each film along with any time that the composer actually wins. This is a column meant to explore a side of film that doesn't get enough credit while hopefully introducing audiences to an enriched view of more prolific composers' work. This will only cover scores/songs that are compiled in an easily accessible format (so no extended scores will be considered). Join me every Sunday as I cover these talents that if you don't know by name, you recognize by sound.

Series Composer: John Williams
Entry: Cinderella Liberty (1973)
Collaborators (If Available): Paul Williams (Singer and Lyrics, "Nice to Be Around")
Nomination: Best Original Song; Best Music, Original Dramatic Score
Did He Win: No

Other Nominees:
1. Best Music, Original Dramatic Score
-The Way We Were (Marvin Hamlisch) *winner
-The Day of the Dolphin (Georges Delerus)
-Papillon (Jerry Goldsmith)
-A Touch of Class (John Cameron)

2. Best Original Song
-"The Way We Were" (The Way We Were) *winner
-"Live and Let Die" (Live and Let Die)
-"Love" (Robin Hood)
-"All That Love Went to Waste" (A Touch of Class)

Additional Information

This is to help provide perspective of where each composer is in their Oscar-nominated life as it related to the current entry.

Oscar Nomination: 8
Oscar Wins: 1

Track List

1. "Wednesday Special (Main Title)" (Link)
2. "Nice To Be Around" (Link)
3. "New Shooter" (Link)
4. "Maggie Shoots Pool" (Link)
5. "Maggie And Baggs"
6. "Boxing Montage" (Link)
7. "Nice To Be Around" (Link)
8. "Neptune's Bar"(Link)
9. "Cinderella Liberty Love Theme" (Link)
10. "The Ferry Ride" (Link)
11. "A Baby Boy Arrives"
12. "Wednesday Special (End Title)" (Link)

Exploring the Music
The area of the column where I will explore the music in as much detail as I see fit for each entry.

Theme Exploration:
"Wednesday Special (Main Title)"

If nothing else, this is the most assured work by John Williams that I have heard yet. It can all be heard in this song, which captures the bluesy nightclub feel of the soundtrack. With a jazz number full of howling vocals, you get the seedy sense of melancholy that this music is going for. Add in plenty of catchy beats, and you are starting to see the magic of Williams at play. While I think he has done better in the way of themes, this may be the first time that I've felt like he has created a wholly John Williams-esque score. Not in the sense of grandiosity, but in the sense that everything feels congruent with each other, and the themes come back around to add emotional weight to later tracks. This may sound goofy and not like the Williams to come, but it's definitely a playful version that I'm surprised and glad existed.

Interesting Standout:
"Neptune's Bar"

I will admit that my one fault is that I haven't seen the movie, and thus have no context for these tracks. However, both "New Shooter" and "Neptune's Bar" have a disparaging difference to everything else. It's upbeat and funky, almost as a prototype for the Rocky score. This is the type of music that gets people's pulses racing. On "Neptune's Bar," it is especially impressive as the orchestra builds to a triumphant cry that reflects not only how great the piece is, but how strong of a composer John Williams is. He knows how to build to a moment that gets the listener invested, and it's frankly a thing of wonder to hear him mix jazz and trumpets on this with funk that is simply fun.

Best Moment:
 "Cinderella Liberty Love Theme"

While there are a few funky tracks, the general attitude of the score is lowdown jazz with a melancholy heart. To be honest, this may be one of the first themes that John Williams has been nominated for where it's memorable to the point that I'm glad it returns. It may sound more in line with more low-key composers, but the way that he manages to make the heart of a harmonica ache is breathtaking, and makes for a melody that sticks with the listener. I have never seen Cinderella Liberty, but now I'll know what it sounds like - and possibly what it feels like to watch it. It's a reminiscing score, and one that draws the listener in to whatever landscape this is supposed to be.

Did This Deserve an Oscar Nomination?:

As I have mentioned before, this is just a really good score. John Williams has grown so much as a composer in less than a decade, and it's embarrassing how strong this is even compared to last week's entry (The Poseidon Adventure). You're left with a clearer sense not only of the music, but of the flow from moment to moment. I haven't really liked the abrupt changes in Williams' style before, and I think he notices that it doesn't work here. It's a minor hit for him, but it's early signs of what he would become very soon here. He packs so much emotion and soul into every track here that I cannot help but hum along as I write this. Even the song with Paul Williams that uses the same motif is full of soul and power that makes me feel what the music is implying.

Up Next: Tom Sawyer (1973) for Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation

Best Theme

A ranking of all themes composed by John Williams.

1. "Prologue/Tradition" - Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
2. "Wednesday Special (Main Theme)" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)
3. "Main Title/First Introduction/The Winton Flyer" - The Reivers (1969)
4. "Where Did My Childhood Go?" - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
5. "Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls'"/"Theme from 'Valley of the Dolls' - Reprise" - Valley of the Dolls (1967)
6. "Opening Titles" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
7. "In Search of Unicorns" - Images (1972)

Best Song

A ranking of all Oscar-nominated songs composed by John Williams.

1. "Nice to Be Around" - Cinderella Liberty (1973)

Best Winner

A ranking of all winners composed by John Williams.

1. Fiddler on the Roof (1971) for Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score

No comments:

Post a Comment