Elmer Bernstein

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by Darth_Nub, Nov 4, 2013.

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  1. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Been meaning to start a thread about this for a while, so here we go...



    Slipstream was a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film starring Bill Paxton, Bob Peck and Mark Hamill, also featuring Ben Kingsley, F. Murray Abraham and Robbie Coltrane, directed by Stephen Lisberger, director of Tron (1982).
    It was produced by none other than Gary Kurtz (American Graffiti, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back), who took over as a favour for a friend when the film ran into trouble.
    Despite the amount of talent involved (Mark Hamill's terrific as the bad guy, BTW), the film turned out to be a dud and was barely released - no US theatrical release, and very limited runs on the international market. It survives today on poor quality pan-and-scan DVD releases by cheap and cheerful labels exploiting its dubious 'public domain' status.
    It's a mess of a film, not even in the "so bad it's funny" category - just a dull, incoherent mess punching way above its weight, with ambitious themes of artificial intelligence and humanity crashing against a shore of utter mediocrity.

    However, the film has one redeeming quality - its spectacular score by Elmer Bernstein. It's like The Magnificent Seven meets Star Wars.







    Unfortunately, the eventual 2011 release of the soundtrack was also doomed - due to Perseverance Records failing to acquire all the necessary releases and licensing, it was taken off the market, and CD copies fetch pretty hefty prices on eBay and the like.
    I won't go into the details - it's way too involved - but in the world of soundtrack labels, the Slipstream fiasco has become almost legendary, with a handbags-at-ten-paces battle erupting online between the heads of two record labels, and the sort of goo-feasting on the Film Score Monthly boards that you'd expect to see on TFN if Jar-Jar was announced as the hero of Episode VII.

    More here, some of the stuff on FSM is good for a giggle:

    http://theseconddisc.com/2011/04/28/keeping-score-on-a-soundtrack-label-controversy/
    http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75854&forumID=1&archive=0
    http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=76866&forumID=1&archive=0

    Nevertheless, the soundtrack's great, and well worth getting a hold of if you get the opportunity. The film itself is hardly even worth a look for curiosity value, though - I barely made it through to the end.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Nov 4, 2013
  2. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

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    Elmer Bernstein was an amazing composer. Like his contemporaries Williams and Goldsmith, he was a chameleon in his range of scoring and could change styles accordingly- but his sound is unmistakable. SLIPSTREAM is a gem. My fav EB scores are To Kill a Mockingbird, Ghostbusters, The Great Escape, and Ten Commandments. He sure likes the Ondes Martinot...was put to great use in Ghostbusters.
  3. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

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    Haven't seen this movie in years. I'll see if I can find a relatively decent copy. As for Elmer Bernstein, he also did great, straight scores for "Animal House" and "Spies Like Us", which actually helped the movies look funnier.
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  4. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

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    Yup. Same could be said for Three Amigos. I know he kind of resented being regulated to scoring comedy films in the 1980's, but he was damn good at it. He would create a very, as you said, straight score- without making it cartoony or embellishing the antics onscreen. He let the jokes work for themselves and his scores supported them without shoving it in the viewers' face. Some composers have a hard time with that and treat comedy scoring like Carl Stalling would a Looney Tunes cartoon...just makes for an awkward, campy experience. EB made his comedies funnier by not musically breaking the fourth wall with funny underscore.
  5. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Elmer Bernstein's score for the sadly forgotten (yet fantastic) film The Grifters (1990) was probably what got me into film soundtracks in the first place:





    It's still got that somewhat comical Bernstein style, but with a real sense of menace. I could see him scoring a Batman film closer to the comic books, in particular a theme for the Joker.
  6. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

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    I'd forgotten about his fine orchestral score for "Heavy Metal", a movie better known for its song soundtrack (which later caused headaches for the distributor) and its explicit content.

  7. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

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  8. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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  9. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

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    Zuul!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  10. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Mod action: changing thread title to reflect a general Elmer Bernstein discussion
  11. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

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    There is a SW connection to Elmer Bernstein. His son Peter did the wonderful scores to the Ewok made-for-TV movies.
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  12. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    ^^^
    Had absolutely no idea about that. The things you learn.
  13. Juke Skywalker Force Ghost

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    I watched an old 80s sci-fi flick today called Spacehunter (subtitled Adventures In The Forbidden Zone). It was produced by Ivan Reitman of all people, and Bernstein did the music. Very old fashioned adventure score. Nothing earth-shattering, but kinda charming in its own way.


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  14. halibut Chosen One

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    One word.

    Airplane!
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  15. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

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    You had me at 'very old fashioned adventure score'. Luv it!

    Another great example of how EB used a 'straight score' to make a movie funnier by not making a 'funny score'...and don't call me Shirley.
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  16. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

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    I posted this a while back in the Everything Retro thread, but it's only recently I realized that Elmer Bernstein wrote this:

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  17. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

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    The Great Elmer Bernstein conducting one of his film classics....

  18. Sarge Chosen One

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    Ok, admit it, you whistled along with the tune at home. I did, and I'll do it again!
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  19. fuzzbox77 Force Ghost

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    Airplane!, Trading Places (love that score) and ultimately Ghostbusters (I paid £75 just for the bootleg Lincoln release score in 2002 just to hear those cues on a very lossy silver CD-R) - then his short score for An American Werewolf in London.

    But the one that made me love his work were the few cues he recorded for Michael Jackson's Thriller (music video) that have never been available. I had heard them on a leaked bootleg in a very poor transfer (Cassette to CD) and at a Comic-Con in the UK but wasn't paying £50 for less than 10 minutes of music (unless somebody has them and wants to share) ;-)
    Last edited by fuzzbox77, Mar 18, 2014
  20. halibut Chosen One

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    From another forum. No idea if it's correct

    It is released on Silva Screens THE ESSENTIAL ELMER BERNSTIEN FILM MUSIC COLLECTION CD the track Metamorphosis is a rejected track from an American Werewolf and was then used in Michael Jackson's Thriller video.
  21. AdamBertocci Manager

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    This thread clued me into a similarity between a bit of "Slipstream" and a cue in "Ghostbusters", my favorite film. Neat!

    I have an online monograph about "Ghostbusters" called "Overthinking Ghostbusters": http://www.runleiarun.com/ghostbusters

    I've a feeling that fans of Bernstein would enjoy Chapter 6, which discusses and analyzes the film's music. http://www.runleiarun.com/ghostbusters/chapter6.shtml Yes, I talk about the songs too, but the score tends to get forgotten about a bit when discussing that movie, and that's a crying shame which I've attempted to rectify!


    Rick McCallum loves you!
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  22. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

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    Well, since ABC will be running this later today, I figured I'd put this up.
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  23. Polydroxol Jedi Master

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    I know this is one of his most famous works, however, as soon as I saw this thread titled as it was, I felt the need to express my profound amazement in, and enjoyment of the masterpiece that is the "To Kill a Mockingbird" soundtrack. Bernstein does not just give this famous film sound, he gives it color and life as well.

    .
    Last edited by Polydroxol, Apr 21, 2014
  24. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

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    I was just browsing for Elmer Bernstein music when I found this. I had no idea he'd composed it...
  25. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

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    Thought I'd add to this thread, since today is the anniversary of Bernstein's passing..

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