Golden Age Of Hollywood


01Music For The Talkies20130916

Donald Macleod introduces music from the 'father of film music', Max Steiner.

"Sound of Cinema" continues as Donald Macleod explores the soundtrack of The Golden Age of Hollywood, in the company of conductor and film music expert, John Wilson.

The Golden Age is one of the richest periods in cinematic history. It runs from the rise of talking pictures in the 1930s to a loose conclusion following the demise of the Hollywood studio system in the 1950s. An astonishing statistic of this era is the sheer number of films being produced. In its heyday, Hollywood was releasing around 400 pictures a year, creating not only a roster of stars including Errol Flynn, Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland but also a remarkable collection of award winning scores, produced by the likes of Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, Erich Korngold, Dimitri Tiomkin, Miklos Rozsa, Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann.

As a new medium, it fell to this first generation of composers to establish a formula for using music in "talkies". Given the ongoing aesthetic discussion over how sound should be used and the technical challenges as to how it might be achieved, writing film music was a demanding occupation. Time equalled money, so a composer needed to be versatile and write quickly, generally under pressure from the producer. On the plus side, help was on hand as facilities were in-house. A studio's music department sported teams of orchestrators, copyists and an extensive music library. A composer's music would be delivered to the recording studio, often with the ink still drying on the page for the studio orchestra to play.

In the first episode we hear from the so-called "father of film music", Max Steiner, creator of music for the original "King Kong" and one of the most successful films in the history of cinema "Gone with the Wind" as well as two more European émigrés, Erich Korngold and Franz Waxman. Later responsible for the award winning scores of "Sunset Boulevard" and "A Place in the Sun", early on in his career Waxman reveals a talent for musical illustration in the horror flick "The Bride of Frankenstein".

02Tackling The Classics20130917

Donald Macleod on the fruits of Hollywood's interest in novels and historical adventures.

As part of "Sound of Cinema", Donald Macleod explores the musical fruits of Hollywood's fascination with novels and historical adventures; with excerpts from Erich Korngold's soundtrack for "The Sea Hawk", a showcase for the swashbuckling talents of Errol Flynn, Alfred Newman's musical evocations of the Yorkshire moors in "Wuthering Heights" and medieval Paris in the 1939 film version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", plus Franz Waxman's haunting score for the gothic mystery "Rebecca". With guest John Wilson.

03Wartime In The Dream Factory20130918

Donald Macleod considers how the Second World War affected the Hollywood film industry.

"Sound of Cinema" moves towards the Second World War as Donald Macleod and guest John Wilson consider how the conflict affected the Hollywood Film industry. While profits at the box office soared, further opportunities arose from the war effort encouraging a successful alliance between film director Frank Capra and composer Dimitri Tiomkin. Meanwhile, two newcomers arrived: Miklos Rozsa and Bernard Herrmann, a man with some rather different ideas on how the music for a film should be produced.

04Censorship In Tinseltown20130919

Donald Macleod explores censorship in Hollywood, focusing on its impact on Duel in the Sun

"Sound of Cinema" continues as Donald Macleod's exploration of film music from The Golden Age examines the thorny issue of censorship, with a look at its impact on the critically acclaimed Western "Duel in the Sun" and its relationship to the popularity of Biblical and historical narratives for some of Hollywood's biggest and most spectacular blockbusters. With guest John Wilson.

05 LASTMore Stars Than There Are In Heaven20130920

Donald Macleod presents classic scores from the last years of the Hollywood studio system.

"Sound of Cinema" continues as Donald Macleod's exploration of The Golden Age draws to a conclusion with some classic scores from the twilight years of the Hollywood studio system. Even though the big studios were facing strong competition from the independent sector and television, the demand for film music continued to produce some remarkable scores, with Franz Waxman notably winning academy awards in successive years for "Sunset Boulevard" and "A Place in the Sun" and Bernard Herrmann providing one of the most famous soundtracks of all time for Hitchcock's thriller "Psycho". With guest John Wilson.