Picture Perfect with Ross Amico

Friday at 6 pm

A weekly survey of film music, from the Golden Age of movies and current-day movies.

Prepare to get “lost.”  It’s an hour of music from fantasy films set in lost worlds, including “King Kong” (Max Steiner), “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (Bernard Herrmann), “One Million Years B.C.” (Mario Nascimbene), and “Jurassic Park” (John Williams).  If you happen to forget a compass, don’t panic.  Life finds a way, this Saturday at 6 pm.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then surely Hanon etudes are a ticket to the madhouse.  Get keyed-up, with selections from “Hangover Square” (Bernard Herrmann), “The Beast with Five Fingers” (Max Steiner), “The Mephisto Waltz” (Jerry Goldsmith), and “The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T” (Frederick Hollander).  Practice makes psychotic, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect Now on Saturday: Circus Movies

Oct 1, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen!  Boys and girls!  Children of all ages!  May I have your attention, please?  Step right up for selections from “The Greatest Show on Earth” (Victor Young), “Trapeze” (Malcolm Arnold), “La Strada” (Nino Rota), “Vampire Circus” (David Whitaker), “Big Top Pee Wee” (Danny Elfman), and “7 Faces of Dr. Lao” (Leigh Harline).  Music for the circus takes center ring, this Saturday at 6 pm.

What has often been regarded in the United States as “hack work,” in England has been accepted as just another aspect of what it means to be a working artist. There is no disgrace in a composer earning a living, and some of the nation’s greatest musicians have contributed finely-crafted scores to its body of cinema.  Take note of music from the documentaries “The People’s Land” (Ralph Vaughan Williams), “The King’s Stamp” (Benjamin Britten), “The Green Girdle” (William Alwyn), and “The Royal Palaces of Britain” (Sir Arthur Bliss), this Saturday at 6 pm.

Paws for a litter of music from films with catty titles and characters, including selections from “Cat People” (Roy Webb), “The Wind and the Lion” (Jerry Goldsmith), “To Catch a Thief” (Lyn Murray), and “The Leopard” (Nino Rota).  It’s a stretch for feline tails, as purr the theme.  We’ll let the cats out of the bag, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Take flight with music from movies about airports and airplanes, including selections from “The V.I.P.s” (Miklós Rózsa), “The Terminal” (John Williams), “Airport” (Alfred Newman), and “North by Northwest” (Bernard Herrmann).  Rush more to Rushmore.  Departure is this Saturday at 6 pm.

I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody – instead of a bum, which is what I am.  “Picture Perfect” has been moved to a new time, SATURDAY AT 6PM.  This Labor Day weekend, hear Leonard Bernstein’s original cues, long believed lost, for “On the Waterfront;” also Aaron Copland’s original recordings for “The Red Pony,” some dances from Virgil Thomson’s “Louisiana Story” – so far, the only film score to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music – and Elie Siegmeister’s “They Came to Cordura,” which provides the now-familiar “Picture Perfect” signature tune.

Picture Perfect: August 28 - Latin Swords

Aug 27, 2020

Feeling a little out of shape?  Boxed in?  Blue?  Put some swagger back into your step with an hour of audacious music from Latin swashbucklers.  Thrill to selections from “Captain from Castile” (Alfred Newman), “The Mask of Zorro” (James Horner), “Puss in Boots” (Henry Jackman), and “The Adventures of Don Juan” (Max Steiner).  A cape, a plume, and seven-league boots are guaranteed mood-elevators.  Forget your cares!  We ride hell-for-leather, this Friday at 6 pm.

The great Ennio Morricone died last month at the age of 91.  The composer of over 500 film and television scores, Morricone first gained international fame through his idiosyncratic music for the westerns of Sergio Leone.  A six-time Academy Award nominee – and the recipient of an honorary Oscar in 2007 – Morricone earned his only competitive Oscar as recently as 2016, for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”  We’ll remember this prolific and inventive composer with selections from the genre he transformed, this Friday at 6 pm.

“The Gilded Age” was a term coined by Mark Twain to describe the era extending roughly from the end of Reconstruction to the turn of the 20th century. We’ll hear music from “The Heiress” (Aaron Copland), inspired by Henry James’ “Washington Square;” “The Age of Innocence” (Elmer Bernstein), after Edith Wharton; “The Magnificent Ambersons” (Bernard Herrmann), adapted from the novel by Booth Tarkington; and “Mr. Skeffington” (Franz Waxman), after Elizabeth von Arnim.  All that glitters is not gold.  We peel back the veneer of prosperity, this Friday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect: August 7 - Aquatic Traumas

Aug 6, 2020

Ah, the good old days, when all you had to worry about when going to the beach was being devoured by a great white shark.  In this, the Summer of COVID, maybe the water’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  Stick to the bath, with music from “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef” (Bernard Herrmann), “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (Henry Mancini), “Jaws” (John Williams), and “The Swimmer” (Marvin Hamlisch).  Dreams of aquatic refreshment are all wet, this Friday at 6 pm.

Jerome Moross first encountered the American West on a cross-country trip in 1936.  It was a transformative experience that would influence many of his future film and concert works.  Energetic syncopations of his native New York City bolstered an easy lyrical gift.  A good Moross melody might easily pass for genuine American folk music.  Saddle up for selections from “The Big Country,” “The Proud Rebel,” “The Valley of Gwangi,” and “The Jayhawkers.”  We breathe the open air with music of great vitality, Friday at 6 pm. 

Go down to the sea in ships!  Set sail with selections from “Captain Horatio Hornblower” (Robert Farnon), “Botany Bay” (Franz Waxman), “Mutiny on the Bounty” (Bronislau Kaper), and “Windjammer” (Morton Gould).  Get ready to “taste the cat” and prepare to be keelhauled, this Friday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect - July 17: Picaresque Adventures

Jul 16, 2020

Picaresque novels are generally characterized by having rogues or anti-heroes as protagonists, episodic, wayward structures, and, not infrequently, low humor.  Prepare to revel in some freewheeling lack of judgment, with music from “The Reivers” (John Williams), “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (Jerome Moross), “Anthony Adverse” (Erich Wolfgang Korngold), and “Tom Jones” (John Addison).  We’re up to no good, this Friday at 6 pm.

The Arabian Nights, traditional folk stories from the Orient, have come down to us filtered through the sensibilities of Western translators.  Further translation was required to get the stories from page to screen, so it’s hardly surprising to find Sinbad, for instance, fighting a giant walrus.  Tune in for an hour of movie enchantments, with music from “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” (Bernard Herrmann), “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” (Roy Budd), “Aladdin” (Alan Menken), and “The Thief of Bagdad” (Miklós Rózsa).  Discover an Aladdin’s Cave of cinematic delights, this Friday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect: July 3 - Independence Day

Jul 2, 2020

COVID may have robbed us of a “Picture Perfect” tenth anniversary celebration.  Luckily, there’s something else to make noise about!  On the eve of Independence Day, drown your disappointment in an hour of cinematic fifes and drums, including selections from “The Patriot” (John Williams), “George Washington Slept Here” (Adolph Deutsch), “Revolution” (John Corigliano) and “Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot” (Bernard Herrmann).  Yankee Doodle goes to town, this Friday at 6 pm.

Get lost!  Strike out for unknown territory with selections from movies about lost worlds and forgotten civilizations, including “King Solomon’s Mines” (Mischa Spolianksy), “She” (James Bernard), “The Man Who Would Be King” (Maurice Jarre), and “Lost Horizon” (Dimitri Tiomkin).  The journey is the destination.  Let music be your map, this Friday at 6 pm.

“Hey, Dad?  You want to have a catch?”  Celebrate Father’s Day with music from movies about model fathers, complicated fathers, and father-son wish fulfillment.  Enjoy selections from “The Godfather” (Nino Rota), “Field of Dreams” (James Horner), “Life with Father” (Max Steiner), and “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Elmer Bernstein).  You can try to rank the music, but Father’s Day rates a tie.  (Yes, it’s a pun.  Dads love puns.)  Spare a thought for dear old Dad, this Friday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect: June 12 - Wizards and Sorcerers

Jun 11, 2020

Balrog, beware… YOU SHALL NOT PASS!  Commence your weekend with an hour of musical enchantments, including selections from “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (Howard Shore), “The Sword and the Sorcerer” (David Whitaker), “Dragonslayer” (Alex North), and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (John Williams).  Prepare to be charmed, this Friday at 6 pm.

Travel from sultry New Jersey to the South Hemisphere, with selections from “Green Fire” and “Crisis” (both by Miklós Rózsa), “Green Mansions” (Heitor Villa-Lobos & Bronislau Kaper), and “The Mission” (Ennio Morricone).  It’s good weather for plants, and the exposure is all southern, this Friday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect: May 29 - Rafael Sabatini

May 28, 2020

In his day, Italian-English writer Rafael Sabatini might have been regarded as the heir apparent to Alexandre Dumas.  His bestselling novels are full of romance and derring-do.  Though his popularity may have faded somewhat with the passage of time, his name lives on as the inspiration behind a number of classic Hollywood swashbucklers.  Thrill to the adventures of “Captain Blood” and “The Sea Hawk” (Erich Wolfgang Korngold), “The Black Swan” (Alfred Newman), and “Scaramouche” (Victor Young).  It’s an hour of seven-league boots and gaudy plumage, this Friday at 6 pm.

One never had to worry about social distancing in the Old West.  Saddle up with an Elmer Bernstein sampler, including selections from “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Comancheros,” “The Shootist,” “The Sons of Katie Elder,” “True Grit,” “Wild Wild West,” and “The Hallelujah Trail.”  It’s high-spirited music for wide-open spaces, this Friday at 6 pm.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a radio host in possession of a weekly film music show must be in want of a good theme.  Tune in for selections from “Emma” (Rachel Portman), “Sense and Sensibility” (Patrick Doyle), and two versions of “Pride and Prejudice” (Carl Davis and Dario Marianelli).  A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of – at least according to “Mansfield Park.”  The next best is a playlist assembled from Jane Austen movies.  Know your own happiness, this Friday at 6 pm. 

“Music is a moral law,” wrote Plato.  “It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination… and life to everything.”  That includes computer-generated imagery.  Tune in for enlivening selections from “Ice Age” (David Newman), “The Incredibles” (Michael Giacchino), “Up” (also Giacchino), and “The Adventures of Tintin” (John Williams).   We can all use a little animation, this Friday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect: May 1 - Akira Kurosawa

Apr 30, 2020

Nothing says May Day quite like samurai movies!  In this, the centenary of the birth of Toshiro Mifune, it’s music from the films of Akira Kurosawa.  Tune in for selections from “Seven Samurai” (Fumio Hayazaka), “Dodes’kaden” (Toru Takemitsu), “Roshomon” (again Hayazaka), and “Yojimbo” (Masura Sato).  It’s three-quarters Mifune, and fifty-percent samurai.  We’ll have you runnin’ for the ronin, this Friday at 6 pm.

Strike up, pipers!  Between the surmised date of Shakespeare’s birth (April 23) and his baptismal date (April 26), enjoy music by Patrick Doyle, written for the films of Kenneth Branagh.  All the world’s a stage, with selections from “Henry V,” “As You Like It,” “Hamlet,” and “Much Ado About Nothing.”  Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts, this Friday at 6 pm.

The game is afoot!  It’s an hour of music from movies inspired by the world’s greatest detective.  Fish your tobacco from the toe of your Persian slipper, don your deerstalker, and hone your deductive reasoning, with selections from “Sherlock Holmes” (Hans Zimmer), “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” (Miklós Rózsa), “Young Sherlock Holmes” (Bruce Broughton), and “Without a Clue” (Henry Mancini).  Enjoyment is elementary, my dear Watson, this Friday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect: April 10 - Joan of Arc

Apr 9, 2020

The story of Joan of Arc has been treated numerous times on film.  We’ll hear music from several, including two scores for the silent classic “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (Ole Schmidt & Richard Einhorn), “The Messenger” (Eric Serra), and “Saint Joan” (Mischa Spoliansky).  Feel the burn, this Friday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect: April 4 - The English Abroad

Apr 2, 2020

We’re not going anywhere anytime soon, but thankfully there are plenty of movies and music to engage the imagination.  So pack your valise for selections from “Enchanted April” (Richard Rodney Bennett), “A Passage to India” (Maurice Jarre), “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (Thomas Newman) and “Around the World in 80 Days” (Victor Young).  We’ll be doing some armchair traveling, this Friday at 6 pm. 

Picture Perfect: March 27 - Inspired by Hemingway

Mar 26, 2020

Nick sat against the charred stump and smoked a cigarette.  He lit a match and watched it burn and as it burned he thought of boxers and marlins and the Spanish Civil War.  The stories were brave and strong and good.  He thought about selections from “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (Victor Young) and “Islands in the Stream” (Jerry Goldsmith) and “The Killers” (Miklós Rózsa) and “The Old Man and the Sea” (Dimitri Tiomkin).  He ordered a mojito and prepared to face the music, this Friday at 6 pm.