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.

“Crom… I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it.  No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad.  Why we fought, or why we died.  Valor pleases you, Crom, so grant me one request:  grant me an hour of barbarian music!  Selections from ‘Red Sonja’ (Ennio Morricone), ‘Kull the Conqueror’ (Joel Goldsmith), and ‘Conan the Barbarian’ and ‘Conan the Destroyer’ (both Basil Poledouris).  And make it loud, Crom.  Drive my enemies before me and drown the lamentations of their women, this Saturday at 6 pm.”

Picture Perfect Now on Saturday: The Restoration

Apr 8, 2021

Beauty patches are back!  It’s an hour of lace and licentiousness, with movies set during the reign of Charles II.  Powder your face and apply your rouge to selections from “Restoration” (James Newton Howard), “The King’s Thief” (Miklós Rózsa), “The Draughtsman’s Contract” (Michael Nyman), and “Forever Amber” (David Raksin).  Then giggle into your handkerchief and wear ribbons on your shoes, this Saturday at 6 pm.

In this season of Biblical epics, enjoy a bit of counterprogramming in the form of music from films about faith, conscience, and grappling with self-abnegation, including selections from “Black Robe” (Georges Delerue), “Black Narcissus” (Brian Easdale), “The Nun’s Story” (Franz Waxman), and “The Mission” (Ennio Morricone).  Seek grace in an imperfect world, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Just in time for Passover, enjoy selections from a 6-CD set, on the Intrada label, of music from Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments.  This exhaustive collection includes the complete score as heard in the film, alternate takes, trailer music, three commercial soundtrack releases, and rare demos prepared for DeMille by the composer, Elmer Bernstein, who plays some of his themes on the piano.  We’ll arrive at Mount Nebo before sunset, this Saturday at 6 pm.

The 30-year romance of William Alwyn and Doreen Carwithen culminated in the couple’s marriage in 1975.  Combined, during their heyday in the 1940s and ‘50s, they wrote the music for over 100 films.  Alwyn, in particular, scored such high-profile projects as “The Crimson Pirate,” “A Night to Remember,” and “The Swiss Family Robinson.”  Although groomed for a career in film, Carwithen was not given the same opportunities.  She scored only six dramatic features.  The rest were documentaries and shorts.  We’ll sample their work, 50/50, this Saturday at 6 pm.

  

  

March 15th is a day that has lived in infamy and superstition, ever since the murder of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.  After declaring himself Dictator for Life, Caesar was set upon by members of the Roman Senate and stabbed 23 times.  Toga is the dressing of choice for a Caesar salad of films set in Ancient Rome, including “Julius Caesar” (Miklós Rózsa), “Cleopatra” (Alex North), “Gladiator” (Hans Zimmer), and “The Fall of the Roman Empire” (Dimitri Tiomkin).  Rome wasn’t built in a day; it falls in an hour, this Saturday at 6 pm.

William Shakespeare certainly has legs.  As England’s greatest playwright, his works have been performed, more or less continuously, for 400 years.  He’s trod the boards of the Globe, and he’s circumnavigated the globe.  This week, the Bard gets the “the boot,” with film adaptations scored by composers from the Italian Peninsula.  Hear selections from Orson Welles’ “Othello” and “The Chimes at Midnight” (Angelo Lavagnino), and Franco Zeffirelli’s “Hamlet” (Ennio Morricone) and “Romeo and Juliet” (Nino Rota).  For Shakespeare, all the world’s a stage, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Somerset Maugham was the highest paid writer of the 1930s.  As a young man, he studied medicine.  He served in the Red Cross during WWI, then joined the British Secret Intelligence Service.  His experiences informed a career that spanned 65 years.  Tune in for film adaptations of his books, including “Of Human Bondage” (Erich Wolfgang Korngold), “The Razor’s Edge” (Alfred Newman), “The Painted Veil” (Alexandre Desplat), and “The Seventh Sin” (Miklós Rózsa).  Maugham’s the word, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Rise above your worldly concerns and keep looking up with an hour of music about flight and aviation.  Get a bird’s-eye view with selections from “The High and the Mighty” (Dimitri Tiomkin), “The Spirit of St. Louis” (Franz Waxman), “Airport” (Alfred Newman), and “The Blue Max” (Jerry Goldsmith).  Classic film music is the wind beneath our wings, this Saturday at 6 pm.

February gets overheated with music from movies inspired by the Brontë sisters, including “Wuthering Heights” (Alfred Newman), two adaptations of “Jane Eyre” (Bernard Herrmann & John Williams), and the biographical fiction “Devotion” (Erich Wolfgang Korngold).  It’s a Yorkshire pudding of passion, torment, and cruelty. Sigh along with tortured romances of the Brontës, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Slip on your dancing shoes and chase away the winter blues.  Get those toes tapping with selections from “The Tales of Beatrix Potter” (John Lanchbery), “The Red Shoes” (John Easdale), “Specter of the Rose” (George Antheil), “The Leopard” (Nino Rota), and “A Damsel in Distress” (George Gershwin).  Regain your tone with tunes from movies about the dance, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Baby, it’s cold outside!  The best time for armchair travel.  Cozy in, but get a world view, with selections from “Dersu Uzala” (Isaac Schwartz), “The White Reindeer” (Einar Englund), “Lieutenant Kijé” (Sergei Prokofiev), and “Scott of the Antarctic” (Ralph Vaughan Williams).  The forecast is for a wintry mix, this Saturday at 6 pm.

A jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness.  Well, we’ve got the wilderness anyway.  Poetry warms the soul, through selections from “Dead Poets Society” (Maurice Jarre), “Lady Caroline Lamb” (Richard Rodney Bennett), “Il Postino” (Luis Bacalov), and “Cyrano de Bergerac” (Dimitri Tiomkin).  It could be verse, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect Now on Saturday: Soviet Cinema

Jan 7, 2021

Peek behind the Curtain for music by notable composers for Soviet cinema, including selections from “Agony” (Alfred Schnittke), “Time, Forward!” (Georgy Sviridov), “The Gadfly” (Dmitri Shostakovich), and “Alexander Nevsky” (Sergei Prokofiev).  Say da to classic film music, this Saturday at 6 pm. 

Picture Perfect Now on Saturday: Jules Verne

Dec 31, 2020

Ring in a new year with Jules Verne’s novels of science, progress, and adventure.  Enjoy music from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (Paul J. Smith), “In Search of the Castaways” (William Alwyn), “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (Bernard Herrmann), and “Around the World in 80 Days” (Victor Young).  Verne’s characters frequently venture into the unknown, yet manage to overcome all obstacles.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt carry a harpoon, just in case.  You could do worse than cast your lot with Verne, Nemo, Phileas Fogg, and the rest, this Saturday at 6 pm.

With the grand cacophony of Christmas still fresh in everyone’s ears, we’ll hear music from movies in which toys play a pivotal role, including “Citizen Kane” (Bernard Herrmann), “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” (Danny Elfman), “Toccata for Toy Trains” (Elmer Bernstein), and “Toy Story” (Randy Newman).  Keep popping those aspirin.  It’s an hour of noise for toys, this Saturday at 6 pm.

  

  

Picture Perfect Now on Saturday: Charles Dickens

Dec 10, 2020

Humbug!  This week on “Picture Perfect,” it’s music from movies inspired by the writings of Charles Dickens.  Tune in for selections from “Nicholas Nickleby” (Lord Berners), “Oliver Twist” (Sir Arnold Bax), “David Copperfield” (Sir Malcolm Arnold), and “A Christmas Carol” (Richard Addinsell).  Blame it on an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.  There will be more of gravy than of the grave about it, this Saturday at 6 pm.

The music is big... it’s the PICTURES that got small.  Tune in for an hour of television music by composers better known for their film scores.  We’ll hear selections from “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (Bernard Herrmann), “Wagon Train” (Jerome Moross), “Lost in Space” (John Williams), and a medley of classic television themes (Jerry Goldsmith).  You’re invited to think inside the box, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Generally speaking, steampunk is a science fiction subgenre that employs forward-looking technologies and gadgetry – in many cases literally powered by steam – in incongruous, quasi-Victorian settings.  Enjoy selections from “Hugo” (Howard Shore), “The Golden Compass” (Alexandre Desplat), “Wild Wild West” (Elmer Bernstein), and the H.G. Wells-Jack the Ripper thriller “Time After Time” (Miklós Rózsa).  Things will get pretty steamy, this Saturday at 6 pm.

There’s more to Thanksgiving than turkey and football.  We’ll hear music from movies reflective of what’s best in human nature and most admirable in the American character, including selections from “The Cummington Story” (Aaron Copland), “Field of Dreams” (James Horner), “The Best Years of Our Lives” (Hugo Friedhofer), and “Lincoln” (John Williams); then count our blessings and aspire to do better, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Picture Perfect Now on Saturday: Film Noir

Nov 12, 2020

In this season of long shadows, revisit the world of film noir, with music from “The Big Sleep” (Max Steiner), “Chinatown” (Jerry Goldsmith), “Miller’s Crossing” (Carter Burwell), and “Brute Force,” “The Killers,” and “The Naked City” (Miklós Rózsa).  Don your rumpled linen suit, draw the Venetian blinds, and play the sap for nobody, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Idyllic communities can cast some long shadows.  Explore the dark underbelly of small-town life and the consequences of bucking conformity with music from “Peyton Place” (Franz Waxman), “Far from Heaven” (Elmer Bernstein), “Edward Scissorhands” (Danny Elfman), and “Kings Row” (Erich Wolfgang Korngold).  Good fences make good neighbors, this Saturday at 6 pm. 

NEXT WEEK: In the interest of balance, we’ll have film noir in the gritty city! 

It’s all about hauntings and specters for Halloween.  Tune in, if you dare, for otherworldly music from “The Uninvited” (Victor Young), “Beetlejuice” (Danny Elfman), “Poltergeist” (Jerry Goldsmith), and “Ghostbusters” (Elmer Bernstein). The bridge is out… you’ll have to spend the night, this Saturday at 6 pm.

We all know the sound. That crazy, trilled, electronic whistle that dips into a whoop. Or it starts in a trough and shoots up into the super stratosphere. It’s the sound of UFOs and mad science. It’s the sound of the theremin.  Thrill to its distinctive, extraterrestrial timbre in selections from “The Thing” (Dimitri Tiomkin), “Ed Wood” (Howard Shore), “Rocketship X-M” (Ferde Grofé), and “Spellbound” (Miklós Rózsa).  Make contact with the theremin – an instrument played without physical touch – this Saturday at 6 pm.

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.

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