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Torn Music - Rejected Film Scores, a Selected History
28-Apr-2012 -

A film is nearly finished and ready to make its way into theaters, when one or more of its prime movers—producer, director, studio brass—decides that it just doesn't 'feel" right and hits the brakes. What can be done quickly to alter the movie's complexion? The most obvious option is to change the last element added to the film—its music! So, often regardless of whether the film actually needs a new score, a new composer is hired at the last minute to replace the previous composer's heartfelt work.
Film scores are rejected and replaced for every conceivable reason—style, quality, a test-audience’s reaction, a composer's name recognition, the picture's re-editing. Sometimes the change improves a film; often it doesn't. Either way, such replacements are more common than most moviegoers imagine, and no composer, from the novice to the most famous and respected, is immune.
In Torn Music (which takes its title from the film Torn Curtain, whose famous score replacement put an end to the long and fruitful collaboration between director Alfred Hitchcock and composer Bernard Herrmann), film historian Gergely Hubai recounts the often strange and surprising stories behind 300 rejected and replaced scores dating from the 1930s through the 2000s. In these behind-the-scenes tales, dedication collides with miscommunication, musical geniuses clash with the tone-deaf, commercialism brawls with artistic purity, and a lot of hard work goes unrewarded. The movies discussed in Torn Music range from the most popular to the all-but-forgotten, and from high art to lowbrow fare; they even include a handful of TV shows and a videogame.
Gergely Hubai holds degrees in American Studies and American History from Eötvös Loránd University, in Budapest, Hungary, where he teaches courses in film music history. He has written on film music for various periodicals, including Film Score Monthly and the Hungarian film journal Prizma, and is the author of liner notes for a number of film score recordings. Hubai’s doctoral thesis was on the rejected film scores of composers outside the Hollywood system, focusing on the work of George Antheil, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and Alexandre Tansman. He is an expert on the music of James Bond films and is currently at work on a book on the film music of Miklós Rózsa.
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