Saturday, November 19, 2005

Peter Gunn

Saw an episode of "Peter Gunn" last night and decided that if this particular show was typical of the rest then what I liked most about the series was the music.

The Henry Mancini score was what set and carried the mood that made the show unique. The dialogue wasn't any better than most half hour TV crime shows of its era. And the acting was at best wobbly. Johnny Staccatto would cover much of the same terrain a few years later but bring more reality to the turf. It was another show that was helped considerly by its music, in this case Elmer Bernstein.

I mention music because I read an interesting piece about Bernard Herrmann last night. He did a lot of radio which I didn't know about, and he did it not for the money, which wasn't very good, but for the sake of his friends. He also suggested to his young wife Lucille Fletcher, who'd often expressed a desire to write, that she try her hand at a radio play. She did. She sat down and wrote one of the two or three most famous radio plays of all time, "Sorry, Wrong Number." It launched her into a long and successful writing career.

There's been a pause here while I took a phone call, in the course of which I logged on to Bill Crider and James Reasoner's blogs only to find--total coincidence--that James is also writing about music.

In my twenty years of producing commercials and documentaries, I probably saw a couple hundred pieces of film that hadn't been scored when I first saw them. With one terrible excetion (the music damned near ruined the documentary), the music added generously to the spot or film it had been composed for. A few times it even saved the project.

Many people go publicly unsung in the movie and tv business, none more than composers and orchestra leaders.


Blogger Elizabeth Foxwell said...

I'm with you, Ed, on Bernard Herrmann. I've found some wonderful lesser known pieces of his to play on my radio show, such as "Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra" from _Hangover Square_ (1945), and I love his music from _On Dangerous Ground_ (1952).

10:51 AM  

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