Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bird Man of Alcatraz....original soundtrack composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein

Birdman of Alcatraz is a 1962 film starring Burt Lancaster and directed by John Frankenheimer. It is about a man named Robert Stroud (Lancaster) who is sentenced to life-imprisonment for murder. While there he develops an interest in birds. In the process, he even develops a cure for bird diseases and publishes a book on the topic. All-in-all, this is a phenomenal movie, and probably Lancaster's best performance ever. The composer of choice for this assignment was Elmer Bernstein, who today is known for scoring films such as; The Man with the Golden Arm, The Magnificent Seven, Walk on the Wild Side, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Escape, Ghostbusters, and The Black Cauldron.

Bernstein brings a magical score that is subtle and delicate, carefree but still dramatic, a real masterpiece. Favorite cues include; Main Title, Flight, Bird Cart, Cage Preparations, No Cure, Runty Dead, Peggy, Stroud Drunk, Riot, Like A Bird, and End Credits. This is an overlooked masterpiece from early in Bernstein's career. It sits right alongside To Kill A Mockingbird (his finest score ever) as one of his greatest achievements in film scoring. Varese Sarabande released this score in a limited edition of 3,000 copies as part of their CD Club label in 2006.

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