Monday, September 06, 2010

Turner Classic Movies at the Hollywood Bowl

Last night we visited the Hollywood Bowl to attend a marvelous concert: TCM at the Symphony: Celebrating 20th Century Fox.

The evening was hosted by Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies. It was a treat to see him in person after watching him on TV for so many years.

We arrived well in advance of the concert and found excellent parking across the street. We had a picnic dinner near the Lasky-Demille Barn, home of the Hollywood Heritage Museum.

Near the entrance to the Bowl grounds, there's a museum which I'd like to stop in on a future visit:

As many times as I've been there, the view when one enters the Bowl is still breathtaking:

Over the years I've sat everywhere from boxed seats at the front -- for an Ethel Merman concert -- to the very back, and each section has its own rewards. The view from the back of the Bowl is spectacular.

The "HOLLYWOOD" sign can be seen in the distance; click to enlarge:

Here's a zoom photo of the sign:

Jumbotron screens along the sides were a nice addition since my last visit, providing close-ups of the host and musicians.

The concert began at dusk. The Star-Spangled Banner was followed by Alfred Newman's 20th Century Fox Fanfare (with the "CinemaScope Extension") and John Williams' STAR WARS. STAR WARS was accompanied by a beautifully edited collection of clips from Fox films.

After the STAR WARS montage, Robert Osborne entered to share some 20th Century Fox history and introduce the music:

Some of the music was accompanied by montages of clips from the relevant film; in other cases the film's dialogue soundtrack was played along with the live music.

I especially enjoyed hearing Alfred Newman's LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING...

...and a montage from LAURA accompanying the David Raksin theme music was a high point of the evening:

Excerpts from Newman's score for THE MARK OF ZORRO, one of my favorite movies, was another wonderful moment.

The second half of the concert, mostly featuring "modern" film scores, was not as satisfying for me. While I enjoyed hearing Alex North's CLEOPATRA and conductor David Newman's lively ICE AGE, music from EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (Danny Elfman) and ALIEN (Jerry Goldsmith) didn't do much for me. I personally would have much preferred to hear a score by Bernard Herrmann, or even more Newman; I would have loved to hear Newman's CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE, for example.

The evening threatened to end on a low note for me, with film of a prolonged battle sequence from AVATAR, accompanied by endless blood-curdling screams which distracted from James Horner's music.

All was forgiven, however, when Mr. Osborne came on stage and announced an encore, saying that an evening celebrating 20th Century Fox couldn't end without paying tribute to THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Given this film's profound impact on me, beginning from a very early age, I found it very moving to watch the opening film clips of Austria accompanied by a live orchestra.

It was especially thrilling to hear the live orchestra music building to a climax as the camera zoomed in on the famous shot of Julie Andrews singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music." The synchronization of the recorded soundtrack and live music was impressive.

The opening sequence from THE SOUND OF MUSIC was followed by the concert version of "So Long, Farewell" from near the end of the movie...a perfect way to end the evening.

Setting aside my dissatisfaction with some of the music selections, all in all it was a memorable evening from start to finish. If TCM sponsors future evenings at the Bowl, I'd love to attend.


Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Terrific. Thanks for taking us along.

5:07 AM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

That's so exciting that you got to see Robert Osborne in person.

I don't think I would have enjoyed the modern musical pieces. But it does sound like a fun event. And it's so interesting that TCM was celebrating 20th Century Fox, especially since Warner & Fox are rival studios. Maybe Fox was just happy someone was celebrating them?! :-)

6:28 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

I wanted to go to this, but alas, it didn't happen. Thanks for the report! I would have loved the Laura section!

8:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad you all enjoyed it! I was interested to learn that there has been at least one TCM at the Symphony concert at the Bowl in the past; in 2009 Osborne hosted an evening with Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Raquelle and Jacqueline, on the chance you're not already aware, TCM has also partnered with the Boston Pops.

Best wishes,

8:38 AM  
Blogger Moira Finnie said...

This is the very first opportunity I've had to see images of the modern Hollywood Bowl, and I am so grateful that you thoughtfully shared this experience here via your words and pictures. It must be a lovely setting to hear live music under the stars.

But tell me it ain't so, Laura, please. A tribute to 20th Century Fox and one of the greatest film composers in film history was not included?

NO Bernard Herrmann??? That means no sound of the sea and longing found in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir? Or the moody romanticism of Jane Eyre, or Prince of Players? Not even a little bit of ominous notes in Journey To The Center Of The Earth? And not even a few snatches of the nine harps that Bernie threw in when orchestrating the underwater scenesBeneath the 12-Mile Reef?

Herrmann's music raised so many movies to a higher plane, and I just love the sounds the man could compose to match the moods of a film with a few instruments. Would Fox and Warner's films be as memorable without Herrmann and Max Steiner's creativity? Or that of Alfred Newman--whose greatest score may be the rousing, Spanish-tinged Captain From Castile?

I can understand wanting to represent Alfred Newman's considerable contributions to film for the studio, but gee, no room for Bernie?

Do you think this oversight might be due to some rights issue?

2:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's wonderful hearing from you, Moira! You're right, it's a beautiful setting.

I so agree with you that it really isn't right they skipped over Herrmann and his many musical contributions to the studio...I suspect that the reason may be that they wanted to make room for several more "marketable" scores (meaning from modern popular movies) that might attract people who don't typically attend Bowl concerts. It would be interesting to know for sure exactly who selected the music and why. The conductor, David Newman, surely must be well acquainted with Fox film music beyond his father's and uncles' scores.

Best wishes,

5:01 PM  

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