Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Reivers (1969): Soundtrack, Composed and Conducted by John Williams, Presented Without Commerical Interruption!

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

Expanded at 2:34 a.m.

The Reivers?! How many of you ever saw it? How many of those recall the music?

All I knew about the picture was what I read in a thumbnail review in Newsday as a little boy. It starred Steve McQueen, and was set in the country. The review may also have mentioned the William Faulkner novel it was based on, which I’d otherwise never heard of, and about which I’ve since heard nothing.

As a teenager, I bought a couple of cheap but quality hardbacks of Faulkner’s works that I still have. One volume contains the novels The Light in August and, I believe, As I Lay Dying, while the other collects famous short stories. They’re both here somewhere in the Great Library at the Stix family compound, Xanadu.

In any event, I never read the novels, but I did read at least two of the short stories during my college years—though not for any class—“Barn Burning” and “Two Soldiers,” neither of which I ever forgot. Much later, I read a Hunter Thompson essay that touched on Faulkner and white trash (“Barn Burning” and the Snopes family). However, I re-read “Two Soldiers” a couple of years ago (I may have assigned it to my son to read), and found that I had misunderstood it, the first time around. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so that’s all I’m going to say about that.

[I just remembered that I assigned “Barn Burning,” along with Kipling’s “Gunga Din” and “The Man Who Would be King” to my predominantly black English Literature students at CUNY’s York College in 1998.]

I recently checked IMDB, and learned that the black supporting player, Rupert Crosse, got a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination out of it, and Williams got nominated for Best Dramatic Score. Crosse leveraged that success into a short-lived buddy comedy show, The Partners, in which he and Don Adams played detective partners, which was cancelled after a mere 20 episodes. While Adams was banished to showbiz purgatory in Vegas, Crosse got a death sentence. A heavy smoker, in spite of being extremely tall, he unfortunately died very young, at 45, of cancer.

But to get to the point of this item. Every fan of great movie music knows that John Williams, now 81 and still working, composed the scores to Star Wars, Jaws, E.T., Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List and Superman. He has been nominated for 48 Oscars, and won five. He has competed against himself eight times for Best Dramatic Score, most recently in 2012, beating himself once. He led the Boston Pops for years, has made gazillions in fees and royalties, and is the most renowned composer of his generation. The man is not hurting for plaudits. And yet, how many people are familiar with his music to The Reivers, The Cowboys (outside of John Wayne fans), or The Accidental Tourist? Those are some of his best and most original scores, but the movies for which they were written only did so-so at the box office. Thus, the scores aren’t well-remembered.

When he leaves us, there will be no one to fill his shoes.



Thanks to Frederik Riesberg for the upload.

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