The Movies and the Music: Oscar-winning scores of the 1960s
As our decade-by-decade look at Oscar-winning film music continues, we're looking at scores from the 1960s: when movies and their music reflected the turmoil of the times. Catch up with our looks at Oscar-winning scores of the '30s, '40s, and '50s — and for highlights from every decade, listen to Lynne Warfel's three-hour special on the Movies and the Music.
1961: Ernest Gold, Exodus (drama or comedy); Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman, Song Without End (musical)
The Apartment was the big winner this year (and the last black-and-white Best Picture winner until Schindler's List in 1993), but Adolph Deutsch wasn't even nominated for Best Original Score. Instead, the drama/comedy award went to another Biblical epic: Exodus, which was key in ending the Hollywood blacklist (screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was openly hired) and in stimulating Zionism, but earned only that one Oscar. The musical score Oscar went to Song Without End, a Franz Liszt biopic whose composers weren't punished (like today's film composes are) for scoring a film that also includes classical music.
1962: Henry Mancini, Breakfast at Tiffany's (drama or comedy); Saul Chaplin, Johnny Green, Sid Ramin, and Irwin Kostal, West Side Story (musical)
It was a given that the team behind West Side Story’s film score would win in their category, though stage composer Leonard Bernstein didn't love the way his music sounded on screen, with an orchestra three times the size of his Broadway band. Henry Mancini won his first Academy Awards for best score and song ("Moon River") for Breakfast at Tiffany's; the jazz-influenced score was a notable departure from the meat-and-potatoes Romantic fare that tended to land Oscars (and often still tends to), inaugurating two decades during which film scores would increasingly wander into new terrain.
1963: Maurice Jarre, Lawrence of Arabia (original); Ray Heindorf, The Music Man (adaptation or treatment)
Maurice Jarre easily landed this year's drama/comedy score Oscar with his career-defining music for the grand Hollywood epic Lawrence of Arabia: one of the top three film scores of all time, if you believe the American Film Institute. This year the Best Musical Score category became Best Adaptation or Treatment Score, and went to — a musical, The Music Man.
1964: John Addison, Tom Jones (original); André Previn, Irma la Douce (adaptation)
The buzz at this year's Oscars surrounded the Best Supporting Actress category — where, for the only time ever, three of the five nominations went to performers from the same movie. The film was the comedy adventure Tom Jones, and none of the Supporting Actress nominees won, but composer John Addison grabbed a statuette for his work on the film, which also won Best Picture. André Previn took the adapted-score Oscar for reworking Marguerite Monnot's score for the French musical Irma la Douce.
1965: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, Mary Poppins (original); André Previn, My Fair Lady (adaptation)
At the Academy Awards for films released in 1964, it was the battle of the musicals — and both landed Oscars for music, though only one could win Best Picture. That turned out to be My Fair Lady, despite the fact that lead actress Audrey Hepburn wasn't even nominated for Best Actress. Voters were chagrined that her singing voice had been dubbed by Marni Nixon, and they were bummed that stage star Julie Andrews was bumped from the film version. Andrews instead ended up winning Best Actress — for Mary Poppins.
1966: Maurice Jarre, Doctor Zhivago (original); Irwin Kostal, The Sound of Music (adapted)
This was the year of The Sound of Music, though the adapted/original award split allowed the Academy to also honor Maurice Jarre for one of the decade's most instantly recognizable scores. Jarre's music for David Lean's adaptation of the Boris Pasternak novel Doctor Zhivago used the Russian balalaika — most notably for "Lara's Theme," which landed on countless albums of mood music.
1967: John Barry, Born Free (original); Ken Thorne, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (adapted)
The Thomas More movie A Man For All Seasons dominated this year's Oscars, but composer Georges Delerue didn't impress the voters with his music and wasn't even nominated. (He'd finally win a decade and a half later, for A Little Romance.) Instead, the Best Original Score Oscar went to John Barry for another score that had a big pop-culture impact: Born Free. Film critics generally, praising the adaptation of Joy Adamson's book about raising a lion cub for its taste and restraint, weren't as fond of Barry's title song — which, one wrote, "is still haunting the elevators and supermarkets" — but Barry had the last laugh.
1968: Elmer Bernstein, Thoroughly Modern Millie (original); Alfred Newman and Ken Darby, Camelot (adapted)
It was a tumultuous time — the Oscar ceremony was delayed two days because of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. — but the Academy didn't feel like recognizing Quincy Jones's chilling In Cold Blood score. Jones was nominated, but Elmer Bernstein ended up taking the only award out of seven nominations for Thoroughly Modern Millie. It ended up being Bernstein's only win, out of 14 career nominations.
1969: John Barry, The Lion in Winter (original); John Green, Oliver! (adapted)
Oliver! was this year's big winner — and the only G-rated film ever to take Best Picture. John Green grabbed an Oscar for his adaptation of Lionel Bart's stage score, and John Barry won Best Original Score for The Lion in Winter — one of three trophies for the darkly comedic drama, including a Best Actress award for Katherine Hepburn, who shared with Funny Girl’s Barbra Streisand in the only tie in that category's history.
1970: Burt Bacharach, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (original); Lennie Hayton and Lionel Newman, Hello, Dolly! (adaptation)
Not to be stereotyped after showering the G-rated Oliver! with Oscars, this year the Academy turned right around and lauded Midnight Cowboy — which became, in turn, the only X-rated film ever to win Best Picture. Its composer, John Barry, was one of the previous year's winners, but wasn't even nominated for Midnight Cowboy. Instead, the legendary Burt Bacharach won both Best Original Score and Best Original Song for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which featured "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head." This year marked a certain high-water mark for the Oscars: never again did an Academy Awards ceremony have such a dominant share of the television viewing audience.
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