The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

Top Ten: Motion Picture Music Treasures Part 4 The Lost Weekend

Ever since silent pictures were shown with live organ accompaniment, music has been an important asset in enhancing the dramatic development of a cinematic story.

A truly magnificent motion picture score not only enriches the viewing experience, it becomes inextricable: Completely genuine and deeply immersed in its subject matter. The composers of these scores have demonstrated an uncanny gift of knowing how to perfectly capture the emotional heart of the story, influence the narrative's pace and enter and exit with amazing precision. They boldly tell us, through their considerable skill, what the visuals alone cannot begin to describe, but nevertheless take nothing away from them. (For a further introduction on this subject please see: Top Ten: Motion Picture Music Treasures Part 1.)

(They are listed in alphabetical order)

 

The Lost Weekend (1945)

Composer: Miklos Rozsa

In 1945, film goers were accosted by an unadorned, harrowingly realistic, detailed depiction of a desperate writer's personal obsession with alcohol and its vice-like grip over each and every aspect of his life. They were rewarded with a dramatic tour-de-force from everyone involved in its making, none more so than the film's composer Miklos Rozsa.

The emotional transfusion Rozsa provides here is phenomenal. A thunderously tragic opening, the nightmarish motifs, a gorgeous love melody replete with the composer's signature sounds of yearning, and a most memorable theme of sincerity, hope, and optimism, all perfectly compliment and are masterfully woven into, the visual's dramatic fabric.

A film composer often dreams of having a scene with little or no dialogue, one that's "in the clear" so to speak, in which the artist can freely express those musical ideas which might otherwise compete with dialogue or sound effects. The Lost Weekend provides Rozsa with two such opportunities to showcase his incredible creative talent. One occurs toward the end of the film where our subject experiences an imaginary vision of horrific intensity: A mouse, trapped in his apartment's wall is struggling to free itself while a bat flies around the room. Finally, the bat viciously attacks the mouse, concluding a scene of extreme alcoholic terror vividly brought to life by Rozsa's inspired musical accompaniment.

The other scene offering Rozsa a "blank canvas" is one of cinema's most memorable: The walk down 3rd Avenue, which I have included below. Note the composer's ingenious use of the theremin that heightens the protagonist's agonizing delirium to stunning effect. 

A.G.

 

 

The Lost Weekend is available from Masters of Cinema on this region B (locked) Blu-ray compatible for the U.K., Europe, and Australia. More information, including ordering from Amazon.co.uk, can be obtained by clicking on the image.   

It is also available on DVD: 

The Lost Weekend
$9.16
Starring Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard da Silva, Doris Dowling

Its original score is a previous soundtrack recommendation and can be purchased here.  

 

 

Next time: Once Upon a Time in America

Composer: Ennio Morricone