A weekend-long salute to legendary composer Miklos Rozsa, who was Oscar-nommed 17 times, will be screened starting on Friday, August 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn theater on Wilshire and La Peer.
Wait a minute…they’re showing only four films (Ivanhoe, The Thief of Baghdad, The Killers and El Cid at the Linwood Dunn)? That’s a joke, right? This quartet doesn’t come close to representing Rosza’s best work. Any half-thorough retrospective would have to include The Killers, Brute Force, Criss Cross, The Asphalt Jungle, Quo Vadis, Lust for Life, Ben-Hur, Kings of Kings, El Cid, Fedora, Last Embrace and Time After Time. Yeah, that’s right — you’d have to show two on Friday night, and then all day Saturday and all day Sunday.
Rozsa sometimes let his costume-epic scores become slightly over-heated, but when orgiastic, big-screen, reach-for-the-heavens emotion was called for, no one did it better. He may have been first and foremost a craftsman, but Rozsa really had soul.
I wrote this four years ago: “Listen to the overture and main title music of King of Kings, and all kinds of haunting associations and recollections about the life of Yeshua and his New Testament teachings (or at the least, grandiose Hollywood movies about same) start swirling around in your head. And then watch that Nicholas Ray‘s stiff, strangely constipated film (which Rozsa described in his autobiography as ‘nonsensical Biblical ghoulash’) and ask yourself if Rozsa didn’t capture the spiritual essence of Christ’s story better than what Ray, screenwriter Phillip Yordan and producer Samuel Bronston managed to throw together.
I don’t know if it’s commonly known, but the “buhhhm-ba-dum-dum” theme from Jack Webb‘s Dragnet TV series was taken from Roza’s score for The Killers. Here’s Rozsa’s bum-da-dum-dum in the opening credits for that 1946 noir classic.