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King Kong and Max Steiner Films at The Castro, Jul 29-Aug 4

You may not know the name Max Steiner, but if you like old movies you know his work. Steiner wrote the scores for more than 300 films, including some of the most famous of Hollywood’s Golden Age. He was nominated for the Academy Award 24 times over the course of his four-decade career, and won three times – for The Informer (1935), Now, Voyager (1942), and Since You Went Away (1944).

Beginning this Friday, July 29, San Francisco’s Castro Theater is featuring a one-week retrospective of films with scores by Max Steiner:

Jul 29 – Mildred Pierce / The Letter
Jul 30 – Casablanca / The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – with Humphrey Bogart
Jul 31 – Gone with the Wind
Aug 1 – Now, Voyager / Dark Victory – with Bette Davis
Aug 2 – White Heat / Angels with Dirty Faces – with James Cagney
Aug 3 – The Big Sleep / Key Largo – Humphrey Bogart again
Aug 4 – King Kong / The Searchers – a strange pairing, but both wonderful

King Kong is a fitting film to end the Castro’s tribute to Steiner. His score wasn’t nominated for an Oscar (the film wasn’t nominated in any category) and he wasn’t even given screen credit for it, but it is one of the most significant scores in the history of motion picture soundtracks. Steiner was given a large budget for the time, and the music was a key component of the film’s success – a success that saved the studio, RKO, from bankruptcy. Although he’d already scored more than 50 films, his work on King Kong was something new and special, and it ushered in a new era in the scoring of films. In this and his other work in the 1930s, Steiner, along with another Austrian emigre composer working in Hollywood, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, largely defined what we now think of as a film score.

I’ve seen King Kong at the Castro and it’s an experience not to be missed – a great old movie – one of the greatest – in a great old movie theater, like it would have shown in when it was first released.

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows

zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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