Film Composer: Alex North

by Gina Swan 2 months ago in vintage

Cleopatra, Spartacus, even 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Film Composer:  Alex North
Cleopatra, film poster (1963)

This is for retro-film fans. Especially, the fans of classic movie soundtracks, from the age of big budget films, with a cast of thousands! I am talking about the film music of Alex North. You may listen to the music while you read this article. (click below)

Music of Alex North

Spartacus, Cleopatra, The Agony and The Ecstasy, A Streetcar Named Desire are among the films which enjoy the original scores of Alex North. Below is a short list of Alex North soundtracks. He also composed for TV series and TV movies.

One of his first accomplishments was the jazz and orchestral score for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

A Streetcar Named Desire, film poster (1951)

Short List of ALEX NORTH scores:

 1987 Good Morning, Vietnam

 1987 John Huston and the Dubliners (Documentary)

 1987 The Dead (Director: John Huston)

 1985 Death of a Salesman (TV movie)

 1985 Prizzi's Honor (Director: John Huston)

 1984 Under the Volcano (Director: John Huston)

 1982 Sister, Sister (TV Movie)

 1981 Dragonslayer

 1980 Carny

 1979 Wise Blood (Director: John Huston)

  1971 Willard

 1969 A Dream of Kings

 1969 Hard Contract

1968 2001: A Space Odyssey (North composed a complete, unused soundtrack.)

 1968 The Shoes of the Fisherman

 1968 The Devil's Brigade

 1965 Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody (North composed this hit song.)

 1965 The Agony and the Ecstasy

 1964 Cheyenne Autumn (Director: John Ford)

 1963 Cleopatra (Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

 1961 The Misfits (Director: John Huston)

 1960 Spartacus (Director: Stanley Kubrick)

 1959 The Sound and the Fury

 1958 South Seas Adventure

 1958 The Long, Hot Summer

 1956 The Rainmaker

 1956 The Bad Seed

 1955 The Rose Tattoo

 1952 Viva Zapata!

 1951 Death of a Salesman

 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire was probably the first use of orchestral jazz in any major motion picture. It was a brilliant choice, adding color and drama which could have been achieved in no other way. Other very successful films followed in the 1950s. This lead to the blockbuster cast-of-thousands films of the early 1960s: Spartacus, Cleopatra, The Agony and the Ecstasy.

Spartacus, film poster (1963)
The Agony and The Ecstasy, film poster (1965)

The Agony and The Ecstasy is the story of Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) painting the Sistine Chapel. The high moment in 1968 was Alex North being hired by Stanley Kubrick to compose the soundtrack for 2001: A Space Odyssey. music which was not used. Kubrick went with the recordings of Classical and 20th Century concert composers he had previously been listening to on LPs, while creating the film. This was a huge disappointment for Alex North, but to our good fortune, North's music was recorded and released on CD.

Alex North, score for 2001: A Space Odyssey

The highlight of the decade was the John Huston film, Wise Blood, from 1979. Starring: Brad Dourif, Dan Shor, Amy Wright, Harry Dean Stanton, and Ned Beatty. The film is based on the 1952 novel Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor. As a co-production with Germany the film was titled Der Ketzer or Die Weisheit des Blutes when released in Germany, and Le Malin when released in France. Hazel "Haze" Motes is a 22-year-old veteran of an unspecified war and a preacher of the Church of Truth Without Christ, a religious organization of his own creation, which is against any belief in God, an afterlife, sin, or evil. The protagonist comes across various characters such as teenager Sabbath Lilly Hawks, her grandfather Asa Hawks who is a conventional side-walk preacher; and a local boy, Enoch Emery, who finds a "new" Jesus at the local museum in the form of the tiny corpse of a shrunken South American Indian. Hoover Shoates is a promoter who wants to manage Hazel's career as a prophet while Hazel's landlady falls in love with him.

In the 1971 and 1980, North soundtracks took an odd turn, as with the infestation-of-rats film, Willard, and the film, Carny, with Robbie Robertson of The Band. North created a marvelous score for Dragonslayer (1981). In 1984 and 1985 he was again able to work again with director John Huston, on Under the Volcano and Prizzi's Honor.

Prizzi's Honor, film poster (1985)

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Gina Swan
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