Composer Alexandre Desplat, who won his second Best Original Score Academy Award® last Sunday for 2017’s The Shape of Water (his first came for 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel), spoke fondly of his fellow Gallic countryman of music, the beloved Georges Delerue (1925-1992), in the 2013 documentary In the Tracks of Georges Delerue, in whose formidable filmic footsteps he admittedly follows: “Georges’ music speaks for itself. It’s incredibly dense. There was always a hint of melancholy, a hint of smoothness, or a hint of sadness that wasn’t analyzable. We can’t say that his music was sad, but also had a dark side.” The New Biographical Dictionary of Film author David Thomson observed: “Hs music was naturally quiet, wistful and atmospheric, and he had a knack for small, chanson-like themes that grew over the course of a film.” A jazz club musician who studied with Darius Milhaud and whose alternately plaintive, playful and passionate melodies would first come to the world’s attention through his soundtrack scores for Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, Delerue would go on to work over a prodigious 30-year span with other lucky filmmakers like Ken Russell, Fred Zinnemann, Oliver Stone, Bruce Beresford, Jack Clayton, Mike Nichols, Ivan Reitman, Garry Marshall and John Hughes. His buoyant and suspenseful work on the Phillipe de Broca’s whimsical, antiwar cult classic King of Hearts (1966) can be experienced in a current limited theatrical reissue of a splendid Cohen Media Classics 50th-anniversary restoration now screening in Los Angeles and visiting other cities in the coming weeks.
Steeped in respect for film scores as Twilight Time is, the label has proudly showcased the cinematic canon of Delerue, who would have turned 83 today, via Isolated Music Tracks on numerous hi-def Blu-ray releases past and present. Previously available instances – now sold-out – have included A Man for All Seasons (1966, directed by Zinnemann), Salvador (1986, directed by Stone) and Steel Magnolias (1989, directed by Herbert Ross). Still on offer are two exquisite examples of the Delerue touch: the three-time Academy Award® winner Julia (1977, directed by Zinnemann, for which Delerue secured his third Oscar® nomination two years prior to finally winning the honor with the George Roy Hill-helmed young love fable A Little Romance), and the rousing family-friendly adventure sequel The Black Stallion Returns (1983, directed by Robert Dalva). For a career-spanning sampler of Delerue’s prodigious movie output that includes portions of both scores, you can listen to a marvelous 104-minute compilation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd8XNTGWs9E. For a video view of the man’s thoughts and considerable influence on movie music, try the hour-long 1996 documentary Georges Delerue: Music for the Movies, accessible here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwWgewFrxXY.