Newman's Own Royalty
If there is a “royal family” of movie music, it would be the Newmans, which includes among its revered melodic bloodline Alfred, Otto, Lionel, Thomas, Maria, David, Randy and Joey. Composer Alfred Newman died this day in 1970 at a regrettably young 69, leaving a staggering legacy anchored by two decades as the general music director at Twentieth Century Fox and honored with 9 Academy Awards® and 44 Oscar® nominations. Five examples of his remarkable scoring work have already gotten the Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray treatment: The Song of Bernadette (1943 – Oscar® winner), Leave Her to Heaven (1945 – sold-out) and The Egyptian (1954 – sold-out), Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955 – Oscar® winner) and The Best of Everything (1959 – Oscar®-nominated title song). Royalty is the theme of the next Alfred Newman project on the TT horizon: the gorgeously regal and emotionally stirring Oscar®-nominated score of Anastasia (1956), the film version of the Guy Bolton/Marcelle Maurette play about the mysterious woman who is groomed to be – and actually may be – the Grand Duchess Anna Romanov, heiress to the deposed and murdered last Czarist Russian ruling clan’s hidden fortune. The on-screen talents are imperial in their own right – Best Actress Academy Award® winner Ingrid Bergman as the miraculously transformed waif Anna, Best Actor Academy Award® winner Yul Brynner (for the same year’s The King and I) as the ex-military man émigré who instigates what he assumes will be a daring masquerade, first lady of the American theatre (and two-time Oscar® winner) Helen Hayes as the formidable Dowager Empress who despite her small stature stands toweringly tall as the greatest obstacle to the gambit’s success, plus stage and screen veterans Akim Tamiroff and Martita Hunt as both participants in and awestruck observers of the intrigues swirling around them. Behind the camera are the Ukraine-born director Anatole Litvak (who helmed Sorry, Wrong Number, The Snake Pit and, 11 years after Anastasia, TT’s The Night of the Generals), screenwriter Arthur Laurents (the stage and screen dynamo who also penned TT’s Bonjour Tristesse and The Way We Were), cinematographer Jack Hildyard (The Bridge on the River Kwai) and the alternately imperial and touching melodies of Newman who, like Brynner, would receive an Oscar® that year for work on The King and I. Befitting its regal pedigree, TT’s 50th-anniversary Blu-ray, derived from Fox’s recent 4K restoration, offers 5.1 and 2.0 audio, two Commentaries, an Isolated Score Track, vintage newsreels (including actual Romanov family footage) and a Theatrical Trailer with its own Isolated Score Track highlighted by extra Newman score passages not heard in the film itself. Anastasia, awash in historical royalty and supremely crafted by movie royalty in eye-popping Cinemascope, debuts March 15. Preorders open March 3.