Music from the Films of Marlon Brando

City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

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Music from the Films of Marlon Brando Review

by William Ruhlmann

With the fall of Communism at the end of the '80s and the establishment of the Czech Republic at the start of 1993, record executive Reynold da Silva began employing the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra to make new recordings of vintage film music, and over the years he has created a considerable library of these remakes for his Silva Screen Records label. He recycles the material on a seemingly endless series of albums, on which the Prague is usually credited only in small print on the back cover. And so it is with this two-CD set made up of excerpts of the orchestral scores for films in which Marlon Brando appeared, excerpts previously heard on such Silva Screen albums as Godfather: Trilogy 1, 2 & 3, Jurassic Park & Others: The Classic John Williams, and Shakespeare at the Movies. Talented as he may have been as an actor, Brando had no musical ability, which anyone who has seen Guys and Dolls (in which he attempted to sing) will know. But he appeared in 39 feature films, and those films employed such noted composers as Nino Rota, Alex North, Franz Waxman, John Williams, Miklós Rózsa, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Leonard Bernstein, whose work is sampled here. The Prague is, as usual, efficient without being at all distinctive, and the cues often consist of main themes or otherwise familiar passages. Gato Barbieri's individual touch on "Last Tango in Paris" is missed, of course, but otherwise the sound is not far removed from what was achieved on the Hollywood soundstages. Most of Brando's more important films are represented, although there is nothing from Charlie Chaplin's music for A Countess from Hong Kong or Michael Kamen's from Don Juan DeMarco. On the other hand, there are a couple of inclusions that, while technically allowable, don't really belong. Brando did appear in Superman, but his part was so small it no doubt took up less screen time than the four-plus minutes given over to John Williams' main theme here. And, while Brando was in the last section of the lengthy Apocalypse Now, that hardly seems a reasonable justification for including Richard Wagner's The Ride of the Valkyries, which was used long before he ever appeared onscreen and was associated with a different character. Perhaps it should have been saved for an upcoming Silva Screen compilation to be called Music from the Films of Robert Duvall.

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