Oscar season is here and the ceremony is fast approaching! March 12th, to be precise. And here on the Garden, we shall continue our AND THE OSCAR DOESN’T GO TO series, with the second instalment going out to David Raksin, one of my personal favorite film composers.
David Raksin is a sort of anomaly in the film composers canon. While his contemporaries – Miklos Rosza, Max Steiner, and, in particular, Alfred Newman, who still holds the record in this category, among others – have won multiple Oscars each, Raksin won none. In fact, his most famous score, Laura (1944, dir. Otto Preminger) wasn’t even nominated! Seems ludicrous today, as it is probably one of the iconic film scores of all time – you’re hearing it in your head, right now, aren’t you? Raksin’s ethereal and enchanting melody for one of the greatest film noirs ever lives on and while it is certainly his masterpiece, his other compositions can’t be overlooked. He was nominated for two Oscars. The first one was for Forever Amber (1947, dir. Otto Preminger), which he lost to Miklos Rosza for A Double Life (1947, dir. George Cukor); his second nomination was for Separate Tables (1958, dir. Delbert Mann), which he lost to Dimitri Tiomkin for The Old Man and The Sea (1958, dir. John Sturges). One can’t help but think he could have gotten a few more nods. The Big Combo (1955, dir. Joseph H. Lewis) comes to mind. Or Whirlpool, another Preminger noir from 1950. Or Vincente Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). And so many others. Raksin’s name isn’t too overly well-knows these days, unlike some other composers, but his music is. And I named one of the characters in my TV pilot after him. So there’s that too.