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Should Scores That Borrow From Other Sources Be Considered for Oscars?

March 24, 1991

On reading the original-film-score nominations, I was shocked at the potential for a miscarriage of justice represented by the "Havana" score, which is substantially music from other sources, and by the "Ghost" score.

Alex North wrote the "Ghost" theme as a main title in 1955 for the film "Unchained." It was not until the 1960s that the lyrics were written for the Righteous Brothers' recording.

I have heard arguments to the effect that earlier Oscar-winning scores have used themes written by other composers, most notably the score Alfred Newman wrote for "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," based on a song by Sammy Fain. There is no parallel here because the Fain song was written specifically for that film for the purpose of being incorporated into Newman's fine score.

The strongest argument against an award for "Ghost" is the fact that all promotion for the film employs North's music and none written by the nominee.

ROBERT J. FREDERICKS

Yorba Linda

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