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

March 24, 1991

Maurice Jarre's Oscar nomination (for "Ghost") cannot in any way be justified. The only memorable music in this score, and the sole reason it's the biggest-selling recording in the history of the Varese Sarabande label, is the work of another composer.

Alex North, who has never won an Oscar despite composing several of Hollywood's finest and most memorable film scores, wrote what is known as "Unchained Melody" for the 1955 film "Unchained." The possibility that Jarre could take home an Oscar in this category is an outrage.

The nominations for best original score are the most consistently wrongheaded of any category. The 1980s saw Oscars awarded for two scores that contained hardly a note of original music: "The Right Stuff" in 1983 and " 'Round Midnight" in 1986. The former consisted of music by Tchaikovsky, Holst and Mancini and garnered a statuette for Bill Conti. The latter contained existing jazz pieces, and the academy handed Herbie Hancock an undeserved Oscar.

Composers only should be selecting the nominees. Far too many members of the music branch are wholly unqualified to judge the quality of film scores.

ERIC NEILL

Anaheim

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