For years, fans of motion picture scores have been so thrilled simply to get favorites re-released in CD that they didn't mind that the album often came with the skimpiest of packaging.
But Turner Classic Movies Music and Rhino Movie Music have teamed up on a series of soundtrack collections that come with handsome, illustrated booklets that discuss both the film and the music with the completeness a laser-disc fan expects from the best Criterion collections.
The series, which began in April, has already given us "Doctor Zhivago," "Ziegfeld Follies," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "Easter Parade" and "Show Boat."
The prize so far, however, is the first-time release of legendary composer Bernard Herrmann's prized original score to "North by Northwest," Alfred Hitchcock's marvelously entertaining 1959 tale of mistaken identity and intrigue. The music was performed by the MGM Studio Orchestra, conducted by Herrmann.
Besides an essay on Herrmann, whose other film scores include "Psycho" and "Citizen Kane," the booklet contains film production notes and a detailed account of the plot.
For anyone who has seen the film, which stars Cary Grant, it's amazing how vividly passages cause whole scenes from the movie to flash back in your memory. An extraordinary score and package.
* Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (e x cellent).