Heavy Metal


1h 30m 1981
Heavy Metal

Brief Synopsis

In this five-part animated feature, an evil glowing green orb travels through space and time, spreading violence and discord in its wake

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Métal hurlant
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Fantasy
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1981
Distribution Company
Sony Pictures Releasing

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Synopsis

Based on the popular magazine of the same name, this animated cult film interweaves six visionary stories of science fiction and fantasy. The soundtrack includes such rock superstars as Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth and Stevie Nicks.

Crew

Jose Abel

Animator

Christos Achilleos

Other

Neal Adams

Other

Don Admundson

Photography

Peter Agnew

Song

Jerry Allen

Visual Effects

Judy Allen

Visual Effects

Terry Allen

Visual Effects

Dominic Anciano

Production Coordinator

Danny Antonucci

Animator

Barry Atkinson

Background Artist

Barry Atkinson

Special Effects

Lee Atkinson

Special Effects

Vic Atkinson

Animator

Vic Atkinson

Segment Producer

Hilary Audus

Animator

Rudolfo Azaro

Art Department

Florence Bach

Other

Carlos Baeza

Background Artist

Colin Baker

Animator

Robert Balser

Animator

Michael Bannon

Animator

Anne Beauregard

Background Artist

Jean Bello

Background Artist

Christian Benard

Background Artist

Christian Benard

Other

Elmer Bernstein

Music

Peter Bernstein

Original Music

Alan Best

Layout Artist

Alexandra Bex

Other

Eric Bloom

Song

Len Blum

Screenplay

Brent Boates

Other

Brent Boates

Background Artist

Bernie Bonvoisin

Song

Brian Borthwick

Animator

Brian Borthwick

Visual Effects

Michel Breton

Layout Artist

Peter Bromley

Camera Operator

Janice Brown

Executive Editor

Gerard Brunet

Production Assistant

John Bruno

Segment Director

John Bruno

Special Effects Supervisor

Errol Bryant

Layout Artist

Wally Bulloch-anicam

Other

Jeff Bushelman

Creative Consultant

Sue Butterworth

Layout Artist

Jonathan Cain

Song

Michele Carrier

Production Assistant

Jeff Carson

Music Editor

Roland Carter

Other

Gerald Casale

Song

M Charlton

Song

Howard Chaykin

Other

Marc Chiasson

Sound Effects Editor

Roger Chiasson

Animator

Vanessa Clegg

Layout Artist

Bobbie Clennel

Animator

John Coates

Segment Producer

Pete Comita

Song

Kurt Conner

Storyboard Artist

Richard Corben

Art Department

Richard Corben

From Story

Michael Coulthart

Special Effects

John Cousen

Animator

Rich Cox

Animator

Ian Craig

Layout Artist

Douglas Crane

Animator

Mick Crane

Art Department

Rod Crawley

Sound Effects Editor

Daniel Decelles

Animator

Daniel Deniger

Background Artist

Bernie Denk

Background Artist

Bernie Denk

Layout Artist

Ray Desilva

Animator

John Dorman

Storyboard Artist

Charlie Downs

Animator

Malcolm Draper

Animator

Norman Drew

Animator

Michael Dudok De Wit

Animator

Lee Dyer

Visual Effects

David Elvin

Layout Artist

Donald Fagen

Song

Donald Fagen

Song Performer

Mark Farner

Song

Richard Fawdry

Animator

David Feiss

Animator

Don Felder

Song

Don Felder

Song Performer

Vance Frederick

Visual Effects

Euen Frizzell

Animator

Joanna Fryer

Animator

Alex Funke

Photography

Alvaro Gaivoto

Animator

Frances Gallagher

Production Manager

Zdenko Gasparovic

Animator

Jeffrey Gatrall

Storyboard Artist

Pat Gavin

Art Director

Valerie Gifford

Production Manager

Juan Gimenez

Storyboard Artist

J S Goert

Other

Dan Goldberg

Screenplay

Dan Goldberg

Post-Production Supervisor

Milt Gray

Animator

Austin Grimaldi

Sound Effects

Joe Grimaldi

Sound Effects

Michael C Gross

Associate Producer

Michael C Gross

Production Designer

Andrew Gryn

Unit Manager

Michael Guerin

Background Artist

Sammy Hagar

Song Performer

Sammy Hagar

Song

John Halas

Segment Producer

John Halas

Segment Director

Jeff Hale

Animator

Fred Hellmich

Layout Artist

Fred Hellmich

Animator

Dale Herigstad

Animator

Jerry Hibbert

Animator

Jerry Hibbert

Segment Producer

Mike Hibbert

Animator

Michael Hirsch

Layout Artist

Richard R Hoover

Layout Artist

Dick Horn

Animator

Pierre Houde

Background Artist

Joanne Hovey

Sound Effects Editor

Blake James

Other

Blake James

Layout Artist

Robert James

Song

Peter Jermyn

Sound Effects

Peter Jones

Camera Operator

Marc Jordan

Song

Susan Kapigian

Production Manager

Janos Kass

Background Artist

Wayne Kimball

Photography

Jack King

Production Manager

Sam Kirson

Background Artist

Ruth Kissane

Animator

Bert Kitchen

Layout Artist

Norbert Krief

Song

Sherman Labby

Storyboard Artist

Serge Langlois

Camera Operator

Claude Lapierre

Camera Operator

Brian Larkin

Animation Director

Brian Larkin

Layout Artist

Brian Larkin

Animator

Christine Larocque

Production Manager

Christine Larocque

Production Supervisor

Michael Larocque

Production Assistant

Peter Lebensold

Associate Producer

Raymond Lebrun

Background Artist

Christian Lecour

Production Assistant

John Leprevost

Animator

Bill Littlejohn

Animator

Dave Livesy

Animator

Ian Llande

Editor

Lonnie Lloyd

Layout Artist

Reg Lodge

Animator

Mike Longden

Animator

Ernesto Lopez

Animator

Philip Lynch

Production Manager

Roger Mainwood

Animator

Andy Malcolm

Sound Effects

Mick Manning

Editor

Mauro Maressa

Animator

Brenda Martin

Background Artist

Lorenzo Martinez

Layout Artist

Lorenzo Martinez

Background Artist

Alain Masicotte

Background Artist

Burke Mattsson

Titles

Peter Mcburnie

Sound Effects

D Mccafferty

Song

Alistair Mcilwain

Animator

Angus Mckie

Art Department

Angus Mckie

From Story

Angus Mckie

Background Artist

Joe Medjuck

Production Coordinator

Robyn Milks

Other

Peter Miller

Animator

Lee Mishkin

Segment Director

Leonard Mogel

Producer

Gary Mooney

Animator

Russell Mooney

Animator

Michael Moorcock

Song

Harry Moreau

Photography

Max Morgan

Other

Mark Mothersbaugh

Song

R Mothersbaugh

Song

James J Murakami

Segment Director

Art Nelles

Background Artist

Barrie Nelson

Animation Director

Lawrence Nesis

Producer

Rex Neville

Special Effects

Sean Newton

Animator

Stevie Nicks

Song Performer

Stevie Nicks

Song

Rick Nielsen

Song

Phill Norwood

Other

Philip Nynch

Production Manager

Dan O'bannon

From Story

Film Details

Also Known As
Métal hurlant
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Fantasy
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1981
Distribution Company
Sony Pictures Releasing

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Articles

Heavy Metal


The science fiction and fantasy comics magazine Heavy Metal was first published in April, 1977, as an offshoot of the French magazine Metal Hurlant. The American edition was produced by Leonard Mogul, the publisher of the popular and irreverent satire magazine National Lampoon. In 1978, Canadian film producer Ivan Reitman hired John Landis to direct the first movie to be made under the banner of the satire magazine, National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). That film took all concerned by surprise by becoming a box office smash and the 11th highest-grossing movie in history up to that point. While the production team looked for a Lampoon-flavored follow-up, they also looked to their other publication for possible source material. Heavy Metal magazine was known for the wild variety of art styles from its contributors around the world, and for its adult themes and depictions of nudity and violence. The production team felt that these elements could appeal to the broad youth audience that flocked to Animal House instead of just the cult audience that supported the previous R-rated animated features directed by Ralph Bakshi, such as Fritz the Cat (1972) and Heavy Traffic (1973).

Ivan Reitman would later say (on the documentary featurette Imagining 'Heavy Metal' [1999]), "I think the Baby Boom generation... was just at that age where we were ready for a piece of animation that wasn't just focused on kids. Back in 1980, with the exception of Ralph Bakshi, no one had ever thought about making cartoons for adults that had a kind of outrageous quality." Reitman had been in pre-production on the Bill Murray comedy Stripes (1981), so he asked that film's scriptwriters, Len Blum and Dan Goldberg, to look through issues of Heavy Metal for stories to adapt to animation, and to come up with a linking story. The producers discovered that some of the magazine artists, such as Jean Giraud (aka Moebius), were not willing to have their work adapted. Blum and Goldberg were then tasked to write a few new Heavy Metal-like stories directly for the film.

In 1980 there were few studios capable of turning out a feature-length animated movie aside from Disney. Reitman realized that the logical approach to his anthology was to have small "boutique" animation studios work on different segments of the film, since distinct artistic styles were desired anyway. Also, the tight release date could only be met if the film were produced in several locations simultaneously. Most of the financing for Heavy Metal came from Canada, so Reitman hired Gerald Potterton, a veteran of several National Film Board of Canada animation projects, to supervise the final assembly as the film's director. However, each of the eight segments of the film had their own segment director, located at studios in London, Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles.

The final segments of Heavy Metal range in length from two minutes to 23 minutes and include:
"Soft Landing" - a visually arresting opener based on a magazine story written by Dan O'Bannon, the scripter of Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). It involves a 1959 Corvette being "driven" from low orbit to reentry into Earth's atmosphere.
"Grimaldi" was created as the framing story by Blum and Goldberg, in which an astronaut brings to Earth, and into his house, a glowing green orb called the Loc-Nar, which transfixes his daughter.
"Harry Canyon" is another Blum and Goldberg original, centering on Canyon, a cab driver in New York City in the year 2025.
"Den" was probably the most anticipated adaptation from the magazine; it was based on the serialized story by artist Richard Corben.
"Captain Sternn" was based on a magazine story by Bernie Wrightson. Set on a space station, it is a comedy depicting the trial of the pompous Captain Sternn, who tries to bribe a character witness named Hanover Fiste, with disastrous results.
"B-17" was also written by Dan O'Bannon and partially storyboarded by comics artist Mike Ploog. It is a grisly tale in the style of EC Comics about a WWII bomber crew being overcome by zombies.
"So Beautiful and So Dangerous" was based on a story by Angus McKie from the magazine; it begins on a grand and somber tone but soon turns to comedy as some Earthlings are sucked into a large spaceship operated by two "stoner" robots in the Cheech and Chong vein.
"Taarna" clocks in as the longest segment of the film at 23 minutes. Another Blum and Goldberg original, it involves the journey of a powerful warrior maiden who seeks revenge on a barbarian tribe who destroyed her peaceful city. This segment attempts to channel the work of Moebius from the magazine.

Given the nature of the production, it is not surprising that the animation quality varies greatly from segment to segment. Overall, while there are some uses of rotoscoping (that is, some degree of tracing of previously shot live-action footage in the creation of cartoon footage), there is a higher percentage of traditional character animation on view. One effect that is used in several instances was created by filming live-action props or backgrounds via high contrast black-and-white footage, then printing the resulting images to cels and painting them. This method was used to capture the Corvette in the opening sequence (a full sized car was used), the B-17 bomber (filmed as a 7-ft. long model), and the landscapes that Taarna flies over in the final segment. Other sequences used a costly variation of the multi-plane animation stand set-up that Disney had pioneered in the 1930s.

Knowing full well that the movie would be R-rated, the producers exploited to the hilt the magazine's penchant for violence and nudity. As some critics observed, the filmmakers tended toward a juvenile approach to the material, however - more exploitative than the magazine. The playing field was not level, either. The film does not shy away from full frontal animated female nudity, but becomes coy during the "Den" segment, and covers the male protagonist in a loincloth in stark contrast with the magazine depiction which featured full nudity.

Ivan Reitman had been friends with the Second City comedy troupe in Canada since the days of his earliest films, Foxy Lady (1971) and Cannibal Girls (1973). The voice talents he assembled for Heavy Metal included Stripes stars John Candy and Harold Ramis, as well as fellow Second City comics Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty. The film was rushed to completion because of an August release date insisted upon by distributor Columbia Pictures. (In the process the movie lost one segment, a virtuoso wordless piece called "Neverwhere," animated by Cornelius Cole III). Heavy Metal grossed nearly $20 Million in its first release, but it had a life beyond that on the Midnight Movie circuit.

In his review appearing in the genre magazine Cinefantastique (Volume 11, Number 4), Tim Lucas compared the film unfavorably to the magazine, calling it a "patchily-animated, muggingly-written screen edition." Of the design and animation, Lucas said, "Its look is constantly readjusting from that of the glossiest, air-brushed futurism to that of the stiffest Saturday morning mindrot imaginable - not only from story to story, but from scene to scene, from backgrounds to foregrounds." Of the much-anticipated "Den" segment, Lucas wrote that "sadly, Corben's scorchingly colorful, meticulously ripened imagery is represented by a nervous, sketchy animation that sucks all the identifying juice from his color schemes. The scripting is Gosh Wow from start to finish, with personality sacrificed to the seamy prurience of an immature mind." The reviewer has kinder words for the "Captain Sternn" segment, but finds little to commend for the remainder, and sums up: "While the stories exhibit an imagination at work somewhere, their content is too emotionally limited to be felt as anything but negative and unhealthy."

The use of a wide variety of rock artists from a number of different record labels led to a contractual nightmare when it came time to release Heavy Metal to the home video market. The soundtrack featured music by Devo, Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and many others, apparently signed for theatrical release and a soundtrack LP, but nothing else. Music rights were tied up for years, and while the film continued to pop up on cable television and on the Midnight Movie circuit, it was not available for rental or purchase until 1996. Prior to the release, Columbia Pictures reissued the film for another theatrical run that same year.

Producer: Ivan Reitman
Director: Gerald Potterton
Screenplay: Dan Goldberg, Len Bloom (screenplay); Dan O'Bannon (story "Soft Landing" and "B-17"), Richard Corben (story "Den"), Bernie Wrightson (story "Captain Sternn"), Dan Goldberg, Len Bloom (story "Harry Canyon" and "Taarna"), Angus McKie (story "So Beautiful and So Dangerous")
Production Design: Michael Gross
Music: Elmer Bernstein
Film Editing: Ian Llande, Mick Manning, Gerald Tripp
Voice Cast: Rodger Bumpass, John Candy, Jackie Burroughs, Joe Flaherty, Don Francks, Martin Lavut, Marilyn Lightstone, Eugene Levy, Alice Playten, Harold Ramis, Susan Roman, August Schellenberg, Richard Romanus, John Vernon.
C-95m.

By John M. Miller

Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal

The science fiction and fantasy comics magazine Heavy Metal was first published in April, 1977, as an offshoot of the French magazine Metal Hurlant. The American edition was produced by Leonard Mogul, the publisher of the popular and irreverent satire magazine National Lampoon. In 1978, Canadian film producer Ivan Reitman hired John Landis to direct the first movie to be made under the banner of the satire magazine, National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). That film took all concerned by surprise by becoming a box office smash and the 11th highest-grossing movie in history up to that point. While the production team looked for a Lampoon-flavored follow-up, they also looked to their other publication for possible source material. Heavy Metal magazine was known for the wild variety of art styles from its contributors around the world, and for its adult themes and depictions of nudity and violence. The production team felt that these elements could appeal to the broad youth audience that flocked to Animal House instead of just the cult audience that supported the previous R-rated animated features directed by Ralph Bakshi, such as Fritz the Cat (1972) and Heavy Traffic (1973). Ivan Reitman would later say (on the documentary featurette Imagining 'Heavy Metal' [1999]), "I think the Baby Boom generation... was just at that age where we were ready for a piece of animation that wasn't just focused on kids. Back in 1980, with the exception of Ralph Bakshi, no one had ever thought about making cartoons for adults that had a kind of outrageous quality." Reitman had been in pre-production on the Bill Murray comedy Stripes (1981), so he asked that film's scriptwriters, Len Blum and Dan Goldberg, to look through issues of Heavy Metal for stories to adapt to animation, and to come up with a linking story. The producers discovered that some of the magazine artists, such as Jean Giraud (aka Moebius), were not willing to have their work adapted. Blum and Goldberg were then tasked to write a few new Heavy Metal-like stories directly for the film. In 1980 there were few studios capable of turning out a feature-length animated movie aside from Disney. Reitman realized that the logical approach to his anthology was to have small "boutique" animation studios work on different segments of the film, since distinct artistic styles were desired anyway. Also, the tight release date could only be met if the film were produced in several locations simultaneously. Most of the financing for Heavy Metal came from Canada, so Reitman hired Gerald Potterton, a veteran of several National Film Board of Canada animation projects, to supervise the final assembly as the film's director. However, each of the eight segments of the film had their own segment director, located at studios in London, Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles. The final segments of Heavy Metal range in length from two minutes to 23 minutes and include: "Soft Landing" - a visually arresting opener based on a magazine story written by Dan O'Bannon, the scripter of Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). It involves a 1959 Corvette being "driven" from low orbit to reentry into Earth's atmosphere. "Grimaldi" was created as the framing story by Blum and Goldberg, in which an astronaut brings to Earth, and into his house, a glowing green orb called the Loc-Nar, which transfixes his daughter. "Harry Canyon" is another Blum and Goldberg original, centering on Canyon, a cab driver in New York City in the year 2025. "Den" was probably the most anticipated adaptation from the magazine; it was based on the serialized story by artist Richard Corben. "Captain Sternn" was based on a magazine story by Bernie Wrightson. Set on a space station, it is a comedy depicting the trial of the pompous Captain Sternn, who tries to bribe a character witness named Hanover Fiste, with disastrous results. "B-17" was also written by Dan O'Bannon and partially storyboarded by comics artist Mike Ploog. It is a grisly tale in the style of EC Comics about a WWII bomber crew being overcome by zombies. "So Beautiful and So Dangerous" was based on a story by Angus McKie from the magazine; it begins on a grand and somber tone but soon turns to comedy as some Earthlings are sucked into a large spaceship operated by two "stoner" robots in the Cheech and Chong vein. "Taarna" clocks in as the longest segment of the film at 23 minutes. Another Blum and Goldberg original, it involves the journey of a powerful warrior maiden who seeks revenge on a barbarian tribe who destroyed her peaceful city. This segment attempts to channel the work of Moebius from the magazine. Given the nature of the production, it is not surprising that the animation quality varies greatly from segment to segment. Overall, while there are some uses of rotoscoping (that is, some degree of tracing of previously shot live-action footage in the creation of cartoon footage), there is a higher percentage of traditional character animation on view. One effect that is used in several instances was created by filming live-action props or backgrounds via high contrast black-and-white footage, then printing the resulting images to cels and painting them. This method was used to capture the Corvette in the opening sequence (a full sized car was used), the B-17 bomber (filmed as a 7-ft. long model), and the landscapes that Taarna flies over in the final segment. Other sequences used a costly variation of the multi-plane animation stand set-up that Disney had pioneered in the 1930s. Knowing full well that the movie would be R-rated, the producers exploited to the hilt the magazine's penchant for violence and nudity. As some critics observed, the filmmakers tended toward a juvenile approach to the material, however - more exploitative than the magazine. The playing field was not level, either. The film does not shy away from full frontal animated female nudity, but becomes coy during the "Den" segment, and covers the male protagonist in a loincloth in stark contrast with the magazine depiction which featured full nudity. Ivan Reitman had been friends with the Second City comedy troupe in Canada since the days of his earliest films, Foxy Lady (1971) and Cannibal Girls (1973). The voice talents he assembled for Heavy Metal included Stripes stars John Candy and Harold Ramis, as well as fellow Second City comics Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty. The film was rushed to completion because of an August release date insisted upon by distributor Columbia Pictures. (In the process the movie lost one segment, a virtuoso wordless piece called "Neverwhere," animated by Cornelius Cole III). Heavy Metal grossed nearly $20 Million in its first release, but it had a life beyond that on the Midnight Movie circuit. In his review appearing in the genre magazine Cinefantastique (Volume 11, Number 4), Tim Lucas compared the film unfavorably to the magazine, calling it a "patchily-animated, muggingly-written screen edition." Of the design and animation, Lucas said, "Its look is constantly readjusting from that of the glossiest, air-brushed futurism to that of the stiffest Saturday morning mindrot imaginable - not only from story to story, but from scene to scene, from backgrounds to foregrounds." Of the much-anticipated "Den" segment, Lucas wrote that "sadly, Corben's scorchingly colorful, meticulously ripened imagery is represented by a nervous, sketchy animation that sucks all the identifying juice from his color schemes. The scripting is Gosh Wow from start to finish, with personality sacrificed to the seamy prurience of an immature mind." The reviewer has kinder words for the "Captain Sternn" segment, but finds little to commend for the remainder, and sums up: "While the stories exhibit an imagination at work somewhere, their content is too emotionally limited to be felt as anything but negative and unhealthy." The use of a wide variety of rock artists from a number of different record labels led to a contractual nightmare when it came time to release Heavy Metal to the home video market. The soundtrack featured music by Devo, Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and many others, apparently signed for theatrical release and a soundtrack LP, but nothing else. Music rights were tied up for years, and while the film continued to pop up on cable television and on the Midnight Movie circuit, it was not available for rental or purchase until 1996. Prior to the release, Columbia Pictures reissued the film for another theatrical run that same year. Producer: Ivan Reitman Director: Gerald Potterton Screenplay: Dan Goldberg, Len Bloom (screenplay); Dan O'Bannon (story "Soft Landing" and "B-17"), Richard Corben (story "Den"), Bernie Wrightson (story "Captain Sternn"), Dan Goldberg, Len Bloom (story "Harry Canyon" and "Taarna"), Angus McKie (story "So Beautiful and So Dangerous") Production Design: Michael Gross Music: Elmer Bernstein Film Editing: Ian Llande, Mick Manning, Gerald Tripp Voice Cast: Rodger Bumpass, John Candy, Jackie Burroughs, Joe Flaherty, Don Francks, Martin Lavut, Marilyn Lightstone, Eugene Levy, Alice Playten, Harold Ramis, Susan Roman, August Schellenberg, Richard Romanus, John Vernon. C-95m. By John M. Miller

Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)


Elmer Bernstein, the film composer who created unforgettable music for such classics as The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, and won his only Academy Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, died of natural causes at his Ojai, California home on August 17. He was 82.

Elmer Bernstein, who was not related to Leonard Bernstein, was born on August 4, 1922, in New York City. He displayed a talent in music at a very young age, and was given a scholarship to study piano at Juilliard when he was only 12. He entered New York University in 1939, where he majored in music education. After graduating in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, where he remained throughout World War II, mostly working on scores for propaganda films. It was around this time he became interested in film scoring when he went to see William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), a film whose score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, a man Bernstein idolized as the ideal film composer.

Bernstein, who originally intended to be a concert pianist and gave several performances in New York after being discharged from military service, decided to relocate to Hollywood in 1950. He did his first score for the football film Saturday's Hero (1950), and then proved his worth with his trenchant, moody music for the Joan Crawford vehicle Sudden Fear (1952). Rumors of his "communist" leanings came to surface at this time, and, feeling the effects of the blacklist, he found himself scoring such cheesy fare as Robot Monster; Cat Women of the Moon (both 1953); and Miss Robin Caruso (1954).

Despite his politics, Otto Preminger hired him to do the music for The Man With the Golden Arm, (1955) in which Frank Sinatra played a heroin-addicted jazz musician. Fittingly, Bernstein used some memorable jazz motifs for the film and his fine scoring put him back on the map. It prompted the attention of Cecil B. De Mille, who had Bernstein replace the ailing Victor Young on The Ten Commandments (1956). His thundering, heavily orchestrated score perfectly suite the bombastic epic, and he promptly earned his first Oscar® nod for music.

After The Ten Commandments (1956), Bernstein continued to distinguish himself in a row of fine films: The Rainmaker (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Some Came Running (1958), The Magnificent Seven (a most memorable galloping march, 1960); To Kill a Mockingbird (unique in its use of single piano notes and haunting use of a flute, 1962); Hud (1963); earned a deserved Academy Award for the delightful, "flapper" music for the Julie Andrews period comedy Thoroughly Modern Mille (1967), and True Grit (1969).

His career faltered by the '80s though, as he did some routine Bill Murray comedies: Meatballs (1980) and Stripes (1981). But then director John Landis had Bernstein write the sumptuous score for his comedy Trading Places (1983), and Bernstein soon found himself back in the game. He then graced the silver screen for a few more years composing some terrific pieces for such popular commercial hits as My Left Foot (1989), A River Runs Through It (1992) and The Age of Innocence (1993). Far From Heaven, his final feature film score, received an Oscar® nomination for Best Score in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Eve; sons Peter and Gregory; daughters Emilie and Elizabeth; and five grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)

Elmer Bernstein, the film composer who created unforgettable music for such classics as The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, and won his only Academy Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, died of natural causes at his Ojai, California home on August 17. He was 82. Elmer Bernstein, who was not related to Leonard Bernstein, was born on August 4, 1922, in New York City. He displayed a talent in music at a very young age, and was given a scholarship to study piano at Juilliard when he was only 12. He entered New York University in 1939, where he majored in music education. After graduating in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, where he remained throughout World War II, mostly working on scores for propaganda films. It was around this time he became interested in film scoring when he went to see William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), a film whose score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, a man Bernstein idolized as the ideal film composer. Bernstein, who originally intended to be a concert pianist and gave several performances in New York after being discharged from military service, decided to relocate to Hollywood in 1950. He did his first score for the football film Saturday's Hero (1950), and then proved his worth with his trenchant, moody music for the Joan Crawford vehicle Sudden Fear (1952). Rumors of his "communist" leanings came to surface at this time, and, feeling the effects of the blacklist, he found himself scoring such cheesy fare as Robot Monster; Cat Women of the Moon (both 1953); and Miss Robin Caruso (1954). Despite his politics, Otto Preminger hired him to do the music for The Man With the Golden Arm, (1955) in which Frank Sinatra played a heroin-addicted jazz musician. Fittingly, Bernstein used some memorable jazz motifs for the film and his fine scoring put him back on the map. It prompted the attention of Cecil B. De Mille, who had Bernstein replace the ailing Victor Young on The Ten Commandments (1956). His thundering, heavily orchestrated score perfectly suite the bombastic epic, and he promptly earned his first Oscar® nod for music. After The Ten Commandments (1956), Bernstein continued to distinguish himself in a row of fine films: The Rainmaker (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Some Came Running (1958), The Magnificent Seven (a most memorable galloping march, 1960); To Kill a Mockingbird (unique in its use of single piano notes and haunting use of a flute, 1962); Hud (1963); earned a deserved Academy Award for the delightful, "flapper" music for the Julie Andrews period comedy Thoroughly Modern Mille (1967), and True Grit (1969). His career faltered by the '80s though, as he did some routine Bill Murray comedies: Meatballs (1980) and Stripes (1981). But then director John Landis had Bernstein write the sumptuous score for his comedy Trading Places (1983), and Bernstein soon found himself back in the game. He then graced the silver screen for a few more years composing some terrific pieces for such popular commercial hits as My Left Foot (1989), A River Runs Through It (1992) and The Age of Innocence (1993). Far From Heaven, his final feature film score, received an Oscar® nomination for Best Score in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Eve; sons Peter and Gregory; daughters Emilie and Elizabeth; and five grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer August 7, 1981

Re-released in United States March 8, 1996

Released in United States on Video June 4, 1996

The film's premiere home video release, on June 4, 1996, will include the additional three-minute sequence titled "Neverwhere Land," by animator Cornelius Cole III, which was begrudgingly cut from the 1981 release because it was felt that the movie was too long. It was originally intended as a bridge sequence between "Captain Sternn" and "Gremlins". The lost footage is now an epilogue to the animated classic.

Released in United States Summer August 7, 1981

Re-released in United States March 8, 1996

Released in United States on Video June 4, 1996