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British Musical Movies

film music

Virtually all film musicals, particularly in the early days, were adaptations of stage musicals, and I think it's fair to say that British film musicals have had nothing like the impact on popular culture of their American counterparts. At times they have elegance, as in 1931's "MAN OF MAYFAIR" starring Jack Buchanan, or charm, like "SING AS WE GO" from 1934, written as a vehicle for the much-loved Lancashire Music Hall star Gracie Fields, but ultimately they are parochial affairs, unable to match the grandeur and energy of Hollywood .
In the 1960's, film musicals based around established stars such as Cliff Richard became the vogue, but more significantly it was at about this time that John Barry began writing soundtracks and songs for the film industry, beginning with "BEAT GIRL" in 1960, starring Adam Faith. He quickly graduated to writing for the highly popular James Bond films, for which he wrote some of his best scores and theme tunes, including "GOLDFINGER", "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE", and "DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER". He went on to write the popular theme to "BORN FREE" with lyricist Don Black, and his scores contributed much to the success of many more films, not least "OUT OF AFRICA".
Despite some excellent original material written by Lennon & McCartney for "A HARD DAY's NIGHT" and "HELP! " in the mid-1960's and contributions over the years from established musicians and lyricists including Alan Price, David Essex, The Gibb Brothers, Elton John and Tim Rice, John Barry remains the only substantial composer / songwriter to emerge specifically from within the British film music genre.

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Prominent composers
and lyricists

John Barry
Monty Norman
Lionel Bart
Anthony Newley
Leslie Bricusse
Don Black


audio : Soundtracks

books : on British Film Music


audio : Soundtracks

books : Pop Music in British Cinema