A Centennial Salute to Composer Alex North

Featuring a screening of “The Misfits” (1961)

Alex North

With film clips and an onstage panel discussion with Oscar-nominated composer Laurence Rosenthal, producer Steven North (Alex’s son), and North’s biographer Sanya Henderson.

Hosted by journalist and film-music historian Jon Burlingame.

Alex North (1910–1991) received 15 Academy Award nominations between 1951 and 1984, 14 for Original Score and 1 for Song. He finally took home a statuette at the 1985 Academy Awards, when he was presented with an Honorary Award “in recognition of his brilliant artistry in the creation of memorable music for a host of distinguished motion pictures.”

North’s ‘brilliant artistry’ included his work for “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951), which was the first major score to rely heavily on jazz influences, “Death of a Salesman” (1951) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966). His ability to handle epic subject matter led to such assignments as “Viva Zapata!” (1952), “Spartacus” (1960), “Cleopatra” (1963) and “The Agony and the Ecstasy” (1965). In 1955 he wrote the now-classic music that was recorded as “Unchained Melody” for the prison movie “Unchained.”

North’s musical background was unique; born in Pennsylvania, he studied in New York, Moscow and Mexico. He composed music for the New York stage and for such dancers and choreographers as Anna Sokolow, Martha Graham and Agnes de Mille. North was one of the first composers in Hollywood to incorporate contemporary music styles in his film scores. He demonstrated a particular affinity for specifically American subjects, and his music provided the themes for the film adaptations of numerous literary classics by such writers as Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner. Highly respected by his peers, North was an active mentor to the next generation of composers including Jerry Goldsmith.

The Misfits – 124 mins.

Featuring a jazzy and dramatic score by Alex North, John Huston’s complex film “The Misfits” was the last screen appearance for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Also starring Montgomery Clift, the film follows a sexy divorcee and three aging cowboys who make a living capturing wild horses in the Nevada desert.

Starring Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach. Directed by John Huston. Produced by Frank E. Taylor. Screenplay by Arthur Miller. Music by Alex North. United Artists. 1961. Print courtesy of MGM.

Event Information

Friday, September 24, at 7:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater
8949 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Alex North Salute

Producer Steven North, son of Alex North, Oscar®-nominated composer Laurence Rosenthal, Alex North biographer Sanya Henderson and journalist and film-music historian Jon Burlingame.

Steven North

Producer Steven North, son of Alex North.

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