The Golden Age of Hollywood

Carl Davis, CBE (born October 28, 1936) is an American-born conductor and composer who has made his home in the UK since 1961. In 1970 he married the English actress Jean Boht...

In 1980 Davis was commissioned by documentarians Kevin Brownlow and David Gill to create music for Thames Television's Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film. His association with them continued the same year with Abel Gance's epic silent film Napoléon (1927), which was restored and expanded with Davis' music for cinematic release. In March 2012, Davis conducted the Oakland East Bay Symphony performing his score for the complete Brownlow restoration in a presentation by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival at the Paramount Theater Oakland.There was a similar treatment for D. W. Griffith's Intolerance: Love's Struggle Through The Ages (1916). This had orchestral music originally, but Davis's new score was used instead in 1989.

The Hollywood documentary series was followed by the documentaries Unknown Chaplin in 1982, Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (cf Buster Keaton) in 1987 and Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius in 1989. In the 1980s and 1990s, Davis wrote and conducted the scores for numerous classic silent films released restored and released through Brownlow and Gill's Thames Silents series in the UK.

By 1993, his reputation made him the number one choice for new scores to silent films. Many DVD releases, including Ben-Hur (1925), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Safety Last (1923), DeMille's The Godless Girl (1928), Chaplin's City Lights (1931) (re-orchestrated by Davis based on Chaplin's and Padilla's original written score) and Erich von Stroheim's Greed (1924), use Davis's music. Davis also created an entire re-scoring of Clarence Brown's Flesh and the Devil (1927). In many of these recordings, he is the conductor as well the composer. On several occasions he has performed these works live in the cinema, as well as in concert halls as the film is running. ~Wikipedia


BEN-HUR (1925) Soundtrack Score Suite (Carl Davis)


Carl Davis - The World At War Main Theme

The French Lieutenant's Woman Music by Carl Davis

Phantom Montage to Red Death by Carl Davis

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Carl Davis composed the music for the Douglas Fairbanks film THE THIEF OF BAGDAD. The Giant, posted a video clip of this amazing film here.

Please check it out.

Carl Davis is by far my favorite in these "modern" times.  He composed the music for a special Radio City Hall presentation of the newly-restored Flesh and the Devil (a 65 pc orchestra) which I went to in 1983.  It was one of the most glorious nights of my life.  And who could imagine  film without the musical drama of the  great Max Steiner?  And for the historical wide-screen epics, Miklós Rózsa's sound was as lush and big as the films themselves.

Great music. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Dave,

I agree Carl Davis is up there with the best of the classic movie music of the 30's and 40 etc, but there is one criticism I have of the way modern recordings are made of film soundtracks, the overall sound seems to be 'soft', if you listen to a warners soundtrack from the 30's or 40's somehow it seems much more vibrant the it's modern equivalent, I prefer the 'sound' of the old soundtracks to the modern, it'a shame they can't be recorded in the same way, but since technolgy has changed the the type of 'mikes' etc used I suppose it's doubtful whether recording techniques can ever go back to the full rich sound of the warners and other studios soundtracks of the 30's and 40's. while the Carl Davis score for the silent Ben Hur is excellent, I wish an orchestra somewhere would record the music that was originally played when the film was on it's first time release, the 'score' was taken from classical music nothing original but it would good to hear the music played alongside the film on a DVD as an alternative to the Davis score. 

I agree to a point with Phillip concerning the soundtracks. Some years ago a demo 331/3 record was made of Newmans "Captain From Castille" score. It was used to sell high end audio equipment. Then it was considered the gold standard of that score. I have on occassion discussed the different sounds that studios such as Warners,Universal and yes, even poverty row studios such as Republic, employed to differ them from others. Warners had a full bodied sound, Universal, a light airy sound,and so fourth.Today all that is gone. Our dvds compensate for much of the difference, but cannot hold a candle to hearing that same sound in a theater surrounding.I saw such epics as Ben Hur , Lawrence of Arabia, El Cid and others on first release. No home equipment or dvd can duplicate the majesty of that sound  no matter how expensive  the set up.As the old saying goes, "close but no cigar">

Hi Kenneth,

You might like to listen to ALFRED NEWMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA - CAPTAIN FROM THE CASTILE on my Internet Archive page, I recorded it from 33rpm LP issued here in the UK on Mercury Records.




Good Morning!Yes I would like to hook up to your archive page.If you would be so kind as to provide that link again.


Here's the player for Captain From The Castile

Today i saw a few interviews with the man. May have been born in New York, but because he's lived in England since 1961 he's got a distinct British accent with American undertones. A very insightful, conversational, and Good humored fellow too. He discussed how he scored Abel Gance's NAPOLEON and the German silent film WATERLOO which is quite a lavish looking rarity. Let's hope they release the former film on dvd if Coppola's pig-headedness let's go of his undeserved rights to the film. Davis's score sounds monumental. The latter film would be fine to see released on video as well. Davis, in my opinion, is one of the last of the great Film composers.

A couple of days ago I rewatched "The Crowd" and this morning I woke up

with Carl Davis' magnificent orchestral score going through my head. The

beautiful music adds so much to my thorough enjoyment of the movie.


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