Through film composer Henry Mancini, mere background music in movies became part of pop culture - an expression of sophistication and wit with a modern sense of cool and a lasting lyricism that has not dated. The first comprehensive study of Mancini's music, Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music describes how the composer served as a bridge between the Big Band period of World War II and the impatient eclecticism of the Baby Boomer generation, between the grand formal orchestral film scores of the past and a modern American minimalist approach. Mancini's sound seemed to capture the bright, confident, welcoming voice of the middle class's new efficient life: interested in pop songs and jazz, in movie and television, in outreach politics but also conventional stay-at-home comforts. As John Caps shows, Mancini easily combined it all in his music.
Mancini wielded influence in Hollywood and around the world with his iconic scores: dynamic jazz for the noir-ish detective TV show Peter Gunn, the sly theme from The Pink Panther, and his wistful folk song "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's. Through insightful close readings of key films, Caps traces Mancini's collaborations with important directors and shows how he homed in on specific dramatic or comic aspects of the film to create musical effects through clever instrumentation, eloquent musical gestures, and meaningful resonances and continuities in his scores. Accessible and engaging, this fresh view of Mancini's oeuvre and influence will delight and inform fans of film and popular music.
"A stimulating chronicle of the life and works of film and television composer Henry Mancini. Consistently thorough and detailed, this book contains a considerable wealth of information and insight into this extremely popular composer." James Wierzbicki, author of Film Music: A History and Elliott Carter
"A great new book on Henry Mancini's contributions to American culture. Offering extensive musical analysis of almost every film score, John Caps's insight into the Mancini oeuvre is the best I've ever seen." Jon Burlingame, author of Sound and Vision: 60 Years of Motion Picture Soundtracks
"John Caps surveys the composer's career and attempts to make the case that Mancini was a significant figure in modern cinema scoring, an artist worthy of high regard.....Mr. Caps rightly credits Mancini's music of that era as something fresh and different in the movies....he does succeed in arguing that we should look past the pop pablum and credit Mancini with creating an original and compelling sound for films." Mr. Felten, Wall Street Journal, February 18th 2012
"He [Caps] writes particularly well about the music, sympathetically placing its inventive responsiveness to the creative needs of others in the film-making process, and mapping out the magpie-like acquisitiveness. So an important book, and, in many ways a crucial one, too, its chief value resting in Caps articulate championing of one of the most singular compositional talents to emerge from Hollywoods film factory. - Michael Quinn, Classical Music, April 7th 2012