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Orgasm Theme

"When David Selznick engaged Dimitri Tiomkin to do the music for Duel in the Sun (1946), he told him he intended to approve all the musical themes for the picture. 'Dot I understand,' said Tiomkin. Not long after, Tiomkin received a long memorandum from Selznick instructing him to compose eleven themes for the picture, including a Spanish theme, a ranch theme, a love theme, a desire theme, and an orgasm theme. 'Love themes I can write,' Tiomkin said. 'Desire too. But orgasm! How do you score an orgasm?' 'Try!' Selznick exclaimed. 'I want a really good shtump.'

"Tiomkin spent the next few weeks working hard on his themes, and for the orgasm theme he developed a dramatic crescendo that he thought Selznick would like. After Selznick heard what Tiomkin had done, he gave his tentative approval and let Tiomkin get to work on the orchestration. When Tiomkin completed the score and was ready to begin recording it, Selznick dropped by for a conference. 'Dimmy,' he said. 'I'II tell you a secret. We ran the picture at a preview in New Jersey and it didn't go so well. Then we added canned music for a preview in New York and that didn't help, either. So you can see that the music will need to contribute a great deal to the picture. Can you let me hear that love theme again? Just whistle it.' Tiomkin at once obliged. 'I love it,' said Selznick. 'Now would you please whistle the desire theme?' Again Tiomkin whistled. 'Fine! Fine!' cried Selznick. 'Now the orgasm theme.' Tiomkin whistled once more. But this time Selznick shook his head. 'No, that isn't it,' he said firmly. 'That's just not an orgasm.' At his request Tiomkin went to work on the music again.

"Finally Tiomkin was ready with his revised score. 'Play the orgasmtheme,' Selznick told him when they met again, 'and put the film on the screen so I can get the full effect.' This time, as Tiomkin played the piano, a passionate love scene with Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones appeared on the screen. 'I like it,' said Selznick, when it was over, 'play it again.' The second time Tiomkin added some jazz beats as he played. 'Play it again,' instructed Selznick when he finished, and Tiomkin performed for the third time. 'Dimmy,' said Selznick finally, 'you're going to hate me for this, but it won't do. It's too beautiful.' Tiomkin could hardly keep his temper. 'Meesair Selznick,' he cried, 'vot is troubling you? Vot don't you like about it?' 'I like it,' said Selznick, 'but it isn't orgasm music. It's not the way I f---!' 'Meesair Selznick,' exclaimed Tiomkin. 'You f--- your way. I f--- my way. To me, that is f---ing music!' Selznick collapsed in laughter at Tiomkin's outburst and finally let the composer have his way."

["Selznick," according to actress Joan Fontaine, "was incapable of ordering a dinner in a restaurant without paying tremendous attention to it, and telling everybody what to have, and then going out and telling the chef how to do it."]

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