Classic Flicks features 40 tracks spread across three CDs. Arranged with no discernible logic are; 14 film themes, several of which are more accurately arrangements of songs written for films, the melodies from which may or may not have been used as a theme in the score; 23 short classical pieces, or extracts from longer classical works, which have been used on the soundtracks of films; the overture from one musical adapted for the screen (Chicago), a television theme reworked for the cinema (Mission: Impossible), and an orchestral arrangement of a country song, Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You", which in a version by Whitney Huston was used in The Bodyguard. The tagline of this collection is therefore rather misleading; "Featuring 40 of the greatest ever movie themes!" Pieces of classical music, overtures from musicals and Country songs used in movies are not movie themes. Movie themes, it apparently needs saying, are pieces of melodic music written expressly for use in the film in which they are heard.
There's something else odd about this collection. The classical pieces are taken from existing classical recordings from the vaults - not from the recordings originally used in the films cited - but from major performances with big name orchestras, soloists and conductors. The film themes are new recordings made with no lesser band than the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a fact only mentioned in tiny print on the back cover of the box which contains the three slim-line jewel-cased discs. Now that is odd.
The last odd thing is that "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana is included because it was, according to the packaging, used in The Omen. Which is news to me, and will be news to Jerry Goldsmith, who won his only Oscar for his Orff influenced score for said film. "O Fortuna" has of course been used in numerous movies, most notably in Excalibur, but its not a note of it crept into The Omen.
I am perhaps being harsh, but then such mistakes shouldn't happen. However, they probably won't bother the constituency for this release, which is aimed fair and square at the Classic FM audience. As such the mixture of classical extracts and new recordings of mostly recent famous film themes hits pretty much the right note. Among the re-recordings those themes which were originally rock based or partially electronic come off less successfully than those which were purely orchestral, with the ten minute suite from Stephen Warbeck's Oscar winning score for Shakespeare in Love coming off best off all. The RPO make a good fist of two themes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and deliver surprisingly rousing versions of Mission: Impossible (the long version with jazz break) and the main theme from Gladiator. Less happy are takes on Die Another Day and the aforementioned "I Will Always Love You".
Something of a mixed bag, but with three discs for the price of one and a "Titanic" running time of 194 minutes this makes both an amiable anthology for Classic FM fans and a way of introducing newcomers to the world of recent film music in a relatively pain-free manner. That said, even at the most generous assessment, no one could honestly count more than a handful of the "Greatest Ever Movie Themes" on this set.