Composer and Arranger. Nationality: American. Born: Richmond, Indiana, 25 February 1908. Education: Attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and the University of Cincinnati; also studied with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Military Service: U.S. Navy, arranger and conductor for the Armed Forces Radio Service during World War II. Career: Band arranger; then musical director for Kay Kyser's radio program, eight years; 1939—first film as arranger, the Kay Kyser film That's Right, You're Wrong ; 1944–62—contract arranger, and after 1947, composer, Columbia; then freelance composer; TV work includes the mini-series The Dream Merchants , 1980, and Goliath Awaits , 1981; 1983—retired.
Films as Arranger:
That's Right, You're Wrong (Butler)
Show Business (Marin); Carolina Blues (Jason)
Singing in the Corn ( Give and Take ) (Lord)
Films as Composer:
Down to Earth (Hall); Lust for Gold (Simon); The Guilt of Janet Ames (Levin); I Love Trouble (Simon); The Corpse Came C.O.D. (Levin); Her Husband's Affairs (Simon); Johnny O'Clock (Rossen)
To the Ends of the Earth (Stevenson); The Dark Past (Maté); Gallant Blade (Levin); The Man from Colorado (Levin); The Untamed Breed (Lamont); The Return of October (Lewis)
Jolson Sings Again (Levin); Slightly French (Sirk); The Undercover Man (Lewis); The Doolins of Oklahoma (Douglas); And Baby Makes Three (Levin); Lust for Gold (Simon); Johnny Allegro ( Hounded )
(Tetzlaff); Shockproof (Sirk)
No Sad Songs for Me (Maté); Convicted (Levin); Between Midnight and Dawn (Douglas); The Pretty Girl (Levin); Harriet Craig (V. Sherman); Cargo to Capetown (McEvoy); The Flying Missile (Levin)
The Barefoot Mailman (McEvoy); The Mob (Parrish); Lorna Doone (Karlson); Two of a Kind (Levin); Sunny Side of the Street (Quine); The Family Secret (Levin); The Lady and the Bandit (Murphy); Man in the Saddle (de Toth); Scandal Sheet ( The Dark Page ) (Karlson)
Sound Off (Quine); All Ashore (Quine); Paula (Maté); Last of the Comanches (de Toth); Assignment in Paris (Parrish); Captain Pirate ( Captain Blood, Fugitive ) (Murphy); Affair in Trinidad (V. Sherman); From Here to Eternity (Zinnemann)
Salome (Dieterle); Miss Sadie Thompson (Bernhardt)
Three for the Show (Potter); Picnic (Logan); The Long Gray Line (Ford)
The Man from Laramie (A. Mann); Soldier of Fortune (Dmytryk); Tight Spot (Karlson); Five against the House (Karlson); Count Three and Pray (G. Sherman); The Queen Bee (MacDougall); Three Stripes in the Sun ( The Gentle Sergeant ) (Murphy); My Sister Eileen (Quine)
Nightfall (J. Tourneur); Storm Center (Taradash); You Can't Run Away from It (Powell); Full of Life (Quine); The Eddy Duchin Story (Sidney)
The Shadow on the Window (Asher); Pal Joey (Sidney); Jeanne Eagels (Sidney); 3:10 to Yuma (Daves); Operation Mad Ball (Quine); The Brothers Rico (Karlson)
Gunman's Walk (Karlson); Houseboat (Shavelson); Cowboy (Daves); Bell, Book and Candle (Quine)
Me and the Colonel (Glenville); It Happened to Jane (Quine); The Last Angry Man (Daniel Mann); Gidget (Wendkos); The Wreck of the Mary Deare (Anderson)
Let No Man Write My Epitaph (Leacock); Man on a String (de Toth); The Wackiest Ship in the Navy (Murphy); All the Young Men (Bartlett); Strangers When We Meet (Quine); The World of Suzie Wong (Quine)
Cry for Happy (Marshall); Gidget Goes Hawaiian (Wendkos); The Devil at 4 O'Clock (LeRoy)
Thirteen West Street (Leacock); Who's Got the Action? (Daniel Mann); The Notorious Landlady (Quine); Two Rode Together (Ford); That Touch of Mink (Delbert Mann); Sail a Crooked Ship (Brecher)
Toys in the Attic (Hill); Critic's Choice (Weis); Island of Love (DaCosta); Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (A. Mann)
Ensign Pulver (Logan)
Brainstorm (Conrad); Dear Brigitte (Koster); My Blood Runs Cold (Conrad)
Any Wednesday (Miller)
Quarantined (L. Penn); But I Don't Want to Get Married! (Paris)
Yuma (Post); Black Noon (Kowalski)
The Woman Hunter (Kowalski); The Great American Tragedy (Lee Thompson); Climb an Angry Mountain (Horn)
Arnold (Fenady); Honor Thy Father (Wendkos); Terror in the Wax Museum (Fenady)
The Abduction of Saint Anne ( They've Kidnapped Anne Benedict ) (Falk)
The Man with Bogart's Face (Day); The Top of the Hill (Grauman); The Dream Merchants (Sherman—for TV)
Goliath Awaits (Connor—for TV)
Zorro and Son (Beaumont and Myerson—series for TV)
By DUNING: articles—
" Salome ," in Film and TV Music (New York), March/April 1953.
" From Here to Eternity ," in Film and TV Music (New York), March/April 1954.
"A Hoosier in Hollywood," in Soundtrack (Hollywood), September 1994.
"An Interview with George Duning," in Cue Sheet (Hollywood), vol. 12, no. 1, 1996.
On DUNING: articles—
Morton, Lawrence, in Quarterly of Film, Radio, and Television (Berkeley, California), Winter 1951.
Lacombe, Alain, in Hollywood , Paris, 1983.
Steiner, Fred, in Quarterly of the Library of Congress , 1983.
Thomas, Tony, "1987 Career Achievement Award To Be Presented to George Duning," in Cue Sheet (Hollywood), November 1987.
Larson, Randal, in Soundtrack , September 1990.
Karlin, Fred, in Listening to Movies , 1994.
* * *
Virtually an epitome of the solid, reliable craftsman in the days of high studio productivity, George Duning was for a 17-year period the mainstay composer of Columbia Pictures. During that period, when he proved himself adept at almost every kind of film scoring, Duning was nominated for an Oscar five times for Jolson Sings Again , No Sad Songs for Me , From Here to Eternity , Picnic , and The Eddy Duchin Story .
Born to musician parents, Duning never considered any path for himself other than music. He majored in theory at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He also excelled in playing the trumpet and earned his first money performing with jazz groups and dance bands. Years later he would study composition with the esteemed Italian Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, but Duning's first work of writing music came in the popular field, making band arrangements. The next step was radio, where he gained a reputation as a fast and inventive arranger. Duning became the musical director for the Lucky Strike radio program Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge and held that post for eight years. His first film experience came in 1939 when Kyser was contracted by RKO to make a series of movies, starting with That's Right, You're Wrong . The last of the Kyser films, Carolina Blues , was made at Columbia and resulted in that studio putting Duning under contract as an arranger. Soon afterwards he joined the U.S. Navy and spent almost three years arranging and conducting programs for the Armed Forces Radio Service.
After his discharge Duning rejoined Columbia as an arranger and orchestrator but pestered the studio to give him a chance to write original dramatic compositions. His ability in this regard was well proven with Johnny O'Clock , and from then until he left Columbia in 1962 Duning scored at least half a dozen films each year. Thereafter, until his retirement in 1983, he freelanced. He claims never to have made a listing of his scores but estimates that the total number of feature and television films in which he has worked in various capacities probably totals 300. Of these he is especially proud of Picnic , the love theme of which is among the most acclaimed pieces of film scoring; 3:10 to Yuma ; Cowboy ; Bell, Book and Candle ; The World of Suzie Wong ; and Toys in the Attic .
A quiet, modest man, never a seeker of publicity, Duning is particularly well regarded in the Hollywood music community. Arthur Morton, who orchestrated most of Duning's scores during the Columbia years, says, "George never took any easy means. He always had a shrewd sense of what would and wouldn't work in scoring films, of what you could and couldn't do. George is a first-class musician and working with him was a pleasure."