While creating fantastic arrangements for the huge orchestra of the Army Air Corps Radio Production Unit, Earle Hagen became more and more interested in orchestration and composition. He began his career-long studies of these subjects during World War II with renowned teacher, Ernst Toch. It was then his good fortune to begin working with the dean of film music, Alfred Newman.
His Hollywood career started with the position of Production Arranger for the 1947 film “Down to Earth.” He went on to become an orchestrater at 20th Century Fox, his films including the powerful “Kiss of Death” that same year. He remained busy for the rest of the decade, orchestrating "Nightmare Alley," “Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!” In 1948, followed by “Road House,” “Cry of the City,” “Thieves' Highway,” "You're My Everything,” and “Dancing in the Dark.”
His orchestration credits from the 1950's also include “Under My Skin,” “Wabash Avenue,” “My Blue Heaven,” “The Jackpot,” “Call Me Mister” “I Can Get It for You Wholesale” (1951), “On the Riviera” “Golden Girl” (1951), “Meet Me After the Show,” “The Frogmen,” “Don't Bother to Knock,” “Monkey Business,” “The I Don't Care Girl,” “TheFarmer Takes a Wife,” “Down Among the Sheltering Palms,” “Woman Obsessed” and ”The Man Who Understood Women.”
Earle Hagen with Alfred Newman
When the movie studios started to slim down their operations, Earle Hagen migrated to television where he was at the forefront of underscoring for that medium. He continued to work on occasional feature films, orchestrating such classics as “With a Song in My Heart” (1952), “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953) and “Man on a Tightrope” (1953).
He also did ballets for “Daddy Long Legs” (1955), and “Carousel” (1956), as well as orchestrations for “Compulsion” (1959), “The Best of Everything” (1959 .and the musical "Flower Drum Song."
Ironically, it was long after he left full-time employment at 20th Century Fox and had become a pillar of the television community when Earle Hagen achieved some of his greatest successes for the silver screen. He was appointed co-musical director for the Marillyn Monroe-Yves Montand blockbuster “Let's Make Love,” and moreover, garnered an Oscar nomination for his efforts in 1960.
He also composed the entire score for the hospital film “The New Interns in 1964, for which a soundtrack album was released, going on to produce the hit single “Nancy's Theme”
Read next about Earle Hagen's illustrious career in television.