Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)/Mockridge
August 29, 2013
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), directed by Otto Preminger, reunited Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney from his successful Laura (1944) film. It’s a story about a about a good cop who is just too tough for his own good. There is an accidental killing, cover-up, and love in this film that has stood the test of time which I had watched not too long ago and I feel it held up pretty well considering 60+ years have passed. Whether or not it is film noir, which has been discussed previously, is up to you the viewer. We’re here to discuss the soundtrack and it is certainly a unique one.
Alfred Newman wrote his very first score for a picture called Street Scene (1931) and the melody was one of those unforgettable ones that Fox took full advantage of. It has been played as part of symphonic pops concerts, was featured in the film How to Marry a Millionaire, and was a source of source material for other films. Played by a symphony orchestra it is a Gershwin type melody portraying a bustling busy city scene with raucous harmony from the brass. It’s a swaggering melody that once you hear you’re not likely to forget and is the main part of this soundtrack. Cyril Mockridge took this theme, added some underscore and produced a fine score for the film.
The soundtrack begins with a solo whistler followed by the prelude to “Street Scene,” the introduction to the film. The second track begins with a dance band version of “Street Scene.” “Dixon Stiffens” is tension underscore but if you listen carefully you’ll hear a reference to that hard to get rid of “Street Scene” The same can be said of the following track “Dixon Starts to Walk.” “Dixon Starts to Drive On” makes use of the tension with fanfare notes from the trumpets hinting “Street Scene” with tremolo strings in the background making for excellent underscore. “Martha Exits” is a danceable sweet band version of what else; “Street Scene” again featuring the sax, muted trumpets, and smooth sounding trombones with” a little piano for a garnish. It ends up with a riff from the clarinet and the piano. Great track! “Your Dad Never Killed Him/ He Won’t be Tried” is very sad almost dirge like using variations of the “Street Scene” until it segues into a romantic version of you can never get enough of you know what. “Dixon Hangs Up Phone” mixes danger chords with tension, noticeable timpani rolls and a love version of the song fills the air to almost end the score. The final track is another original from Alfred Newman called “Cry Baby” and adheres to the standard dance band arrangement of a hummable tune (2:13 fits on a single side of a 78RPM) and each section leader is given an opportunity to get in a few licks.
On first listen to this one I had pretty much discounted it as an extended version of “Street Scene” but upon closer examination the orchestration and arrangement that Mockridge came up with are really a joy to listen to. I found myself comparing it to what Raksin did with Laura and was truly impressed.
1. Street Scene-Whistling and Fanfare (0:41)
2. Slums/Dixon Picks Up the Phone (1:28)
3. Dixon Stiffens (1:07)
4. Dixon Starts to Walk (1:39)
5. Dixon Starts to Drive On (1:15)
6. Morgan’s Father Closes Door/You Look Beat, Mark (1:28)
7. Martha Exits (2:19)
8. Your Dad Never Killed Him/He Won’t Be Tried (3:49)
9. Dixon Hangs Up Phone (4:43)
10. Finale (0:27)
11. Cry Baby (2:13)