The Miracle Worker/Rosenthal

August 6, 2006

 

1962 was a very special year for Hollywood. This was the year of Lawrence of Arabia, To Kill A Mockingbird, Music Man, The Longest Day, Birdman of Alcatraz, The Days Of Wine And Roses, Sweet Bird Of Youth, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, The Wonderful World Of Brothers Grimm, Mutiny On The Bounty, and The Miracle Worker. This Arthur Penn directed film starred Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke in the roles of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. So powerful was the acting that neither could be denied the coveted Oscar which were the only two that the film achieved. So strong was the year 1962 that neither the film or the score were even nominated! The majority of the Oscars went to Lawrence Of Arabia including the best original score, director David Lean, and picture of the year. Looking back in time this has turned out at least for me one of the finest films ever made and the score is definitely one the most overlooked and underappreciated. The film is not even ranked in the top 250 in the IMDB poll! Apparently a lot of people are missing something.

Laurence Rosenthal, not to be confused with Leonard Rosenman, captured the very essence of this poignant film with a delicate theme, every bit as powerful as To Kill A Mockingbird, and one you are not likely to forget especially if given the opportunity to view the film. It is featured in the opening track “Prologue: Helen Alone” with the main theme performed by the string section. “Annie’s Train-Ride” is such an excellent example of what film music is all about with the dissonant brass conveying the scary light and sounds Annie is experiencing on her trip to Alabama from Boston with the strings complementing creating the sound of train movement. “The Mischief-Maker” is all about the playfulness of Helen who has hidden the key to Annie’s room, locked her in, and a ladder has to be gotten to get Annie out. A happy track full of fun and frolic there is quite a lot of things all happening at the same time in the orchestration until the last minute or so of the track when it becomes a little more somber with the main theme returning. An excellent track, this is one of the highlights of the score. Part of the description in “The Garden House” is longing for mother. This is exactly what this track does well. It makes you feel the yearning, the wanting, and the love that you can’t have. “The Lullaby” is an excellent arrangement of the familiar Hush Little Baby Don’t You Cry with the main theme mixed in along with another theme. “The Miracle at the Pump” is the climax, the scene where Helen is finally able to understand and speak. A powerful moment the music a mixture of Hush, Main Theme, and other orchestrating doesn’t disappoint the moment.

More years ago than I care to remember I saw this film and while impressed with the acting (impossible not to) and the story the music left me wanting more, thus the reasoning why there was no soundtrack ever issued (were talking 1962). Many years went by and the opportunity presented itself to see the film again. This time the reaction was how could I possibly think the music was less than. If anything at all it was more than! This is excellent first rate material and fits the film perfectly! While the composer notes mention nothing one is to assume that this is an original soundtrack recording produced by Laurence and Douglass “Intrada” Fake. From what I can gather Windmere is a company owned by Laurence and allows the composer to release the majority of his soundtrack material. The mastering by Joe Tarantino at Fantasy is fine and the recording is good except there is no credit given. Part of a two CD of Rosenthal’s Music For Film it is alas out of print but should be one that needs to be released or another pressing of the entire set is in order. While this review is only about Miracle Worker there is a lot of other material on the set which needs to and will be discussed in a later review. Highly recommended!

Golden Score Rating is (****)

Music Composed and Conducted by Laurence Rosenthal

Edited and Mastered by Joe Tarantino

CD# is Windmere 42345

Total Time is 34:33

Track Listing:

1. Prologue: Helen Alone (2:19)

2. Annie’s Train-Ride (3:02)

3. Contact of Hands (2:02)

4. The Mischief-Maker (4:41)

5. Helen’s Mother (1:09)

6. The Garden House (2:49)

7. Annie’s Bad Dream Of Her Own Childhood (1:57)

8. The Lullaby (2:00)

9. Teaching (4:47)

10. “Reach, Reach!” (3:57)

11. Captain Keller Consoles (1:18)

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