Friendly Persuasion/Dimitri Tiomkin

September 18, 2006

 

Micheal Wilson, writer of the screenplay for Friendly Persuasion, did so without credit, as he had been blacklisted by the McCarthy committee, who were of course convinced there were communists behind every bush in America. Further information on the junior Wisconsin senator is well documented in the George Clooney film Goodnight and Good Luck. Jessamyn West, writer of the novel and a quaker herself, based some of the story on her great grandfather. As an aside, she was a cousin to Richard Nixon. She also went on to write the screenplay for The Big Country in 1958. Michael also did the screenplay to Bridge on the River Kwai for which he won an Oscar but was only given it posthumously many years later. The film was nominated for (6) Oscars including William Wyler (director) and Anthony Perkins (supporting actor) but won nothing. The song, sung by Pat Boone was also nominated but lost too. Tiomkin was on a roll with the Oscars having won for High and the Mighty and High Noon. He would still go on and receive yet another Oscar for his score to the Hemingway classic The Old Man And The Sea. The story of a Quaker family living in Indiana in 1862 and eventually being forced to fight in the civil war which goes completely against there religion is a classic tale. Gary Cooper headed an excellent cast which also included Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins and Marjorie “Ma Kettle” Main. It was well received and did quite well at the box office.

The Tiomkin score is superb! The main theme was a huge hit for Pat Boone and is included in the original soundtrack release. Once you get passed that you can enjoy all of the wonderful nuances and tracks that Dimitri wrote. Tiomkin was one of the early pioneers in using a “pop hit” in a film and in this case it was Boone. Sorry I am just not a fan of Pat Boone. If you are that’s great but I start with track two instead of one, which is the Boone vocal and it works very nicely for me. The main theme is quite American sounding played by the concertmaster in the main title with an 82 piece orchestra Dimitri used for this soundtrack. The theme is also used in other tracks throughout the score. “The Carriage Race” could have come from a cartoon track. It is filled with wa wa muted horns, percussion noises, and offers hints of the main theme but never fully developed, and of course the frantic comical pace of a race done for fun. “Polka at the Fair” is just as it sounds a lovely well done square dance style track complete with banjo and hoe down violin. It could very easily be a compilation track on an Americana CD. “Villagers Galloping to Battle” hints at patriotic themes, the main theme, but the struggle of war (the village was preparing to fight the Morgan Raiders) is quite evident and most definitely a powerful American statement. “Love Scene in the Barn/Coax Me A Little/Thee I Love” is the most played track on any sort of compilation CD such as ones put out by Silva or Gerhardt/National Philaharmonic. It is a great track with the coax me being exactly what Dimitri does in getting the main theme out; going all around the melody before he finally decides to bring it to the surface. A wonderful example of orchestration from Tiomkin; elegant and simple yet extremely effective. This is a man who was born in the Ukraine and yet is a prime example of how to write Americana style music!

At the writing of this review there is no current available recording. RKO records (Unique LP-110) released the soundtrack material in 1956 minus the Pat Boone vocal on a mono LP. Varese Sarabande did release a CD in 1997 (VSD 5828) which is also out of print but includes the Pat Boone track. There are many compilations that will include the “Love Scene in the Barn” track or main title which is nice but there is so much more to this music than just the main theme! Some of the underscore tracks written today could easily be substituted into another film and the viewer would likely not know at all! Not the case with the material written for this film. Of course there is material in the film itself that is not included on the CD. Tiomkin/Webster wrote other songs which were performed but not included on either the LP or the CD. Perhaps there will be a future release of the soundtrack in the future which will include all of the material from the film. Like or dislike the songs they should be included and let the listener decide what he or she wants to listen to. This is definitely one of those scores that you should seek out and add to your collection. At the time of this writing there were copies available from SAE, Amazon, and E-Bay. Recommended

Golden Scores rating (***)

Varese Sarabande VSD 5828

Composed and conducted by Dimitri Tiomkin

Track Listing:

1. Friendly persuasion (Thee I love) (02:57)

Performed by Pat Boone

2. Main title – Little Jess and Samantha (04:23)

3. Carriage chase (02:42)

4. Polka at the fair (02:49)

5. Villagers galloping to battle (03:13)

6. Jess searchers for Josh – End title (03:53)

7. The battle – Josh’s horse returns home (03:07)

8. The trip to Ohio (03:03)

9. Leaving the widow Hudspeth’s farm (01:36)

10. Love scene in the barn – Coax me a little – Thee I love (05:25)

Total Duration: 00:33:00

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