Random Harvest/The Yearling/Stothart

November 13, 2006

 

One of the more forgotten composers of the golden age was Herbert Stothart and this reviewer is quick to point out he is just as guilty as most of you are! Yet for a long period of time Herbert was MGM music amassing 11 Oscar nominations in an (8) year period of time with one Oscar for “The Wizard Of Oz”. Put Herbert in the same category as Leigh Harline who wrote the famous “When You Wish Upon A Star”. If people remember him at all it is for that song. And yet Herbert did so much more than just the music to one of the top movies of all time. Put Herbert in the same category as Roy Webb basically ignored until Lukas (owner of Film Score Monthly who released this) took a chance and brought out two of his more famous films “Random Harvest” and “The Yearling”. While “Random Harvest” (1942) was nominated for music that year for an Oscar (6 others too) it had to compete against “Jungle Book” (Rozsa), “The Black Swan”, (Newman) and the winner “Now, Voyager” (Steiner).

“Random Harvest” was written by James Hilton who was one of the writers of the time having done “Lost Horizon”, “Mrs. Miniver”, and “Goodbye Mr Chips” among others. It was an interesting story but still of the soap opera variety starring Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson, being directed by Mervin LeRoy (an ‘A’ list director). Herbert approached the score in a somewhat different fashion, especially for the day, and that was most of his soundtrack was underscore and not the kind that Steiner or Korngold might have created. Stothart, in addition to original material, used a series of marches, hymns, and songs such as O Perfect Love (used several times), music from Ninotchka, and the Robert Burns song Coming Through the Rye incorporating them into his score. The love theme in the “Finale” and the “Opening Title”, again according to his strategy of not interfering with the drama, is still more than enough to enhance the glorious happy ending of the film as well as being used throughout the film as a leitmotif of sorts for Smithy and Paula. Herbert also created an interesting theme for this key (referred to in the score as key theme), the main character carries in his vest, but is unsure what it fits. There is a nice mysterious track “Asylum”, full of mystery and intrigue, a piano player sounding “Addenda to her Decision”, which actually comes from a Kaper film “The Captain is a Lady”. In the bonus section of the CD is a Harry Lauder song She’s Ma Daisy performed by Greer Garson in the film and done quite well.

“The Yearling” is another very interesting score in that Stothart takes a wonderful theme from the classical composer Frederick Delius called Appalachia: Variations on an Old Slave Song and orchestrates and arranges it to become the main theme of the film. The tribute to Herbert is how he was able to take the Delius theme and yet incorporate his original material into the underscore and also keep the music secondary to the drama that was unfolding on the screen and at the same time make all of the material sound similiar! Credit to Delius was given in the showing of the main titles, although the particular work was not recognized that the theme was taken from. The film starred Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, and a 10 year old Claude Jarman Jr. (his only picture of any note) and was directed by the veteran Clarence Brown. Peck, Wyman, Brown and the picture were nominated for Oscars but 46 was the year of “The Best Years of our Lives” which ran away with everything. The Pulitzer prize winning Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings novel is also a book that can come highly recommended and along with the film are lessons that young adults can certainly benefit from by reading and watching.

Many of the underscore tracks such as “A Farmer Comes to Town” (traveling in a cart), “Birds And Angels” (somewhat celestial), “The Sun” (music after a hard hard rain), and “Material For A New Dress” (sentimental) all show the diversity of the different scenes in the film and how they were properly scored. The bonus material is a nice addition for both scores especially “The Yearling”. It is really interesting to be able to compare the differences in the opening title versions and its really evident as to why one is chosen over the long/alternate version.

This score overall needs to be considered as a preservation project as well as an opportunity to listen to Stothart for many of you for the very first time. In the liner notes is a detailed explanation as to the overall condition of the material (let’s just say it is a miracle they recovered what they did) and what to expect. If you think your expensive surround system is going to fix the material please don’t waste your time or money on this release. You need to listen through the flaws and enjoy the music for what it is. The liner notes from Marilee Bradford (Mrs. Jon Burlingame) are not only informative but much easier to read and understand than some previous detailed notes which really make you feel like you should be a musician in order to be able to purchase the cd! The 3000 limited pressing is one that you should keep in the back of your mind because likely one day they will run out of it. The printing on the cd itself of my copy looks like an old polaroid black and white print which has been in the light for too long. Part of it can no longer be read! Nothing to worry about because it has no effect on the CD itself as it has been listened to at least 20 times already. Give a hand to Kendall, Schwartz, and Bradford for a job well done and support this by ordering it! Recommended.

Golden Scores Rating (***1/2)

Produced by Lukas Kendall

Released in October 2006

Remix by Michael McDonald

Mastered by Doug Schwartz

CD# is FSM Vol. 9 No. 13

Track Listing:

1. Opening Title & Asylum (03:05)

2. Addenda to Her Decision (02:01)

3. Little Marriage (01:03)

4. Kitty Continued/Kitty Grows Up (03:28)

5. At the Savoy/Dreams at the Savoy (04:32)

6. Voice That Breathed O’er Eden/Wedding Remembrance (O Perfect Love)/Someone You Once Knew (05:38)

7. Prime Minister Reception (01:28)

8. Try to Remember/Finale (07:31)

RANDOM HARVEST (1942) tracks 1-8 (total time 29’07)

9. Opening Title/Foreword/April 1878 (06:31)

10. Addenda to Feelin’ the Sun (00:39)

11. Crippled Boy (01:07)

12. Birds and Angels (01:35)

13. A Farmer Comes to Town (01:32)

14. What Happened to You (01:15)

15. Material for a New Dress (00:34)

16. Obliged to Make It (02:26)

17. It’s Me! Jody! (08:15)

18. To Find a Name (04:33)

19. Thy Will Be Done (01:13)

20. The Sun (01:00)

21. Little Farmer (02:08)

22. Ma, I’m Hungry (02:28)

23. Mother & End Title (alternate version)/Addendum (02:47)

THE YEARLING (1946) tracks 9-23 (total time 33’41)

24. Title Fanfare/Opening Title (instrumental)/Foreword (long version) (02:19)

25. Fawn Ballet Chorus Addenda (01:43)

26. Thy Will Be Done (alternate mix) (01:15)

27. Hungry (insert — revised vocal) (00:44)

28. Mother & End Title (alternate fragments) (00:49)

24-28 The Yearling bonus tracks

29. Opening Title & Asylum (instrumental) (03:05)

30. Tobacco Shop Meeting/Medley/Leaving Biffers (incomplete mixes) (02:57)

31. She Is Ma Daisy (source music) (02:19)

29-31 Random Harvest bonus track

Total Duration: 01:22:00

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