Bell, Book and Candle/Duning

November 27, 2006

 

The 1958 film starring Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs, and Elsa Lanchester was a relative success at the box office. Directed by Richard Quine, who was right home with the romantic comedy genre having just completed “Operation Madball”, also with Lemmon and Kovacs and would go on to do “Paris-When It Sizzles” and “How To Murder Your Wife”. It is a story about witches, warlocks, spells, and falling in love. Had Kovacs not suffered the tragic auto accident it could have been the team of Kovacs and Lemmon instead of Lemmon and Matthau as Ernie and Jack worked very well together and seemed to have the right kind of chemistry.

George Duning, even among soundtrack collector enthusiasts, is not considered an ‘A’ list composer, in fact some of you haven’t heard of him at all! Did you know for example that he was nominated for a Golden Globe for the 1949 version of “All The Kings Men”? Oscar nominations for “From Here To Eternity”, “Picnic”, and “The Eddie Duchin Story” among others? To many of you he has just slipped in under the radar.

The Main Title to the film is a light and bouncy theme quite typical of the style of music used for a comedy in the era with bongos, percussion, trumpets (Candoli brothers), and the lush strings when appropriate. It is a great light jazz/lounge/elevator theme and if that is your cup of tea you will really enjoy this CD. Keep in mind that some of the old school composers were slowing down and up and coming ones such as Williams, Mancini, Mandel, Hefti, and Riddle were producing a completely different style of music. Some of the more interesting (15) tracks are “Way Out Calypso” a nice track featuring the Candoli brothers, “The Spell” which is another arrangement of the main title with humming done in the background by Julie London. “The Herb Shop” is a true underscore piece with sliding trombones, plunky percussion along with the appropriate strings. After a bit it slides into the main theme again with a full string treatment of it. “Pyewacket Returns” is a pretty cool underscore track that almost sounds like it could have been written for a cartoon! I guess you have to be French to truly appreciate “L’Assassin Ennuye” sung by Philippe Clay because it was nothing that this reviewer could get into at all. “Zodiac Blue” is a blues number featuring harpsichord, bongos, and the Candoli trumpets again in a light jazz number.

This recording was taken from the original 1959 Colpix mono pressing so don’t expect to hear glorious wide dynamic range, hiss free, stereo material. There are some flaws which upon repeated listens you can hear right past. The liner notes, pictures and artwork are fine. My issue with the soundtrack is the repeated use of the main theme over and over again. But that can also be said about Mancini’s “Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation” and many other scores of this era. If you enjoy the light jazz (no improvisation), want an introduction to George Duning, or something to dance to from time to time this is right up your alley.

Golden Scores Rating is **1/2

Restoration by Art Yard

Produced by Daniel Porter

CD# is HRKCD 8099

Track Listing:

1. Bell, Book And Candle – Main Title (2:25)

2. Pyewacket/Queenie/Gil (2:59)

3. Send Me Nicky (2:06)

4. Way Out Calypso (1:54)

5. Stormy Weather (1:54)

6. The Spell (5:23)

7. The Herb Shop (2:40)

8. I Wish I Could (3:34)

9. Shep Shook (2:02)

10. Where’s Pyewacket (2:19)

11. Pyewacket Returns (2:07)

12. L’Assassin Ennuyé (1:03)

13. Zodiac Serenade (2:20)

14. Zodiac Blues (2:16)

15. Only Human – End Title (4:16)

Total Playing Time is 39:12

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