Nostalgia is the keyword when writing and talking about these scores and yikes it certainly brings back some wonderful memories to this 59 year old reviewer! While many of you have seen I Love Lucy episodes as reruns, this reviewer admits to watching them when they weren’t! Both films were done during the peak of popularity of the show and will have an instant appeal to anyone who has any interest in the television show, Lucille Ball, or Desi Arnaz. The Long ,Long Trailer was a 1954 film which also co-starred Keenan Wynn and Marjorie “Ma Kettle” Main and was directed by Vincente Minnelli, father of Liza and husband of Judy Garland. The mere pulling of a long trailer is the only prop that Ball and Arnaz need to make for a hilarious episode of what not to do! Critics and audiences loved the film and to this day audiences love the antics of Lucy and Ricky. In fact the only thing missing in the film were Fred and Ethel from their famous I Love Lucy show.Adolph based the score around the 1926 song “Breezin Along With the Breeze” by Haven Gillespie, Seymour Simons, and Richard Whiting. Included is a really a very nice rendition of the “Breezin” theme sung by Lucy and Desi. My suspicions are that Deutsch slightly altered a few of the words to make it fit the trailer theme. In fact I was quite surprised at the voice she had and at first failed to recognize who it was! Later on I learned that the horrible singing that she did in other performances was actually quite difficult to do ie it takes a trained voice to sing so badly. The theme appears as a dance band arrangement, a mickey-mousing technique for the comedy, as a love song, and of course the main theme. When called for Adolph uses strains of “Here Comes The Bride” and “Rock-a-Bye Baby”. “Waltz For Esther”, “Trailer Bounce/Trailer March”, “Wedding Reception” are all original cues from Deutsch for the trailer shopping and wedding reception. “Caesar Salad…” vocal by Desi and lyrics by Minnelli, Alexander, and Deutsch is a clever number to the strain of “La Cucaracha”. While the entire score is a scant 25 minutes Deutsch put together something that fit the film quite well.
In 1956 Forever, Darling, the second of their big screen pictures was released this time with James Mason as a guardian angel sent to earth to save their marriage. Arnaz was the producer (Zanra productions is Arnaz spelled backward) using the Desilu studios home of the successful I Love Lucy television series. While Desi delivered in terms of budget and time, the film didn’t do well with either audiences or reviewers. Bronislau Kaper was given the assignment and produced a fine main theme with lyrics by the veteran Sammy Cahn. It was sung by the Ames Brothers with the Hugo Winterhalter orchestra for RCA and actually reached the top 40 charts (#38) in April of 1956. Part of the quartet was Ed Ames who was Mingo on The Daniel Boone Show and also was part of one of the funniest Johnny Carson skits in the history of television with his tomahawk throwing demonstration. Apparently the song was heavily promoted because Desi also recorded it for MGM. Both versions are presented on this CD. Like The Long, Long Trailer the main theme is the basis for the majority of the score being performed in a number of different styles. While it recurs in several tracks so does the angel theme that Bronsilau created when the angel appears and can be seen by Susan (Lucy). Some of the tracks Kaper resorted to using mickey-mousing techniques to underscore some of the great humor that Lucy gives us. As is usually the case Lukas manages to find all of the different variations, unused cues, and source material used in the film. He also does a nice job with the liner notes, providing us with all of the necessary information.
This is not a score that is necessarily going to bowl you over as some undiscovered rare gem. The word nostalgia as explained earlier in the review is the reason why you would enjoy the scores to both of these movies! Enjoy.
Golden Scores Rating (***)
Album Produced by Lukas Kendall
Film Score Monthly FSM Vol. 10 #3
Mastering by Doug Schwarz
Track listing1. Main Title (02:29)
2. Just Thinking/Trailer Show (01:29)
3. Waltz for Esther (01:01)
4. Trailer Bounce/Trailer March (02:20)
5. Wedding Reception/Departure/Miles and Miles (03:45)
6. Office Radio (01:06)
7. Big Help/Sleeping Pill/We Got Wheels/Deep Freeze (02:17)
8. Breezin’ Along With the Breeze/Breezing Montage (03:27)
(Vocals by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball)
9. Caesar Salad/My Compliments/Martha/Marie/Heads Will Roll/Recipe/Conga (04:18)
(Vocals by Desi Arnaz)
10. Piccalilly/Map/Ultimatum/Hiding the Rocks (01:33)
11. End Title and Cast (00:46)
(1-11 from “The Long, Long Trailer” by Adolph Deutsch, 1954)
12. Main Title Intro/Forever, Darling/Knot Is Tied/Two Months Later/Two Years Later/Five Years Later (06:11)
13. Millie & Henry/Angel/Mirror (01:44)
14. I Keep Remembering/Bridge (02:33)
15. Ice Bag/Ava Gardner/Laura Evans (03:00)
16. Fair (01:00)
17. Elephant/Panther/Let Me Go/Halloween (04:45)
18. Baby/Mountain Goat (02:47)
19. Don’t Worry/Ten After Seven (02:10)
20. Rope/Fishing (03:20)
21. Forever, Darling (02:24)
(Vocal by Desi Arnaz)
22. Ring (01:29)
23. Zipper (02:36)
24. Rowing/Abandon Ship (01:47)
25. Sad/Pots (01:01)
26. I Quit (01:43)
27. I Dun’t/Forever, Darling/End Cast (01:58)
(12-27 from “Forever, Darling” by Bronislau Kaper, 1956)
28. Forever, Darling Outtakes Suite (04:10)
29. Forever, Darling (02:43)
(Performed by Desi Arnaz and His Orchestra)
30. The Straw Hat Song (02:42)
(Performed by Desi Arnaz and His Orchestra)
31. Breezin’ Along With the Breeze/Breezing Montage (alternate) (03:54)
(28-31 bonus tracks)
Total Duration: 01:18:28
May 23, 2007
Next, directed by Lee “Die Another Day” Tamahori and starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Biel tells the science fiction story of a Las Vegas magician who can see two minutes into the future. To prevent a nuclear terrorist attack the FBI having learned of his amazing powers try to find him in an attempt to prevent the impending disaster. It is very loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel The Golden Man the author who also gave us the classic Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep which was made into the film Blade Runner. The 70 million dollar budget film was released on April 29th 2007 and the first two weekends have only returned 12 million of the original investment. The reviews of this film are all over the map ranging from “another piece of second-rate dreariness” to “great mindbender” to “only fair”. Perhaps this Paramount distributed film will fare better in the DVD rental market.
A veteran of over 100 films Mark Isham approached this score with a little more sublety than the crew at Media Ventures might have. Yes the action cues such as “Pier 18”, “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”, and “Second And Broadway” are quite percussive, fast moving, and energetic but certainly not over the top like some cues from other scores. Put these cues in the classification of action underscore. “8:09” features a simple yet effective theme featuring the piano work of Rich Ruttenberg, who performs with a soft delicate touch. The arrangement is so quiet that add a cool breeze, lake, and some nature sounds and you’ll want to nap! Don’t worry it doesn’t last long because “Give Me Two Minutes”, the next track, is the first of the action underscore sequences and you being able to close your eyes lasted a whole two minutes! “Destiny” takes you right back to that pond with an even better arrangement of the “8:09” theme. The theme grows on you upon repeated listens and in the opinion of this reviewer is the highlight of score. “A Few Minutes Of Your Time” includes this motif with some really fine suspense underscore arranged around it conveying a true sense of eerieness. The soundtrack is sequenced nicely between action, suspense, and quieter moments to make for a more than acceptable listening experience.
Isham, being the professional that he is, likely delivered to the producers/director exactly the type of material that they were looking for. It is original but nothing out of the ordinary. The film has all of the ingredients for an action Hollywood film which is why they strayed from the novel. If they had gone with a more faithful interpretation of the Dick story it might have made for a better film but it would have drifted too far away from the Hollywood template for making lots of money. Having said that, fans of the film will love it and want to play it over and over again. While it is certainly not the best score that Isham has done it is certainly more than adequate and will please most of his followers.
Track Listing: 8:09 (2:10)
Give Me Two Minutes (3:19)
Pier 18 (3:37)
Carlotti Defines (2:50)
A Few Minutes of Your Time (3:19)
Multiple Point Surveillance (2:34)
Who Knows What’s Safe (4:04)
Breaking News (4:08)
Second and Broadway (2:44)
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (2:06)
Looking for a License Plate (2:09)
Shadow Group (2:04)
All Elements Execute! (2:05)
A Show of Character (3:39)
I Believe Anything’s Possible (3:41)
Running Time: 46 minutes 29 seconds
May 18, 2007
A symphonic poem which takes its ideas from “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, Silence was written in 1909-1910 when Nikolai was still a student at St. Petersburg Conservatory and as he put it going through a pessimestic tendency in his composing. Life was not good for Miaskovsky and it was transferred to his compositions. Like the poem, the music is quite dark and brooding in nature not unlike Rachmaninov’s Isle Of The Dead , which was composed around a bleak atmospheric Arnold Bocklin painting. Both were written during the same year although Rachmanivov was 8 years older and had already written 28 works as opposed to 8 for Nikolai. Both works are also approximately 20+ minute pieces and deal with death. Both composers as well as Poe were dealing with severe depression issues. The Isle of the Dead is by far the more popular of the two pieces with numerous recordings from all the major orchestras of the world. Silence, to my knowledge, has only two recordings: this Marco Polo release and one on Olympia as part of a complete works of Miaskovsky compositions.
For this reviewer the interesting exercise was to read the poem while the music was playing and try to hear how Nikolai adapted it to his tone poem. The very first observation was the lack of any sort of tapping rhythm (“As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”) at the very beginning of the piece. Somehow it only seemed natural that there be some sort of percussion rhythm but alas there was nothing. Instead it begins very softly with low dark strings setting the mood of the midnight dreary. Horns and bassoons follow with the alto flute fluttering, depicting the rustling of the curtains. The oboe gives us the first theme, that of the longing for Leonore. As it builds to a crescendo and then dies down the yearning, longing, and loving, is depicted (“And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;”). The strains continue depicting the long lost Lenore ending in near total silence and then the bird enters (“Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, in there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;”). As the strings swirl in a whirlpool like sound he discovers that the Raven is a thing of evil and terror. And then all is quiet as he accepts (“And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted-nevermore!”) his fate. It ends as it began in silence.
If your tastes are drawn to the dark moody melancholy style of work this is quite a good one and even more remarkable considering this was a very early work. Miaskovsky’s structure, orchestration, and story telling is advanced. This is one that will require 100% of your attention and several listens for you to fully appreciate what he accomplished. This is an excellent obscure tone poem that needs to be explored fully. The reviewer wishes to thank the Library of America for providing the works of Poe so that this work could be fully explored in all areas. Being able to read the poem while the music was played was a tremendous help, allowing me to somewhat understand what Miaskovsky was trying to accomplish.
Golden Score Rating is (****)
Produced by Martin Sauer
Marco Polo # 8.223302
May 5, 2007
In 2007 you might as well flip a coin and guess if someone is aware of Dashiel Hammett or his novel The Maltese Falcon or the film version starring Bogie. An unscientific informal interview proved the point to this reviewer beyond a shadow of a doubt. Stare eyes came up when I asked the question to many people. Yet this fairly low budget Warner Brothers film is considered to be one of the classic black and white noir films of all time! The 1941 film marked the directorial debut of John Huston at the ripe old age of 34! Sydney Greenstreet, who played Gutman, made his acting debut at the age of 61! Warner Brothers purchased the rights to the novel for $8,500 in 1930 and actually made two failed attempts of bringing it to the screen in the next few years starring Ricardo Cortez in one and Bette Davis in another. In fact a third attempt by screenplay writer Charles Belden of Charlie Chan fame never even made it to film. Hammett in the days before agents ended up selling not only the novel, but the rights to Sam Spade the detective and ended up with nothing when the radio program with Howard Duff aired in the early 50’s. The modest budget of $381,000 turned out to be a big success to Warner Brothers. Also starring Elisha Cook Jr., Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, and Ward “Wagon Train” Bond, the crisp dialog of the story of the black bird is the highlight of the fast paced who dunnit film. Bogart at the time was an up and coming actor and got the role because George Raft turned it down primarily because of the inexperience of John Huston. A year later Bogie went on to make Casablanca and the rest is history.
Adolph Deutsch is pretty much unknown today except for the keen collector. He is likely best known for the scores to the Billy Wilder films Some Like It Hot and The Apartment. His Oscar for arranging in Oklahoma has gone virtually unnoticed by soundtrack enthusiasts. The OST didn’t survive from The Maltese Falcon and the best source of listening comes from the dynamic duo of Morgan and Stromberg who recorded and restored parts of the score in their 2002 Marco Polo recording which is now reissued on the Naxos budget series making it a far better value. As far as this reviewer knows the score was given to the University of Wyoming so perhaps someday the complete score, which is approximately 55 minutes, could be done if someone was willing to take on the task of a new recording. For today we have roughly 14 minutes of material performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. After the famous Steiner composed fanfare in B flat not C to give it a darker flavor the famous motif is revealed in the main title and is used throughout the film. This is one of those unforgettable themes that loves to swirl around in your head for days on end. In fact when I knew only a little about scores I always thought that Steiner wrote the theme! Deutsch was more a follower of Hindemith as opposed to Richard Wagner so the leifmotif concept was not used in this soundtrack. Clearly this soundtrack reveals in “Street Scene” the tongue in cheek writing that Adolph was capable of writing with his cartoon type use of the sax. While this is primarily a serious hard boiled film there are moments of subtle humor and Deutsch was quick to score the proper type of music to these moments. “The Deal”, a scene where Spade is drugged, is an excellent example of the wonderful underscore of Adolph. There is disturbing dissonance, excellent use of the timpani/percussion, lower register keys on the piano, and a reinstatement of the main theme using the oboe and the brass. In fact this is one of the better examples of underscore that one could hear on any score. The same holds true in both “The Plot” and “Gutman” as well. The impressive thing about these tracks is Adolph, due to the budget limitations of the film, had to use a much smaller orchestra which didn’t take away from the effectiveness of the tracks at all. Stromberg and Morgan in their orchestrations always try to keep the same amount of players to maintain as much of the original sound as possible. This is so much more than some of the “landscape material” that you hear today, which can be just blocks of notes that could be substituted into any similiar genre type of film. These tracks are ones that after a few listens will become The Maltese Falcon. The final track “End Cast” is one that is completely out of character with the film! It’s nice if you want a tightly written fox trot and it does nicely bridge itself right into the next score but? John did say it was included “just for fun”.
Included on this Adolph Deutsch CD from Naxos are scores from High Sierra, George Washington Slept Here, The Mask of Demitrios, and Northern Pursuit. These are all just dessert to the main course which is discussed above. In later reviews these films and scores will be discussed in further detail. The Film Noir RCA release from Germany only has about half the material and it repeats everything included in the Naxos Maltese Falcon tracks. This release should be considered for other material such as The Verdict by Hollander or Waxman’s Dark Passage. Recommended as a perfect introduction to Adolph Deutsch.
Golden Scores Rating (***1/2)
Produced by Betta International
1. Main Title (2:07)
2. Street Scene (1:37)
3. Door Slam (0:28)
4. The Deal (2:47)
5. Gutman (2:08)
6. End Title (0:54)
7. End Cast (0:43)