Wait Until Dark/Mancini

June 30, 2007

My very first soundtrack in 1959 was Peter Gunn and after just a few spins I was both addicted to soundtracks and Henry Mancini, both becoming life hobbies of collecting. Wait Until Dark, not having an official release, had always been limited to having a standard Mancini arrangement of the main love theme. While it was pleasant it wasn’t anything that jumped out at you, just another in a string of good tunes from Hank. This new release, the 156th from Film Score Monthly (FSM Vol. 10 #7) has changed all of that. If you have heard Experiment In Terror before you can put it in a similiar category except the ideas have been expanded even further.

The 1967 film starred Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Richard Crenna The well done jump in your seat thriller centered around a doll filled with heroin the bad guys are trying to get back from a blind woman who acquired it quite by accident and who has quite a lot more spunk than a normal person. Nicely directed by Terence Young, more known for his James Bond films, the Warner Brothers film was quite successful, due to the excellent screenplay and the box office appeal of Audrey Hepburn. This was the fourth and last of the collaborations that Hepburn and Mancini did together, the other three being Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, and Two For The Road.

A word of caution! This is not one of your typical pop scores from Mancini. Don’t expect to hear a lot of thematic material like the other three Hepburn/Mancini films albiet the “Wait Until Dark” love theme and “Theme For Three” did make it to a 45 RPM. I speculate that this was the reason for a lack of a soundtrack release; just not enough material to warrant the special recordings Mancini made for RCA. For those of you who are not aware Hank made separate recordings from the soundtrack creating special arrangements to make it a more pleasant listening experience. What you will hear is the scientist/experimenter part of Hank. Making use of electric harpsichord, sitar, sho, Novachord, autoharp, whistling, and two Baldwin pianos, one out of tune, you have the ingredients for an unusual sounding score. Keep in mind that this is 1967 and long before the electronics the modern composer has available today. Given the tools of modern technology one could only imagine what Hank could have come up with. If you know a little about photography just compare it to the photographic darkroom and photoshop on your computer.

The soundtrack opens with the haunting “Theme For Three” (the bad guys) with the tuned and out of tune piano providing the disturbing harmony. Sort of a leitmotiv for the bad guys it is used on many of the tracks in different styles and orchestrations. The “Wait Until Dark” love theme has lyrics by Livingston and Evans and is sung on the end track by jazz vocalist Sue Raney in fine fashion. It is also effectively used whenever a quiet romantic moment (not too many in this one) is needed. “Phono Source 1” is a generic bossa nova track as well as “Phono Source 2”. “Bulbus Terror” is one of the better dissonant disturbing tracks that I have heard in a long time with a novel concept. There are no shrieking violins at all!!! “Light Relief” reminds me of a David Rose (they were friends) “Holiday For Strings” fluff piece. Included in the bonus tracks are 2+ minutes of Mancini experimenting with the wierd two piano concept. The remastering, engineering, and liner notes are all excellent.

If your a Mancini fanatic like this reviewer you either already have it or its on the way. However, this would not be my recommendation to anyone who is wishing to explore Hank for the very first time. There are too many other choices that are a lot more typical of what Henry is really like. If you are looking for a good soundtrack complete with a couple of cool themes and great underscore (forget the Mancini name) you can’t miss with this one. Highly recommended.

Golden Scores Rating is (****)

Track Listing:

1. Come On Louie/The Doll (01:49)2. Main Title (04:11)

3. Don’t Make Waves/Big Drag For Lisa (03:26)

4. Light Relief (01:09)

5. Radio Source/He’s Got Time (03:04)

6. World’s Champion Blind Lady (01:24)

7. Phono Source I (03:02)

8. Phono Source II (01:43)

9. Pick Up Sticks (02:24)

10. The Doll Again (03:19)

11. Watch The Booth/It’s For You (01:25)

12. Chair Kicker (04:42)

13. Bulbus Terror (03:53)

14. Gassy!/Strum Along/The Doll (03:37)

15. Cutting Roat A New One (01:50)

16. You’re Doing Fine (01:15)

17. Wait Until Dark (02:15)

18-20 bonus tracks:

18. Alternate Main Title (02:06)

19. He’s Got Time (alternate) (00:39)

20. Piano Tests (02:30)

Total Time is 49:43

Produced by Lukas Kendall

CD# is FSM Vol. 10 #7

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