The Long Night/Tiomkin
April 13, 2010
Starring Henry Fonda, Vincent Price, Ann Dvorak, and Barbara Bel Geddes the 1947 RKO release came and left the theaters with barely a ripple. Director Anatole Litvak remade the 1939 French film Le Jour Se Leve, added the Hollywood romantic layer, changed the character of the magician Maximilian, played by Vincent Price, and generally put their stamp on it. However, as pointed out by Ray Faiola in the liner notes, this was one of the first of many films that dealt with the post traumatic syndrome following WWII and really a noir film that needs exploring. Litvak went on to do Sorry Wrong Number, The Snake Pit, and Decision Before Dawn, Fonda Mister Roberts and On Golden Pond, and Dimitri Tiomkin High Noon, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Alamo.
While many are of the opinion that the soundtrack for The Long Night is nothing more than an orchestrating of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, they likely haven’t spent time listening to it like this reviewer has. The theme from the second movement of his symphony is used in many scenes but it isn’t the predominant melody of the score. It was used by Tiomkin as the background theme during the standoff scenes between Joe Adams, Henry Fonda, and the police. The love theme for JoAnn, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Joe is a strong one filled with heartfelt emotion as well as tragedy, one of the patented themes he seemed to pull out of his hat time and time again. “The Main Title” introduces the The Long Night theme JoAnn’s, a classical piano version, as well as the somber tragic movement of Beethoven’s 7th, the second movement, and ends with the love theme. The love theme tells the tragedy of what is going to unfold on the screen. Tiomkin took advantage of thematic material from Strauss (Waltz) Tchaikovsky (Romeo and Juliet), Mendelssohn (Violin Concerto), and Von Suppe (Poet and Peasant) in the score as well as some of the popular dance music of the day. Since the magic and dance scenes take place in the nightclub The Jungle, there was ample opportunity for swing, magic, and blues material, making this an extremely versatile score in the types of music offered. In addition there are some cues which are offered that were deleted from the final print. Unlike some scores that seem to set a definite mood this seemed to offer a nice selection of everything except for vocal material. I like the way Tiomkin made use of the Beethoven, using restraint and keeping dignity in the material as well as restrained orchestrating. His original themes are both keepers for the mp3 player.
The real shining star of this release is Ray Faiola and the Chelsea Studio! I’ve heard 78 acetate transfers before and they fall into 3 categories. The engineer keeps as much fidelity as he can resulting in surface noise that is quite annoying. The engineer eliminates all of the surface noise resulting in a dull lifeless recording. The engineer at Chelsea studios has figured out with some sort of voodoo magic to make it sound like it has life and is fairly quiet. I didn’t say digital quality, but it is quite listenable. Normally in my reviews I always try to let my words tell the story but in the case of this review I’m offering a before and after sound clip to let you experience firsthand the tremendous effort that goes into the mastering of this material. The links are provided below. Perhaps one can understand why Tiomkin thanked Beethoven and other classical composers when he received his Oscar for The High and the Mighty. You might even run out and purchase a copy of Beethoven’s 7th after purchasing this somewhat unknown soundtrack. Limited to 1000 copies so don’t delay. Recommended.
Produced and remastered by Chelsea Rialto Studios Produced by Screen Archives Entertainment
Total Duration: 01:09:41