Men In War/Bernstein
October 12, 2011
Kritzerland has been very busy with releasing material from Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004) in 1957. Men in War is the fourth release with the other three being Drango (KR 20016-8) and Fear Strikes Out/Tin Star (KR 20016-8), all still available for sale at the time of this writing. Keep in mind that all of the titles are limited editions of only 1000 copies. Many of his 100 releases have sold out and there are no plans that I’m aware of for any repressing. Better to act sooner as opposed to later.
Produced by Security Pictures and directed by Anthony Mann the Korean War drama starred Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray. The story took place during one day and dealt with a small army troop trying to reach a particular hill where they thought the rest of their company would be. Not the typical Hollywood war hero story this is just a one day event of what happened. The novel from which this was adapted “Day Without End” was a story about World War II. This is yet another case where Hollywood chooses to take a lot of liberty. If you’ve read the book don’t be disappointed if the story line isn’t followed. No matter, it is a good film.
Sounds of War (Battle First March): Snare, timpani, and bongo drums indicate a military presence. There are several dissonant brass statements before we briefly hear the main title “Men in War” but the dissonant brass return to conclude the track. This first track is an important one and upon repeated listens you hear the military, marching, the hell of war, and a softer theme for the soldiers. There is even a small hint of the orient. Gil Grau provided a very complex orchestration for a small ensemble.
Men in War Theme (Men in War/Flowers for Killian): An all male chorus, lyrics by Alan Alch, make it very clear with the words, phrasing and inflection what this film is all about. The second part of the cue with oboe and flute is a very delicate section. The strings provide further solemn material but a timpani roll and dissonant brass returns you to war.
Run For Cover (Waiting/Running): A melody is introduced by a solo flute followed by yearning strings and then a brief offering of the main title on clarinet. A bluesy trumpet introduces a swaggering nightclub jazz piece. The second part of the track is jagged underscore with the brass repeating the main title but also playing dissonance with disturbing percussion.
Forest of Mines: Beginning with a military version of the main title, a positive tempo it is soon taken over by irregular notes from percussion, piano chords, vibraphone, woodwinds, and brass provide excellent tension for this track. A good example of well thought out Bernstein underscore.
Morning After the Battle: Sad and very solemn lower register strings, a trumpet offering taps, more yearning from the cello, a brief statement of the melody from the oboe and finally a crescendo from the orchestra ends the cue.
End of the Road: A lonely cello offers a variation of the main theme, a clarinet and flute providing a ray of hope very brief with underscore presence from the snare drum.
Impassioned Argument: A solo voice from a violin (variation of main theme/run for cover builds the yearning track to a clarinet again providing some hope along with a flute.
Montana and the Colonel (Theme Up the Hill) The clarinet begins with the main theme followed by long ultra low notes from a contrabassoon. There are a series of motifs from the flute and woodwinds. The jagged underscore like the running cue blend nicely into a strong melody from the oboe who calls out to the clarinet who nicely answers.
The Last March: Snare drums, a majestic call from the trumpet lead to a military arrangement of the main title, very proud. The track ends with underscore similar to forest of mines.
Quiet Before Attack: A solo violin offers a modicum of solitude before the track concludes with tension.
Salute To Heroes: A solitary flute offers the main title followed by a variation of the main theme from the oboe. This is a very quiet section but not for long as the march version comes front and center in a proud and majestic fashion. The score ends with a restatement of the vocal of the main theme from the male chorus and a rousing upbeat major key ending.
This thirty four minute score will appeal to anyone liking Bernstein or war soundtracks. This reviewer found the very subtle nuances of the orchestration to my liking. The mono recording is very clean with good bass, crisp treble and well recorded.
Total Time is 34:13
CD# is Kritzerland 20020-1