Summer and Smoke (1961)/Elmer Bernstein

October 26, 2011

It all began in July of 2005 with his release New Guy in Town/Guy Haines and already Kritzerland is releasing their 100th CD, Summer and Smoke, an Oscar nominated one for Elmer Bernstein. Elmer has ten nominations in his long composing career with this score losing to Henry Mancini’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It also competed that year against El Cid (Rozsa), Guns of Navarone, (Tiomkin), and Fanny (Stoloff).  Kritzerland has released eleven Bernstein soundtracks with five selling out but six are still available including this limited edition release of 1500 units.


The Tennessee Williams story took place in Mississippi in 1916. Alma (Geraldine Page) is a spinster that falls in love with John (Laurence Harvey) a dashing care free doctor who is interested in everything with skirts. Co-starring Una Merkel, Pamela Tiffin, Rita Moreno, and John McIntire Oscar nominations also went out to Merkel and Page.


Where Alex North created a cool jazz score for another famous work of Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire, this score is somewhat the opposite being classical, prim and proper, and somewhat period for some of the music.



Prologue (2:56) shimmering strings with a theme from the oboe complemented by woodwinds, flute, and harp make for an eerie opening. It sounds more like an opening for a ghost movie. Overall, this is a mood of tension. You’ll hear a reference to the main melody and the opening motif in several of the cues.




Prelude (2:36)* the main theme offers a bold statement and then reveals the romantic melody from the string section. The cue changes by way of a brass fanfare and becomes a piano melody of gaiety somewhat like To Kill A Mockingbird style with woodwinds answering the piano.


Glorious Hill Waltz (3:07)* definitely period music in a standard arrangement for band with the melody being complemented by the horns including a tenor tuba. This is a slow tempo track.


Rosa Enters (0:54) tension is offered with fluttering from the woodwinds and tremolo from the strings. This track came from the beginning of the prologue and that with a Copland chord.


John Comes Home/Changed/Decision/Hat Snatcher (3:04) four short cues not on the original LP are offered. They offer tension, a bit of romance, dreamy fluttering from the woodwinds. All of these cues are repeated in the soundtrack.


Two Lonely Women (2:34)* begins with a very sad theme in a minor key but as it continues we hear the hat snatching theme from the gypsy violin. It switches between orchestra and the yearning violin, which is somewhat chamber like.


Alma’s Dilemma (3:46) * offers a fluttering flute, swirling strings, and the return of the solo violin. There are some classic Bernstein chords we’ve heard before offering a combination of yearning and urgency. We also hear a bit of somber oboe with harp chords in the background.


A Stranger in the House (3:20)* flute, woodwinds, and percussion create a mood of tension. The sound of Elmer Bernstein is ever present on the cue.


John’s Patient (3:50)* harp chords begin this somber track. A flute offers a melody and there is swirling strings and woodwinds.


Cockfight (3:30) is solo classical acoustic guitar from Laurindo Almedia. The flavor is Spanish and don’t let the cue title mislead you.


Summer Thoughts (4:07)* lush strings complement a flute solo in this swirling romantic offering.


Greased Pig (4:22) flute, bassoon, cello and danger chords from the brass complement some rather creepy underscore.


Trouble With Papa/Doctor’s Dilemma/Dr. John’s Advice (2:48) the oboe gives this a hint of the mysterious orient. The prelude theme is repeated again and there is a brief cue at the beginning that gets as loud and brash as this soundtrack gets.


Alma’s Secret/Dr John’s Triumph (2:34) the band music, the prelude theme, and the gypsy violin are mixed with an overall sound of tension.


Alma’s Stone Angel (1:18) the prelude cue is heard followed by a return to the main theme.


The Tables Have Turned/Finale (7:32) is the longest cue comprising nearly ten percent of the material. The overall feeling is one of quiet tension and despair as things have come to a conclusion.


The Phyllis Gavotte (0:41) is an all too brief French dance performed by the band.


To Be or Not (3:05) a solemn religious cue which features a trumpet solo. Another performed by the band.


Alma’s Flareup (2:43) this is a classic sounding German beer barrel polka also performed by the band.


Southern Comfort Waltz (1:31) the band performs this waltz.


John Comes Home/Changed Decision (2:08) very similar to the beginning material in track five. It is a previously unreleased album edit.


Degeneration (2:48)* the album version of track 12 (greased pig) which has been edited. The lower register part of the orchestra offer some eerie music until it changes to the prologue theme from the accordion.


Moon-Lake Casino (2:25) (Rosa’s Dance)* a slow provocative sounding dance featuring Laurindo Almedia on guitar complemented by accordion. We hear the prologue theme again.


The Father’s Murder (2:33) (Trouble With Papa/Doctor’s Dilemma/Dr. John’s Demise)* one of the very few parts that has a bit of loudness and dissonant brass. Similar to cue thirteen but is one that appears on the LP.


The Final Irony and Finale (3:18) (The Tables Have Turned/Finale)* The edited version for LP which feature the prologue and blends into the prelude theme at the end of the cue.


In conclusion this is a fine score that doesn’t have any in your face material especially with melody but the subtle nuances are incredible. This was a smaller size orchestra that Elmer worked with. There are over 78 minutes of material offered. It is very thought provoking requiring all of your attention or you’ll miss what it has to offer. There is a definite influence from Debussy and Prokofiev and is very classical. The sound quality from the three track masters gives us a nice sounding CD.





Track listing:






Glorious Hill Waltz


Rosa Enters


John Comes Home/Changed Decision/Hat Snatcher


Two Lonely Women


Alma’s Dilemma


A Stranger in the House


John’s Patient


The Cockfight


Summer Thoughts


The Greased Pig


Trouble With Papa/Doctor’s Dilemma/Dr. John’s Demise


Alma’s Secret/Dr. John’s Triumph


Johnny Is Not Welcome


Alma’s Stone Angel


The Tables Have Turned/Finale

Bonus Tracks:

The Band Music


The Phyllis Gavotte


To Be or Not


Alma’s Flareup


Southern Comfort Waltz

The Album Versions (Including Source Cues)


John Comes Home/Changed Decision
(previously unreleased album edit)


Degeneration (The Greased Pig)


Moon-Lake Casino (Rosa’s Dance)


The Father’s Murder (Trouble With Papa/Doctor’s Dilemma/Dr. John’s Demise)


The Final Irony and Finale (The Tables Have Turned/Finale)


Total time is 78:04 * indicates on original LP

2 Responses to “Summer and Smoke (1961)/Elmer Bernstein”

  1. Alan Rogers Says:

    I have the original release but this new disc is much better. The score is filled out nicely and sounds much better than the original. Still not sure about the track by track summaries.

  2. Ross Care Says:

    Actually the classical influences are more Bartok…..

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