The Barbarian and the Geisha & Violent Saturday/Friedhofer

April 4, 2012

Do you think that John Wayne and John Huston got along during the filming of The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958)? Do oil and water mix? The 20th Century Fox release starring John Wayne relates the story of relations between Japan and the United States in the 1850’s. It was not well received upon release but has aged well and offers one of the better efforts of Hugo Friedhofer who approached this story as one of Madama Butterfly. The result is a classic golden age score which is a showcase for his forte that being orchestration and arranging. It was recorded in Germany with Kurt Granke conducting his own orchestra due to the union strike. It is a stereo recording and is certainly representative for its time in terms of dynamic range and sound quality. It was previously released by Intrada in 2001 as part of their Special Collection Series Volume 4. It sold out a long time ago. The re-issue is exactly the same without any new additional material or significant change in the audio quality.

 

The Foreword/Main Title sets the overall mood for the entire soundtrack with a distorted percussion statement followed by a pentatonic oriental phrase to identify the country. What comes afterward is one of the finer melodies written by Friedhofer. It is an upbeat major key that sums up the entire story in less than two minutes. Both the theme and the oriental motif are repeated often and while this is certainly not a monothematic score it will get stuck in your brain by the time you finish listening to it as it is repeated several times. The Intruders repeats part of the main theme and then if you listen carefully you’ll be treated to Friedhofer forte, orchestration with classical variations, harmony, and counterpoint. Orchestration is the thing that Friedhofer did best and the highlight of many of his scores. David Raksin, another film composer in the same era, commented that Hugo was classically trained better than any other composer. This is a good example of why Friedhofer is a favorite of mine. The orchestration lesson continues in The Consulate which restates the opening of the main title again making another pentatonic reference and continues the oriental reference in a tonal arrangement. The Palace is a track that offers oriental flavor complete with some nifty flute work at the beginning of the track.

 

One of my favorite Friedhofer scores, only behind The Best Years of Our Lives, Broken Arrow, and Above and Beyond, if you missed this one the first time around don’t hesitate to get this score.

 

 

 Directed by Richard Fleischer, whose father was Max Fleischer, producer of over 600 animated films including the Popeye series, the 20th Century Fox film starred Victor Mature, Richard Egan, J. Carroll Naish, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Sylvia Sidney in a tale of bank robbery mixed with individual issues from the main characters. It was filmed on location in Bisbee Arizona in Cinemascope and four track stereo. It did well at the box office but quickly disappeared and it has only been a year ago that Twilight Time (Screen Archive Entertainment) has made it available on DVD. A limited edition release of 3000 units it is still available from them. Bruce Kimmel considers it a must-have for your collection.   http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm?ID=15085

The soundtrack release first appeared in 2005 from Intrada volume 27 coupled with Warlock (1959), a Leigh Harline work. The 1200 piece limited edition has sold out. To the best of my knowledge there are no differences between the Intrada and Kritzerland except the 1000 piece Kritzerland is still available with low stock already. Acting sooner rather than later seems to be a good idea. The Friedhofer score is quite brief at eighteen plus minutes and if you compare this one to others he’s written it has no major melody and standout orchestration. The theme less Prologue sets a definite mood for the picture which is tension and violence. The Main Title has its melodic moments offering a dissonant brass statement which is a prelude for a melodramatic theme by the string section with excellent harmony/counterpoint from the brass section. If I’m Lucky is likely the most melodic cue a sweet dance band number which features a muted trumpet solo followed by an accordion mimicking what a clarinet might have played. Harper is a short brass dissonant prelude which quiets down to a brief softer underscore. It continues changing to a bluesy beat with the clarinet offering a solo. It ends with a sense of urgency. Mr. Reeves begins with a low register offering from the clarinet but changes to a major key offering from the string section.

 

Overall this is a nice ‘B’ side to complete the all Friedhofer release. Will never get too many votes as a favorite soundtrack it is still a Friedhofer score and worth having in your collection.

 

 

The Barbarian and the Geisha

 

 

1.   Foreword/Main Title (02:05)

2.   The Intruders (02:11)

3.   The Consulate (01:47)

4.   Flag Raising (00:57)

5.   Orders from Edo (00:47)

6.   An Invitation (00:55)

7.   Homecoming (01:00)

8.   The Strange House (04:20)

9.   Awareness (00:22)

10. The Tormentors (00:53)

11. Outcast (00:53)

12. The Plague (08:14)

13. Narration and Scene (02:46)

14. The Road to Edo (03:15)

15. The Palace (02:45)

16. Advice and Questions (01:45)

17. Assassination (01:03)

18. Celebration and Plot (02:16)

19. Tamura Commands (01:47)

20. Declaration (02:02)

21. Finale (07:02)

 

Violent Saturday

 

22. Prologue (00:56)

23. Violent Saturday – Main Title (01:46)

24. If I’m Lucky (01:42)

25. Harper (00:57)

26. Dill and Library (02:34)

27. Emily (00:57)

28. Harper Takes a Walk (01:26)

29. Shelly and Steve (02:36)

30. Linda Comes Home (01:38)

31. Insomnia (01:37)

32. Mr. Reeves (01:37)

33. Stalemate (00:39)

34. Kidnapping (03:00)

35. God Forgive Me (00:44)

36. End Title (00:34)

 

Total Duration: 01:11:48

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