December 13, 2012
The 1950’s were very good for Franz Waxman. The list of films includes SUNSET BOULEVARD, PRINCE VALIANT, A NUN’S STORY, A PLACE IN THE SUN, THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS, and REAR WINDOW. While CAREER wasn’t a highlight give Bruce Kimmel credit for finding this undiscovered little gem. As Bruce points out in the liner notes an opportunity to release a new Waxman score is a big deal. Waxman has to be ranked in the top five of golden age composers and should be appreciated by all.
The film dealt with a topic close to home to Bruce that being the story of making it on Broadway. What made it interesting to this reviewer was that part of the plot dealt with blacklisting the first time it had been dealt with in a film since McCarthy and his witch-hunt, a dark time in the history of this country. The film starred Dean Martin, Anthony Franciosa, Shirley MacLaine, and Carolyn Jones and was directed by Joseph Anthony, a successful theater director.
A glitzy Gershwin like beginning something you might expect turns to a dissonant brass statement with bongo percussion followed by a trumpet solo in the higher register. The Waxman orchestration has a hard biting edge to it and gives us an indication of what is to come. Waxman has a way in his writing to make effective use of the clarinet and oboe with harmony from the strings to paint a bleak depressing image of life as an unemployed actor who is struggling to live day by day. The track “Out of the Past/Cold Water Flat” is a good example of this. “The Surprise” gives us the love melody an eight note motif which we will hear often through the score. The love theme is cleverly mixed with the Wagner “Wedding March” in “Man and Wife.” The swagger of the sax nicely depicts Sharon Kensington (Shirley MacLaine) the alcoholic lover of Maury Novak (Dean Martin) in “Sharon/Sharon Proposes.”
Bonus Tracks include an upbeat vocal/chorus “(Love is a) Career” by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen. The first was cut for a 45RPM and offers an extended vocal. The second version made for the film has a long instrumental bridge featuring the piano, guitar, brass and woodwinds. “Night Club Dance No. 1” is a very brief rumba featuring a flute with a strong percussion beat. “The Surprise (film) is the most romantic track on the CD, an extended version of the love theme. The forty nine minutes quickly pass.
The remastering is a stereo one and is typical sound of the late 50’s with biting brass, crisp woodwinds, and syrupy violins as called for. Waxman fans need to remember that 1000 copies can sell out quickly so it is better to act sooner rather than later. This reviewer is grateful for another Waxman release, recommended.