February 21, 2013
Hot Spell (1958) was ½ of a new Kritzerland release #KR 20023-6 starring Shirley Booth, Shirley MacLaine, and Earl Holliman. Directed by Daniel Mann the Lonnie Coleman novel dealt with a dysfunctional family in the south. Having seen the film it is rather tame by today’s standards but in the 50’s this was rather risqué. The soundtrack assignment was handled by Alex North and he was right at home with the story material having composed two Oscar nominated films Death of A Salesman and Streetcar Named Desire.
North developed a unique sound that had its roots in the west coast jazz a cool laid back style, quite the contrast to the frantic sound of the east coast. The “Main Title” is immediately brass driven with a wa-wa from trombones, biting almost ear piercing trumpets, and a swaggering beat from the percussion. The material switches to the strings which offer the main melody with harmony being provided by a sax. There is a pause and an almost childlike second melody is offered. Both of these themes you’ll hear throughout the soundtrack. I’ve included an audio clip. hot spell maintitle “The Lonely Woman,” sets the mood with the reed section (oboe and bassoon) along with a well placed violin solo offering a third melody. The track makes a reference to the main melody with variations before it reverts back to the second melody. “We Never Close” is trumpet driven with excellent harmony from the saxophones. It is the perfect background music for a bar/nightclub scene. “Jack Leaves” is quite melodramatic, material that is meant to pull at your heart strings. While tonal it doesn’t prominently feature a melody although if you listen to this track carefully you’ll hear themes coming in and out of the track. “End Title” (original) ends the material on a happy note with a carousel type arrangement of the main title in a happy upbeat version.
The source for this material is mono and I would classify it as archival material meaning it isn’t perfect and you’ll hear a bit of wow and flutter on a small portion of the material. For this reviewer I’m happy to see more Alex North music being introduced, especially in his jazz style.