A Place in the Sun/Waxman

August 17, 2013

place in the sun

A Place in the Sun, based on the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, a two volume bestselling book based on true events from a murder in 1906 starred Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelly Winters. Winner of six Oscars, including dramatic score to Franz Waxman, whose soundtrack competed against the likes of A Streetcar Named Desire (North), Death of a Salesman (North), Quo Vadis (Rozsa), and David and Bathsheba (Newman), was directed by George Stevens who had extra time to fine tune and edit the picture as Paramount delayed the release so as not to compete with Sunset Blvd a huge Oscar winner. Because of the busy schedule of Waxman coupled with the delay of the release Victor Young and Daniele Amfitheatrof were called in to redo several of the cues due to the editing of Stevens.

Before this limited edition of 1000 units from Kritzerland #KR 20026-1 the Charles Gerhardt/National Philharmonic Orchestra 8+ minute suite was the recording that many film score collectors had in their collections, a recording which I still recommend today. It featured the main themes along with an extended alto sax solo that putting it mildly was spectacular. It was also well recorded in RCA stereo. The new release presents all of the surviving material along with bonus tracks which include film versions, source material, and a track “Out of Nowhere-Rhumba” written by Heyman and Green.

“Prelude and First Scene” is a classic example of the sound of the golden age of soundtracks. The prelude, conducted by Victor Young, nicely segues into the love theme and a variation of it as the film is introduced. The film version, a bonus track, is a minute longer and with the rolling timpani, brass fanfare, and swirling strings is far more dramatic and less romantic quite a contrast. This track was also reworked and conducted by Victor Young and one only has to listen to the ‘singing strings’ and instantly recognize him. “The First Mile” begins with a motif that gives a feeling of motion and segues into a section that could have been lifted from some of his Sunset Boulevard material. The strings for a brief interval also give the sound of Bride of Frankenstein. It then shifts gear once again offering another theme, a sad offering from horn and solo violin before it takes off in another direction with a swaggering few bars from the clarinet. It concludes with a waltz tempo of the love theme. “Love’s Meeting” is the first track that is devoted to the love theme, a lush romantic orchestration that pulls at the heart strings. “Dance and Angela” offers a two step dance version of the love theme as it builds up to a big band statement before going back to the romantic orchestration. “Evil Plans” begins with a swarming sound from the strings builds to a climax with a brass statement and then ends up with the alto sax performing the love theme. “Farewell and Frenzy” begins with tension music and a tragic bar before we return to the love theme featuring a trumpet in the background followed by the alto sax and staccato strings that also sounds like it was taken from Sunset Boulevard. “The Last Mile” (finale and original version) is the concluding cue to this tragic love story and features church bells, a fanfare from the trumpet and repeats the theme from the beginning of the first track in a concluding crescendo. The nine bonus tracks include additional film version, a generic sounding rhumba and other material.

No collection is complete unless you have this fine soundtrack from Waxman. Some will argue that this was his best effort although this reviewer considers Prince Valiant, Sunset Boulevard, and Rebecca ahead of it. In fact you should have all four them in your collection. The archival mono tracks were cleanly mastered without any glitches and are easy to listen to. Highly recommended!

Track Listing:

1… Prelude and First Scene (1:49)

2… The First Mile (2:48)

3… Love’s Meeting (2:13)

4… Dance and Angela (3:05)

5… Evil Plans (3:20)

6… Loon Lake-Part 2 (1:59)

7… To the Lake (1:41)

8… Buildup to Murder (3:16)

9… The Drowning-Part 1 (3:06)

10. The Drowning-Part 2 (3:08)

11. Farewell and Frenzy (3:01)

12. Angela Collapses (1:11)

13. Witness Montage (1:36)

14. The Last Mile (1:48)

15. Prelude and First Scene (film version) (2:49)

16. Rhumba (original version) (1:59)

17. Dance and Angela (film version) (3:05)

18. Out of Nowhere-Rhumba (2:21)

19. Not Married (1:28)

20. Alice’s Radio (1:13)

21. Ophelia (2:11)

22. Farewell and Frenzy (film version) (2:06)

23. Finale (film version) (0:44)

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