Golden Age of Hollywood #4/Compilation of Film Composers

December 25, 2013

golden age 4


RPO 024 CD

Continuing their Golden Age Series the Royal Philharmonic offers a fourth CD of material not as well known but certainly worthy of being on this or any compilation for that matter. Many of the arrangements are a treat as they were material orchestrated by Christopher Palmer and Charles Gerhardt both top names in the soundtrack field. All three previous titles have been reviewed on my website.


The CD begins with a compilation of themes from “Key Largo,”

including the famous Warner Bros. fanfare from Max Steiner who also did the music for the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson being directed by another regular of Warner Bros. John Huston. This version was orchestrated and arranged by Charles Gerhardt who set a standard that will never be surpassed and captures the mood of this score seldom played. Did Jarre ever write a lovelier theme than the one to the David Lean film “Ryan’s Daughter.” Some will argue that “Lawrence of Arabia” or “Dr. Zhivago” surpassed it but not in this reviewers mind. The flute perfectly captures the character with wonderful upbeat backing from the symphony. “Walk on the Wild Side” composed by Elmer Bernstein came at a time when the cool west coast jazz was an in thing with Hollywood. This version won’t disappoint with some improvisational solos from the Tenor Saxophone and Guitar. You might notice a bit of similarity in jazz style to the tracks from “Rear Window” written by Franz Waxman five years earlier. That “West Side Story” style written by the other Bernstein was quite prevalent in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller. It is melodic and harmonic but still giving the feeling of being improvisational. “Fistful of Dollars” is given a bland performance that gives us the two main themes that Morricone wrote but little else. I never get tired of listening to the Call of the Faraway Hills from “Shane” and this arrangement features a trombone solo that added to the intense feeling of the material. Somewhat of a surprise to me was the 12+ minutes of material from “Lost Weekend” some of the best noir material that Miklos Rozsa ever wrote. While he won the Oscar that year for “Spellbound” he was quoted as saying he thought “Lost Weekend” was a better score and I agree with him. The gritty material blended with the romantic material make for a nice listen. The same can be said of the six tracks chosen from another John Huston film “Chinatown,” which featured material other than the haunting trumpet solo which sounds very similar to the main theme from “On the Waterfront,” written by Leonard Bernstein. Listen to both of them sometime and you’ll agree with me. “Captains Courageous” is my first real experience with the early Franz Waxman score based on the Rudyard Kipling story and starring Spencer Tracey. It is typical Waxman filled with romance, action, and rhythm. “Gunfight at O.K. Corral,” an instrumental version is just as effective as a chorus or Frankie Laine singing the lyrics. The theme is counterbalanced with some unusual harmony and rhythms, a trademark of Tiomkin. Few know that Tiomkin studied in the Soviet Union from Alexander Glazunov a composer rich in the Russian tradition. Rounding out the selections is “Cathy’s Theme “ from Wuthering Heights composed by Alfred Newman, another little gem from Jarre in “Passage to India” and the always popular “Never on  Sunday.”


This is a well recorded and performed compilation by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Firman. The selections are unique enough to capture the ear of even the avid listener.


Track Listing:

1… Key Largo (5:55)

2… Ryan’s Daughter (2:18)

3… Walk on the Wild Side (3:53)

4… A Fistful of Dollars (3:50)

5… Rear Window Prelude (2:13)

6… Rear Window Rhumba (2:03)

7… Rear Window Lisa-Intermezzo (3:01)

8… Rear Window Ballet (1:44)

9… Rear Window Lisa-Finale (2:16)

10.Never on Sunday (2:55)

11.Shane (3:20)

12.Lost Weekend (6:36)

13.Lost Weekend (6:16)

14… Wuthering Heights (3:29)

15… Captains Courageous (7:05)

16… A Passage to India (2:18)

17… Chinatown Main Title (2:27)

18… Chinatown The Last of Ida (0:51)

19… Chinatown The Wrong Clue (1:29)

20… Chinatown Last of Ida 2 (0:54)

21… Chinatown Noah Cross (0:54)

22… Chinatown End Titles (2:29)

23… The Gunfight at O.K. Corral (3:01)


Total Running Time is 71:18


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