Classic Film Scores of Victor Young
January 8, 2016
Victor Young (1900-1956) spent much of his entire life with a sweet band (singing strings was his trademark) and chief composer for Paramount Studios doing over 300 scores many with memorable tunes that when you left the theater you were humming it. When you looked at him with his slick black hair and rough complexion you would picture a chicago gangster/prize fighter who was in the illegal booze racket during the prohibition years. You certainly wouldn’t want to meet this cigar smoking man on a dark street. He was known to participate in marathon card poker games with Tiomkin and Steiner and seemingly had inexhaustible energy. The coveted Oscar eluded him for his entire life although he was nominated 22 times. His last film “Around the World in 80 Days” was given to him posthumously. My favorite song that he did for Hollywood and a jazz standard performed by my favorite jazz pianist Bill Evans Stella by Starlight was even nominated. It shows you how little Hollywood knows sometimes. The song is given first row treatment in the ample reconstruction of the film “Uninvited.”
The CD starts out with the main theme from “The Greatest Show on Earth ,” a circus march that would have made Sousa and Barnum proud. This is a tune to be played by marching bands in parades and sporting events.
“The Uninvited (1944),” a tale of a ghost and dark mansions gives Young ample opportunity to write underscore that is both playful and dark. Blended into the score is the wonderful Stella by Starlight theme which is nicely woven into the tracks by John Morgan and nicely performed by William Stromberg conducting the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. A short but wonderful track is The Village which takes you to Ireland for a brief but enchanting track. Another good underscore track is The Sobbing Ghost which is playful but also eerie and ends on a bright note with the Stella theme. The 24 minutes pass by very quickly.
“Gullivers Travels (1939),” also reconstructed by John Morgan was not a success at the box office but what does that have to do with score. Young came up with a fine offering of sentimental, melodramatic, and cartoon like music all with the trademark sound he did 300 times. The Prelude and the Storm offers stirring storm music, the main theme, and a bit of comic relief. The brass have a section where they earn their money with a bit of complicated playing.
“Bright Leaf (1952),” a film Young did for Warner Brothers about a tobacco farm starring Gary Cooper. As is the case with most scores Victor Young offers us a bright major key theme which is followed by a second theme written in harmony to the first one in Prelude-Welcome to Kingsmont. The six minute track also has a danger cue and a bit of frivolity, an excellent track. Sonia is yet a third theme that is light and delicate, a fine example of a theme for the lovely Lauren Bacall. Machine Montage is exactly what you think it might be depicting machines in machine sometimes at a frantic pace and mixed in with the main theme.Margaret is another sweet sentimental love about the character in the film who is cast aside for Sonia. Tobacco Montage is similiar to the machine track except there is quite a display of brass. Southern Vengeance has all sorts of things happening in the final six minute track.The Fie begins with strains of desperation and display. The Finale recaptures the memorable music that you heard in the beginning of the film.
The sound which was once special is little more than adequate today as digital quality has taken a leap forward. With the cost today of soundtracks this one coming in at $8.99 is quite a bargain. This release is identical to the Marco Polo #8.225063 which was released in 1998.