Film Noir at Paramount Double Indemnity
February 25, 2016
One of the things that I try to do if it is possible while preparing for a soundtrack review, especially if it is a favorite of mine, is to read the novel, see the movie, and do some background material on the making of the movie. In the case of “Double Indemnity” this was a relatively easy thing to do except for one thing. This score has really never had a complete release except for the suite that Patrick Russ did and was recorded by Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 1997. This is a score that was nominated for an Oscar and while certainly not his best score it is surely deserving of a OST release of some sort if this is possible. Intrada has released a 2 CD set called Film Noir at Paramount which includes “Double Indemnity,” “Ace in the Hole,” “Sorry, Wrong Number,” “The Desperate Hours,” “The Scarlet Hour,” “Union Station,” and “I Walk Alone.”
“Double Indemnity (1944) is considered by some to be the very best of the noir films that Hollywood ever produced. Starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson the story was simply about murdering her husband, making it look accidental and collecting double indemnity on the insurance policy. Having the ingredients of a good noir there was a black widow and a double cross. James Cain wrote a masterful novel and it is ironic that Raymond Chandler, an excellent writer in his own right did the screenplay with Billy Wilder (another story in itself.). For Rozsa this score became somewhat of a template for future films “The Lost Weekend” and “The Killers.” and strengthened his hold on being an A+ composer for Hollywood. The score to my surprise transferred to a listenable mono recording that fared better than “The Lost Weekend.” The main title is one of yearning with little hope. It plods along at times with the brass playing a key part in both the harmony and melody. The second theme which appears in The Meeting is the complete opposite to the The Prelude in a major key not a minor. As source music at the end of the film is a selection from one of my all time favorite classical works, the unfinished symphony of Schubert. A added bonus is a stereo version of The Prelude a nice bonus selection.
Nearly 20 years ago Koch released three scores of Rozsa performed by the New Zealand Symphony conducted by James Sedares. “Double Indemnity” was included a 26+ minute suite. Unless one could find this CD at a reasonable price it is certainly not worth the $50.00 asking price on Amazon.The speed is at a snails pace compared to the new OST release.