NEWS ARCHIVE - 10th to 16th SEPTEMBER 2007


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10th September 2007


The Incoming database continues to be updated regularly, and will now increasingly be used as a conduit to release new information (that might otherwise have been added to the News page).

By the time the PR companies get around to sending out press releases, most titles have already been listed by the etailers, and / or have been listed in Incoming. So... there seems to be little point in featuring them here, unless there is something exciting - that we didn't already know - to announce, or if editorial comment is required.

In many cases, any information I received in the form of a press release will now simply be added to the Incoming database. When you visit the Incoming page you'll be able to see what information has been added by looking for the -NEW- and -Updated- tags.

For example, about sixty new titles were added to the database this week, and dozens more had additional information or etailer links added to them.

Please visit the Incoming page, and please use the affiliated links to order your DVDs. Every sale helps support this website!


I've built up something of a backlog of Film Score Monthly CD releases to review, so, without further ado, let's look at their July and August titles: Henry Mancini's Wait Until Dark; the jazz soundtrack for A Man Called Adam; Elmer Bernstein's The Bridge at Remagen / Maurice Jarre's The Train; and Bronislau Kaper's Ride, Vanquero! / André Previn's The Outriders.

Mancini's superb score for the classic 1967 Warner Brothers thriller Wait Until Dark has been on the "wanted" lists of many discriminating film music fans for decades.

The off-kilter score once again paired Mancini with Breakfast at Tiffany's star Audrey Hepburn, but the two films couldn't be more different. Mancini has a reputation for frothy, kitsch nonsense (albeit with great melodies), so people might be forgiven for forgetting that the composer had many top-notch thriller and drama assignments to his credit, including Welles' Touch of Evil, and the popular score for 1962's Experiment in Terror.

The score for Wait Until Dark features two pianos, one tuned normally, the other tuned a quarter-tone flat. Both pianos would be played simultaneously, creating a very unsettling effect. This technique gives the score it's distinctive atmosphere, but Mancini's experimentation didn't stop there: the score also features a lot of unconventional instrumentation, including sitar, electric harpsichord, electric guitar and the sho (a Japanese reed mouth-organ). Except for a handful of brief passages, the score is also notable for not featuring woodwind or brass. A rich array of strings - twelve violas, twelve celli, four basses and sixteen violins - carry the bulk of the underscore.

Despite its popularity among the cognoscenti, there score has never been released commercially (apart from a couple of re-recordings of the score's major themes, for a 7" single). Film Score Monthly's CD has been remixed and re-mastered from the original half-inch, three-track scoring session masters. In addition to the forty-five minute album presentation, there are a couple of alternate cues, including an Alternate Main Title (a shorter, predominantly string-based version of one of the two key Wait Until Dark melodies). The disc is accompanied by twelve-page booklet featuring background notes and track-by-track breakdown by Lukas Kendall.

Wisely, A Man Called Adam isn't being released on the Film Score Monthly label, since it's chief appeal will be to Jazz enthusiasts (and to film score enthusiasts with a broad appreciation of the genre!) It's been released on the Retrograde Records label, and should be available from the usual soundtrack specialists.

The film's groundbreaking score was composed and conducted by distinguished big band arranger 'King' Benny Carter, earning his first movie score credit. The film also marked the first starring role for Sammy Davis Jr, and was the first major studio film produced by an African-American.

The film features virtually no incidental music. Instead, the album is primarily made up of tunes composed for the movie's night club scenes, or music played on jukeboxes, or record players. The featured vocal performers are Sammy Davis Jr, Louis Armstrong and Mel Torme. Trumpet solos are by Nat Adderley and Bill Berry.

Even after absorbing the twelve-page liner notes booklet (which features a track-by-track breakdown by Jon Burlingame), I don't feel qualified an informed opinion as to its merits. I enjoyed listening to it, perhaps you will too!

Ride, Vaquero! / The Outriders pairs previously-unreleased scores for two relatively undistinguished M-G-M Westerns, from 1953 and 1950 respectively.

The former, for a conventional hassled-by-bandits pot-boiler, makes up the bulk of the CD. Kaper's score has a jaunty, Mexican flavour, bolstered by mariachi-style trumpet flourishes, and authentic folk melodies. The CD presentation - about forty-five minutes of score, and ten minutes of source cues - was mastered from quarter-inch monaural tapes, mixed down in 1964 from the original three-track stereo recordings (which were then discarded, sadly).

The Outriders starred Joel McCrea as a villainous escaped Civil War soldier assigned to guard a convoy carrying a million dollars' worth of gold. André Previn was probably still in his teens when he composed this, his first movie score (there's some confusion about his date of birth). It's a remarkably assured debut, but this is not altogether surprising, considering Previn's subsequent illustrious career.

About half of Previn's score for The Outriders - just over twenty minutes - survives in usable form; the fragile original mono optical film recordings were salvaged by transferring them to quarter-inch tape in the 60s. (Many M-G-M scores from 1947-51 are missing or incomplete because of nitrate decomposition). The film's Main and End Titles are taken from the film itself, with minimal sound effects. The disc comes with a well-illustrated sixteen-page booklet featuring notes by Lukas Kendall.

The Bridge At Remagen / The Train offers two boisterous scores, for big United Artists action movies, from 1969 and 1964.

The Bridge At Remagen, a WWII movie about the wrestle for control of a strategically-critical bridge over the Rhine, was based on actual events. The film starred George Segal, Robert Vaughn and Ben Gazarra.

Only about a quarter of the film was scored by Bernstein, but it encompasses a broad spectrum, from brash, militaristic cues, to gentle To Kill a Mockingbird-style melodies.

Film Score Monthly's new disc marks its first commercial release. The music was sourced from quarter-inch mono tapes kept in the composer's possession (the studio elements are long-lost). Unfortunately, there's some distortion in the very loudest passages, but it's not too intrusive.

Jarre's score for John Frankenheimer's The Train (a film about a locomotive carrying priceless French art stolen by the Nazis) will be familiar to many seasoned collectors. It was previously released by UA in mono and electronically-created stereo versions (the masters for the latter - the only surviving elements - providing the source for the new CD). Five bonus cues, which didn't appear on the original album, have been taken from the film's music-and-effects tracks. A song associated with the film (but not written by Jarre), which was released as a 7" single, is not included because of licensing issues.

Jarre's high-octane score, composed when he was in great demand, following the enormous success of Lawrence of Arabia, is full of orchestral colour. Jarre omitted the string section from the score, compensating with splashy percussion, harsh woodwind and aggressive use of brass.

The disc comes with a twenty-page booklet of notes by Lukas Kendall. It includes a stack of photo's from the film, and, like most -if not all - FSM double-bill discs, features reversible sleeve art, this time featuring what must be one of the most dynamic film poster images ever created (shown below).

The three Film Score Monthly releases are limited editions of 3000 copies. No such restriction applies to A Man Called Adam, apparently. The discs are available from specialist soundtrack retailers, including FSM's trading outlet, Screen Archives Entertainment.



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