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Editor's Choice -

Best Of The Month

June 2012  

  

 

 

ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1948)

Disc One (59:57)

1. Main Title/ Balcony Rendevous (3:46)
2. Cecil Returns (0:53)
3. Adopting a Royal Escort (2:33)
4. London processional (2:54)
5. Minuet / Diana Recognizes Don Juan (1:14)
6. Don Juan's Reputation (0:33)
7. Sent Home to Madrid (2:27)
8. Don Juan's Reputation (0:33)
9. Battle with the Press Gang (2:25)
10. His Majesty the King (1:09)
11. Queen Margaret of Spain (0:32)
12. Juan Presents Himself to the Queen (1:25)
13. A New Enemy for the Duke de Lorca (1:57)
14. Kidnapping the Count de Polan (1:38)
15. Remanded to the Dungeon (1:13)
16. A Close Shave/ Leporello Is Unsettles (1:54)
17. Fencing Master (0:34)
18. The Hall of Flags/ Meeting with de Lorca (4:41)
19. Paragon Among Queens (5:51)
20. Donna Elena Advances (2:48)
21. Sebastin Pleads for Don Juan (2:18)
22. De Polan's Captu Is Discovered (1:33)
23. Juan Eludes Alvarez's Men (0:42)
24. Captured in the Palace (7:05)
25. Count de Polan Rescued (2:54)
26. Battle in the Dungeon (1:44)

 

Disc Two (52:17)

1. The Royal Chapel (2:12)
2. Palace Guards on Patrol (1:22)
3. Pint-Sized Decoy (3:28)
4. The Patriots Vie For Freedom (1:58)
5. Flaming Tapestry (1:40)
6. Duel with de Lorca (2:15)
7. Juan's Victory/ Finale (5:52)
8. Adventures of Don Juan Trailer (2:37)





ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944)

Disc Two (continued)

9. Main Title/ Baseball in Brooklyn (2:50)
10. Brewster Bows Out (2:19)
11. Just Look in the Window Seat (3:33)
12. Mortimer's Ghastly Discovery/
The Prodigal Son Returns (5:26)
13. Jonathan Becomes Disagreeable (1:18)
14. A Frightful Sight at the Window (4:41)
15. Silencing Elaine/ Operating on Mortimer (2:50)
16. End Title/End Cast (0:52)
17. Arsenic and Old Lace Trailer (2:53)
18. Baseball ala Brooklyn Alternate (1:20)
19. House of Wax Trailer (2:06)

Executive Producer: Anna Bonn. Executive Producers and Distributors for Screen Archives Entertainment: Craig Spaulding and William Waybourn.
CD Art Design: Jim Titus. CD booklet notes: Ryan Brennan, Curt Hardaway, John Morgan.

Music Reconstruction and Preparation: Anna Bonn, John Morgan, William Stromberg. Recording Engineer: Alexander Volkov.

The Moscow Symphony Orchestra, William Stromberg, conductor

Special Instruments:

Gerrit Wunder, mandolin-piano
Dorothee Badent, whistling
Kathleen Mayne, organ/novachord

Album Producers: Anna Bonn, John Morgan, William Stromberg.

Tribute Film Classics TFC-1009

Rating: ****

 

Once again the Tribute Film Classics team have produced a major film music restoration release.

In the past they have received 4 Sammy Awards for these excellent releases: FAHRENHEIT 451 (Herrmann) , THE KENTUCKIAN (Herrmann) , THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (Steiner), and a Special Preservation Award.

This time they have chosen two outstanding scores by Max Steiner from the 1940s in a 2 CD box set with a most attractive and informative 68 page full color booklet.

It is common knowledge that Max Steiner was in a sense the Father of Hollywood Film Music. His score for KING KONG, is generally considered the first great Hollywood soundtrack and available on an excellent recording also by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Stromberg.

The two Steiner scores on this new TFC release demonstrate his versatility, composing memorable Warner Bros. scores for a lusty 1948 adventure starring Errol Flynn, and the hilarious 1944 comedy starring Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane.

Most of the 2 disc set is taken up with ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN and it features one of Steiner's most memorable lively main themes. As Anna Bonn writes in her booklet introduction:

It came as no surprise after we finished recording the entire album that we could hear the musicians humming the tune in the halls of Mosfilm even days later. This leads me to gently forewarn anyone lending a first-time ear to Steiner's heroic and romantic Don Juan score - "There's a little bit of Don Juan in every man." and you may end up carrying a little bit of his theme with you too.

This main theme is used as a leitmotif for Don Juan and reappears in many cues in the score. This use of leitmotif comes from the operative tradition that Steiner was familiar with from his days in Vienna. There are also other themes introduced early on, including a more lyrical one for Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors) and a much darker theme for his enemy, Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas). This is a full-bodied score for Errol Flynn's last great adventure film.

It is quite a change of pace for ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, one of the wittiest and clever Warner Bros. comedies of the 1940s. The film's opening main theme is actually based on "There's a Happy Land, Far, Far Away" which is an old children's hymn on a Hindustan melody. Ryan Brennan writes in his informative booklet essay that this "serves as the dominant theme of the movie, encompassing not only the childlike insanity of the Brewster family but their ultimate fate as well."

Steiner also uses the popular song, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" for the second half of the first track, and as Brennan mentions, "Steiner intensifies for the madness of the fans and the chaotic fighting that erupts on the baseball field." Brennan continues by saying this scene has no other connection to the film "except perhaps to imply that insanity runs rampant in Brooklyn." I believe that was the intention of this screenplay, based on the stage play, with scenes added by Julius and Philip Epstein, the same brother team who had written the classic CASABLANCA screenplay. They were masters at writing clever lines. There is also the clever use of "Here Comes The Bride" which is whistled (as in the film itself) on the soundtrack recording by Dorothee Badent.

There are some parts of this score that may remind you of the heavy brass writing from KING KONG. This shouldn't be surprising since Steiner was using some of the same suspenseful techniques in his orchestral writing.

I think it is wise to listen first to ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN and then ARSENIC IN OLD LACE. They do provide a nice contrast between lively adventure and witty comedy. Both scores are examples of Steiner working in usual reliable spot on placing of themes appropriate to the characters and situations in each film.

The color booklet deserves special praise for its beautiful design by Jim Titus and the excellent essays. The booklet is designed so that you read the notes for ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN in one direction, then flip it over to read the ARSENIC AND OLD LACE notes. This may annoy some but it is appropriate to separate the two film scores. The essays include an introductory message from Anna Bonn, several excellent essays by writer and film historian, Ryan Brennan, very good track notes by Curt Hardaway, and helpful production notes by John Morgan. This most attractive booklet is well worth spending time to read through and is a great model how to pay proper tribute to such classic film scores. There are also complete cast lists for both films in the booklet. How often does that appear on a classic film score release? The many illustrations are all appealing and add luster to this beautifully designed booklet.

Another welcome feature of this release are the two cues for Trailer music from both Steiner scores on Disc Two (tracks 8 and 17), plus an added bonus of the rare Trailer music from one of best known 3D films of the 1950s, HOUSE OF WAX (track 19), the only piece composed by Steiner. The full film score for this horror film was composed by David Buttolph.

Also worth praise is the sound on this 2 CD set which is superb, thanks to the diligent and excellent expertise of Alexander Volkov.

This release is dedicated to the memory of Danny Gould (1921-2010).

These two Max Steiner scores deserve to be in any collector's library, especially those who appreciate classic film scores of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Once again I salute the Tribute Film Classics team and give this 2 CD box set my highest recommendation and designate it as Best of the Month.

Bravo to all involved in this excellent release!

 

-- Reviewed by Roger Hall, 26 June 2012

Comments regarding this review can be sent to:

Film Music Review

 

The DVDs with both films are also available and recommended:

TCM Greatest Classic Film Collection: Legends - Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood / Captain Blood / The Sea Hawk / Adventures of Don Juan)

TCM Greatest Classic Film Collection: Legends: Errol Flynn
(ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN/ CAPTAIN BLOOD / THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD/ THE SEA HAWK)

 

Arsenic & Old Lace

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

 

 

 

 


 

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