|About this Recording
8.557701 - DEUTSCH: Maltese Falcon and Other Classic Film Scores (The)
Adolph Deutsch (1897-1980)
The Maltese Falcon
and other classic film scores, 1941-1944
Score restorations by John Morgan
Adolph Deutsch Rediscovered
But there were many other fine composers at Warners during at least some of those years – among them Bernhard Kaun, Heinz Roemheld, Frederick Hollander, and the distinguished Adolph Deutsch, who was under contract at the studio from 1937 to late 1945. During those years he composed original scores for such pictures as They Won’t Forget (1937), The Fighting 69th (1940), They Drive By Night (1940), All Through the Night (1942), Across the Pacific (1942), Action In the North Atlantic (1943), Three Strangers (1946), and Nobody Lives Forever (1946).
For this CD, five of his first-rate Warner scores have been selected to provide a musically varied crosssection and overview of his work. There are two milestone Bogart films: The Maltese Falcon (1941) and High Sierra (1941); one Errol Flynn adventure, Northern Pursuit (1943); a Jack Benny-Ann Sheridan comedy, George Washington Slept Here (1942); and the mysterious and exotic Mask of Dimitrios (1944).
Warners’ Mervyn LeRoy signed Deutsch to a personal contract early in 1937. Four out of five of the first films Deutsch scored at the studio were directed and/or produced by LeRoy. When LeRoy left Warners to go with M-G-M in late 1937, Deutsch’s contract was assigned to Warner Bros. He had never been under contract to a Hollywood studio before, although he did collaborate with Vernon Duke in 1930 on the scores for the foreign version of two Paramount features, The Dance of Life and Honeymoon (part two of The Wedding March).
Ironically, Deutsch’s rich musical background had little to do with the bulk of his Warner scores – dramas of mystery, adventure, and violence. Orchestrator and music critic Lawrence Morton said of Deutsch’s Warner period that “any overall description of his music [at that time] must include such terms as bold, complex and thick-textured, dissonant, sonorous, fragmentary in thematic material and rich in developmental processes.”
Yet just before coming to Warners, Deutsch had spent over three years as a composer-arranger and associate music director with famed orchestra leader Paul Whiteman’s radio and concert music. This period included 39 weeks on The Kraft Music Hall network radio program and one year on Paul Whiteman’s Musical Varieties network radio show. In the early 1930s Deutsch had freelanced on Broadway, orchestrating and conducting for such musicals as Pardon My English (Gershwin), As Thousands Cheer (Irving Berlin), and Jumbo (Rodgers and Hart). Earlier, during the 1920s, he turned out arrangements for such nationally famous dance bands as those led by Henry Busse, Arnold Johnson, Roger Wolfe Kahn, and Vincent Lopez. Then Deutsch spent five years as chief orchestrator/arranger and assistant conductor with Paul Ash’s stage presentations (the Paramount Publix units). This was during the lush days of Chicago’s Oriental Theatre followed by New York’s Paramount Theatre.
But to go back to the beginning: born in London, England, in 1897, Adolph Deutsch started piano lessons at the age of five and discovered that he had absolute pitch at the age of seven. At eight he started at The Royal Academy of Music in London and received several awards for piano and composition. He also performed publicly at several London concerts. Deutsch came to the United States in 1910 at the age of thirteen and immediately became intrigued with the sounds of American popular music.
At 21 Deutsch was hired for a modest job in a New York publishing house (1918). He was permitted to attend rehearsals of the New York Philharmonic Society and study the techniques of conductors such as Toscanini, Barbirolli, and Sir Thomas Beecham.
Fortunately, Deutsch was able to assimilate an eclectic range of musical experiences. In 1920 he heard the first recording of Paul Whiteman’s orchestra and was immediately absorbed with the possibilities of orchestration. He started to study the subject and to compose small works. This led to his professional arranging for dance bands in the 1920s.
So, considering his background in popular music, why didn’t Deutsch work on any musicals at Warners? The answer presumably is Ray Heindorf. Heindorf had been at the studio as arranger, orchestrator, conductor, and all-round supervisor on their musicals since 1932. And he was a major talent in addition to being fast. The number of musicals made at Warners during the period 1937 to 1945 (Deutsch’s tenure) was not overwhelming but just enough to keep the much-admired Heindorf busy. So Deutsch was handed mostly melodramas with some lighter fare sandwiched in. He scored ten films in which Bogart appeared and he did pictures featuring other Warner stars such as James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Edward G. Robinson, Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman, George Raft, etc., but no Bette Davis. She belonged primarily to Max Steiner, and to a lesser degree, Korngold and Franz Waxman. All in all Deutsch worked on 53 feature pictures at the studio (plus a loan-out to Paramount in 1943 for Lucky Jordan with Alan Ladd).
Most of his Warner films starting in 1943 were orchestrated by Jerome Moross. Earlier, Arthur Lange had orchestrated both High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon.
Deutsch and Warners parted company in late 1945 and he free-lanced for awhile (Paramount’s Blaze of Noon – 1947, United Artists’ Ramrod – 1947, and Paramount’s Whispering Smith – 1949). He also did Hedda Hopper’s This Is Hollywood weekly network radio show from October 1946 to June 1947. Then came an offer from M-G-M to help out on the musical Luxury Liner (1948), which led to him scoring a comedy, Julia Misbehaves (1948), for the studio and a long-term contract. This was all happening while longtime M-G-M composer- conductor Herbert Stothart had become seriously ill and unable to work (he died in early 1949).
Deutsch’s third film at M-G-M was for his sponsor at Warners, Mervyn LeRoy – a new version of Little Women (1949). This was a package purchased by M-GM from independent producer David O. Selznick, who had decided not to go ahead with his production for various reasons. The package included a complete working screenplay based on the 1933 R.K.O. Radio Pictures adaptation, set plans and specifications, and the primary theme for the 1933 version written by – Max Steiner. Steiner’s theme, called “Josephine,” permeated the score for the old and new version – from the Main Title on. It must have been a strange feeling for Deutsch to encounter Steiner’s music on an M-G-M project after all those years as a colleague of the composer’s at Warner Bros. Steiner’s name is all over the M-G-M cue sheet – and he was thereby well compensated – but by arrangement with someone (certainly not Deutsch), Steiner’s name is not listed on the official credits. Of course, Steiner was still under contract to Warners.
After a few dramas and lighter fare, Deutsch was assigned M-G-M’s lavish musical Annie Get Your Gun (1950) as musical director, finally coming full circle to what he was doing all those years before he went to Warners in the mid-1930s. There followed an illustrious series of musicals: Show Boat (1951), The Band Wagon (1953), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954), Oklahoma! (1955 – on loan-out), and other musical and non musicals. He won Academy Awards for Annie Get Your Gun, Seven Brides, and Oklahoma!
Later, in yet another career turn, he scored two of Billy Wilder’s most popular films for United Artists – Some Like It Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960). Deutsch was also a founder and president of the Screen Composers Association. He died in 1980 of heart failure at the age of 82.
In a recent conversation with Alexander Courage, who was Deutsch’s primary orchestrator and close friend starting in 1946, Courage said that Deutsch was a methodical and articulate man but had a marvelous, dry sense of humor and was a thorough professional. Courage added that “he was extremely fussy about doing things right – especially with regard to the composer’s intent [on the musicals]. Adolph was not a flamboyant conductor but very precise. He was always thinking. Sometimes when conducting the staff orchestra, he would pause after the upbeat when a thought occurred and then would mull it over before giving the downbeat, while the musicians waited in suspended animation. He was highly regarded by all members of the orchestra because they knew that he knew what he was doing.”
An extensive Adolph Deutsch archival collection is housed in the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming: the holdings include complete holograph scores, in pencil, of original music for 43 films, a set of thirty studio disc recordings of selected excerpts from the film scores, and various other film music materials – including scrapbooks. In addition, there is a score for a symphonic work, The Scottish Suite (1936), commissioned by Paul Whiteman, a concert piece entitled March of the United Nations, based on parts of his score for Action In the North Atlantic (1943), a “Prelude and Salute to Oscar,” especially composed for the 18th Academy Awards presentation (1946), and the manuscript of a waltz for piano called “La Charmeuse” – carefully marked “The First Composition of Adolph Deutsch” – composed in London in 1907 at the age of ten.
The Maltese Falcon 1941
Warner Bros. bought the rights to The Maltese Falcon that year for $8,500 and produced two film versions within the next six years. By 1941, John Huston, the son of actor Walter Huston, was doing particularly well at Warners collaborating on the scripts for such films as Jezebel, Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, High Sierra, and Sergeant York. But he wanted to direct.
“They indulged me rather,” Huston told author Gerald Pratley. “They liked my work as a writer and they wanted to keep me on. If I wanted to direct, why they’d give me a shot at it, and if it didn’t come off all that well they wouldn’t be too disappointed as it was to be a very small picture.” When Huston was asked what subject he would like to do he told them The Maltese Falcon, which the studio still owned and which could be done in a relatively inexpensive manner. “There was something in the Falcon that attracted me,” Huston has said, “that hadn’t been done in the other versions.”
At the top of the roster of possible actors to play Sam Spade was George Raft, then under contract to Warners; in second position was Bogart, followed by Edward G. Robinson, etc. Raft turned down the role on the advice of his agent. Also, Raft was uneasy about working with an inexperienced director, and his contract called for no remakes. Bogart was in.
Possibilities for the role of Brigid were Olivia de Havilland, Loretta Young, Rita Hayworth, Mary Astor and Paulette Goddard, among others. The decision was made to go with Mary Astor. She had recently signed a two-picture contract with Warners, and had been in films since 1921.
Sydney Greenstreet, who at the age of 61 had never made a film, was the prime choice for the Fat Man, Kasper Gutman. Other possibilities included Laird Cregar, Edward Arnold, George Barbier, Lee J. Cobb, Gene Lockhart, etc. Greenstreet had been acting on the stage, both in his native England and in America, since 1902. He had spent over six years with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and was touring with them in There Shall Be No Night when John Huston saw him at the Biltmore Theatre in Los Angeles and persuaded him to break his rule about doing films. He was primarily a character comedian on the stage, but his screen career was to consist mainly of villains.
Peter Lorre was first choice for Joel Cairo with Martin Kosleck, Sam Jaffe, Curt Bois, and Elia Kazan (before he became a director) as follow-ups. (Kazan was also considered for Wilmer.)
Dashiell Hammett had based some facts of his Maltese Falcon characters on real people he had encountered while working as a Pinkerton detective for several years. But he stated that Sam Spade had no original. He was “idealized . . . in the sense that he is what most private detectives I’ve worked for would like to have been.”
Adolph Deutsch was assigned the film and created a subtle and properly mysterious score that was devoid of bombast. Deutsch was relatively unobtrusive in his approach and gave the edge more to the mood and colorings his use of woodwinds evoked. In a 1978 conversation, he said that he consciously avoided “the Wagnerian approach” and that he did not want obvious leitmotifs overpowering the picture. However, his Falcon theme sets the mood perfectly.
This modest little film, not a B movie incidentally, which cost $381,000, according to studio records, turned out to be a hit – both critically and commercially – and it was the forerunner of a number of films over the next several years that were a direct if somewhat belated result of its influence.
The Maltese Falcon solidified further aspects of the emerging Bogey character: the classic loner, weathered, tough, disillusioned (or perhaps nonillusioned), somewhat sadistic, cutting right through to the bare bones of his women, and yet true to his own sense of ethics and professional integrity. Then came Casablanca.
George Washington Slept Here 1942
The changes in the film version include a reversal in having the wife (Sheridan) persuade her husband (Benny) to purchase the antiquated property. Also, the girl who was their daughter on the stage (Peggy French) became Sheridan’s sister (Joyce Reynolds) in the film. Incidentally, Warner contract star Olivia de Havilland was originally slated for the wife’s role.
Although comedian Jack Benny for decades had an extraordinarily popular radio show – and later TV show – he also made some very well-received films, including Buck Benny Rides Again (1940), which focused on Benny and his radio cohorts; Charley’s Aunt (1941), one of many film incarnations of the famous stage farce; and the superb Ernst Lubitsch comedy To Be Or Not To Be (1942), in which he costarred with Carole Lombard.
George Washington Slept Here was a precursor to two films with many parallels: The Egg and I (1947) and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). George Washington Slept Here cast Percy Kilbride as the caretaker/handy man, the role he originated in the Broadway play and later unofficially reprised – to a degree – in The Egg and I. He was “Pa Kettle,” and there followed a series of Ma and Pa Kettle films costarring Marjorie Main.
Deutsch seemed to be under the influence of Carl Stalling, music director for Warners’ highly successful cartoons, in his approach to the properly whimsical comedic scoring. In addition to his light-hearted original compositions, Deutsch drew upon various quotations from familiar themes (a la Stalling) to comment on the action, “Yankee Doodle” being the most often reprised. But listen for “A Hunting We Will Go,” “Battle Cry of Freedom,” “You’re In the Army Now,” an old Morris dance that many people think of as “Country Gardens” (the title that Percy Grainger bestowed upon his adaptation of the tune), and, among others, the British “Heart of Oak,” dating from 1759. In 1768 an Americanized version was introduced, which, as “The Liberty Song, “ had enormous popularity.
The Mask Of Dimitrios 1944
His success in that department prompted Jack Warner to offer him a feature if the director found a story he wanted to make. Negulesco said years later that “I always loved and felt there was a great mystery film in Dashiell Hammett’s Maltese Falcon. I saw the two pictures Warners had already made of the book [1931 and 1936].” But while Negulesco was in the East making the short Women At War, John Huston requested and was given the O.K. to do The Maltese Falcon as his first directing assignment, not knowing of Negulesco’s development of the project. Some time later when Huston found out, he recommended to Negulesco a book that the studio owned, A Coffin For Dimitrios by Eric Ambler, published in 1939, as Plan B. “Take it to [Warner producer] Henry Blanke. Just do the book page by page,” Huston told Negulesco. After reading the novel, which he loved, Negulesco lobbied for the project and eventually was assigned to direct under producer Blanke. (Negulesco’s actual first feature was a forgettable Warners 1941 B picture, Singapore Woman.)
Author Eric Ambler pioneered the notion of creating realistic stories about espionage operations. In several novels he established believable worlds that were shabby, gritty, and threatening. All, however, were compelling and without the false depictions of spies that had been found in thrillers up until his time. In later years, Ambler received serious attention from literary critics who ranked him with or above Graham Greene and John Le Carré as one of the masters of a genre that Ambler himself first raised to a higher level.
The Mask of Dimitrios concerns a detective story writer (Peter Lorre) who becomes obsessed with the mysterious career of a man named Dimitrios, whose corpse he sees in a Turkish morgue. The writer begins to unravel the tangled threads of the dead man’s life – his intrigues, treacheries, and murders – under many aliases in many countries. Along the way he meets a bizarre set of characters (played by the likes of Sydney Greenstreet, Faye Emerson, Victor Francen, Steven Geray, Florence Bates, etc.). In the end, the complex trail leads him to the discovery that Dimitrios is very much alive – and deadly dangerous.
There seemed to be a problem casting the role of Dimitrios. For a while, Helmut Dantine was penciled in. Then at the 11th hour, a test was made of New York stage actor Zachary Scott, who recently had a leading role in the play Those Endearing Young Charms (1943). He was chosen to play Dimitrios in his first film. At the same time, Faye Emerson replaced Nancy Coleman as Irana.
Deutsch’s score is almost entirely mood oriented – no leitmotifs for the various characters and locales, no melodies per se, but dark, mysterious, tension-filled orchestral sound colorings – with an occasional brief echo of his Maltese Falcon score. Deutsch said in Film Music Notes (October, 1944):
High Sierra 1941
“There was a lot of resistance in those days from certain associations,” Burnett said years later. “When they [Warners] put out the publicity that we – the author of Little Caesar and the ace Dillinger reporter [Charles Blake] – were going to make Dillinger, boy, did that get a reaction! Telephone calls and letters of protest.”
The film was cancelled. But Burnett, steeped in Dillinger research, went trout fishing at June Lake in the Sierras, near Yosemite. “I got to thinking,” Burnett told Ken Mate and Pat McGilligan, “what a wonderful hideaway that would be for hoodlums. … Nobody went there in those days. … Also, there was a dog there. The dog didn’t seem to belong to anybody … and he took to me.” And a black man who said that he brought bad luck to people. So all of this blend was used by Burnett in his novel, High Sierra (1940), which was purchased by Warners and assigned to John Huston to adapt. He was later joined by Burnett on the screenplay and Raoul Walsh was set to direct (Huston made his directorial debut some months later with The Maltese Falcon).
Paul Muni was slated for the lead but he did not want to play another criminal – regardless of the approach. Burnett claimed in 1982 that Humphrey Bogart talked George Raft, choice number two, out of taking the role because it didn’t suit him. But Bogart definitely wanted the part, which suited Huston, associate producer Mark Hellinger, and Walsh just fine.
The story has Roy Earle (Bogart), based somewhat on Dillinger, being pardoned from prison and traveling to California to prepare for the robbery of a resort hotel. In the process he helps to obtain an operation for a crippled girl’s (Joan Leslie) club foot. Later, she refuses his marriage proposal. Meantime, he becomes involved with a former dance-hall woman (Ida Lupino), a stray dog, “Pard,” and various others. Things go badly at the robbery and Earle is forced to shoot a watchman. Eventually, the police chase him into the Sierras until he must leave his car and continue on foot. After a stand-off high in the Sierras, Earle is killed by the police. Marie (Lupino) and Pard mourn at the site and Marie is comforted by the thought that Earle is now free.
A good deal of the film was shot on location in California at Lone Pine on mountain roads and Mount Whitney Pass in the Sierras. Also utilized were Big Bear, Arrowhead Springs, Cedar Lake, and Chatsworth.
The film was well-received critically and commercially, elevating both Bogart and Lupino to star status. There were two remakes: Colorado Territory (1949) – a Western with Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo in the Bogart and Lupino roles, and I Died A Thousand Times (1955) with Jack Palance and Shelley Winters in the leads.
In direct contrast to his music approach for The Mask of Dimitrios, Deutsch definitely favored melody, syncopation, and simple atmospherics, in addition to some heavier accents, for his score to High Sierra. And it all makes for a memorable listening experience.
Northern Pursuit 1943
The idea of a group of Nazis landing in Canada was reminiscent of the 1941 British film 49th Parallel (called The Invaders in the U.S.), which spawned several variations.
Based on a story by Leslie T. White called “Five Thousand Trojan Horses” that had appeared serially in Adventure magazine in 1942, Northern Pursuit benefited from some excellent ski chase, treks, ski jump, and background shots made at Sun Valley, Idaho, by director Raoul Walsh using ski champions for doubles.
In the concluding sequence, Flynn’s character is allowed to assure his bride that she is the only woman he ever loved, then turn to the camera with an intimate lift of his eyebrow and confide wonderingly: “What am I saying?”
Originally Alexis Smith was announced as Flynn’s love interest until Julie Bishop replaced her. Bishop was known as Jacqueline Wells during her screen career in the 1920s and 1930s, but her name was changed when she started her contract with Warner Bros. in 1942.
Deutsch appropriately used the Canadian national song “The Maple Leaf Forever!” in the foreword following the Main Title and he incorporated throughout the score “Deutschland Über Alles” in a dark, heavy, minor key setting – often a motif for the Nazis in World War II films. Another recurring motif during that war, this one for Allied forces, was from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (V for Victory), the arresting four notes of which end the film.
Adolph Deutsch’s name rarely comes up when discussing film music from Hollywood’s Golden Age, which is regrettable. During his tenure at Warner Bros., Deutsch was sort of a jack of all trades, not only composing for his own film assignments but occasionally helping out colleague and friend Max Steiner when that composer was really strapped for time (e.g. Dodge City, The Oklahoma Kid, both 1939).
When we embarked on this Classic Film Music Series for Marco Polo (nearly ten years ago), one of our intended missions was to record in state-of-the-art sound acknowledged masterpieces from some of the finest composers of Hollywood’s Golden Age and present authentic recreations of their work. We were also determined to explore the music of the neglected, somewhat less flamboyant yet equally outstanding composers who never had (until our series) much interest from producers of film music rerecordings. Among the overlooked talents we have recorded are Hans Salter, Frank Skinner, Paul Dessau, Roy Webb and now with this recording, Adolph Deutsch.
Although Deutsch could certainly write a tune when called for, he usually was assigned films that required composing short motifs that could be manipulated within his musical landscape. He was clearly of the twentieth century - musically speaking - and one hears a harmonic language closer to Hindemith than Richard Strauss. He was also very meticulous in his notation – from detailed expressive markings to even indicating what kind of mutes the brass were to use. He used a variety of orchestrators, including Arthur Lange for The Maltese Falcon and High Sierra with a few cues for both films orchestrated by Charles Maxwell, and Jerome Moross for the other scores represented on this disc. Deutsch evidently had some influence on Moross, as there are passages in that composer’s The Big Country (1958) reminiscent of Deutsch’s Northern Pursuit, for example.
In preparing this album, I wanted to cover aspects of Deutsch’s musical versatility. Although he was assigned films of varying subjects, locales, periods and genres, he seemed to excel with films filled with dark, atmospheric mood, and his music was both unobtrusive yet dramatically compelling within the context of the story. His style also nicely fit in with Jack Warner’s penchant for “lots of music,” and during his last three years at the studio he was able to enjoy the luxury of larger budgeted films, which meant larger orchestras. The Maltese Falcon is a classic film by any definition. Like High Sierra, Deutsch had to make do with a slightly smaller orchestra, befitting the film’s relatively modest budget. Typically, the orchestra for films in this budgetary status had about nine woodwinds that doubled various other instruments such as saxophones or extra clarinets when needed, as well as only three French horns, three trumpets, three trombones and a slightly reduced string section. For this recording, as is our general custom for this series, we have given all the music a full string section, but have remained faithful to the original orchestra as far as individual instrumentation goes.
After the traditional Warner Bros. signature fanfare, we are plunged into the world of mystery in the then contemporary world of 1941. (Interestingly, Deutsch would most often use Steiner’s fanfare in the key of B flat, which gave it a slightly darker effect, as opposed to Steiner’s usual brighter key of C.) The Falcon’s eight-note motif is developed throughout the Main Title and becomes the basis for the entire score.
The Deal is a unique cue with its use of clusters, swirling strings and dissonances illustrating Bogart’s drug-induced hallucination, while the eight-note Falcon motif is always there to remind us of the riches all these colorful characters are after.
The Plot (at approximately 2:35) contains a good example of the ingenuity of orchestrator Arthur Lange, who had all the violins tune down a whole step in order to play an otherwise impossible double stop. This enabled both the undernourished violins and violas to play this figure, giving the strings added weight and sonority.
Just for fun, we have included the End Cast music, which was also composed by Deutsch and orchestrated by Lange. Not originally composed for this film, it was a stock arrangement written for Warners’ in-house music library with the notation “Quasi Fox Trot.” George Washington Slept Here shows Deutsch’s comedic talent in the style of Carl Stalling and those wonderful Warner Bros. cartoon scores. Filled with musical quotations, “Wa-Wa” brass, trilling woodwinds, and ingenious “mickey-mousing,” this music is a delight from beginning to end.
Originally the Main Title was to have been sung by a chorus (with accompanying orchestra), but the idea was later dropped – probably because this music was truncated due to the credits being shortened before the film’s release. For those listeners so inclined, I have included the lyrics so one may sing along with the music!
The Mask of Dimitrios contains some of Deutsch’s most sophisticated music, both in its advanced harmonic language as well as the subtle detail the composer typically put into his orchestral writing.This score is sort of a “musical” sequel to Deutsch’s The Maltese Falcon and shares many musical similarities in orchestration, mood and harmonic language. Because Dimitrios had a much larger music budget, the composer had more opportunities with regard to a larger orchestra, much more music, as well as the nature of the story, which allowed Deutsch to compose various themes for several characters, locales and situations. The orchestra was a large one, including three flutes (doubling alto flute and piccolo), two oboes (doubling English horn), four clarinets (doubling bass clarinets and various saxophones), and two bassoons (with one doubling contra bassoon). The brass consisted of four French horns, four trumpets, four trombones, tuba and euphonium. Six percussionists were required to play all the standard battery in addition to two vibraphones and two marimbas, which added the dashes of exotic color. Two harps, two pianos, celesta, Novachord and strings complete the orchestral makeup.We have replicated the original orchestrations for this and the other films on this album, although a portion of Dimitrios had to be reconstructed because of missing scores.
The colorful characters and exotic locales certainly piqued Deutsch’s imagination and he matched the atmosphere on the screen with his ethnically imbued music.
High Sierra is the earliest Deutsch score recorded for this album. Although not a high-budget A film, High Sierra has become a classic and is far better known than many prestigious films of the period. Filled with memorable melodies and strong themes, it is certainly Deutsch’s most “Steinerish” music on this album, reminding one of the general style Steiner utilized for some of his late 1930s crime dramas (Angels With Dirty Faces, Crime School, etc.) The Main Title presents The Sierras theme in thick, bold orchestration that is both majestic and haunting. The following cue, The Pardon, has been restored to Deutsch’s original intentions, as the scene was edited down a bit and the composer was forced to shorten and rewrite a portion of this cue.Velma’s Plight starts and ends with a very Steiner-like cakewalk, reminiscent of the composer’s Mammy theme from Gone With The Wind (1939). This merges into the “star” music with its celestial sounds of high violins accompanying two solo violins. Shimmering effects are provided by woodwinds, celesta, vibraphone and other ethereal-sounding instruments. This sequence accompanies a wistful, romantic encounter between Roy Earle (Humphrey Bogart) and Velma Goodhue (Joan Leslie) under a starfilled night sky. We also restored a chunk of music to the final cue, Apprehended, when further editing of the film eliminated some of this music.
Although Northern Pursuit was a minor war-time Errol Flynn vehicle, it was bolstered by an exciting score with a large orchestra, which includes three flutes (doubling alto and piccolo), two oboes (one doubling English horn), three B flat clarinets, two bass clarinets, two bassoons (one doubling contra) and four saxophones (two alto, one baritone and one tenor). The brass consists of four French horns, four trumpets, four trombones and one tuba. Five percussion players are required as well as two pianos, celesta, harp, novachord and strings.
Following the traditional Warner Bros. fanfare, we are plunged into the strong Pursuit theme utilizing the full orchestra with an emphasis on brass. The next cue, Submarine, takes us to the icy regions of Canada with atmospheric music replete with inventive orchestration and weird harmonies. This section perfectly captures the landscape as well as the sense of tension and evil heading towards our Northern allies. We have a brief respite in Consultation and our first encounter with the village in a light-hearted Korngoldian manner, complete with sleigh bells, glockenspiel, virtuoso woodwinds and string writing. The rest of our suite is derived from the prison camp escape and final battle sequences, utilizing common thematic material, varied and developed with clear and concise writing. We have included Deutsch’s original ending, which included the four-note Victory motif based on Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, but was subsequently dropped for the final released version of the film.
Both Bill Stromberg and I are gratified that with this Marco Polo Film Music Series we are able to present both the well-known classics and the sadly neglected scores by some of the most talented composers of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
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