About this Recording
8.223871 - KORNGOLD: Another Dawn / Escape Me Never

The Korngold-Flynn Connection


No star of Hollywood’s Golden Age had better musical support than Errol Flynn. It was his good fortune to be signed by Warner Bros. at a time when original dramatic composition for films was beginning to be taken seriously, especially by Warner’s. The head of production, Jack L. Warner, flatly stated, “Films are fantasy—and fantasy needs music”. He gave his head of the music department, Leo Forbstein, freedom to hire the best possible studio orchestra, and a team of composers, arrangers and orchestrators. In addition to this, Warner’s were far ahead of the other studios in sound recordings techniques, abetted by Jack Warner’s demand that he really wanted to be able to “hear” the music.

And so for the next dozen years or so the celluloid adventures of Errol Flynn, both swashbuckling and amorous, were backed by the richly symphonic scores of Max Steiner (no less than fourteen Flynn scores), Franz Waxman (three), and Erich Wolfgang Korngold (seven), each a composer steeped in the expressively dramatic and melodic school of middle-European composition. As in the case of so many success stories, it was a matter of the right people being in the right place at the right time.

Nothing in their prior experience would have led either Korngold or Flynn to believe they would one day become associated. Flynn was hired by Warner Brothers in London in 1934 on the basis of having made one minor film for them. They shipped him off to the Burbank, California, studios the following January, where he did little but play two bit parts in secondary films. Captain Blood was set to start shooting that summer, with Robert Donat playing the lead. When he dropped out for health reasons, Warner’s decided to take a chance on replacing him with the handsome young Tasmanian-born Errol, with results that need no further amplification.

Korngold by this time had made his début with the brothers Warner. The esteemed composer was brought from Vienna by impresario Max Reinhardt to arrange and conduct the Mendelssohn stage score for Reinhardt’s film version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Much had to be done to the original in order for it to adjust to the requirements of filming, including enlargements for which Korngold selected portions of Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony and his Songs Without Words. While the film met with mixed critical reviews, there was no doubt that Hollywood had come across a composer who had a talent for scoring movies. Would he, Warner’s wondered, be interested in scoring Captain Blood? The affirmative answer led to a contract leading to Korngold writing another fifteen scores over the next ten years, with six of them Flynn vehicles containing some of his finest work: The Prince and the Pauper (1937), Another Dawn (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), The Sea Hawk (1940), and Escape Me Never (1946).

When Korngold decided to end his association with films in 1947—by this time he was somewhat alarmed to find himself regarded as a “film composer”—and devote himself to absolute music, he was asked by producer Henry Blanke, “Erich, when you first came to us you seemed so enthusiastic about the possibilities of music in films. Now you no longer seem interested. Why?” Replied Korngold, “Now I can understand the dialogue”. Had he understood the dialogue of All of her Dawn he probably would have turned the film down. He did not yet speak English and the script had to be explained to him. Possibly he was in a state of euphoria, having just won an Oscar for his impressive score for Anthony Adverse. If he assumed Warner’s were now rewarding him with a picture of similar scope, he was sadly mistaken.

Even by 1937 standards Another Dawn was a mild and improbable soap opera. Actually, it was not a Flynn vehicle. It was designed for Kay Francis, then a little on the downside of a long career, with Flynn obviously injected to boost the box office prospects and Korngold brought in to make it all seem beautifully romantic. In that respect, the film is a success, but only in that respect. The story is set in a remote British Army outpost in the Sahara Desert, with Colonel Wister (Ian Hunter) in command and Captain Denny Roark (Flynn) as his adjutant. Wister goes on leave to England and there marries Julia (Francis), who admits that she is still in love with the memory of a man killed in the First World War. Wister declares his love is enough for both of them, which might be the case if he had not brought his bride to the outpost. There Roark is soon in love with her, although as a true cricket-playing British gentleman he does nothing about it. But the situation becomes even stickier because Roark reminds Julia of her lost love, and try as she may she cannot stop falling in love with the dashing young officer. Roark goes off with a contingent of cavalry to negotiate with the Arabs, who are in revolt. In a battle in the desert only he and a sergeant survive to return to the outpost.

One evening while the colonel is away on an assignment with the Arabs, Julia and Roark fall into each other’s arms, although knowing immediately that theirs is a love that can never be. The colonel, whom they both deeply respect, is too honourable a man to be cheated. However, the colonel, kind and decent though he may be, knows of their love and he chooses to sacrifice his life in their favour. Although Roark has chosen to fly an airplane that will bomb a dam and release the waters the Arabs have denied the area, it is Wister who flies the mission, knowing there is not enough fuel for the return journey. The film ends with the lovers gazing into the early morning light, knowing that he did it “to give us another dawn”.

Emerging at a scant 73 minutes Another Dawn needed all the help it could get. Realising that it was a limp story the producers cut and shortened a number of scenes to make it move faster, thereby confusing Korngold who found it hard to understand why some of his music was being dropped. The film was also shot with two endings—the one with Flynn surviving and the other with him taking the deadly mission and the colonel surviving. The studio opted to let the increasingly popular Flynn get the girl. This pleased everyone but Korngold, who had already written an ending for the other version, one with a lot more music in it. Now he had quickly to write a much shorter one for a film that concludes with a very brief scene of the lovers and just two or three lines of dialogue. However, it is Korngold’s original ending that John Morgan and William Stromberg have chosen for this recording, along with sections that were not in the film. Those who have never seen the film will assume from this recording that it must indeed be a grand affair, and those familiar with Korngold will recognise the main love theme as the one he later used as the opening strains of his celebrated violin concerto.

Of the seven Korngold-Flynn pictures the one in which the actor is clearly miscast is Escape Me Never. In this he plays a ballet composer living in Venice with a waif (Ida Lupino) and her baby. Later, in London, after becoming successful he realises she is the one he truly loves, having by this time gone through other amorous adventures. The only reason for seeing Escape Me Never is the music score, which abounds with romantic themes. By now Korngold could indeed understand the dialogue but he was not about to pass up a film about a composer, especially one that would allow him to write an original ballet. In the film, the ballet (Primavera) is interrupted by a temperamental ballerina and never resumed. Now, in this arrangement by John Morgan, the ballet is brought to a logical ending by the use of subsequent material heard in the background.

It has been remarked many times over the years that films often end up with scores that are better than the films themselves. In the case of Another Dawn and Escape Me Never no other conclusion is possible.

Arranger’s Note

Escape Me Never was Korngold’s last score for Warner Bros. Part of the composer’s assignment was to compose a portion of a mythical ballet which is never played complete in the film. Since Korngold only composed music up to the point where it is dramatically stopped in the film, we have attempted to reconstruct a complete musical piece with a beginning, middle and end, using music from other parts of the film. The orchestra Korngold uses is expanded to include four flutes, two pianos, organ, harmonium, organ, celeste, and two vibraphones, in addition to the normal sized Warner Bros. orchestra.

Another Dawn is presented here, after a great deal of restoring, as Korngold originally intended. Because of massive pre- and post-scoring editorial changes, much of the music was severely trimmed or eliminated in the final film. Parts of cues were hastily stitched together to fit new timings and the sound mix often buried the music to near inaudibility. After researching the original conductor books and timing notes on the original music sessions, we were able to reassemble the music and include virtually all the major cues in the score. We only eliminated cues which repeated substantial material from other music; as well as very short “stinger” type cues. As this premiere recording demonstrates, Another Dawn is a major Korngold score filled with enthusiastic, colourful writing, common to the composer during this period.

Tony Thomas
© 1996 John W. Morgan

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