|About this Recording
8.570110-11 - KORNGOLD: Sea Hawk (The) / Deception
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897–1957)
The Sea Hawk
After completing the sound remake of Captain Blood in 1935, Warner Bros. decided to follow that successful venture with another Rafael Sabatini sea story to star the screen's newest swashbuckler, Errol Flynn. The Sea Hawk was a logical choice.
Various studios had produced silent film versions of Sabatini's novels. The 1924 faithful-to-the-book and spectacular First National production of The Sea Hawk starring Milton Sills was the most popular of the adaptations, grossing nearly $2,000,000 – big money in those days. Warner Bros. acquired rights to The Sea Hawk and Sabatini's Captain Blood (made by Vitagraph in 1924) after absorbing First National and Vitagraph in the late 1920s.
Preliminary work on the new Sea Hawk proceeded slowly. On 10 September 1936, Warner associate producer Harry Joe Brown wrote executive producer Hal Wallis: "I bring to your attention again The Sea Hawk … We have some marvelous battle scenes from the old picture [the silent Sea Hawk ]. Here's hoping we go to work on it." The sea battle and other ships at sea material from the 1924 Sea Hawk negative had been extracted a few years earlier and kept separately for potential use in sound remakes of both The Sea Hawk and Captain Blood.
Instead of moving ahead with production plans for The Sea Hawk, the Warner executives decided to go with another big-budget Flynn film, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). By early 1938 Henry Blanke ( Robin Hood ) was assigned as associate producer of The Sea Hawk. On 25 August, Seton I. Miller submitted a twenty-five page outline to Blanke called Beggars of the Sea. It had nothing whatsoever to do with Sabatini's 1915 Sea Hawk novel, which was about a Cornish gentleman who became a Barbary corsair. Miller devised an entirely new approach and plot. It dealt with the exploits of fictional character, "Geoffrey Thorpe" (Flynn), suggested by Sir Francis Drake, who along with other privateers commanded marauding expeditions against the Spanish possessions in the Americas for the treasury of Queen Elizabeth. The historical backdrop Miller used was, on the whole, reasonably accurate. But curiously, the "sea beggars" of history were what Dutch privateers of the time were called; their English equivalents were referred to as "sea dogs" (Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher, etc.). Historically, there were no "sea hawks."
Miller was told to develop his outline into a script, which he completed in late 1938. Shortly afterwards Wallis again decided to postpone work on The Sea Hawk (or Beggars of the Sea ) for the time being. Then, on the recommendation of Warner staff writer (soon to be director) John Huston, Henry Blanke sent writer Howard Koch the latest script on Beggars of the Sea. Koch recently had been put under contract. At this time it was agreed that all references to the "beggars of the sea" were to be dropped and instead, the privateers would be called "sea hawks," in order to use the saleable, surefire title. Wallis and Curtiz also decided, in Wallis' words, "to use [footage from] practically all of the fights on the two ships from [the 1935] Captain Blood … "
After reading Miller's material and attending the various meetings, Koch drafted a thirty-eight page "suggested story and treatment," which essentially was the same story Miller had written. In examining the various drafts, it is clear that the primary difference between Miller's scripts and Koch's scripts is in the characterization, dialogue, and interplay. Koch did rewrite a good many of the scenes in a different style; and he gave more dimension to the basically stereotyped characters. Formula elements from Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood were interwoven for box-office insurance. The pirate/outlaw status of Thorpe (a privateer) is presented as justifiable and motivated by injustice, tyranny, and patriotism, thereby making his position respectable.
In the summer of 1939, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, starring Bette Davis and Flynn, finished filming. The plan was to begin work shortly thereafter on The Sea Hawk. In fact, on 5 April 1939, Wallis has written Tenny Wright, the studio production manager: "In planning your sets for The Knight and the Lady [retitled The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex ], please plan these on stages where they can by saved after this production as we will be able to use practically every set over again for The Sea Hawk and this will save a fortune."
But various circumstances caused The Sea Hawk to be postponed yet again for six months. Most important, putting off allowed sufficient time for the planning and construction of a unique new "maritime" sound stage on the Warners' Burbank lot. After its completion, Stage 21 (at the time the largest and most modern in the film industry) was capable of being filled with water. Thousands of feet of heavy mains, sewers, and drains had been installed. Working in several shifts daily, 375 men were employed for eleven weeks in the construction of a full-scale British man-of-war (135 feet) and a Spanish galleass (165 feet) which could be placed side by side, with some distance separating them, in the water on the stage. Previously, no ship the size of these had been built especially for stage work, either indoors or outdoors.
Warner Bros. did not believe in building practical ships and filming at sea – as, for example, MGM did for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). Too often in such enterprises there are weather delays, seasickness, temperamental outbursts, and other problems that could cost considerable time and money. This marine stage, which no other studio had, allowed for shooting sea pictures under totally controlled conditions. The studio planned to film The Sea Wolf, Captain Horatio Hornblower, and John Paul Jones on the stage in the immediate future, but only the first of these was completed at that time. After America entered World War II the studio suspended plans for expensive period nautical films. Stage 21 was destroyed by fire in May 1952. Hornblower (1951) and John Paul Jones (1959) were filmed by Warners in England and Spain, respectively.
Starting in November 1939, the casting of The Sea Hawk was given serious attention. Flynn, of course, was always figured for the lead since the picture was designed at the outset as a vehicle for him. But back in July 1939, Hal Wallis wrote to Michael Curtiz: "I want to make a complete and thorough test of Dennis Morgan in the character of the leading role for The Sea Hawk... You will have [contract players] Brenda Marshall or Jane Bryan work with him in the girl's scenes …" Morgan recently had been signed by the studio. Wallis' request was no doubt the result of one of the many recurring battles between Flynn and Jack L. Warner that centered around the kind of picture the studio wanted the actor to do, the chosen director (Flynn disliked Curtiz intensely but was more often than not directed by him), and the actor's approval of leading ladies. In any case, nothing was changed after testing Dennis Morgan; Flynn was still scheduled for the temporarily delayed Sea Hawk.
Although originally announced for The Sea Hawk, Olivia de Havilland, his popular co-star from Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and other films, was not cast. After her loan-out to David O. Selznick for the role of Melanie in Gone With the Wind (1939), she returned to Warners determined to seek better parts at her home studio – and this included not wanting to continue as "the girl" in the Flynn adventure films. Jack L. Warner was equally determined to keep Olivia in her place by showing the actress that her presence in Gone With the Wind neither impressed him nor changed her status at Warners. She was more than once placed on suspension for turning down films.
Brenda Marshall was one of the studio's recently acquired players who was being given a buildup. In her first film at the studio, Espionage Agent (1939), she had the leading female role. The Sea Hawk was her second film. Others in consideration for her part included Andrea Leeds, Margaret Lockwood, Jane Bryan, Ida Lupino, and Geraldine Fitzgerald.
For the important role of the queen the studio wanted Flora Robson, the distinguished British actress of stage and screen, who had played Elizabeth in Alexander Korda's Fire Over England (1937). Warners signed her to come to America on a two-picture deal.
Claude Rains, under non-exclusive contract to Warners, had always been first choice for Don Alvarez, the Spanish ambassador. Basil Rathbone was originally favored as his cohort in villainy, Lord Wolfingham, which would have brought together again the duo from Robin Hood. But instead Henry Daniell, the number two choice, was signed. Others on the list of possibilities for Wolfingham were Vincent Price, George Sanders, and Louis Hayward. Alan Hale, as usual, was cast as Flynn's sidekick, and Una O'Connor virtually reprised her role in Robin Hood as the heroine's companion.
The Sea Hawk was given a forty-eight-day shooting schedule. Due to Flora Robson's commitment for the Broadway production of Ladies in Retirement, her scenes had to be shot first. These were filmed mostly on Stage 7 where the Elizabeth and Essex throne room had been photographed. Art director Anton Grot, who had designed the settings for that picture, artfully modified them for The Sea Hawk, and some of the set units as well as set decorations were reused according to plan.
Orry-Kelly designed the costumes for both Elizabeth and Essex and The Sea Hawk and was able to revamp some of his earlier creations in addition to planning new costumes for some of the principal players.
On 1 February 1940, filming began. Since the plan all along for The Sea Hawk was to use a considerable amount of stock footage from black-and-white films, this was surely the primary reason for foregoing Technicolor in this particular case. Fortunately, Sol Polito's photography is a superb example of how extraordinary black-and-white can be.
By 19 February, the climactic duel between Flynn and Henry Daniell was being filmed before finishing with the palace sets. Unit manager Frank Mattison in his report to studio production manager Tenny Wright said: "... This duel has turned into a matter of a walk. Mr. Daniell is absolutely helpless and his closeups in the duel will be mostly from the elbows up." Mattison continued on 1 March, "The man tries hard but it has just taken about four extra days to get through this duel."
The duel – an obligatory scene in the Flynn swashbucklers – was choreographed by Belgian fencing master Fred Cavens, who had staged many screen duels – including some of Douglas Fairbanks' in the 1920s. Working with Curtiz, Cavens devised a routine that took Flynn (doubled in some shots by Don Turner) and Daniell (doubled in most shots by Ned Davenport or Ralph Faulkner) from Wolfingham's sitting room in the palace to the balcony, corridor, and main hall. The fight was more furiously paced and edited than the Cavens duels for Captain Blood and Robin Hood (partly because of the necessity to double Daniell extensively). Overturned tables and candelabra stands, slashed candles, and huge shadows of the opponents on the wall were used much as they had been in Robin Hood. Curtiz (and presumably Polito) loved those dramatic shadows.
By mid-March the spectacular battle scene that took place near the opening of the film between Thorpe's ship and the Spanish galleass was being shot on the new marine stage. Henry Blanke sent a memo to Wallis on 14 March in which he outlined the footage he could lift from the 1935 Captain Blood : Shots of men swinging from ship to ship during the battle, closeups of cannons firing, and clips showing the effect of the cannons on the ship.
In addition, he had some medium and long shots of general battle and men falling into the water originally used in The Divine Lady (1929), a rather lavish First National Picture about Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, which had been reused in the 1935 Captain Blood. The fact that there was a discrepancy of roughly two centuries between the period of The Sea Hawk and The Divine Lady seemed to bother no one. Ironically, no footage whatsoever from the earlier version of The Sea Hawk ever made it to either the 1935 Captain Blood or the 1940 Sea Hawk.
After the battle between the two ships, all of the galley material was photographed on Stage 3. Scenes taking place in a galley with slaves shackled and rowing to the beat of the timekeeper's drum were relatively novel in 1940. The silent Sea Hawk and Ben-Hur (1925) had key episodes during which the hero of each of these epics spent time at the dreaded oars (picturizing, in both cases, chapters from the respective popular novels), but these had been years earlier and without dialogue.
One of the most imaginatively directed and photographed scenes in the picture was filmed next: Thorpe and his men freeing themselves from the galley. After a detailed escape from the shackles and chains, the men cautiously proceed to begin their operation on the deck of the Spanish ship, Madre de Dios. Wallis wrote to Curtiz, 1 April: "I just want to be sure... that you do not have any battle scenes – but rather do this all in a sinister, mysterious fashion, with just shadowy figures coming over the rail, dropping down on the deck, crawling around corners of hatches, and stealing up on individuals and Spanish sailors.... Be sure that this is all done in sketchy lighting... "
Meanwhile, Curtiz continued to build-up the opening battle scene between the two ships whenever he had an opportunity. His claim, from the pre-production days, that he would not be able to shoot a fight better than the one in Captain Blood was conveniently forgotten. Curtiz's embellishments of the big scenes in his pictures gave the productions a richness and visual excitement that contributed strongly to the timeless appeal they have.
The last scheduled filming was the Panama episode, during which Thorpe and his men intercept a Spanish treasure train in the jungle and then later are intercepted themselves by other Spaniards. A few blocks from Warners' Burbank studio was some studio property at the time called "30 Acres" (now the NBC Studios in Burbank ). Art director Anton Grot had 500,000 square feet converted into a jungle. Tropical plants, trees, and vines were brought to the area and a four-and-a-half-inch water line was laid down, through which the land was flooded to create a jungle swamp.
The scenes at the Venta Cruz market place and the interior of the treasure-house were photographed on a set constructed for the 1939 Juarez at Warners' Calabasas Ranch several miles northwest of Burbank. The brief shots showing Thorpe and his party finally arriving at the shoreline from their escape through the swamps was filmed on the beach at Point Mugu, northwest of Los Angeles. Other scenes depicting the exterior of a Dover street and dock, the palace garden, palace gate, the exterior and interior of the chartmaker's shop were all shot on the backlot using standing sets.
While filming continued and the picture was being assembled and edited, the legendary special effects department on Stage 5 under Byron Haskin was preparing and filming the "miniature" ships for the distant shots that were eventually to be integrated into the sequences involving the closer angles of the full-scale ships already photographed on Stage 21.
The ships, built at a scale of at least one inch to the foot, were carefully crafted to tie in with their full-scale counterparts. Haskin told me in 1979 that each miniature ship concealed a man, who from a prone position would guide the rudder and work the little inboard motors and the tiny cannons.
Finally after sixty-eight days of shooting (twenty days over schedule), The Sea Hawk completed filming on 20 April. Erich Wolfgang Korngold, under contract to Warner Bros., was set for the music – as it turned out, his last for a swashbuckler. He had scored the previous Captain Blood, The Prince and the Pauper, and The Adventures of Robin Hood – all with Errol Flynn. One charming melody that appeared to be sung on camera by Brenda Marshall, but which actually was prerecorded by Sally Sweetland (nee Mueller), was developed by Korngold into an art-song, a part of his Opus 38. A waltz he had written for Danton, an unproduced Warner film of 1936, was transformed into a quietly apprehensive march used for the jungle scenes. Korngold and the Warner orchestra of fifty-four players recorded the superb score in fifty-eight hours, spread over many days.
On 17 July The Sea Hawk was press and industry previewed at Warners' Hollywood Theatre. It ran two hours and six minutes. One month later the film was in first-run release with the length intact. At least some of the initial release prints were sepia-toned for the Panama sequences. Most reviewers praised the production in general and the action sequences specifically, but a few thought the episodes of court intrigue tended to diminish the effect of the epic sweep.
Flynn gave an excellent account of himself in The Sea Hawk. Instead of the wide-open gallantry he displayed in Captain Blood or the impudently aggressive charmer he presented in Robin Hood, his Geoffrey Thorpe is cool and collected, gentlemanly, and shy and awkward in the presence of ladies – other than the queen, with whom he has a special relationship. Flynn was deliberately trying to present a relatively restrained interpretation and had asked the producers and writer Howard Koch to superimpose more dimension on the relatively stock heroic character. The performance wears well.
Critics noted the parallels of the film with the dire European political events of 1939-40. Like the arrogant Hitler, King Philip of Spain in the script states that conquest will cease only when the entire world is under his control. The appeasement policy at Elizabeth 's court was like the appeasement attempts in the late 1930s by England 's Prime Minister Chamberlain and others. During the writing, production, and release of The Sea Hawk, events in Europe moved rapidly. By July of 1940 England was at war, facing invasion.
The British release prints of The Sea Hawk contained a closing speech by Elizabeth that was longer than the one included in the American version. In part, the queen speaks of preparing the nation for war after trying to avert the same.
The 1947 reissue of the film (with seventeen minutes cut), coupled with the shortened by eleven minutes The Sea Wolf (1941), did exceptionally well during the period following World War II when the box office was down and lots of revivals were making the rounds. The double bill opened in first-run theatres throughout the country and more often than not was held over for a second week before moving to second and third-run houses.
Warners continued to get mileage out of the footage shot for The Sea Hawk. On 2 October 1956, "Condemned to Glory," a one hour episode of Conflict, a series produced by Warners for ABC-TV, managed to rework the plot of The Sea Hawk with new players, old costumes, fragments of old sets, and an abundance of stock footage from the 1940 film interspersed with matched-up new footage of Geoffrey Toone and Jorja Curtright, substituting for Flynn and Flora Robson, along with various other players performing similar duty.
In 1986, the 1940 British release version of The Sea Hawk was given a U.S. video release, which included Elizabeth 's longer closing speech and another sequence with Flynn, Alan Hale, and Donald Crisp, during which Crisp's character brings a message from the queen, asking Captain Thorpe to set sail for Panama earlier than planned. The aforementioned material had never before been seen in the U.S. After a prolonged search, this version had been found at the British Film Institute and the BBC in England. Prior to this, the video release was of the truncated 109-minute theatrical reissue of 1947. All currently available DVDs and videos utilize the extended British version. And in the summer of 1995, a commercial for Miller Genuine Draft beer was built around footage of Flynn and company escaping from the galley.
The Sea Hawk was and is a first-rate example of its genre. And its appeal is perennial. Physically the $1,700,000 production is much more opulent than the cautious, relatively economy-minded Captain Blood of five years earlier. The Sea Hawk 's formula is an entirely agreeable one. The hero is indeed a hero and the villains are most assuredly villains. If what we expect is what we get, it is all served expansively with the finest ingredients and in a relatively sophisticated manner. The audience is swept along and still seems willingly to enter into a suspension of disbelief. In the case of The Sea Hawk familiarity does not breed contempt but rather pleasure.
Deception a.k.a. Jealousy, Obsession and Conception
Bette Davis had been a very big star for many years at Warner Bros. – indeed, she was referred to as "Queen of the Lot" – especially since her performance in Jezebel in 1938, followed by Dark Victory in 1939, and then many other well-received films. But with World War II over in 1945 things began to change in the film industry. Fortunately, Davis ' A Stolen Life in 1946 was a hit. Then came Deception that same year – her last good film during her Warner contract period. The three Warner pictures she made following Deception were a distinct letdown artistically and commercially: Winter Meeting (1948), June Bride (1948), and Beyond the Forest (1949). Davis and Warners parted company after eighteen years. Fortunately, All About Eve at 20th Century-Fox in 1950 was a major renaissance for the star. She certainly wasn't down-and-out after all.
Returning to that last good Davis Warner film: Deception had an unusual evolution. On 1 December 1943, Warner Bros. purchased the screen rights to a 1927 two-character French play, Monsieur Lamberthier, by Louis Verneuil, which was later presented in 1928 on the New York stage under the title Jealousy. The New York cast also consisted of only two people: a struggling artist (painter), portrayed by John Halliday, and the proprietor of a Paris gown shop, played by Fay Bainter. The lovers marry, but she conceals from her husband the affair she had with a wealthy older man who bought the woman's shop for her. And she is still in his power. Gradually the husband's jealousy of his wife's "guardian" accelerates and he eventually strangles the elderly man. The husband then goes to prison. The American play version, adapted by Eugene Walter, ran for 136 performances in New York.
Paramount made a feature film, also called Jealousy (with sound), in 1929. The couple, played by Jeanne Eagles and Fredric March, were augmented this time by the rich and unscrupulous lover, played by Britisher Halliwell Hobbes, and a few other characters.
When Warners purchased the rights in 1943, the press release stated that Barbara Stanwyck and Paul Henreid would play the leads. But by the time actual work began on the script by John Collier and Joseph Than almost two years later, the picture was designed as a Bette Davis vehicle with Paul Henreid and Claude Rains co-starring as they did in the exceptionally popular Now, Voyager in 1942. And Irving Rapper, who directed Now, Voyager, was assigned Her Conscience, the film's working title of the French play.
"I pleaded with Warner Bros. To keep the motion picture a two-person film," recalled Bette Davis in the early 1970s. But the studio "could not imagine a film with only two characters and the third character at the end of a telephone, unseen ever by the audience."
So Claude Rains was to play the wealthy "benefactor" and lover of Christine Radcliffe, the Davis character, before Karel Novak (Henreid) (this time a classical cellist) re-enters Christine's life. In this new set-up, the three leading characters are steeped in the world of classical music: Hollenius (Rains) is a wealthy, internationally famous composer, Christine a pianist and music student, and Karel, a refugee cellist.
All of the drafts of the Warner scripts, starting with the first, had the concert music background, so the writers along with producer Henry Blanke obviously decided on this approach from the outset. The mid and late 1940s was a period in feature films when there was considerable interest in composers and musicians – real and imagined. Warners had recently produced a Joan Crawford-John Garfield melodrama that dealt with a gifted concert violinist (Garfield) and featured a repertoire of well-known symphonic selections. Presumably it was felt that for the Jealousy adaptation another instrument should be chosen. The piano was required for a film about Chopin ( A Song to Remember, 1945) and Gershwin ( Rhapsody in Blue, 1945), among others, but the cello had not any exposure on film as the primary instrument.
Paul Henreid was not a professional musician, but then neither was John Garfield ( Humoresque ), nor Leslie Howard, going back to the 1939 David O. Selznick production of Intermezzo, the remake of the 1936 Swedish film that introduced American audiences to Ingrid Bergman. In a 8 May 1939 memo to Leslie Howard and others, Selznick said:
And they did. As this practice evolved, a breakaway coat was made-up, the actor placed his arms and hands behind his back; the coat was buttoned and the two real violinists stood or sat (depending on the camera angle) behind the actor. One placed his right arm through the coat's right sleeve and used the bow, while the other placed his left arm through the left sleeve and performed the fingering. Of course, the camera was positioned so as to eliminate the real violinists. The music had been prerecorded by a concert violinist with studio orchestra in advance and then played over loudspeakers on the shooting stage so that the two violinists from the music department could go through the correct motions from listening to the playback on stage.
Humoresque used an elaboration of this procedure, and then again for Henreid's cello playing in the retitled Deception (nobody was particularly happy with the working title Her Conscience and it was scuttled along the way).
The cellist who actually recorded the Korngold Cello Concerto and other selections for the Deception soundtrack was Warner contract musician Eleanor Aller Slatkin. Her husband, Felix Slatkin, was concertmaster in Alfred Newman's 20th Century-Fox recording orchestra. Eleanor's father, Russian-born cellist Gregory Aller, was engaged to coach Paul Henreid so that in some shots without the breakaway coat he would appear to be positioning the instrument and his arms and hands properly. Many days before and during the shooting of the picture, Gregory Aller and Henreid worked in a music room at the studio. "He is quick to learn," Aller was quoted in 1946, "but there are so many things to remember and in such a short time!" Aller said that Henreid had "a fine musical ear, which is very important. And as a youngster Mr. Henreid said he studied the violin for a while, so that, too, made my work easier."
Bette Davis, portraying a pianist, was required to be seen on camera playing for one minute and thirty-three seconds a portion of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata (Opus 57). Fortunately, Davis had learned to play the piano as a child, so she diligently practised the short section that was pre-recorded by the young pianist Shura Cherkassky. Davis ' synchronization was excellent. According to Whitney Stine, "She had originally wanted to record the number herself, but director Irving Rapper said, 'Why bother, Bette? No one will believe you actually performed the number anyway!'" To which Davis responded, "Rapper was so right. The public was so 'movie wise' as to photographic tricks that I'm sure no one believed I could actually play this difficult piano solo."
Claude Rains playing the fictional Hollenius, the renowned composer and conductor, had to be shown briefly playing the piano (pre-recorded by Erich Wolfgang Korngold) and more extensively conducting the symphony orchestra while the Henreid character played Korngold's newly-composed for the film Cello Concerto at the dress rehearsal for the premiere concert sequence. In a October 1946 Los Angeles Times interview, Rains was asked if he knew anything about conducting or playing the piano. "Not a damn thing about either. I know only a crotchet [quarter-note notation] from a quaver [eighth-note notation]. When a little boy I had exactly one piano lesson – and all I remember are a crotchet and quaver. But don't ask me what they are."
Then interviewer Philip K. Scheuer asked Rains if he copied Hollenius from anyone in the music world. "No. For instance," replied Rains, "a friend of Stokowski came on the set one day and said, 'I know who that is, that's Stokowski.' And then another day someone who knew Toscanini said, 'I know who that is, that's Toscanini.' I was told that the man resembled Sibelius a little. But I know a little about Sibelius and Hollenius certainly was not based on him. John Collier, as good a writer as there is, did a wonderful character on paper. If the character is based on anyone, it's based on John Collier's."
Since Hollenius is murdered (in this version by the Davis character, rather than the husband as in the play) just before the Cello Concerto's premiere, another conductor is asked to substitute. He is played by real-life conductor Einar Nilson who first came to the U.S. as musical director with Max Reinhardt, and he conducted the music for Reinhardt's stage production of The Miracle in 1927, followed by Reinhardt's theatrical presentation of A Midsummer Night's Dream that same year. Nilson was also engaged by Warners to coach Claude Rains in conducting. It is likely that Korngold contributed to some of the conducting lessons as well.
A big problem that confronted the writers was trying to get approval from the old Production Code Administration, the film industry's self-regulatory body. In reply to the first script sent, Joseph L. Breen wrote in part to the studio:
Changes were made in the scripts that followed. "We had to pussyfoot about the sexual relationship between Christine and her old lover, Hollenius," Davis told Whitney Stine. "Claude Rains rightfully stole the picture. It was up to him to work against the dialogue and to make the audience understand, through his jealousy, that they had been having a hot affair, and that he was not just her piano teacher. He worked like ten men on that movie.... When I killed Claude and had to give myself up to the police, it was too damn noble."
Deception was given a 60 day shooting period but finished 46 days over schedule! One major problem occurred shortly after the start of filming when Davis, on her way home after a work day, had her automobile smashed as she tried to avoid another car abruptly coming out of a bend in the road. She was knocked unconscious and not able to report for work off and on during filming due to medical complications from the crash. And on many days she worked a short schedule at the studio.
The very well-done orchestral sequences, staged by LeRoy Prinz, took considerable time because of the extensive coverage and the various complicated shots involving Henreid and the unseen cello players behind his breakaway coat.
Director Irving Rapper related an amusing story in The Celluloid Muse : It seems that Davis, due in part to the trials and tribulations of her car crash aftermath, was apprehensive about how she looked photographically. One day she went to the projection room to see the dailies. Then Irving Rapper came in and, according to Rapper, there was a heated discussion going on between Davis and cinematographer Ernest Haller. "And she said to him, 'Ernie, you photographed me in Jezebel, didn't you?' And he said, 'Yes, what about it?' 'Can't you photograph me like that?' And he replied, 'Bette, I was seven years younger then.' But seriously, Ernie did a very good job."
Curiously, approximately one month before Deception was released nationwide on 26 October 1946, a play called Obsession opened in New York City. It was a new adaptation by Jane Hinton of the old Jealousy play. Basil Rathbone and Eugenie Leontovich comprised that entire cast. This time the man is a playwright and the woman still has a dress shop in Paris. She continues to be in the power of a rich and unscrupulous unseen lover, who is killed by the husband. Obsession lasted for only 31 performances.
Incidentally, Republic Pictures distributed a film called Jealousy in 1945 that had nothing to do with the Louis Verneuil play, but the fact obviously dissuaded the producers of Deception and Obsession against the use of the title.
On a closing note: Bette Davis discovered she was pregnant by her third husband, William Grant Sherry, toward the end of filming Deception. She and others on the set now laughingly referred to the picture as Conception.
The Sea Hawk - Previous recordings of score
When The Sea Hawk opened in theatres in 1940, a commercial recording of parts or all of the score (or any dramatic American film score) was certainly not contemplated. It just wasn't being done at that time. In fact, it was not until 22 years later in early 1962 that a bit of music from the film came out on records. A single long-playing vinyl recording called Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold contained 6:23 minutes of The Sea Hawk as part of this anthology of Korngold fragments from his film scores. The Warner Bros. album, recorded in Munich, Germany (August 1961), was conducted by Lionel Newman and produced by George Korngold, who used the actual orchestral parts from the 1940 studio sessions.
Ten years later conductor Charles Gerhardt and producer George Korngold included 6:53 minutes of The Sea Hawk score (newly recorded) in RCA's initial album in their Classic Film Scores series, The Sea Hawk: The Classic Film Scores of Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
The following year seven-minutes of the original Sea Hawk music soundtrack was part of the Warner LP boxed set of three records, 50 Years of Film Music (1973). These were the actual music tracks from the film, available for the first time. Other relatively brief Sea Hawk tracks (newly recorded) were to be found in some film music anthology LP and CD albums over the years.
In 1987 a single LP album consisting entirely of a condensed (44 minutes) treatment of the score (later released on CD) was performed by conductor Varujan Kojian and the Utah Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with George Korngold again producing and utilizing the original orchestral parts.
Well, we were making headway.
But now, at last, the entire one hour and forty-six minutes of The Sea Hawk score is presented on this two CD Naxos recording, which makes use of the original orchestrations. It only took 66 years for this to become a reality.
Score Restoration Notes
After recording for Naxos the complete score for Erich Wolfgang Korngold's The Adventures of Robin Hood, Bill Stromberg and I were inclined to do the same for the composer's magnificent score to The Sea Hawk, which is one of the masterpieces of film music from Hollywood 's Golden Age. Since we were determined to do every note, it became apparent this would have to be our first double CD recording. Not only were we going to record all the music as heard in the film, but also music that was dropped for various reasons and cues that were truncated in the film's final cut. On top of that, we would do the extended trailer music, which was put together especially for the coming attractions preview — all totaling about 115 minutes of music. At the suggestion of Rudy Behlmer, we filled out the second disc with the first-ever recording of Korngold's final original film score – Deception – including all the dramatic underscoring, as well as the film version of Korngold's cello concerto, which came to a total of about thirty minutes of music and, with The Sea Hawk, makes a full and varied program showing the various sides of Korngold's incredible talent.
Preparing classic scores for re-recording is often a daunting task. Often, no full scores survive, which necessitates reorchestrating a score from top to bottom. Other times, we have parts and no score, or scores with no parts, or no scores or parts, but only conductor or composer sketches. For The Sea Hawk, most of the physical music survived, although in various degrees of usability. The written music was intended to be played for the original film recording sessions only. Some of the key cues were missing that were obviously used for later suites and never returned, although these later suites were further adapted and reorchestrated for a more traditional symphony orchestra that could play them in concert. To make matters more frustrating, several cues from the original paper material had unremovable paper strips or heavy felt-pen indications of cuts and alterations that obliterated the original notes. Luckily, the conductor books were relatively unmolested, so we could see what was cut or altered and then put the music back to its original form. The Main Title was missing both the original orchestration and parts, so Bill Stromberg and I reorchestrated it, as the published suite was vastly under orchestrated and unacceptable. We found this to be the case for other cues, notably the Panama music in which cues were cut and combined, as well as the Reunion cue that was integrated with an earlier statement of the love theme.
Because of the length and relatively short post production music schedule on the film, no less than four orchestrators were engaged. Fortunately, all of them had worked with Korngold in the past. Hugo Friedhofer, Milan Roder, Ray Heindorf and Simon Bucharoff handled these chores, with the first three doing the bulk of the score. Heindorf, who was an arranger-orchestrator for the Warner Bros. musicals, orchestrated most of the cues dealing with the latin rhythms and "sexy" saxophones heard during the Panama sections. He was an unparalleled arranger, who knew popular musical styles from historic to contemporary periods.
The basic orchestra for the original Sea Hawk scoring sessions was a large one with 3 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, 2 harps, piano, celeste, large percussion section and strings. For the cue, Throne Room, which is in the latter part of Index 7, Korngold scribbled additional trumpet fanfares to be counterpointed with the already playing four trumpets. For the original, Korngold did an overdub with three trumpets; for our recording, we brought in the three extra trumpets for the sequence. Several cues required up to 4 saxophones, and an additional "Rhumba" percussion group of four that played multiple ethnic instruments set up in a fashion similar to an arrangement for popular dance music of the day. These instruments included tambourine, gourd, tom-toms, temple blocks, snare drum, marimba, foot cymbal, small bell and gong. The music also required a mixed choir, men's choir and solo soprano.
In preparing the indexing for this score, we listed all the separate cues and included the original titles as indicated on the original music manuscript, although we tried to maintain the music continuity by not indexing every separate cue. This can sometimes be misleading, as some cues are only several seconds in duration. Many of the cues are really part of a longer musical thought, but divided in this way to enable the orchestra to change setups for certain sections, as well as easing the task of Korngold synchronizing the music to the picture. Since the composer didn't use click tracks and other mechanical aids, shorter cues enabled him to get better performances, while maintaining the exact timing required to enhance the picture. Of course, since these cues are put together either by overlaps or cross-fades, it keeps the flow of music going, although doing so with the original orchestration, as we did, would not be feasible in a live concert setting. More often than not, when concert suites of film music are prepared for live venues, the orchestration must be altered (and reduced) to a practical degree for a nonstop performance.
In preparing the Deception music for this recording, we ran into a few problems. The biggest obstacle was, with the exception of the Cello Concerto, all the full orchestrations for the underscore couldn't be located. We did have copies of the conductor books, as well as most of the instrumental parts, but it was difficult to ascertain what was missing without the full scores. We did a lot of listening to the original music tracks, which mercifully, were in great audio shape, to help answer questions and make this recording as authentic as possible.
Korngold's original scoring orchestra was slightly larger than that used for the concerto (see below), with the addition of a second harp and tuba. The extended trailer is a delightful expansion of the film's themes that makes for a "mini" Overture of the musical motifs in more of a cohesive symphonic context. Compared to The Sea Hawk, the underscore for Deception is subtle, sparse and moody, which perfectly complements the noirish elements of the story. The principal orchestrator for Deception was Murray Cutter, who recently came to Warners to be Max Steiner's chief orchestrator after the defection of Hugo Friedhofer, who left Warners to pursue his own composing career.
We decided for our recording to record the film version of the Cello Concerto, which is about half the length of the later, expanded version that Korngold prepared for concert performances. The music is to the point and, in my opinion, a perfect length for the material at hand. Korngold wrote it as one piece, which was played almost complete in the film's third act. There is a small section that was heard in an earlier rehearsal sequence that was omitted from the "complete" performance in the film. The Concerto was orchestrated by Simon Bucharoff and utilized a large orchestra. Since this was for a filmed concert performance, the strings were greatly expanded to a live, acoustic orchestra complement: 24 violins, 8 violas, 8 celli and 6 basses. The woodwinds consisted of 3 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, and 2 bassoons. The brass includes 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 4 trombones. There were a number of mallet instruments used for color which included marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, bells, and chimes, in addition to the standard symphonic percussion. Also, 1 harp, 1 piano/celeste, and of course, the solo cello completed the instrumentation. The score is full of annotations and changes Korngold added in his own hand.
Although putting this album together was a challenging experience, it was one of our most rewarding endeavors in the thirty-plus albums we have recorded for the Naxos Film Music Series over the past fourteen years.
John Morgan, October 2006
The Sea Hawk - Background to the Score
Erich Wolfgang Korngold's magnificent score to The Sea Hawk is perhaps the definitive creation among his film scores, the signature composition that has influenced generations of composers for film ever since.
Korngold had already defined the musical genre of the movie swashbuckler (or rather, schwanzbuchlers, as he insisted on calling them!) as early as 1935, with his first original work for the screen – Captain Blood, which also marked the Hollywood leading man debut of Errol Flynn. Five years later, Warner Bros., in making The Sea Hawk, mounted what may well be the finest example of the pirate adventure film ever made, not withstanding later attempts such as The Black Swan, The Spanish Main and The Crimson Pirate, or even more recent big screen hi-tech forays.
The Sea Hawk was one of the most difficult assignments of Korngold's career, requiring a score of extraordinary length and complexity. He rose to the challenge beautifully and produced music that is so multi-layered and thematically complex, it has been difficult to do it justice in a short essay. Because of the sheer scale of the composition, Korngold used the services of no fewer than four main orchestrators to assist him: Hugo Friedhofer, Milan Roder, Simon Bucharoff and Ray Heindorf, and although only given seven weeks to complete the scoring and record the music to the film, he created one of his finest works for the screen - and on schedule!
In 1935, when he had scored Captain Blood, Korngold was not yet living permanently in Hollywood, and was still dividing his time between Vienna and the film capital; he was therefore not present during shooting. When the release date was brought forward to ensure Blood was eligible for the Academy Awards, he had only three weeks to compose the music. This defeated even Korngold and he had to resort to using music by Franz Liszt in certain scenes, thereby opting for a screen credit that read "Musical Arrangements by…" even though 90% of the score was original.
By 1940 however, Korngold was living in exile in Hollywood, following the annexation of Austria by the Nazis in 1938, (while he was at Warners scoring The Adventures of Robin Hood ). Korngold was therefore already well aware that The Sea Hawk was to be his next assignment while he was still working on The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex in 1939 – a Bette Davis-Errol Flynn Technicolor romance, whose lavish sets and costumes would be deliberately planned for re-use in The Sea Hawk.
Korngold was thus able to read a draft script and begin composing themes long before the cameras rolled. Moreover, he was able to visit the set during production, and did so frequently, according to Dame Flora Robson, who memorably portrayed Queen Elizabeth I and whom I had the pleasure of interviewing at her home in Brighton in 1975. She vividly recalled:
It was a happy film for me because everyone was so accommodating. My scenes were all filmed first because I was due to open in a play on Broadway [Ladies in Retirement] and this concession was in my contract. Warners could not do enough to make it easy for me. I had worked with Claude Rains and Henry Daniell in London and Errol Flynn was utterly charming. I had been warned he might be difficult and not easy to work with – but I found him to be a total professional, punctual and letter perfect; I later learned he had made a special effort on my account to ensure I would be finished in time for the play's opening.
I so well remember the big court procession scene, which took rather a long time to film. This was because Mr Curtiz and the photographer Sol Polito took such great pains over the lighting and I remember Mr Korngold was there too. He and Mr Curtiz and the producer Henry Blanke spoke to each other only in German so I was not really aware of what was going on – but it seems that Korngold was most keen that we should all march in a particular tempo, presumably to match his music! I had never heard of a composer influencing a director before. I also remember Korngold seemed utterly fascinated by the little pet monkey that belonged to Errol Flynn in the story and spent a lot of time watching him. The monkey was a bit of a nuisance on set and was always getting away from his keeper, running about and making mischief. When I asked him why he was so interested in the creature, Mr Korngold smiled to me and said in his heavy German accent, "Oh … I try to catch his rrrrrhythm" – he always rolled his rrrs like that …
It was entirely typical of Korngold to be so meticulous and the exotic wayward theme he eventually provided for the monkey does indeed 'catch' the rhythm of his movement.
Principal photography was completed by 20 April and was turned over for editing to George Amy, who had already cut a great deal of the first half of the film, and scoring began just two days later. Korngold had been impatiently waiting for the edited reels, so that he could commence work in earnest, using his customary, unique method. In a special projection room equipped with a piano, he would have the reels of film run for him repeatedly, over and over again, while he improvised his music to the running footage, and then later, he would complete a full, annotated piano score. With his orchestrator at his side, Korngold would play this while shouting out instructions for instrumentation and particular solo instruments, with the orchestrator scribbling notes as best he could. A quick discussion to finalise matters would then take place before Friedhofer, Heindorf or whomever, would take the score home and finish the orchestration, which was subsequently turned over to copyists to produce the individual parts (often working through the night), ready for the recording sessions next day. Even then, Korngold would make many last minute changes on the soundstage, until the "sound" he wanted was achieved. The original parts are full of his pencilled emendations.
Given the inordinate length of the film, Korngold not surprisingly utilised music that he had composed for earlier films. There is a reworking of The Flood sequence from the 1936 film The Green Pastures (which he had written as a favour, without fee or screen credit!). It provides a colourful addition to the huge sea battle near the beginning of The Sea Hawk. Later, in the extended episode set in the Panama jungle, Korngold refashions part of the music for the Irish Battle in the previous year's Elizabeth and Essex, here entirely rescored and transferred to the major key. He would later rework it again, as the basis for a piano rhapsody for the 1944 film Between Two Worlds ! Finally, for the same Panama sequence, he was able to draw upon a slow waltz he had composed in 1936 for an unproduced film called Danton that was to have been directed by Max Reinhardt. Here, it becomes a march to accompany the Spanish treasure caravan, as it wends its way through the steamy jungle. A small portion of the battle music from Juarez (1939) also finds a place here.
The music used for the duel during the Sea Battle between Flynn and Gilbert Roland (Captain Lopez) and later, at the end of the film, with Henry Daniell (Lord Wolfingham) was a partial reworking of a similar sequence written for The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938.
As in Elizabeth and Essex, one court scene required a short song, to be performed by Brenda Marshall (but dubbed by Sally Sweetland). This had been clearly indicated in the script and Korngold decided to use an unpublished song of his own, that he had written at the age of 14! This earlier song – entitled Das Maedchen (The Maiden) – is much too complex and demanding for film use, so Korngold took the basic melodic contour of the opening, omitted the middle section and produced a simplified version, with lyrics by Howard Koch (who co-authored the screenplay). However, the opening phrase of the song provided the basis for Maria's theme, her leitmotif (to borrow a term from opera) and is continually developed throughout the film. Later Korngold did publish it as part of his Opus 38.
Another vocal highlight occurs towards the end of the picture, when Flynn and his men escape from the galley and take control of the Spanish ship on which they have been enslaved. As they set sail, they burst into song – a thrilling vocal treatment of the heroic main title theme, marked Happy Sailing, to lyrics by Howard Koch and Jack Scholl. This purely operatic device does not appear in the script and was probably incorporated at Korngold's suggestion.
The scoring sessions were, by all accounts, an extraordinarily exhilarating experience for all concerned. I was fortunate to interview a number of the surviving musicians in the 1970s, and all concurred that working on The Sea Hawk was a major highlight of their careers. Eleanor Aller, principal cellist in the Warner orchestra, remembered the very first day:
Warners also employed its own choir, drawn from choirs in the Los Angeles area, including the local Civic Light Opera Company run by Edwin Lester. John Ellis was a baritone in the choir that worked on The Sea Hawk under chorus master Dudley Chambers, and he remembered the scoring sessions with great affection:
Another witness who remembered the scoring sessions was Korngold's twelve-year-old son George, later to pioneer the recording of his father's film scores for RCA with Charles Gerhardt in the 1970s. He recalled:
Korngold's elderly parents, only recently escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria, also attended the sessions, with Korngold's father, the renowned Viennese music critic Dr Julius Korngold, following the score intently. Eleanor Aller recalled how, after each take, Korngold would turn around to shyly seek his approval.
The main scoring sessions were completed on 18 June 1940. On 10 June, Hal Wallis, in a rare gesture of collegial approbation, wrote a memo to Korngold, saying:
The film was previewed to the press and industry a month later and went on release in August 1940, to general acclaim. Korngold's score was nominated for an Academy Award but Walt Disney's Pinocchio and its composer Leigh Harline won Best Score, much to Korngold's disappointment.
The Sea Hawk was to be Korngold's final swashbuckler. Thereafter, he would compose scores for romantic melodramas and period dramas such as Kings Row, The Constant Nymph and Of Human Bondage. Yet along with Robin Hood and Captain Blood, it remains the benchmark for films in this genre and is arguably his most loved work in the field of motion picture music.
The Sea Hawk - The Score
Preparing a listening guide for Korngold's score to The Sea Hawk was a daunting task because of the highly complex melodic and contrapuntal development of the music.
As with all of his major scores for the cinema, Korngold regarded the script as an opera libretto. Indeed he called his film scores ‘operas without singing' and constructed his material around well-defined themes and motifs for individual character and situations. In The Sea Hawk the score is almost overflowing with ideas. The main themes are as follows:
This is by no means all. There are some individual sequences such as The Chartmaker and The Astronomer and a stand alone piece for the Night Banquet as well as innumerable subsidiary motifs based on the principal themes, and the manner in which Korngold combines all of these, embroiders his material with variations, adds counter melodies and even cross-references thematic ideas as various characters weave in and out of shot is truly extraordinary – the more so, given that much of this detail would never be heard on the soundtrack, once mixed with dialogue and sound effects.
A good example of this is the music accompanying the extended Battle near the beginning of the film. Cannon fire, swords clashing, men shouting and all manner of other sound effects make Korngold's music often barely audible. The fact that it makes such an impact is a tribute to the composer, and this sequence is the longest of its type he ever scored, at a pace that requires a turn of the page almost every twenty seconds.
Korngold adopts his usual procedure of composing each cue in such a way that the music can be performed as a continuous whole. For example, listen to the cue titled Night Banquet. In the film, immediately following this scene is one in Queen Elizabeth's Council Chamber that is not scored. Korngold's music then begins again as the scene dissolves to The Albatross at sea, and is in the same key. When performed in sequence (as here) no editing is required as the two cues flow perfectly together.
The heroic main title uses a superb opening fanfare-like theme for brass. This is the most important theme in the score and represents "The Sea Hawk" – Geoffrey Thorpe himself (Errol Flynn). It is later developed into a flowing, legato theme showing the softer, romantic personality of the main character, in contrast to his heroic public face. This kind of melodic sophistication is typical of Korngold, who immediately saw the possibilities of so developing this theme. The jaunty 4-note motif from which this theme receives its impetus, crops up all over the place and even lends itself to choral treatment for the slaves escape, as well as the final, triumphal chorus "Hail To The Queen" as the picture ends.
The Sea Hawk - Listening Guide
This opens with one of Korngold's most glorious Main Titles, eschewing the usual Warner Bros. fanfare composed by Max Steiner in 1937. Korngold's unique contract allowed this concession. His main titles are genuine theatrical overtures and this one is superb. From the heroic brass fanfare (which is extremely tricky to play, incidentally) the music soon sweeps into the marvellous love theme, which also represents the rolling waves of the ocean, even catching the flicks of foam on the crest of each wave. When Captain Geoffrey Thorpe later tells Doña Maria that he loves her, it is this music we will hear – a haunting melody that changes key at each phrase, and with its voluptuous harmony, is one of the most erotic themes ever written for a film.
Soon the fanfare returns before we switch to Spain and King Philip's palace. This sinister, sinuous motif replete with the tambourine providing appropriate colour, will be heard every time we see Don Alvarez (Claude Rains) or indeed anything Spanish on screen. The music soon shifts up a gear and we are at sea, en route to England, aboard the Nombre de Dios as Don Alvarez and Captain Lopez (Gilbert Roland) watch Doña Maria (Alvarez' niece – played by Brenda Marshall ) play shuttlecock on deck with her maid Martha (Una O'Connor). This is the first time we hear Doña Maria's theme, here jaunty and slightly syncopated to match the game's play. In the film, this cue is much shorter than presented here and the scene must have originally been longer. The cue has been restored to its original length for this recording.
The music continues serenely, but as the wind picks up, Korngold allows us to already hear it in the strings, even before Captain Lopez tells Don Alvarez! We then sweep below deck to the Slaves who are chained to the galley. The Big Drum keeps time in this death march, but soon gives way to a hint of the 'Sea' motif – as the ship enters the English Channel. An English ship is sighted (note the trumpet tune announcing to us, at least, whose it is!) and the Spanish immediately start preparing for battle, with the orchestra matching the huge surge of activity with slithering, rushing music that is quite exhilarating.
The Albatross is then recognised by the lookout and we hear Korngold's marvellous trumpet call, as memorable as his horn calls had been in Captain Blood. As the camera pans across the ship and its crew, we see Thorpe's pet monkey in the rigging and hear his skittering motif on xylophone as we do so.
Then we are into the Battle – a seventeen-minute tour-de-force of film making, supported by a massive musical structure in which motifs fly hither and yon. Any attempt by me to guide you through all of them is superfluous. Suffice to say that the opening fanfare, the wind rushing through the sails, the Albatross theme and the reworked Flood music from The Green Pastures all play a part, meshed into a symphonic whole, and brilliantly orchestrated. There is a marvellous salty flavour to all this and as Thorpe gets the upper hand, so does his theme. The Duel between Thorpe and Captain Lopez is interrupted by the trumpet call of surrender, at which the battle ends. Thanks for convincing the Trumpeter refers to the same trumpet call, now playfully heard on piccolo, as Thorpe thanks Carl Pitt (Alan Hale) for forcing the trumpeter to sound the premature surrender. Slaves Release sees the boisterous Albatross theme sweep us along before Thorpe and his men break into Don Alvarez' quarters, at which Korngold transforms the heroic main title fanfare into its broadly flowing, intensely romantic version as Thorpe sees Doña Maria for the first time – and note the little decorations Korngold adds, from the Spanish theme; she and her Uncle are Spanish after all! Then it's all hands on deck to clear the ship before she sinks, with only a brief pause as Thorpe meets an old comrade, Tuttle (Clifford Brooke) who has been released from the galley – the flowing version of the fanfare theme here symbolising Thorpe's compassion for the old man. He cries "abandon ship!", and finally the ship does sink – we hear it graphically in the music, before the clarion call of Thorpe's fanfare theme rings out.
Night Banquet is a lovely, quaint 'Old England' style sequence, as Thorpe entertains his captives at dinner in his cabin. As he proposes a toast to the Queen, the scene dissolves to her council chamber in London. The music begins again for Love Scene on the Boat with the motion of the Albatross in the water perfectly mirrored in Korngold's score. This scene, where Thorpe tries to make friends with Doña Maria is one of the most subtle love scenes Korngold ever composed, with all of Thorpe's awkwardness caught in the music, building to a ravishing climax as Doña Maria, her love dawning, realises Thorpe isn't the thieving cutthroat she first thought. Then, as Tuttle sees the English coast line on the horizon, the marvellous love theme sounds in the horns as we fade into the Throne Room of Elizabeth I with thrilling fanfares and one of Korngold's most exciting processional marches.
After Don Alvarez presents his niece Doña Maria (and an exquisite statement of her lovely theme) we then hear The Sea Hawks enter to a stirring variation of this Elizabethan march, followed by The Monkey, matching the animal's curious, limping gait as it invades the Throne Room scaring the Queen's Ladies in Waiting, which leads directly to Thorpe's Entrance and another lovely statement of his theme, as he makes the long approach to the Queen. The Exit presents a more lyrical, almost noble version of Elizabeth 's theme as she leaves the court, before a scene with Elizabeth and Thorpe where, after a light scolding, and frequent interjections by the monkey, she banters with Thorpe and the music takes on a delightful, playful character. Map of Panama introduces a new theme, as Thorpe explains his audacious plan to attack the Spanish Gold Treasure Wagon in the Isthmus of Panama jungle, pointing to a map on the wall of Elizabeth 's chamber.
It is marvellous how Korngold conjures up the heat and steaminess of the jungle in this music. As Thorpe takes his leave, (and the monkey powders his face with Elizabeth 's powder puff, all heard in the music) we move to the Palace Rose Garden (or Rosen~Garten as Korngold inscribed it in German on his score) where Doña Maria and Martha are collecting roses. Doña Maria's exquisite theme is much to the fore. Once Thorpe arrives, just as in an opera, his theme takes over. The scene ends on a plaintive note as he takes his leave, with Doña Maria refusing to acknowledge his suspicion that she is really in love with him.
The mood changes as the Albatross theme reappears, with preparations being made for the Panama expedition, and, then more mysteriously, Kroner is a spy (played by Francis McDonald) and the steward of the evil Lord Wolfingham (Henry Daniell). He has been sent to find out where Thorpe is headed. We then have a chain of short scenes, each individually and memorably scored: Chart Maker, with spare rising chords strikingly reminiscent of the opening of Korngold's opera Violanta, as first Thorpe, and then Don Alvarez and Wolfingham visit his shop; Astronomer with high, suspended chords on strings and piano that accompany a beautiful tracking shot to a revolving globe, as the Astronomer (Halliwell Hobbes) shows Don Alvarez where Thorpe is really going; and lastly The Chess Game with a marvellous, sinuous motif – actually a clever variation on Doña Maria's theme – heard on bass clarinet, perhaps depicting her unease as she watches the oily moves of her uncle Don Alvarez, across the chess board? At the end of this cue, Kroner arrives to inform Don Alvarez that Thorpe will be captured in Panama. The sequence Farewell has a subsection marked 'Agitato Amouroso' [sic]. Here Korngold typically scores the clock striking midnight as Doña Maria paces her room, before realising that she really does love Thorpe. She decides to ride to Dover to warn him and we are treated to a marvellous transformation of her theme into a gallop, as her coach hurtles through the night. She is too late (of course!) and arrives just as Thorpe's ship disappears into the mist. We move straight on to the Panama Montage which includes the oppressive theme first heard when Thorpe showed Queen Elizabeth the map – this is the Jungle Orchid – as General Aguerra (the marvellously creepy Victor Varconi) compares the trap he has prepared for Thorpe to the petals of the flower, as it closes on an insect. Thorpe's Men Hiding reprises this before we hear the slow, ominous march of the Gold Caravan. The Attack is brief as Thorpe takes easy control of the caravan, and there then follows a sequence of short cues as Thorpe and his crew are in turn surprised and, following a Fight, then retreat In the Jungle where (as my colleague, writer Jessica Duchen has pointed out) the descending, chromatic 'death motif' from Korngold's famous opera Die tote Stadt follows them, as they get lost in the infested swamp. Thorpe cuts through Jungle leads to Ocean and the most eloquent statement of the love theme, as the crew break free onto the sea shore. The Hanging Man depicts Thorpe's first sight of the corpse of his lookout, when they reach the Albatross, and following his reluctant surrender to Captain Lopez, we move to The Trial before the dreaded Spanish Inquisition, leading to Thorpe and his crew condemned to The Galley. The action then switches to Queen Elizabeth's chamber where Doña Maria is singing a wistful song [ Maria's Song ] about a girl pining for her lover far away.
The cue After Maria's Song accompanies the sudden arrival of Don Alvarez with the news that Thorpe has been captured. Maria Faints at this news and her theme now radiantly underscores the departure of the ladies in waiting with her, as Elizabeth against Philip depicts a confrontation between the Queen and Don Alvarez, - a furioso treatment of the Spanish theme, at the end of which she insists on having King Philip's portrait removed from her sight.
Elizabeth 's noble theme accompanies After the Council – a tender scene with her friend Sir John Burleson (Donald Crisp) where she reluctantly agrees to imprison the Sea Hawks in the Tower to prevent war with Spain, after which Maria's Bedroom presents a distraught Doña Maria crying on her bed, with her theme now appropriately in the minor key. Spanish Boat – with a triumphant statement of the Spanish theme, takes us back to the ship carrying Thorpe and his crew as slaves, and a great deal of brutality below deck. Indeed, Michael Curtiz added so much whipping to these scenes that Hal Wallis wrote an admonitory memo asking him to tone it down, afraid of offending the Hays Office. I am Abbott marks the appearance of a new galley slave played by James Stephenson, a fine actor in a tiny part, who tells Thorpe that the Armada is finally about to sail against England. This stirs Thorpe to action and Rebellion, and by refusing to row and then attacking the guard, he and his men are whipped even more ~ but not before stealing a knife! Along the Coast of Cadiz is the title card on screen, as the ship arrives in port for the transfer of secret documents about the Armada, to be then taken to London for the spy at the English court, Lord Wolfingham. The Slaves Liberate Themselves is a lengthy night sequence with a repeated motif, as Thorpe and the crew quietly use the knife to remove their chains. The Murder accompanies Carl Pitt strangling the drum master with a chain but curiously, this brutal act seems to have been softened during shooting as the drum master wakes up – requiring Mr Pitt to hit him over the head again, rendering him unconscious.
The Fight with the Guard begins with Thorpe's men finally breaking free and proceeds through a series of incidents as they overpower the guards and take over the ship. Thorpe then enters the Captain's cabin and the Knife Fight occurs as he struggles to seize the secret dispatches – crucial evidence to show the Queen that Spain 's war plan is real.
Then we come to the uplifting Happy Sailing and this marvellous choral version of the main title (with words by Koch and Jack Scholl). The Arrival shows Doña Maria and Don Alvarez in the coach at Dover. He is returning to Spain on the very ship Thorpe has taken, but she is staying behind. Reunion is the big love scene of the film, as Thorpe surprises Doña Maria in the coach. Many regard this as the most beautiful love music Korngold ever composed. New Difficulties ominously underlines the moment that Thorpe is seen by Kroner in the coach, ending with Thorpe escaping into the Palace grounds. Thorpe enters into Castle begins the thrilling final sequence, as he tries to reach Queen Elizabeth, first fighting off the Palace Guard (much use of the opening title fanfare theme) and then, entering Lord Wolfingham's apartments (with the icy tones of Henry Daniell memorably intoning: "Have you nine lives Captain Thorpe? Surely, by now, most of them must be used up!") whereupon the climactic Duel is fought, at a furious pace with music to match, ending only when Wolfingham is dispatched, Queen Elizabeth enters and the plot is revealed. The Finale is full of pomp and ceremony, as Queen Elizabeth knights Thorpe (recalling the similar finale to The Adventures of Robin Hood ) while his crew and an adoring Doña Maria look on. The extended sequence used for the British print (underscoring Elizabeth 's longer speech preparing the nation for "a war that none of us wants") is included on this recording, before the full chorus break in to the final " Hail to the Queen! And for England ! Hail! Hail! Hail! ". The End Cast reprises the marvellous love music and Korngold's epic score closes with a last, jubilant fanfare of Thorpe's theme. Korngold's assertion that film music should still be fine music without the picture is perfectly realised here.
The original Theatrical Trailer appears to be lost (only the 1947 reissue trailer survives in the Warner vaults) and as was customary, Korngold scored this trailer especially, even composing a new theme that does not appear in the actual film score! Constructed in three parts, the original is recorded here for the first time.
Korngold's score for The Sea Hawk continues to be a profound influence on film music style and is still copied today whenever a Square Rigger comes on the screen. The original blueprint for every swashbuckler score since 1940, it has never been bettered nor is it ever likely to be.
Korngold's final film for Warner Bros. in 1946 is also one of his most interesting projects, in that it is one of very few modern stories to be scored by him. It contains less original music than any of his other assignments because he decided to incorporate excerpts from classical repertoire wherever possible, this being a film about classical musicians. Therefore we hear music by Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven and J. S. Bach throughout the story, with only a magisterial main title theme by Korngold (also used as a love theme and varied in instrumentation whenever it appears) and his own original Cello Concerto as the climax of the film.
Otherwise, Korngold's original scoring takes on an almost film noir style, as in the marvellous cues Mysterioso and Jealousy/Tenderness, heard as Karel Novak (Paul Henreid) begins to notice the luxury in which his supposedly impoverished lover, Christine Radcliffe (Bette Davis) is now living.
The score for Deception has never been recorded until now (apart from its Main Title and the Concerto) perhaps because it was felt there was insufficient music for a representative suite. What is astonishing is that, once recorded and edited together, these short, atmospheric cues actually make for a very satisfying listen, proving once again that Korngold's method of "through composing" works even here.
Fewer scenes are scored too and the music has a much more contemporary feel. In particular, Korngold's scoring of the Murder of Hollenius (Claude Rains) indicates that he might have easily made the transition to more modern film subjects, had he decided not to retire from motion pictures in 1947. The Cello Concerto, which is heard both in rehearsal and as the climactic performance of the film, was later published as his Opus 37. Interestingly, it draws on material from two earlier film scores; the ravishing second subject is a slightly altered version of the main title to Between Two Worlds (1944) while the Adagio section is based on a theme from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939).
For the rehearsal scene, Korngold cleverly created the flautist's mistake actually in the score, thereby allowing the scripted confrontation between Novak and Hollenius. It was probably his suggestion, as he was present throughout shooting, at story conferences influencing the story and development of the script, and even contributed dialogue. The cadenza in the concerto features a passage impossible to realise on the cello, when the soloist plays rapid consecutive 10ths. It was achieved by having Eleanor Slatkin record a double track and later, at a dinner party, famous cellist Gregor Piatigorsky asked Paul Henried how he managed to do it! The original film version of the concerto (which has a slightly expanded orchestration to that of the later published score) is recorded here for the first time.
The Original Theatrical Trailer presents the main title and concerto themes in a totally different orchestration from the film, together with a stirring conclusion that is more triumphant than the End Titles.
Deception premiered in New York on 18 October 1946 and went on general release a month later. Eleanor Slatkin, by then heavily pregnant, gave the world premiere of the Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic before an audience of 2000, at one of the popular Standard Oil Sunday broadcasts.
When Korngold's son George asked his father what he thought of the performance, Korngold smiled and said " Allegro con emb rio!"
Deception seems a much better film today than it did in 1946 and has become a great favourite among film fans thanks to its star performances, incisive, witty and intelligent dialogue and splendid musical presentation. One cannot imagine a film like this being made now, where a major living composer is a key contributor to the script and filming and composes, not only an incidental score but also a brilliant original work. Back then, it really was a golden age of filmmaking.
Brendan G Carroll
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