Classic Film Scores for Errol Flynn
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
The Sea Hawk (Warner, 1940) [8:08]
Captain Blood (Warner, 1935) [2:08]
The Adventures of Robin Hood (Warner, 1938) [12:20],
Max STEINER (1888-1971)
The Adventures of Don Juan (Warner, 1948) [9:35]
They Died With Their Boots On (Warner, 1941) [8:41]
Dodge City (Warner, 1939) [7:56]
Franz WAXMAN (1906-1967)
Objective Burma (Warner, 1945) [2:16]
Hugo FRIEDHOFER (1901-1981)
The Sun Also Rises (20th Century Fox, 1957) [4:42]
National Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Gerhardt
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, 18-19 November 1975
SONY RCA RED SEAL 88697 77934 [56:10]

This album is devoted to music for films starring Errol Flynn. It was originally released in LP format as RCA Red Seal ARL1 0912. Flynn was one of Warner Bros biggest stars and as such the Studio’s top musical talent was usually assigned to his films. Erich Wolfgang Korngold fell squarely into this category and scored seven Flynn films: Captain Blood; Another Dawn; The Prince and the Pauper; The Adventures of Robin Hood; Elizabeth and Essex; The Sea Hawk and Escape Me Never – a significant proportion of his total 20-odd film output. Three of those scores are represented in this album.

The most significant of the Korngold pieces, included here, is the 12½-minute suite from The Adventures of Robin Hood. The 1938 film is still regarded as a foremost classic of its kind. The suite begins with rousing fanfares and a regal march for ‘The Archery Tournament’ proceeding to impudent responding music as Robin and his merry men enter the competition. There is a slice of cheeky presto too for ‘Escape from the Gallows’ then sumptuous romance for Flynn to court Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian. The suite is rounded off with the sly and ironic music for Prince John’s ‘Coronation Procession’ a coronation that is thwarted by Robin. The Sea Hawk is another top-drawer Korngold score combining stirring sea-salty evocations for pirate ships and sea battles, wonderfully regal music for scenes in Queen Elizabeth’s palace, and Latin evocations, using a panoply of exotic percussion for the scenes set in Panama. These two scores are absolutely first class and together with Korngold’s Kings Row are true masterpieces of the genre.

The first film Korngold scored for Flynn was also the swashbuckling star’s debut - Captain Blood. A short romantic excerpt is included here – ‘Ship in the Night’ for the sequence where Errol allows safe passage for a ship unaware that it carries his love interest-to-be, Olivia de Havilland. She was to co-star with him in seven other films.

Max Steiner, Warner’s other front-rank composer, scored 15 Flynn films including: The Charge of the Light Brigade; The Sisters; Dawn Patrol; Virginia City, Dodge City; The Adventures of Don Juan; They Died With Their Boots On; Santa Fe Trail; Dive Bomber; Desperate Journey and San Antonio.

By the time Errol Flynn made The Adventure of Don Juan in 1948 he was beginning to parody his own swashbuckling image. His Don Juan derring-do and romancing was consequently delivered with tongue very much in cheek. Steiner supported him with a straight-faced score that would not have shamed Korngold. The romantic music is appropriately just that bit pert and over-indulgent. But the regal treatment for ‘The King’ rivals Korngold’s in majesty; the Don’s theme is contrastingly mischievous and devil-may-care. The score is appropriately inflected with vibrant Spanish rhythms and coloured with flamboyant flair.

Steiner scored a number of westerns for Errol. Here is a suite from the rather over-romanticised story of General Custer – The Died With Their Boots On. It has bugle calls aplenty and is mainly based on romantic and adventurous variations of the actual march of the 7th Cavalry – ‘Garry Owen’ and the accelerating screeching war-cry music for the Sioux and Cheyenne.

Franz Waxman contributed a fine score for Objective Burma in which Flynn gave one of his best and most restrained performances. Here is Waxman’s tough, raw-edged and highly evocative ‘Parachute Drop’ sequence. Hugo Friedhofer who was the Warner Music department’s principal orchestrator, composed the music for The Sun Also Rises from Hemingway’s novel about a band of disillusioned expatriates in 1920s Paris and Spain. The film starred Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer and Eddie Albert with Flynn in a relatively small role played a happy-go-lucky tipsy bankrupt. Friedhofer’s splendid music is first heard for the film’s Prologue, a magnificently imposing long-breathed melodic statement as we see dawn breaking over Paris. This is followed by a more relaxed lyrical section, ‘The Lights of Paris’, a lovely nostalgic tribute to the City of Lights.

Another ‘Classical Film Score’ winner with some of Korngold’s best music. The remastered sound is terrific.

Ian Lace

Another ‘Classical Film Score’ winner with some of Korngold’s best music. The remastered sound is terrific.