Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


October 1998

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André PREVIN Irma La Douce OST  RYKO RCD10729 [35:04]  


Crotchet (UK)
Soundstone (USA)

The poster for this 1963 delightful and underrated Billy Wilder comedy proclaimed, "a story of passion, bloodshed, desire and death...everything, in fact, that makes life worth living." It starred Shirley MacLaine as a Paris call girl with a heart of gold and Jack Lemmon as the earnest policeman who falls for her and resorts to all sorts of ruses, including impersonating an English lord to seduce her and keep her off the streets so that he, as himself, can court her (if you follow my drift). The plot is typical of French farce.

Wilder fashioned a straightforward comedy, using a script developed by I.A.L. Diamond and himself, dropping the sixteen numbers and much of the dialogue from what had previously been a successful stage musical. André Previn's sparkling score added considerably to the success of the film. Besides the obligatory location-setting music (with the inevitable accordions) his music has, appropriately, allusions to the works of Satie and Les Six. It has pointed satirical wit and a charming insouciance. From the original stage show, Previn chose to use Monnot's jaunty "Dis Donc, Dis Donc" and the beautiful and haunting romantic song, "Our Language of Love." The comic music for Nestor is colourful and imaginative. The sardonic, snappy music that introduces him brilliantly portrays him as pompous and efficient (except that he manages to arrest his own boss!) and full of his own importance and integrity. After he falls for MacLaine the music grows more and more wild and erratic as Lemmon gets into all sorts of scrapes. The cues "The market", with its risible parts for snare drum, flute and vibraphone; plus the furtive scamperings of "Escape" remind one of a musical Tom and Jerry. A bit repetitive but one of the best of the Ryko releases

Ian Lace

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