April 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Founder Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /April01/

The Stripper & Nick Quarry
orchestrated by the composer * album produced by Lukas Kendall
Film Score Monthly Vol.3 No.9 * [73:32]
(www.filmscoremonthly.com) Film Score Monthly, 8503 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, California, CA 90232. E-mail:info@filmscoremonthly.com)

In retrospect The Stripper (1963) is of note for marking the feature debut of the still strangely under-rated director, Franklin J. Schaffner, and for being the first of seven films Jerry Goldsmith would score for Schaffner. Goldsmith had already worked with Schaffner on television's Studio One (1948) and Playhouse 90 (1959), while together they would later make Planet of the Apes (1968), Patton (1970), Papillon (1973), Islands in the Stream (1977), The Boys From Brazil (1978) and Lionheart (1987), the first three of which are surely enough to consider theirs one of the great director/composer collaborations.

Good though the score to The Stripper is, it is doubtful whether this album would ever have been issued had it not been the work of a composer as popular as Goldsmith. The film was a flop and is almost entirely forgotten today, yet is of particular interest to Goldsmith fans for being one of the earliest scores of the composer yet to be released on disc. The film was a small town drama based on a play, A Loss of Roses, by William Inge. His previous plays, such as Come Back Little Sheba, Picnic and Bus Stop had been hits which had translated into successful films. Thus 20th Century Fox, which had produced the film version of Bus Stop (1956), making a star of Marilyn Monroe, bought the rights to A Loss of Roses before the movie of Inge's The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960) opened to mediocre business. To make matters worse, the play itself flopped. When the film version was eventually produced Darryl F. Zanuck took it out of Schaffner's hands, and in an attempt to make it more commercial gave it a new, exploitative, title. He re-edited the film to cut vital dramatic scenes, softening the impact while contrarily emphasising the more sensational aspects.

At least Schaffner and Goldsmith came out of the debacle with credibility intact, the latter penning a very diverse score encompassing wistful Americana, traditional Hollywood film scoring and jazz with introspective and personal moments anticipating A Patch of Blue (1965) or A Girl Named Sooner (1975). Film Score Monthly have done Goldsmith proud with a CD which gives a very through and well presented account of the score. The music is in four sections - there is a fifth section on the disc which I will come to later.

Tracks 1-17 "The Stripper" cover the score 'proper', running fractionally over 42 minutes. Normally this would be the end of the story, but not here. Next is a section headed "1963 Movie Radio", which comprises nine instrumental pieces from the Fox music library, designed to be dropped into various productions as source music to avoid paying royalties on genuine commercial recordings. These appear in various places in The Stripper (as well as in many other Fox productions of the time) and range from rock and roll to Dixieland. Section three is "The Strip Act", which in the film is accompanied by "Something's Gotta Give" by Johnny Mercer. Joanne Woodward recorded at least two further songs for this sequence, "Frankie and Johnny" and "You've Gotta See Mamma Every Night", both of which are present here. Finally a section entitled "Bonus Score" offers an alternative version of the cue, 'The Empty Room' and a mono version of the 'End Title'. This is as authoritative as one could wish, presented with excellent 1963 stereo which retains that dreamlike lush romance which is beyond the clarity of modern recording techniques.

The booklet is superbly documented, with full and authoritative notes by Lukas Kendall, detailing the history of the production together with commentary on each track. There are clearly reproduced colour publicity stills (the film was shot in black and white) plus the original poster. As Kendall says of Goldsmith, "It is a credit to his immense talent that the score, in its most introspective moments, so frequently rises to such exquisite delicacy and poignancy. The Stripper is more a good version of the type of music that was already being within rather than the type of bull's-eye experimentation Goldsmith brought to his subsequent pictures, but it is without doubt a profound prelude to not one but two great careers." And he's right. This isn't the sort of score many of the composer's later fans love. There is no action or adventure, simply a beautifully crafted work in wistful hues for small-town broken hearts. The best of this music is lovely indeed, yet without the distinctive personality of Goldsmith's very best work. Serious Goldsmith collectors should acquire a copy ASAP, whilst others may be better served with one of his later works.

However, that isn't the end of the album. There is a ten minute bonus in the never before issued music for a short pilot for an unsold series, Nick Quarry (1968). Rather than a full 50 minute pilot, this was basically an action-orientated extended trailer made to promote a show based on the Frank Sinatra detective movie, Tony Rome (1967). The show was rejected for being too violent for the times, while the music Goldsmith composed was very much of the time. This is ten minutes of cool, swinging detective/spy adventure music, including a 'hip' electric rock section 'Body Art'. It may be formula stuff, and many might even have trouble identifying it as Goldsmith, but that is the point; it is meant to be generic TV 'tec music. No one would have been the poorer had this remained in the vaults forever. It's certainly no lost masterpiece and far from classic Goldsmith, but it is professionally crafted and fun, and is nice to have and hear a couple of times. It certainly fills out the disc and shows the effort Film Score Monthly are prepared to put into their releases.

Quite simply, this is a superbly presented release. Devoted Goldsmith fans will want a copy, and while it's a strong early work it isn't essential listening. However, if you do buy it I doubt you will be disappointed.

Gary S. Dalkin

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