September 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /Sept01/

Alfred NEWMAN A Man Called Peter OST FILM SCORE MONTHLY Vol 4 No. 7 [58:10]
[Available through the magazine, Film Score Monthly, or its website ( for $19:95 plus shipping: Film Score Monthly, 8503 Washington Boulevard, Culver City CA 90232, ph: 310-253-9595 or toll-free 1-888-345-6335 fax:310-253-9588;]



A solid example from Alfred Newman of film scoring from the 1950s, here supporting the true story of Peter Marshall, who became Chaplain to the United States Senate. Quite naturally, considering the subject matter, there is a religious grandeur and reverence to this score, but it manages not to slide too far into extreme sentimentality (for the most part) and has a real sense of both compassion and dignity.

There are three central themes to this work, the first two introduced in the 'Main Title', beginning with a noble, benevolent string led piece with a Scottish folksy flavour (the story opens in that country) representing the title character, while a second melody to characterise America, the land of opportunity, has a typically righteous quality that was often heard in US movies of this era. The other key motif is introduced in 'Catherine', the woman who became Peter's wife and this sweet-natured romantic piece figures prominently, on among others, 'One Week Later' with a rather tragic tone and the uplifting 'Faith and Recovery'. At other times it works in harmony with Peter's own theme, the two motifs used to depict their blossoming romance ('Goodnight, Peter Darling', 'The Proposal/The Cedars Waltz/The Way of Love') and later to augment the more dramatic, poignant aspects of the story on 'Finale'. But while these two pieces are quite rewarding, I had less enthusiasm for the 'America' theme which is reworked on many cues like 'The Immigrant', 'Washington, D.C.', 'The Lincoln Memorial' and 'The Church of the Presidents'. For my taste this is a little too melodramatic and naive, a criticism that some more modern-minded film music aficionados might level at certain examples in Newman's considerable body of work. Even so, there are tracks that compensate, particularly 'The Revelation', with that attractively Scottish folk sound (incorporating Peter's theme once more), building mysteriously towards a 'heavenly' finale. There are also a number of pleasant source cues, something which normally I find rather distracting, but here they seem integral to the overall score. 'The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond', 'That Old Time Religion' and 'God the Father' among many others, all contribute to capturing the essence of this story.

This is a nostalgic film score, representing a musical era when charm and a certain innocence were more prevalent and if the music seems somewhat unsophisticated by today's standards that is to be expected. But a score like this has its place and it can only be a good thing that it's now generally available, thanks once more to the first rate efforts of the Film Score Monthly team.

Mark Hockley

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