February 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Elmer BERNSTEIN
The View from Pompey’s Head  
Bernard HERRMANN
Blue Denim  
  OSTs
  FILM SCORE MONTHLY Vol. 4 No. 15   [75:11]

The View from Pompeys Head and Blue Denim

Available from Film Score Monthly, 8503 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA90232; Tel: 1-888-345-6335; overseas: 310-253-9595; fax: 310-253-9588;

These 2 for 1 releases from Film Score Monthly really do spoil the fans! I’d like to think they’re not split for a decision in obtaining this one though. Early Bernstein versus early Herrmann is no contest in quality. Both are enough to warrant their own individual release anyway.

First comes Bernstein from 1955 at which point the 33-year-old composer was yet to score a romance picture. Clearly he had a rare time delving into string writing since the grace and tenderness of the Pompey theme is quite wonderful. Sunny and warm, this is poles apart from either the western or comic styles he became pigeonholed by.

Director Philip Dunne’s first choice for the score was Herrmann who had worked on his previous movie (Prince of Players). Fortunately for Bernstein, he was already contracted to Hitchcock’s Man who Knew Too Much. Skip ahead 4 years, and we come to Herrmann in fine fettle for another Dunne project.

In many ways it might have been interesting if the composer casting on these 2 projects had been reversed. It’s been wondered at why Herrmann agreed to score this project. Firstly because the play adaptation was rather weak in itself. Secondly because what he turned out often seems like a lazy retread of other works. Indeed, the romantic echoes of his "Scene d’Amour" from Vertigo are alarmingly intrusive. Naturally there’s still plenty of Herrmann invention, and the lone action sequence ("The Chase") is a highlight for horn participation in the score.

Don’t stop spoiling us FSM!

Paul Tonks

****

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