May 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Roger DUMAS & Georges VAN PARYS & Oscar STRAUS
Les Films des Années 40  Simplet, La Romance de Paris, Circonstances Atténuantes & Trois Valses
  Naïve K 1609   [48:25]

Annees 40

Nicely presented in a four panel digipack, this unusual album presents music and dialogue from four French films from the end of the 1930's and early 1940's, movies which even the most knowledgeable of English-speaking cinephiles are unlikely to be familiar. The disc opens with Simplet, a 1942 comedy directed by and starring the immensely popular Fernadel. The music is by Roger Dumas and after a typically jaunty comedy main title a lengthy dialogue extract leads into the song, "m'appelle Simplet", performed by the movie's star. More dialogue, with as before plenty of birdsong in the background, concludes with another version of the title song and a brief end title. The sound, as through-out the album, is obviously mono and of fairly poor quality with much distortion in evidence.

That said, the quality of recording for the selections from La Romance de Paris (1941) is far superior, the first of two featured films directed by Jean Boyer and scored by Georges Van Parys. The second is Circonstances Atténuantes (1939). A vibrant main title again gives way to dialogue, and this time a title song performed by Charles Trenet. More dialogue and further songs by Trenet follow, the formula being repeated for the next film, the song coming from the great French star Arletty, with accordion music by Michel Simon. Finally it is time for Trois Valses and music by Oscar Straus.

This light-hearted disc will presumably delight lovers of popular French film of the period, though as at least half the playing time consists of dialogue from features almost completely unknown in the UK it is difficult to know what the English market might be. While there was arguably a place for dialogue on LPs before the video/DVD age, there really seems little point in it now, when it is possible to enjoy entire films at home as easily as it is to play CDs. The music really only has the appeal of nostalgia for those who grew up with these films, and the sound can make listening a chore to those more familiar with modern recordings. Given the brief playing time one might reasonably think music from more films could have been included. This disc can really only appeal as a souvenir to those who love the films. If you have never heard of them, try to see them before spending your money on this.

Gary S. Dalkin


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