November 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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RECOMMENDED November 2002

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Hugo FRIEDHOFER
Above and Beyond  
  OST
  FILM SCORE MONTHLY Vol. 5 No. 11   [55:44]

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

above and beyond

Above and Beyond hails from our beloved Golden Age of film music (1952), but for Friedhofer this was already two decades into his career. That year saw him churn out half a dozen other scores, as well as have his name uncredited in amongst sourced stock music on half a dozen more. It was five years on from his Oscar win for The Best Years of Our Lives, and it would be two years before this would receive a nomination itself. So there you have the composer's historical setting and significance.

The film has its own, and it is to this that the listener ought to turn for an appreciation of what Friedhofer was conveying in this music. Crammed into its 2 hour running time is the story of Operation Silverplate, the first use of the atomic bomb, which occurred during World War II. Naturally this was potent dramatic material to work with, yet just listening to the album might mislead the listener in the early cues, which are often gently romantic. This is the human side of the story, belonging to Robert Taylor as Air Force pilot Paul Tibbets. Later we find the marches and horn calls associated with the military might. The real centre of the score is a beautiful motif associated with the bomb itself! This ascending theme is an intriguing device for depicting something so destructive (and which would actually travel downwards). Friedhofer would actually re-use this theme on an even grander scale 5 years later for the Errol Flynn movie The Sun Also Rises.

As always with the FSM label, every attempt has been made to deliver the best audio quality available. The packaging is attractive and the booklet is jammed with information. 

Paul Tonks

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