August 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  
Music Composed and Conducted by Jerome Moross
  Limited edition: 3000 copies
  Available on Film Score Monthly Golden Age Classics FSM Vol 6 No 9  
Running Time: 60.00
Film Score Monthly, 8503 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA90232; Tel: 1-888-345-6335; overseas: 310-253-9595; fax: 310-253-9588; e-mail:

adventures of huckleberry finn

Right from the irrepressibly jaunty and celebratory main title theme this could be the work of no other composer than Jerome Moross, and if coming in 1960 just two years after his most celebrated score, it sounds unmistakably like The Big Country part III (The Jayhawkers, written the year before, sounds like Part II) then this is no bad thing. The FSM press release below tells the story of the score, and for anyone at all familiar with Morossí music, they will know very much what to expect. Only the two brief vocal cues by Archie Moore dates the performance with a certain Disneyesque folksiness which is very much of the period. Otherwise pieces such as "Pap/Papís Cabin/Pap and Huck/Huckís Murder" and "Starting Down the River" evidence Morossí balletic, eloquently crafted Americana to perfection. The dynamically split stereo effects come into their own with the woodwind and brass arrangements and the melodies sing with the optimistic youth of a mid-19th century America. Light, charming and playful, though with moments of more intense drama, this is a beguiling is somewhat repetitive work for the young at heart.

The bonus cues are less interesting than on the average FSM release, being mostly just demo vocals and a different version of the Main Title, but this should not deter anyone from exploring this most attractive and melodic score. The 1960 stereo sound is excellent, as of course is the FSM packaging and presentation. The disc makes an excellent in-depth companion to Silva Screenís more general purpose The Valley of Gwangi: The Classic Film Music of Jerome Moross, which contains a 14 minute suite from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and is coincidentally is reissued this month and also reviewed on FMOTW.

Gary Dalkin

**** 4

Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music

Jerome Moross (1913-1983) was a splendid composer -- particularly in the American idiom -- whose film scores are virtually unavailable on CD. FSM comes to the rescue with his complete score for the 1960 Mark Twain adaptation, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, newly remixed and remastered from the original M-G-M stereo elements.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn starred Eddie Hodges as the title character, surrounded by an assortment of capable actors: Neville Brand, Patty McCormack, Sherry Jackson, Andy Devine, Buster Keaton, Royal Dano, Parley Baer, John Carradine, Sterling Holloway and a young Harry Dean Stanton. Tony Randall and Mickey Shaughnessy portrayed a pair of con men, and boxer Archie Moore turned in a fine performance as Huck's friend Jim, a runaway slave.

Matching the picturesque Mississippi River locations was Jerome Moross, composing perhaps his second-best Americana score (next to The Big Country) and effortlessly capturing the sarcasm and lyricism of Twain's storytelling. Moross wrote a veritable ribbon of melodies, not only for Huck himself but for his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri; for sweet-natured Jim; the hapless con men; the gorgeous Mississippi River; and Huck's imposing father. The transparent orchestrations and bouncy, delightful rhythms are a highwater mark of Moross's writing.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was at one time planned as a musical by M-G-M, with songs written by Burton Lane and Alan J. Lerner. Although the finished film is not a musical, snippets of the Lane/Lerner songs were retained as source music. FSM's premiere CD includes these occasional vocals (as they are intertwined into Moross's score) as well as rare demos of the primary song, "Huckleberry Finn."

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Music Composed and Conducted by Jerome Moross Songs Composed by Burton Lane & Alan J. Lerner
  • Main Title/Hannibal, Missouri 3:48
  • Huck and Jim/Huckleberry Finn (vocal: Archie Moore) 0:52
  • Pap/Pap's Cabin/Pap and Huck/Huck's Murder 4:59
  • Huck Gets Away 2:55
  • Starting Down the River 2:11
  • After the Feud/Jim's Sins/On to Pikesville/The Placard 3:06
  • In Pikesville 1:25
  • The Blessing/Huck Hunts the Gold/Huck Gets the Gold/Huck Hides the Gold 3:49
  • The English Uncles/On the Raft 1:51
  • Huckleberry Finn (vocal: Archie Moore)/A Houseboat in the Fog 3:12
  • The Raft Is Destroyed 2:03
  • The Riverboat/I Ain't Never Felt So Good Before (vocal: Archie Moore)/I'll Wait for You by the River (vocal: Dolores Hawkins)/In the Pilothouse/The River 4:22
  • Back to the River/Carmody's Circus 3:02
  • Jim Is Caught/The Sheriff/Jim in Chains 2:54
  • The Sheriff's Wife/Huck Frees Jim 1:50
  • The Chase 2:19
  • The New Raft 1:27
  • Hannibal, Missouri/End Title 2:55
  • Total Time: 49:42

Bonus Tracks

  • Main Title/Hannibal, Missouri (film version) 3:48
  • Huckleberry Finn (demo vocal: Archie Moore) 1:10
  • Pittsburgh Blue (vocal: Dolores Hawkins) 2:46
  • Huckleberry Finn (demo vocal: George Bledsoe) 1:03
  • Huckleberry Finn (demo vocal: John Hawker) 1:20
  • Total Time: 10:15
Total Disc Time: 59:58

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