This two-score release presents two quite different soundtracks, both dating from 1967, by the distinguished French composer, Georges Delerue, best known for such scores as: Jules and Jim and others for François Truffaut, plus Anne of the Thousand Days, Julia, A Little Romance, Beaches, and Steel Magnolias.
For the English gothic drama, Our Mother’s House Delerue, like Elmer Bernstein in scoring To Kill A Mocking Bird, chose to write a score that accentuated childhood innocence. [The story is about a family of seven children who decide to bury their dead mother in their garden and continue to live as normal as though she were still alive rather than risk being split and sent to separate orphanages. Madness follows as one manipulative child decides that mother will still control them through living-room séances. When their errant father returns with his mistress and tries to slander their mother, the inevitable tragedy follows.] Delerue’s lovely Main Title speaks of happy childhood and its subsidiary theme stated on piano (by British concert pianist, Peter Katin) is redolent of the mother’s tender love. This subsidiary theme will be transformed into strained elegiac writing for strings as the story unfolds. The music darkens and becomes Herrmannesquely (shades of Psycho) eerie when one of the girls skips a séance session and is punished by having her hair severely cut. Charlie (Dirk Bogarde), the children’s father is characterised by Delerue’s sly, sleazy jazzy clarinet music. Childhood-innocence music is shattered in one stroke by just one intrusive low placed and menacing chord as Charlie is struck down with a fire poker in the penultimate cue.
Delerue’s score for The 25th Hour is altogether darker, and dirge-like. A tragic-comedy starring Anthony Quinn as an innocent and inept Romanian peasant, separated from his wife and family during World War II and moved around Europe until he is forced into the German army. In the final days of the war, he helps former fellow-prisoners escape but is put on trial as a war criminal before finally being reunited with his family (simplifying a very complicated plot). The opening, trudging theme played against visuals of barbed wire is a mournful lament for male choir, brass, strings and harp. But the central motif is a fragile delicate theme for cimbalom. Cimbalom music, representing the hapless Johann’s innocence, is heard throughout the score. This theme is later developed into a kind of gypsy dance for strings (‘Johann in the Wheat Field’). In ‘Johann and Suzanna’, moody strings and male chorus foreshadow separation and the dirge resumes in ‘Deportation of the Jews’. ‘Arrival of the Germans’ is all brutal brass and snare drums. ‘Johann in Budapest’ allows some light-hearted Viennese waltz music but it turns sour in ‘Gathering of the Flowers’, while ‘Arrival of the Russians’ has appropriate stolid nationalistic martial music for male choir and orchestra. The score of this bitter, ironic, denunciation of war, ends in pathos with the rambunctious folk melody veering maddeningly out of control as the family is at last reunited in 1949 and Johann is forced into a pained artificial smile by a photographer.
Two more impressive Delerue scores that deserve to be better known.
The FSM press release:
Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music
FSM reissues two classic MGM Records albums on one CD, Our Mother's House and The 25th Hour, both from 1967 and composed by Georges Delerue.
Georges Delerue (1925-1992) was a gifted melodist and dramatist whose music accompanied the best films of the French new wave: Shoot the Piano Player, Contempt, Jules and Jim, The Soft Skin, Two English Girls, Day for Night, Love on the Run and The Last Metro, most directed by Francois Truffaut. While he was recognized for the gentle, lyrical quality of his scores (such as the Oscar-winning A Little Romance), Delerue tackled every sort of genre in more than 300 films, including epics, crime thrillers, romances and political dramas.
Our Mother's House was an offbeat drama directed by Jack Clayton about seven English children who decide to raise themselves after their mother passes away. It works well enough -- until the arrival of their no-good father (Dirk Bogarde). Delerue's lovely, melodic scoring made headlines 17 years later when it influenced Quincy Jones's music for The Color Purple. How similar is it? For years Our Mother's House was notoriously difficult to hear, the LP having been released only in Canada -- now, you be the judge!
The second half of the program is Delerue's equally melodic but much different score for the Eastern European Holocaust saga The 25th Hour, starring Anthony Quinn as a Romanian farmer mistaken for a Jew and cast about Europe for the better part of a decade. Delerue provided a simple, heartfelt theme for cimbalom and eerie, dirge-like music for a continent gone mad -- in the "25th hour" of humanity.
FSM's premiere CD features both album programs newly remastered from the best possible stereo sources. The packaging includes the original album notes as well as new commentary.
Our Mother's House
- Solo Piano: Peter Katin
- Main Title -- Our Mother's House 3:42
- The Garden 3:34
- Mother Will Always Be Here 3:23
- Recess 1:34
- Gertie Is Punished 3:53
- Charlie 1:31
- The Children 1:42
- Charlie Arrives Home 2:20
- The Boat Race 1:20
- The Party 1:30
- Charlie Burns Mother's Pictures 3:43
- The Children Leave Our Mother's House 2:35
- Total Time: 31:18
The 25th Hour
- Opening 2:30
- In the Church 1:56
- Johann & Suzanna 2:50
- Deportation of the Jews' 2:46
- Suzanna at the Minister's House 1:38
- Johann in the Wheat Field 2:20
- Arrival of the Germans 1:06
- Johann in Budapest 1:42
- The Train Stops 0:51
- Gathering of the Flowers 1:59
- Arrival of the Russians 2:57
- Death of Traian 2:15
- Johann on the Platform 0:57
- Johann and Suzanna Reunited 1:17
- Total Time: 27:31
Total Disc Time: 58:49