April 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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Compilation: Midnight, Moonlight and Magic  
The Very Best of Henry Mancini
Music From:

  • Breakfast at Tiffanys
  • The Pink Panther
  • Charade
  • Dear Heart
  • Days of Wine and Roses
  • Darling Lili
  • Two for the Road
  • The Great Race
  • Peter Gunn
  • etc. etc.
  Available on RCA/BMG Heritage 82876 59226 2
Running Time: 60:28
Amazon UK   Amazon US

henry mancini

See also this month's review of the Ultimate Pnk Panther.

Here in nicely refurbished sound, are all the great Mancini classics: including Mancini's big Academy Award winning hit 'Moon River' from Breakfast at Tiffany's (what a pity we could not have heard Audrey Hepburn singing. The vocals are all choral). Each of the album's tracks has full chart accomplishment details ('Moon River' reached No. 11 in the 1960 Pop charts, for instance). Mancini's other classics associated with Audrey Hepburn's films are also included: Charade (again entering the Pop charts in 1963) and Two for the Road.

The lovely title song from Days of Wine and Roses, that grossly underrated film about the devastating effects of drink on a successful young couple (Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick) earned Mancini a second Academy Award and another entry into the charts. Mancini's third Academy Award hit (shared with Johnny Mercer) was another gorgeous melody 'The Sweetheart Tree' from that zany 1965 comedy The Great Race. Yet another memorable hit, 'Dear Heart' from the 1964 film of the same name starring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page, also entered the charts. Julie Andrews starred in Darling Lili and this album includes the song 'Whistling Away in the Dark' that won an Academy Award nomination, and the film's title song which although not as melodically strong as the other title tunes aforementioned, nevertheless entered the AC chart in 1970.

Peter Seller's celebrated characterisation of the inept French policemen, Inspector Clouseau, inspired Mancini to compose his celebrated 'Pink Panther' theme, which was another pop chart entry in 1964; the disc features that great tune, plus the Clouseau theme itself.

In addition to all the above, the album includes TV music such as the often-recorded jazz classic Peter Gunn, and the themes from Cade's County and Mr Lucky. Another distinctive track is the evocative and wittily orchestrated Baby Elephant Walk.

The final track is Mancini's arrangement of Nino Rota's lovely 'Love Theme' from Romeo and Juliet. This arrangement hit No. 1 and remained fourteen weeks in the Pop Charts in 1969.

It has to be admitted that inspiration tends to flag in some of the later numbers and some pieces tend to be rather self-derivative; nevertheless Mancini's invention makes them never less than easy on the ear. Didier C. Deutsch's informative notes are not made easy to read against a too colourfully designed booklet. It should also be pointed out that this album comes with a card over-sleeve and it is this design that I have chosen to include here rather than the tasteless booklet cover that has inexplicably, a swim-suited champagne-drinking bimbo, legs akimbo across a speed boat; a design that I presume will be covered up in the stores.

One of the best Mancini compilations. Sit back and enjoy.

Ian Lace

**** 4

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