The American film music composer and educator, David Raksin, born in 1912, died on August 8, last year (2004).
Two Weeks in Another Town(M-G-M, 1962) was a sort of sequel to The Bad and the Beautiful directed by Vincent Minelli for M-G-M in 1952. That celebrated film wasHollywoodonHollywood, the lid taken off seamier side of life there – the tack behind the glamour. The film gathered Oscars for screenwriter, Charles Schnee, Robert Surtee’s cinephotography, for its art direction, and for Gloria Graham’s supporting actress performance as Rosemary Barlow the unfaithful wife of writer James Lee Barlow played by Dick Powell. The star, Kirk Douglas, as Jonathan Shields (a role modelled on David O’ Selznick) was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. The illustrious cast also starred Lana Turner as Georgia Lorrison (a role modelled on O’ Selznick’s wife and protégé, Jennifer Jones) and included Walter Pidgeon, Barry Sullivan and Gilbert Roland.
The score for The Bad and the Beautiful was by David Raksin who created a masterpiece that blended jazz and impressionistic elements in music of bitter sweetness and haunting beauty. In fact I would rate this score among my top ten best film scores of all time. [I recommend the Suite from The Bad and the Beautiful (together with music from two other marvellous Raksin scores: Laura and Forever Amber) performed by the New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Raksin himself on RCA Victor GD81490; plus the original soundtrack recording, Rhino R2 72400 that has liner notes by the composer].
Fragments of Raksin’s fine The Bad and the Beautiful music are used as source music to underscore the scene in Two Weeks in Another Town (Rome) where film director, Kruger ( Edward G Robinson) is trying to impress his current cast and crew by screening scenes (Kirk Douglas appearing with Lana Turner) from one of “his” earlier films, none other than The Bad and the Beautiful.
In Two Weeks in Another Town, Kirk Douglas is an actor rather than the producer/director of the earlier film. The film opens with him recovering from a nervous breakdown and being summoned to Rome by Kruger to assist him on his new film being shot there (“Hollywood is a state of mind”) On arrival, Jack not only finds he is no longer needed but he also bumps into his faithless ex-wife Carlotta who taunts him. All this takes him close to the edge once more with only the love of a sympathetic young actress Veronica (Dahlia Lavi) to save him.
Fragments of themes from Raksin’s The Bad and the Beautiful music are used throughout Two Weeks in Another Town. These are developed into a score that is bitter and ironic, and tender for the moments of romance between Jack and Dahlia, cold and cruel to underline the poisonous Carlotta’s appearances, and dissonant and remote for Jack’s increasingly mental instability. Again Raksin fuses with great effect jazz blues (and blousy seedy jazz music for cues like ‘Whorse and Buggy’) with impressionistic material. More buoyant music underscores the glamour ofRome’s ‘ViaVeneto’.
Considering Jack’s ill-fated obsession with Carlotta , ‘Don’t blame me’ (…I am under your spell) is the appropriate source song. It is sung by actress and singer, Leslie Uggams. In the film the song segues into Raksin’s frantic hysterical string figures for the cue, ‘Don’t scarf’ as Jack pursues Carlotta and her latest conquest, fights him off and races away recklessly in his sports car with Carlotta to a near accident – and a catharsis that enables Jack to free himself at last of her evil influence; his freedom signalled by Raksin in upbeat mode as the movie draws to a close. [An alternative version of ‘Don’t blame me’ is sung again, even more expressively, by Leslie Uggams in a final bonus track.]
The 20-page booklet, as usual, has informative notes about the production of Two Weeks in Another Town. We learn, that producer John Houseman originally wanted the film to have been far more potent and uncompromising but M-G-M executives considered the initial cut to be “distinctly unfriendly to family audiences”. (And we learn that Clark Gable and William Holden had both been considered for the Kirk Douglas role). The booklet carries many stills from the film and, of course, track-by-track analyses.
For those film music fans who admire David Raksin’s marvellous score for The Bad and the Beautiful, here is the follow-up – it may not be as memorable, nevertheless it is a must-have album for Raksin fans.
Film Score Monthly News Release - producer John Houseman originally wanted
In 1952 M-G-M released The Bad and the Beautiful, and the film became an instant classic about the movie business. Ten years later, star Kirk Douglas, director Vincente Minnelli, producer John Houseman, writer Charles Schnee, and composer David Raksin reunited for a film that became a sort of unofficial companion to the earlier masterpiece, Two Weeks in Another Town (1962).
The Bad and the Beautifulhad been set inHollywood, but Two Weeks in Another Town moved the location toRome, where washed-up actor Jack Andrus (Douglas) is summoned by his former director (Edward G. Robinson) to assist him on a cheapie for a foreign producer. From there Jack's "two weeks in another town" find him coming to terms with his past through a new web of personal relationships.
Although not a sequel to The Bad and the Beautiful, composer David Raksin treated Two Weeks in Another Town as a virtual "part two," reusing several of his themes from the earlier picture, including, briefly, the main theme itself -- for a screening of The Bad and the Beautiful as one of the "former productions" by the new film's characters.
However, Two Weeks is not a mere rehash, but an original creation including a whole new set of gorgeous character themes, crafted with the care, sensitivity and intricacy that made Raksin a beloved figure. Like his earlier masterwork, Two Weeks is a deeply melodic, romantic and sophisticated score, with size enough to glamorize the movie business, but an intimate focus on the moods and desires of human beings. Raksin's detailed orchestrations graft themselves to Minnelli's expressionist style with unparalleled grace.
FSM's premiere CD of Two Weeks in Another Town score features the complete score in stereo, remixed and remastered from the 35mm three-track recordings, including cues never before heard, as they accompanied deleted scenes.
"Don't Blame Me" Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields,
Performed by Leslie Uggams
- Leo B.
Meilleur/Generique/The Celled Pad 3:49
- Cinecitta/You Just Said That 1:51
- "I" of the Camera 1:53
- All That's Left/Never Mind/Via Venuto 2:22
Bad and the Beautiful 2:22
- Who's Carlotta? 4:23
- No, Carlotta 1:47
- You Get Nothing/This Is Nothing 1:50
- Have a
Ball/Levar Del Sole/When You Were a Star/Who You Really Are 5:18
- The Trait's on Me 1:31
- Congas Tanzt/Ants in His Dance 1:36
- Anniversary Party/What Are You Thinking 4:48
Tried to Tell You/Fountain 2:36
- Starch Naked/Eager Ravinsky 1:10
Let a Dago Buy/Wear View Bin/Reach for the Ring 2:39
- Shivah Me Timbers 1:59
and Buggy/Never Let a Bagel Die1:38
- Don't Blame Me 3:30
- Don't Scarf 1:54
- Now We Know 2:48
- Don't Blame Me (alternate) 2:51
Total Time: 55:15