June 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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Not With My Wife You Donít! / Any Wednesday  
Music composed and conducted by John Williams and George Duning
Performed by studio orchestras
Produced by Lukas Kendall
  Available on Film Score Monthly (Vol 9 No 3)
Running Time: 56:11
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A pair of films released in 1966 by Warner Bros., Not With My Wife You Donít and Any Wednesday have much in common, not only that they were both ďoutrageousĒ sex comedies which were so popular at the time (bizarrely so) but also musically.† Scored by John (ďJohnnyĒ) Williams and George Duning, both composers echoed the style of Henry Mancini, who scored a few of these films himself. Now they are both available on one CD, from Film Score Monthly, who have released a few Duning scores recently.

Williams spent seemingly a lot of his early film career scoring daft comedies, usually evoking Mancini in the process.† In the context of his wider body of work, these scores (A Guide for the Married Man, John Goldfarb, Please Come Home etc) barely merit a mention.† They are so lightweight that one might be tempted to say they are almost disposable.† With melodies that simply arenít as memorable as Manciniís, and lacking the splendid orchestration which so defines what makes Williamsís later music so popular, it is difficult to imagine much pleasure being derived from Not With My Wife, You Donít except from those of, shall we say, a certain age, for whom the music will remind them of happier times.

The positives are that there is a sweet sense of naÔvetť running through the music (which seems at odds with the ďadult-themed comedyĒ described in the liner notes); and there are a trio of original songs Williams wrote with the great Johnny Mercer, ĎBig Beautiful Ballí being of particular note, but even those remove themselves from the memory as soon as they are over.† (A quick note about the film: I canít imagine a less likely actor than George C. Scott to be in one of these projects, but there he is, alongside Tony Curtis; needless to say, I canít imagine a more likely actor than Curtis to be present!)† The music tries to be nice, tries to be friendly, but honestly ends up just being irritating.

Duningís Any Wednesday is by far the more accomplished piece of work (though itís all relative).† George Duning is not a composer well-represented on CD, nor even very well-known by many film music aficionados, but he had a hand in literally hundreds of films and (mostly) TV shows in a career spanning over forty years.† He even amassed five Oscar nominations in the 1950s (though he never won).† He was coming towards the end of his film career when Any Wednesday came about in 1966, before embarking on a long and successful stint in television.

Like Williams, he scored several comedies in the 1960s, but his approach here isnít quite as madcap as the younger composerís.† With a catchy main theme and overall a slightly more mature approach (benefiting, ironically, from using a much smaller, jazz/pop-based ensemble), Any Wednesday is really quite good fun.† Itís still very slight and unlikely to hang around for long in the memory, but satisfies for half an hour.

As with most releases from Film Score Monthly, the packaging is excellent, with fine liner notes from Lukas Kendall and Jeff Eldridge, and amusing reproductions of the notes from the original LPs.† Itís mastered from the original album masters and sounds great.† People who grew up with film music like this will probably have a blast, but I suspect that for the wider audience, it will be a much harder sell (even with Williamsís name on the cover).

James Southall

Rating: 2

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