April 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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Bell, Book and Candle / 1001 Arabian Nights  
Music composed by George Duning
Bell, Book, and Candle (1958)
Conducted by George Duning
1001 Arabian Nights (1959)
Lyrics by Ned Washington
Supervised and conducted by Morris Stoloff
Vocals by The Jud Conlon Singers
  Available on Film Score Monthly (FSM Vol. 9 No. 1)
Running Times: [Total]: 73:05
Bell, Book, and Candle: 41:55
1001 Arabian Nights: 31:05
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See also:

  • Devil at Four O’Clock / The Victors
  • Toys in the Attic
  • George Duning is chiefly remembered for his work over sixteen years, commencing in 1944, at Columbia studios (previously he had been at RKO Radio). At Columbia he was in much demand as an arranger on musicals such as Jolson Sings Again and The Eddie Duchin Story but as a composer he is distinguished by such scores as From Here to Eternity, Picnic and 3:10 to Yuma. Duning attended Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and later studied composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He excelled in playing trumpet and performed with many jazz groups.

    Duning’s jazz-based score for Bell, Book and Candle is a wacky delight. The kaleidoscopic ‘Main Title’ music sums it all up starting with bongo drums (favoured by Jack Lemmon’s character Nicky – Lemmon was an accomplished musician playing piano and harmonica as well as bongos) and Christmas jingles to set the season. Racy light music signals light-hearted comedy before more languorous material perfectly underscores the shape and seductive charms of Kim Novak as witch Gilllian Holroyd but then a haunting romantic melody underlines her yearning for true romance, and added to all this is a hint of Pyewacket’s magical feline powers.

    Much of the action takes place in the Zodiac Club. It is a meeting place for witches and warlocks where Gill’s brother Nicky shows off his prowess on the bongos and we hear much jazz in many moods from the blues and the blowsy to the carefree and upbeat.

    One of the most attractive tracks is The Spell’, a wondrously impressionistically harmonised and orchestrated piece (enhanced by Novak’s bewitching humming) in which Gill attempts to make the hapless Shep (James Stewart) fall in love with her but a full flowering of Duning’s romantic melody signals her conflicting emotions. The ‘magic’ material is cleverly, drolly developed, through the score, particularly those world-weary trombones so full of knowing ennui for Pyewacket. 

    Duning’s music for 1001 Arabian Nights is equally wacky and delightful – full of jazz-based ‘eastern promise’ and, again, there is a lovely hummable romantic melody. The film was an animated feature that starred the near-sighted Mr Magoo, and the cue includes the talking-singing voice of Jim Backus who made Magoo so famous.  Again a cat features strongly and Duning cleverly captures its antics. All the Arabian musical forms are parodied from the epic to the seductive as the storyline dictates. The dramatic range is broad too – there’s as much menacing underscore as there are moments of broad mickey-mousing. 

    Two delightful scores truly romantic and comic. Bell Book and Candle is truly magical.

    Ian Lace

    Bell, Book, and Candle: 4.5
    1001 Arabian Nights: 4

    Film Score Monthly News Release:

    George Duning's melodic gifts were essential to his two-decade run as Columbia Pictures' lead dramatic composer (Picnic, The Devil at 4 O'Clock) and subsequent, prominent work for television (Star Trek, The Big Valley). FSM continues its presentation of Duning's best scores with two delightful comedy-fantasies: Bell, Book and Candle (1958) and 1001 Arabian Nights (1959), paired from the Colpix Records stereo masters.

    Bell, Book and Candle was a popular comedy starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in a sly take on contemporary Manhattan witchcraft: Novak is a lonely witch, and Stewart her romantic target, with supporting turns by Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs. Based on a play by John Van Druten, the film was a change of pace for Stewart and Novak, whose other film that year featured a very different type of romance (Hitchcock's Vertigo).

    Bell, Book and Candle was one of George Duning's favorite projects, allowing him to exercise his gift for melody, romance, and jazz (in several source cues featuring The Candoli Brothers on trumpet). Duning was always at his best with romantic elements, and the film's fantasy aspects allowed him to extend his musical imagination into colorful depictions of witchcraft.

    1001 Arabian Nights was an animated feature film starring Mr. Magoo (voice of Jim Backus), here "Abdul Azziz Magoo," the uncle to Aladdin, as in "Aladdin and the magic lamp." The film was animated and produced by UPA Pictures, and received a splendid, colorful score by Duning, who wrote three songs with lyricist Ned Washington: "Magoo's Blues," "You Are My Dream" and "Three Little Maids From Damascus."

    Duning enlisted several "ethnic" musicians to depict the Middle Eastern locale, incorporating them into a traditional symphonic setting. Despite the fact that it was written for animation, the album (presenting the film's lengthier cues and musical setpieces) has little "mickey mousing" and sounds like it could be the score to a live-action fantasy film.

    FSM's premiere CD of these two soundtracks comes from the Colpix Records album masters. 1001 Arabian Nights was released in stereo in 1959; Bell, Book and Candle, however, was only issued in mono in 1958, and did not premiere in stereo until a 1980 Citadel LP reissue. FSM has gone back to the three-track Colpix stereo album masters for the best-ever presentation of this classic score, including the "bonus track" (here correctly titled and placed as track 9) from the Citadel reissue. New liner notes by Daniel Champion are presented along with the original LP commentaries.

    Track Listing:

    Bell, Book, and Candle:
    Music composed and conducted by George Duning
    1. Main Title 2:24
    2. Pyewacket/Queenie/Gil 3:01
    3. Send Me Nicky 2:06
    4. Way Out Calypso 1:55
    5. Stormy Weather Polka 1:54
    6. The Spell/Shep Hooked 5:15
    7. The Herb Shop 2:40
    8. I Wish I Could/Gil's Whammy/All Right Shep 3:34
    9. That Cat Again/Shep Whammied/You're a Fool 2:55
    10. Shep Shook 2:02
    11. Where's Pyewacket?/Naughty Cat/Gil's Tears 2:19
    12. Pyewacket Returns 2:09
    13. Zodiac Serenade 2:20
    14. Zodiac Blues 2:21
    15. Only Human and End Title 4:23

    16. Total Time: 41:55
    1001 Arabian Nights
    Music Composed by George Duning
    Lyrics by Ned Washington, Supervised and Conducted by Morris Stoloff, Vocals by The Jud Conlon Singers
    1. Main Title 3:39
    2. Magoo's Blues (vocal -- Jim Backus) 2:09
    3. Sultan's Parade and You Are My Dream 3:13
    4. Palanquin Chase 2:18
    5. Wedding Celebration 3:32
    6. Bar Fly Magoo 0:44
    7. You Are My Dream -- Reprise 1:49
    8. Three Little Maids From Damascus (vocal -- The Clark Sisters) 2:23
    9. Unhappy Magoo 1:38
    10. Dream Ballet 3:42
    11. Crazy Carpet 4:14
    12. End Title 1:14

    13. Total Time: 31:05
    Total Disc Time: 73:00

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