This album of course is about the Stephen Frears’
film that celebrates that grand old English institution The Windmill (‘we never
closed’), the small theatre behind London’s Piccadilly Circus, the dancing girls
of which titillated the palate of so many war-weary service men through World
War II and beyond – and launched the careers of so many British comedians
including Jimmy Edwards and Michael Bentine.
George Fenton’s music is all of the 1940s dance band style. He
reflects all the blowsy bumps and grinds of the girls’ more suggestive dance
routines, but does so in the best possible taste, as one of our more recent
comedians would say. There are wailing, muted trumpets and
cheeky-glissando-ing trombones contrasted with palm
court trio style prissiness. Fenton’s attractive score also touches nostalgic
and sentimental buttons. ‘The Girl in the Fan’ adds a note of pathos and
sadness while ‘Elegy’ speaks of tragedy associated with those dark days.
Added to all this are original songs by Fenton including ‘Sweet Inspiration’
sung by Camille O’Sullivan and ‘Babies of the Blitz sung by the O’Brien Sisters
sounding rather like America’s famous war-years trio, The Andrews Sisters.
There are also source songs, including Noel Gay singing ‘Letting in the
Sunshine’ and Camille O’Sullivan singing John Mercer’s (with Matt Malneck) ‘Goody, Goody’. Then Sir Thomas Allen
strikes a patriotic note with ‘The Fall of France: La Marseillaise’ in a
rendition with orchestra that touches the heart and soul almost as much as Paul
Henreid did with the same material in Casablanca.
Will Young sings, nicely in period, a ballad
associated with the Blitz, Jerome Kern’s ‘All the Things You Are’ and another
Fenton song, ‘The Sails of the Windmill’ and ‘Girl in the Little Green Hat’. A
much requested orchestral item on radio programmes,
‘After the Ball’ is also included
Fenton’s music speaks eloquently of laughter and tears, and his songs and
the film’s source music is pure 1940s nostalgia. There’s something to suit all