Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Jerome MOROSS The Cardinal   Original score conducted by the composer  PREAMBLE PRCD 1778 [36:26]




Jerome Moross must be regarded by many as a one-score composer. Everybody remembers him for The Big Country, which must figure in most people's lists of favourite film compositions. But, of course, he wrote for other films including: The Proud Rebel and The War Lord. (Moross had also been a leading orchestrator of film music working on important assignments such as Hugo Friedhofer's exquisite score for The Best Years of our Lives - also available on Preamble PRCD 1779) Of these other scores, arguably the best is The Cardinal. Otto Preminger's 1963 film, starring Tom Tryon, traced the career of a Boston-born Catholic priest, Stephen Fermoyle, to the position of cardinal by way of being a Rome diplomat and a fighter of the Ku Klux Klan. The film was set in Rome, Vienna and America.

Moross's score embraces a wide variety of musical forms, thus maximising listener interest. The Main Title music open with deep tolling bells of the churches in Rome as we see Fermoyle walking to his investiture as cardinal. The music has an imposing ecclesiastical majesty but it also has a human, almost American folk-music dimension, appropriate to the drama that will unfold. Appropriate too, to its setting, is a hint of the influence of Respighi both in the context of that composer's Roman trilogy and his ancient church modal music.

The 'Stonebury' cue is a sparkling pastoral scherzo as Fermoyle, as a young man fresh from his studies in Rome and sent to duties in Vermont, is driven across snow-covered fields to his church. His arrival there signals a change in the music to a more solemn theme. There is then a complete change of mood for the dance hall music (Fermoyle is looking for his run-away sister). After an upbeat Dixieland jazz number, we hear a very sexy, sleazy tango.

'The Cardinal's Faith is a simple homely nostalgic theme that almost borders on a pop tune. It is nevertheless most affecting. It is interrupted by more dramatic suspenseful music as Father Ned Hailey (Burgess Meredith) dies of multiple sclerosis. After the First World War, another attempt is made to find Fermoyle's sister and we have another source tune, a saucy vaudeville song, 'They Haven't Got the Girls in the USA' (like they have in Paris).

The scene shifts to 'The Cardinal in Vienna' and to an extended six-minute cue which is a homage to the Viennese waltz. It begins as a sweet sentimental waltz for orchestra before the texture is thinned to just a trio of violin, piano and cello playing salon music very much of the era. The music then becomes gay (in the good old fashioned sense of the word) but ends on a rather poignant nostalgic note. Throughout this cue, Moross's writes some glistening material for solo violin. The cue also includes a subtle echo of Morros's The Big Country score.

'Annemarie' is served initially with a Broadway review number which is later inflated to a full orchestral version of this attractive waltz. 'The Cardinal's Decision' reflects Fermoyle's mental turmoil as he agonises over his choice between the Church and Annemarie. It is a very effective and affecting vignette. And again The Big Country score is recalled. 'Way Down South' takes us back to America and the Deep South. This is a very Americana theme played on clarinet over a sort of hoedown rhythm on strings with the theme, which closely resembles material from Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, then taken up by solo flute.

The final 'The Cardinal Themes' includes an arrangement of Annemarie's theme not heard in the film.

Preamble are to be congratulated in releasing this melodic and memorable score which, incredibly, was overlooked for an Oscar nomination.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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