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
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
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.