Steiner's King Kong has fared well on disc. Last year we had the complete
72-minute full score from Marco Polo and Charles Gerhardt recorded a sizzling
seven-minute suite from the film in 1973 as part of his 1973 Now Voyager
album that was a tribute to Max in RCA's celebrated Classic Film Scores series.
This Fred Steiner recording of a 47-minue suite from the film is no less
impressive. The 'Boat in the Fog' cue is mistily atmospheric and the Jungle
Dance is very wild and abondoned while Kong really does sound immensely powerful.
The playing of the National Philharmonic orchestra, under the baton of Fred
Steiner is more polished than that of the Moscow players on Marco Polo and
the sound balance and engineering is superior too. This is one of those occasions
where I I definitely sit on the fence and refuse to nominate a winner. I
would not be without any of the three recordings!
Death of a Scoundrel found Max back at RKO Radio in 1956 scoring for
this melodrama starring smooth rogue, George Sanders as Clementi Sabourin,
a Czech immigrant in New York and his Machiavellian rise to riches. The film
also starred the lovelyYvonne De Carlo. The opening title music begins powerfully
and sombrely, there is a wild wolverine quality about it clearly indicating
the predatory nature of the Sanders character before the music softens and
mellows for the female characters and more noble instincts. An interesting
feature is the use of the cymbalom which depicts Sabourin's middle European
origins. It features strongly in the sentimental cue, 'Mother, mother.'
'Stephanie' is a warm romantic melody overshadowed by Sabourin's malignant
influence. An appealing lilting waltz is contrasted by a rather sleazy 'Kelly
Blues' that completes this 14-minute suite which was played by the RKO Radio
Pictures Orchestra conducted by Max himself.
The remaining item, and least interesting, is the 'Our National Parks &
Monuments' and 'End Credits' from This is Cinerama. It is written
in Steiner's Wester-cum-Americana idiom and it captures the sweep and grandeur
of the American landscapes as viewed on the giant Cinerama screen. Max's
efforts went uncredited. In this performance, Louis Forbes conducts the Cinerama