Posted by Robert Bettens
Added on Tuesday, December 05, 2017
Mammoth examination of brilliant career of Franz Waxman at MGM, with nods to Warner Bros. and RKO. All titles previously unreleased in their actual original soundtrack versions until this 4-CD set, mastered from array of studio vault elements, particularly 78rpm acetate reference discs from the 30’s and 40’s plus tape transfers made for internal studio purposes with one title appearing in vivid stereo from 3-channel masters. Audio restoration was done by both Joe Tarantino at Fantasy Studios, Chris Malone working “down under” with digital editing, assembly and mastering by Douglass Fake at Intrada. Most recordings betray their origin session dates and play in fine condition with surprisingly crisp audio. Many scores are near complete with every track available from the vaults included. This is everything that could be located over the many years the set has been in research and development, licensing and production. The moniker of this incredible Franz Waxman tribute comes from the highly famous 1937 MGM classic sea adventure, Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous, starring Spencer Tracy in an Academy Award-winning performance, with terrific support from legendary child star Freddie Bartholomew. The 43-minute Academy Award-nominated score is lavish, exciting and rife with the life of sailors at sea. World premiere release also includes never-before-heard alternates. Following on CD 1 are 34 minutes from MGM’s famed 1941 production of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, featuring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman. A powerful main theme in minor with striking dips into major lends authority and immediate contrast to this magnificent score. Dramatic and sinister ideas further illuminate both good & evil sides of famed Robert Louis Stevenson creation. CD 2 opens with nearly 21 minutes from MGM’s 1939 production of The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, yet another literary triumph, now from Mark Twain, with Mickey Rooney shining as Finn. Waxman’s flavorful and exciting musical backdrop for this folksy tale comes from session masters with crisp, dynamic audio. 34 minutes from MGM’s 1938 treatment of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol follows. Waxman captures both warm and dark sides of this famed classic. 14 minutes of music survives from MGM’s 1942 Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn vehicle, Woman Of The Year. CD 3 premieres one of this set’s highlights: 48 minutes from stereo session masters for MGM’s 1959 WWII London-set film, Count Your Blessings, starring Deborah Kerr. Waxman creates a rich, lavish and dramatic score in his finest mode, with sweeping melody and outdoor travel music playing front and center. (Many feel this later 50’s period is Waxman’s most fertile, boasting one magnificent gem after another.) 15 minutes survive from MGM’s 1936 romance, Love On The Run, with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. And 6 powerful minutes (most of this brief score) play underneath the dramatic 1936 Sylvia Sidney, Spencer Tracy mob rule tale, Fury, from MGM. 18 minutes from Alfred Hitchcock’s justifiably famous RKO thriller Suspicion opens CD 4. Starring Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Waxman’s dramatic score was also an Academy Award nominee. Nearly 20 minutes (a fair portion) survives from MGM’s early 1936 horror film, Devil Doll, starring Lionel Barrymore with Tod Browning directing. Waxman spotlights vivid atmosphere and macabre action. Closing this set is the entire score from Warner Bros. King Of The Roaring 20’s, starring David Janssen as Arnold Rothstein, kingpin of the Jewish mafia in New York during the “hell-bent, jazz-crazed era” as proclaims the film’s one sheet. Waxman plays to the wildly dramatic, then-contemporary jazz elements he loved to work with as well as a somber solo cello speaking for the racketeer’s troubled relationship with his father. Not mere background jazz, this intense score highlights Waxman’s powerful meld of brazen brass-led jazz with symphony orchestra. When all is said and done, Waxman closes this 1961 score with a powerhouse sequence of angry, fortissimo brass chords leading to a magnificent final coda in major! 40-page booklet designed by Kay Marshall with Joe Sikoryak includes authoritative notes by Frank K. DeWald, session dates, technical comments from Producer Douglass Fake with Roger Feigelson acting as executive producer plus solid assistance from associate producers Lukas Kendall, Neil S. Bulk. Also included are scoring manuscripts and rare stills from John Waxman’s private collection with beautiful full color reproductions from each film’s original one sheet campaign. A dream-come-true set - courtesy Turner Entertainment & Warner Bros. Entertainment - that should make Franz Waxman fans delirious! Leonid Raab, Paul Marquardt lead team of orchestrators, Franz Waxman conducts. Intrada Special Collection 4-CD set available while quantities and interest remain!