Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Announcing: The Moneychangers

Intrada Records has just released a spectacular 2-CD premiere of Henry Mancini's powerhouse score for The Moneychangers, a star-studded 1976 miniseries based on a novel by Arthur Hailey. It's a sprawling saga of money, power, sex, and violence centered around the world of high finance, and Mancini rose to the occasion with more than two hours of sweeping, dynamic music. Sadly, no soundtrack was issued at the time of the series' release, and the original recordings were long thought to be lost. Nor has the production (to date) ever been issued on home video ... with the result that, with the exception of a recording of the main theme on the LP Mancini's Angels, Mancini's glorious music went all but unheard for decades. Only those who had caught the original 1976 premiere truly knew what they were missing, as later broadcasts were severely abridged and gutted much of the composer's work.

Fortunately, Douglass Fake at Intrada never forgot or gave up hope ... and eventually, he discovered that a backup recording existed from one of the trombonists who performed on the sessions. This enabled a proper soundtrack presentation at last, and I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to write the liner notes. I was helped immeasurably in this task by the kind assistance of Jon Burlingame, a professor, journalist, and author, who is known the world over as an authority on (and advocate for) music for film and television. Jon was able to provide me with extensive research and production documents, and even graciously shared never-before-published quotes from his interviews with the departed maestro.

It is impossible to be a fan of film music and not acknowledge the debt owed to Henry Mancini. His luminous musicality and tireless work ethic elevated him to a level of celebrity and visibility rarely seen in this industry. The Moneychangers arrives as one of his most important "lost" works, and I hope that his legion of followers will find it as thrilling to discover and explore as I have.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Conversation with Laurence Rosenthal

It has been my immense privilege to write the liner notes for numerous Laurence Rosenthal scores over the years, and each time, maestro Rosenthal has generously made himself available for interviews. By necessity, only excerpts of these make it into the finished notes. In many cases, that means plenty of interesting details fall by the wayside.

The interview I conducted for Film Score Monthly's recent release of The Comedians/Hotel Paradiso was particularly extensive. Both films were directed by Peter Glenville, allowing me to set two radically different scores within the context of a single working relationship one of the most important of the maestro's long career. And so our conversation ranged from Rashomon to Man of La Mancha to A Patriot for Me, in addition to going into great detail on Hotel Paradiso and The Comedians.

Given all this, I thought it might be nice to transcribe the interview in its entirety, and put it up online for interested readers. Happily, both FSM founder Lukas Kendall and maestro Rosenthal were obliging! You can now read the complete piece, for FREE, at the FSM webpage.

I have come to know Laurence Rosenthal as man of robust good-humor and keen intelligence. I hope that in reading his words, you are able to get a sense of the personality behind so much incredible music.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Quotable "Comedians"

One of my happier duties while working on the liner notes to Film Score Monthly's release of Laurence Rosenthal's The Comedians/Hotel Paradiso was the selection of quotes for the tray insert. The challenge: to take a film, and pick out the one line of dialogue or short exchange which best captures its essence great fun, for an English major! The Comedians features a screenplay by the great English novelist, playwright, and critic Graham Greene (who also wrote the book), and so I found myself with an abundance of interesting options. I ultimately settled on: 

"I'm a bit of a play-actor, myself. Who isn't, in this place? We all play drawing-room comedies in a blackout." 

I love the imagery here, which speaks directly to the film's title, and alludes to the darkness at the core of Papa Doc's Haiti. If I had it to do over again, that's still the quote I'd pick. But since there was so much rich dialogue to choose from, I figured I'd put some alternates up on the blog and let my readers decide if I made the right call. Here they are, in the order I wrote them down (as with FSM's final packaging, the speakers are not identified and no context is given): 

"There are days when I wonder, especially in the empty afternoons. You have a devil in you in the afternoons. When you're not with me, I wonder what the devil does."

"I don't concern myself with politics. I support the economy, when there are tourists."

"It's a horrifying world. I sometimes think that Haiti is no different from life anywhere."

"We shouldn't be ashamed of being comedians. You know, it's an honorable profession
if only we were good ones. We could perhaps give the world ... I don't know, a sense of style."

"You can't be jealous of the past."
"Oh, yes I can. One day, I'll be the past. There'll be a difference."

"You have a sense of humor. I'm in favor of jokes. They have a political value. A release for the cowardly and the impotent."

"You can't believe in such nonsense."
"Is there no nonsense you believe in?"
"You're afraid to believe in anything at all."