Soundtrack & Movie Tidbits:
Cool '60s Film Music
Retro film scoring from the tuneful Sixties brought back for today
By Randall D. Larson
October 14, 2004
England's Harkit Records continues to mine the retrograde treasure trove of 1960s film music with three new releases that are a delight of the period. Making its first foray onto CD, George Duning's lighthearted and theatrical score for 1959's BELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE (HRKCD 8099) is reissued from the Colpix LP with an additional track, a vocal track from French Actor Philippe Clay who appears in a cabaret act in the film. Duning's score is gently jazzy, mostly comprised of easy listening tracks the blend into and out of the source music used prominently in the film. Some cues are rather bland, others really standout (like the show tune-like Main Title, the spooky mysterioso take on the Main Title melody incarnated into a moaning, witchlike vocal of "The Spell," and its more lushly romantic variant, "Pyewacket Returns", the night club jazz of "Way Out Calypso" and a sultry arrangement of Arlen/Kohler's "Stormy Weather.") It's an enjoyable enough score although not exceedingly dramatic. Duning coats the film with a pleasing polish of melodic gloss and enough toe-tapping riffs to enhance the stagy drama of the production, which is really all the film needed. The movie's subtext (that it may have been more about 1950s homosexuality than witchcraft, in which case Duning's sensuous melodies seem all the more apt. Duning's other efforts include PICNIC, THE DEVIL AT 4'OCLOCK, several scores for STAR TREK's original incarnation, 1974's TERROR IN THE WAX MUSEUM, and, his final score, the sci-fi telefilm, GOLIATH AWAITS; very little of his 70+ film scores [not to mention library tracks reused in more than 300 films] were preserved on LP or CD, which makes this release especially noteworthy.) Perceptive and comprehensive liner notes (not signed, but presumably by CD producer Daniel Porter) fill the 6-page booklet to the brim, enhanced by color photos from the movie. The package is nice, although, as a collector, I would have preferred to see the original LP cover reproduced on the front of the CD although, in retrospect, perhaps the part of me that isn't just a collector will just have to make do with the close-up of Kim Novak provocatively gobbling a pearl necklace...