Released on TSUNAMI RECORDS IN 2005
YOUNG BESS, is the first score that is represented on this compact disc and although this movies storyline was flawed in places it did not detract any of the enjoyment of the picture, as it still managed to be an entertaining and attractive period piece. Directed by George Sidney and released in 1953, YOUNG BESS brought together the creative acting talents of a fresh faced Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr and Charles Laughton. Based upon the story by Margaret Irwin it tells of the early years of Elizabeth the first and is told in a flashback style, which begins on the day that Henry Vlll (Charles Laughton) has his wife Anne Boleyn (Elaine Stewart) executed and sends away the daughter he had with her, a daughter who will eventually become Queen of England or the YOUNG BESS of the films title. Several years on and also a few more wives later King Henry recalls Bess to Court, where she resides with him and his new wife Catherine Parr (Deborah Kerr). When Henry passes away his son and half brother to Bess Edward (Rex Thompson) is given the title of regent because he is too young to assume the position of the monarch. Romance enters the storyline when Bess falls in love with the respected Admiral Thomas Seymour (Stewart Granger). She thinks that her love is unrequited so convinces her brother that it would be a good idea if Thomas was to marry Catherine, which he does. After Catherine’s death, Thomas confesses to Bess that he has deep feelings for her and always has had them. However the Admirals brother Ned (Guy Rolfe) decides to make sure that his brother is not happy and spreads malicious rumours that he has seduced the young Princess to ensure that he remains in a position of power and wealth. The picture received five Academy Award nominations, best director George Sidney, best colour costume design Walter Plunkett and three nominations in the colour art direction category for Edwin B Willis, Jack D. Moore and Urie Mc Cleary. Sidney was also nominated for best director by the Directors guild of America. The New York Film Critics Circle nominated Jean Simmons for best actress and Miss Simmons won in the best actress category at the national board of review awards.
The second movie which is represented on this disc is the thriller THE RED HOUSE, directed in 1947 by Delmar Davies. Edward G Robinson, Julie London, Rory Calhoun and Judith Anderson starred in this near film noir motion picture which was based upon the novel by George A Chamberlain and had a screenplay penned by director Davies. Pete Morgan (Robinson) and his sister Ellen (Judith Anderson) live with Morgan’s adopted daughter Meg (Allene Roberts) on an isolated farm which is situated on the outskirts of a small town. In the middle of the woods that are near to the farm there is a RED HOUSE which is surrounded by dark and frightening secrets, travellers in the area avoid the house as tormented screams have been heard emanating from within its walls. Morgan and his sister keep their knowledge of the red house’s history a closely guarded secret. Morgan even hires Teller (Rory Calhoun) to guard the house making sure that no-one enters. It is not until a friend of Meg’s named Nath Storm( Lon McCallister) arrives at the farm to help out with the running of it that the horrific secrets of the families past and their connections with THE RED HOUSE begin to unravel and return to torment them, threatening to destroy all of them. The movie brings together the ingredients of a chilling horror and romantic nourish elements which together are a powerful and entertaining combination. Edward G. Robinson is outstanding in the role of the secretive and panic prone Morgan. With a memorable performance from Julie London as a spoiled school girl .
The musical scores to both of these motion pictures was the work of esteemed Hollywood film music Maestro Miklos Rozsa. Dr. Rozsa was no stranger to scoring movies by the time he was assigned to YOUNG BESS and worked on the soundtrack to THE RED HOUSE at the same time as he was scoring BRUTE FORCE and A DOUBLE LIFE. To say that Miklos Rozsa was a prolific composer of music for the cinema is certainly something of an understatement. He was born in Budapest, Hungary on April 8th 1907, he came from an affluent family and his Father was an influential industrialist and land owner. Most of the young Rozsa’s early years were spent at his families country estate which was situated in the county of Nograd which was close to the Matra mountains. Rozsa’s first encounter with music came at the age of five when he began to study the viola and piano. Just three years later after celebrating his eighth birthday he began to perform in public, it was also at this time that he began to attempt to compose music. His Father however was not convinced that music was the right career for his son. So he insisted that he should set out to get a good all round education. Miklos attended a high school in Budapest for his education, but still remained actively involved in his study of music. After a while he moved to Leipzig where he began to study chemistry. These studies however were short lived and after Herrmann Grabner’s intervention Rozsa’s Father decided that he would allow his son to concentrate solely on music as a career. He started to study at Leipzig conservatory and during his final years there would at times stand in for his tutors giving lectures and instruction to fellow students.
Rozsa’s first published orchestral work was a piece entitled HUNGARIAN SERENADE for small orchestra and it was given its premiere performance in Budapest during the summer of 1929 under the baton of Dohnanyi. The piece was received well and also garnered much acclaim from composers such as Richard Strauss. Rozsa soon established himself as a note-worthy composer and built up an impressive musical canon. He collaborated with fellow composer and friend Arthur Honegger to stage a concert of their combined musical works at the Salle Debussy in Paris. It was whilst working with Honnegger that Rozsa heard the composers music for the movie LES MISERABLES, and became interested and intrigued about the idea of writing music for the cinema and utilising music to increase the dramatic impact of film. After watching the movie and seeing how music and images worked together Rozsa decided that composing music for the cinema was something that he would also like to do. In 1936nhe travelled to England to work on a ballet entitled HUNGARIA and whilst there was asked to compose the score for Alexander Korda’s production of KNIGHT WITHOUT ARMOUR(1937). The film and the score were both a great success and later that year he was hired to write the music for another Korda movie THUNDER IN THE CITY (1937). Shortly after this assignment the composer was signed to the permanent staff of London Films which was the Korda production company. Rozsa’s first major scoring assignment came in 1939 when he penned the music for THE FOUR FEATHERS, but it was one year later that Rozsa composed a score that was to become one of his most accomplished and best loved works of his early period of writing for the cinema, THE THEIF OF BAGHDAD (1940) delighted and thrilled audiences all over the world and was a lucrative movie for the Korda organisation. It was this movie that actually led Rozsa to Hollywood, because he started work on the film in England but because of the outbreak of WWll the entire production was re-located to the United States and Rozsa went with it. The composers first movie Stateside was also for Korda THE JUNGLE BOOK (1942),the composer recorded a suite of music from the movie with narration by the films young star Sabu, this was the first time that film music had been recorded in the United States and it proved to be very popular. In 1945 Rozsa composed the dramatic and haunting score for Alfred Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND, and won an Academy Award for his efforts. In the same year Rozsa was also nominated for THE LOST WEEKEND and the composer for this he utilised what was probably the first electronic instrument called the Theremin. In 1947, the composer again won an Oscar this time for his music to the George Cukor movie A DOUBLE LIFE. He was to win the prestigious golden statue again in 1959 for his epic score to William Wylers BEN HUR. He joined the staff of M.G.M. in 1948, and it is probably true to say that whilst at Metro Goldwyn Mayer the composer was at his most prolific, penning the scores to movies such as QUO VADIS(1957), EL CID(1961), KING OF KINGS (1962) and the aforementioned BEN HUR. As the Go;den age of film reached its sunset and the silver age dawned, filmmaking trends, styles of film production and practises too altered, up and coming filmmakers were opting for a more contemporary approach to score their films, often turning their backs on the established styles and traditional approaches and employing a more pop-orientated sound which included the use of synthesisers and songs rather than orchestral music. Nevertheless Miklos Rozsa remained in demand and created worthy and memorable scores for movies that probably did not deserve his wonderful themes.
But of course there were a number of motion pictures that were worthy of his midas touch such as PROVIDENCE, THE LAST EMBRACE, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES,TIME AFTER TIME and DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID in which the composer parodied the style of composition he had utilised on movies such as THE KILLERS, BRUTE FORCE and THE NAKED CITY. During the mid eighties Rozsa was forced to retire from writing music because of his failing eyesight, he passed away on July 27th 1995, he was 88 years of age. He left behind him a rich and varied tapestry of musical works and although he was predominantly recognised for his film scores Dr Rozsa also produced excellent works for the concert hall.