Tag Archives: MIKLOS ROZSA



The 1960,s were in my opinion a great era for film music, it was after all the decade in which James Bond became active on our cinema screens in thrillers such as DR NO, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, GOLDFINGER et al, the 1960,s also gave us THE Man with no Name portrayed by the near unknown actor from the TV series RAWHIDE Clint Eastwood who debuted in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS which was the movie that inspired so many westerns from Italy spawning copy cat flicks made on a shoestring that attempted to imitate director Sergio Leones unique approach on the western, earning them the somewhat cruel but at the same time fitting name of Spaghetti Western and creating an entire new genre and collective of films, that ranged from revenge stories into comedy and also included its fair share of politically orientated tales. It was the era of a number of great musicals where the hills came alive and Oliver twist and Fagin burst into song asking for more and enticing young lads to pick pockets for a career, wonderful adventure movies and also the continued success of the more traditional Hollywood western, as in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE SCALPHUNTERS, COMMANCHEROS, WILL PENNY, HOW THE WEST WAS WON, plus war movies by the truck load and so many 007 clones such as Matt Helm and towards the end of the decade slick crime capers such as THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR and some atmospheric and colourful Gothic horrors courtesy of Hammer films and AIP. It was also a period where we saw the epic movie still being produced, not in such an abundance as the previous two decades but I suppose one could argue that this particular genre of movie had been more popular in the 1950,s because of the stars that were involved who had a following of cinema goers who had been weaned on swashbucklers and Roman and Greek tales of heroic acts and mad Emperors and Kings, but the word EPIC does not just refer to movies which had Romans, Christians being fed to lions and chariot races. Epic also is used when describing large scale productions such as 55 DAYS AT PEKING or historical war movies such as WATERLOO, KHARTOUM, ZULU and their like.

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One movie that fits firmly into the epic category is EL CID, now maybe I am bias here because EL CID has always held a certain attraction for me right from when I was a young lad, there is just something about the story and its romance, its historical content, grand battle scenes and wonderful locations plus its rich and colourful photography that is mesmerizing and retains ones attention and even now some 54 years on it keeps calling me back to it. Released in the December of 1961 the movie starred Charlton Heston as the Cid (Rodrigo de Bivar) with the stunningly beautiful Sophia Loren as his love Chimene, Raf Vallone as Count Ordonez and Herbert Lom as the fearsome Emir Ben Yussef who is the driving force behind the Moors.

Spain is overrun by the Moors who are destroying Churches, taking cities and killing Christians. Rodrigo de Bivar sees that as a divided country Spain can never rid themselves of the invading hordes, it becomes his quest in life to Unite his war torn country against these merciless enemies from Africa even enlisting Moors into his ranks after sparing them from death. The movie charts his life, his loyalty to a Monarch that is not deserving of it and his undying love for Chimene and later his twin girls, taking us up till his death at the battle of Valencia where his efforts to lead a united Spain against the enemy and drive them into the sea and back to where they came finally are fulfilled but at the ultimate cost to himself and his family.

The musical score for EL CID was the work of a giant of film music Miklos Rozsa, of course the Maestro was no stranger to working on Epic productions by the time the decade of the 1960,s dawned.
Producer Samuel Bronston however mentioned in an interview at the time of the films release that he was somewhat nervous about offering or asking Rozsa to create the score for his historical epic as the composer had worked on so many big productions leading up to EL CID, including SODOM AND GOMORAH, BEN HUR, QUO VADIS and Bronston’s own ill fated Biblical epic KING OF KINGS. All of which were set Centuries before the adventures of EL CID. But thankfully Dr Rozsa agreed to work on the score and in my ever so humble opinion created one of the most stirring, romantic and emotive soundtracks of the 20th Century and beyond and also one of his most accomplished and popular. There have been various recordings of Rozsa’s music over the years the most recent being the Tadlow 2 disc set, there have also been a number of suites of the music one of my favourites being conducted by Elmer Bernstein that included a number of cues which at the time of its release had never been recorded before. I however have to say that I still prefer and go back to the original MGM release of the soundtrack and I know it is no where near a complete example of the work like the excellent Tadlow release but I suppose it holds a special place in my heart because I first purchased it on the MGM long playing record with the yellow label for the Princely sum of one pound and two shillings, then acquired the Compact Disc years later when issued on the MGM/EMI label and although it contains just 11 tracks for me it is the best and most entertaining edition. Dr. Rozsa’s score is a triumph an exhilarating listening experience whilst watching the movie as it interacts and supports, embellishes and enhances the images on screen and also stands alone as a rewarding and enriching listening encounter just as music.


It is filled with drama, pageantry, emotion, intimacy and romanticism and contains some of the most powerful and majestic sounding fanfares I have ever heard, it is a soundtrack that is brimming with an inspired and regal sound which is added to and given more depth and emotion by its poignant and heartrending tone poems and intimate and haunting love themes all of which is further enriched and augmented by some of cinemas most pulsating and ominous sounding battle music, the composer underlines the action with effervescent and thundering passages but also retains the scores sense of richness and grandiose lushness, via his proud Hispanic sounding compositions. This I think can be heard most effectively in the cue THE BATTLE OF VALENCIA where the composer enlists an array of percussion and timpani and combines these elements with driving strings that are aided and underpinned by rasping brass to depict the desperate efforts of the Spanish armies to halt the advance of the Moors, the music is the charging cavalry and the clashing of metal the endless waves of arrows that are launched at the charging Spanish forces, the cacophony and near chaotic sound of battle music is abruptly halted in its tracks by Rodrigo’s theme being introduced as he is struck by a Moorish arrow, this theme adds emotion and also gives the piece a sense of despair as our hero is wounded. As he retreats back to the safety of Valencia’s walls the theme builds but soon evaporates into a more sombre version of the motif as his troops hear the news and quickly loose morale and are thrown into a despairing and desperate retreat back to the relative safety of the fearsome walls of the City. The sombre mood continues as the seriousness of the CID,s wound becomes evident, the composer utilising dark and low strings to depict and elaborate upon the gravity of the situation and its mood. The compact disc opens with OVERTURE which bursts into life via Rozsa’s rousing and glittering fanfares that are punctuated by percussion, followed by strident strings that take on the central theme and are embellished and accompanied by martial sounding timpani and fearsome sounding brass, all of these elements combine and build into one of cinemas most appealing and powerful themes setting the scene perfectly for what is to follow on the disc. It is an unsettling sound but one that is also proud, majestic and heroic, which reaches its conclusion in a tumultuous crescendo of brass fanfares, booming percussion and romantically fervent strings.


Track two is the PRELUDE. this is the music that opened the movie playing over the credits. Hispanic sounding, with a romantic and highly emotive style filled to overflowing with pride, patriotism and oozing a sense of dedication and faith. Rozsa’s music is magnificent and highly charged brimming with emotion and as it enters into a quieter passage purveys an atmosphere of tenderness and intimacy. Track number three is PALACE MUSIC and is just that a short but pleasant piece that is basically source music but still has to it a haunting thematic quality. Track number four FIGHT FOR CALAHORRA, is for me one of the scores highlights, rousing fanfares, galloping percussion and windswept sounding strings bring us one of the soundtracks most appealing and stirring compositions, it has the WOW factor ten fold, and introduces the fight which Rodrigo must undertake to win the city of Calahorra for his King, a task he volunteers for after he has killed the Kings champion. This cue really is heard prior to the fight and is performed as both peasants, Knights and Royalty are all summoned to attend what is looked upon as a spectacle but in reality is a fight to the death. This is a cue that underlines the joyous atmosphere of the occasion but also has within it certain elements that lean towards the more serious side of the proceedings. Track number five, THIRTEEN KNIGHTS, is heard as Rodrigo sets out to rescue his future Monarch Prince Alfonso who is by order of his sibling Prince Sancho being taken to the dungeons in the town of Zamorra, accompanied by thirteen Knights, Rodrigo follows the Knights and enters into a fight with them, the music for the scene is vital and adds greatly to its impact the composer creating a theme for the said Knights and also introducing a version of Rodrigo,s theme as he enters into combat with them dispatching them easily it seems, Rozsa,s brass and percussion punctuating the ferocious swordplay until Rodrigo emerges triumphant. Track number six, FAREWELL is a more tender and emotive cue and at just over 6,minutes is one of this discs longest tracks, the cue opens with a heartrending version of Rodrigo,s theme which is performed in the first instant by woodwind, then guitar is brought into the equation and plaintive and subtle strings too underline or mirror the theme. The love theme for Chimene and Rodrigo is also given a more fuller working here performed by a achingly tender violin which is beautifully mesmerising.

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The music is heard as the two lovers who are re-united spend the night in a barn after being exiled by King Sancho, however news of their whereabouts spreads and as the sun rises and they emerge from the barn they are confronted by the CID,s loyal soldiers which is given more weight by the introduction of THE EL CID MARCH and is heard as Rodrigo leads his soldiers away to fight. Track number seven is a fuller version of the march INTERMEZZO-EL CID MARCH again filled with fanfares, brass flourishes and strident strings that are underpinned and supported by percussion, clashing cymbals and martial timpani, that is swept along by driving strings as we see Rodrigo,s army grow and march. Track number eight THE TWINS, is heard as we see Rodrigo after years of fighting returns to Chimene and also for the first time meets his twin daughters, this is Rozsa at his most emotive within the score, a touching and heartbreaking piece which includes Chimene’s theme and also a variant of that to represent the children, both of which intertwine to become a passionate and tender composition. Track number nine THE BATTLE FOR VALENCIA we have already discussed, track number ten THE CIDS DEATH is heard as Rodrigo lies mortally wounded surrounded by his loyal friends and his love Chimene he manages to cling onto life long enough to hear the news that Alfonso has arrived with reinforcements to aid the fight with the Moors as Rodrigo drifts away he has at last seen a united Spain. Rozsa,s sorrowful nocturne includes shades of Chimene,s theme. The final cue on the Compact Disc is THE LEGEND AND EPILOGUE. Rodrigo is strapped to his horse in full amour to give his soldiers morale, FOR GOD,SPAIN and THE CID Alfonso cries as the gates of Valencia open the CID rides out into the sunshine to the dismay of the Moors who thought he was dead, Rozsa brings into play a grand sounding church organ which performs The CID,s theme, the Moors throw down their weapons and run the CID charging them down accompanied by Rozsa,s stirring and inspired score, the music soon alters as the CID gallops along the sea shore the composer utilising both Chimene,s and Rodrigo,s themes and cleverly combining them bring the film to its end and the score to its crescendo. I know it is probably somewhat odd to review such a classic score as EL CID because many collectors are already acquainted with it, however maybe they might have missed this particular edition of the soundtrack, if they have maybe they should remedy that very soon and track down a copy.


Released on TSUNAMI RECORDS IN 2005

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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.

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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.

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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.


Released on TSUNAMI records, in 2005.


A BACKGROUND TO VIOLENCE, is not as one might think the title of a motion picture, but instead it is the title given to a suite of music that composer Miklos Rozsa prepared which contains excerpts of music from three movies. All three pictures were produced by filmmaker Hark Hellinger. Te films that the music is taken from are THE KILLERS, BRUTE FORCE and THE NAKED CITY. These are all outstanding examples of the genre that was dubbed film noir and each has become a classic in its own right. The suite BACKGROUND OF VIOLENCE begins with the driving and dramatic PRELUDE and BREAKOUT from BRUTE FORCE. This opening section has a running time of almost five minutes and is this music that the composer utilised as the introduction to the movie, it contains energetic yet perverse rhythmic qualities which are embellished by the composers use of sharp and rasping brass stabs, the music is tense and taught and conjures up perfectly an atmosphere of a frenzied yet hopeless struggle. The suite continues with a further two musical excerpts from Rozsa’s brooding score, these appear in the form of a NOCTURNO, which in stark contrast to the opening cue is somewhat subdued and melodic this piece is used to great effect within the movie to relay to the watching audience the films principal characters thoughts of better times in their lives. This is followed by a SHERZO, that is powerful in its style but is also a perfect musical accompaniment to one of the movies lighter moments. The suite then segues into a cue from THE KILLERS which is entitled REMORSE and is scored under the scene where detectives are interviewing a female suspect , who is desperately trying to convince them that she is innocent. The next excerpt is taken from THE NAKED CITY, PURSUIT AND EPILOGUE, the pursuit section of the composition is a relentless and gripping musical tour de force and is used by Rozsa during the films final chase scene, underlining and punctuating the action wholly. This section of the suite eventually relents and melts into the music that is scored over the end of the movie, it remains dramatic but also has to it a mood and atmosphere that can be described as triumphant relaying a true sense of good prevailing over evil, and also brings the BACKGROUND TO VIOLENCE suite to a close. THE KILLERS, released in 1946, by Universal Pictures this powerful and hard hitting tale of corruption, deceit and crime turned the then virtually unknown actor Burt Lancaster into the proverbial Hollywood overnight success, the movie was based upon a short story by Earnest Hemmingway, who’s ideas were expanded upon for the screenplay by writer Anthony Veiller.

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Veiller’s absorbing and somewhat complex treatment basically led on from where Hemmingway had stopped or at least elaborated upon the subject and its characters. The Hemmingway story tells of two gunmen (Charles McGraw and William Conrad- THE KILLERS) who are waiting in a bar for the man they have been hired to assassinate. Their target, THE SWEDE, portrayed by Lancaster is aware that they are waiting for him, he lies in a claustrophobic darkened room resigned to the fact that he is going to die, too tired to attempt to escape his fate.


Hemmingway’s story gave no indicators to readers why this man had to die, so Veiller began his screenplay with the fabric of the original story and then through a number of flashbacks took the story back to a series of events that he thought might have led the man to this fate. Veiller places the Swede as a boxer who has allowed racketeers to manipulate him and railroad his professional career using him as a front for their underhanded business. They are aided and abetted by the beautiful Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner),who’s involvement with the Swede is his real downfall. A big time gangster Colfax (Albert Dekker) has utilised the boxer in a number of illegal transactions and is consequently under investigation by an insurance company, who send private detective Riordan (Edmund O Brien) along to try and uncover the truth. The movie was skilfully helmed by filmmaker Robert Siodmak and photographed admirably by Woody Bredell. After his convincing and memorable performance in THE KILLERS Lancaster, became hot Hollywood property and with the performance he created for BRUTE FORCE one year later assured himself a place in tinsel town history.

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BRUTE FORCE was directed by Jules Dassin, the film put prison life and the methods that prison authorities employed to keep inmates in check under the microscope. Based upon the story by Robert Patterson the film contained a no holds barred screenplay courtesy of writer Richard Brooks. BRUTE FORCE was and to a certain degree still is a highly authentic look at the gritty and often cruel and dreadful existence that many prisoners experienced whilst under lock and key. The real star of the movie has to be actor Hume Cronyn who delivers a convincing and suitably sadistic performance as Captain Munsey, who is a corrupt and malicious prison guard and has his own less ethical methods when it comes to discipline and punishment. The regime that Munsey imposes upon the prisoners pushes them to the limit of their endurance and one of the inmates Joe Collins played by Burt Lancaster decides that he can take no more of the merciless and cruel methods that are being employed and overseen by Munsey. Collins decides that he will escape and attempts to enlist the aid of fellow inmate Gallagher (Charles Bickford). Gallagher is seen by many in the prison as the unofficial leader of the prisoners and also is the editor of the prison newspaper.

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Gallagher however is not fully convinced that the plan Collins has come up with is a good one and refuses to be involved in the escape. Collins however does manage to persuade a handful of the other inmates that share his cell to take part. The majority of these are very much like Collins and are in prison due to either good intentions gone tragically wrong or because of love and mis-guided loyalty. There is Soldier (Howard Duff) who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful Italian girl played by Yvonne de Carlo during WWll and because of his love for her decided to take the blame for the murder of her Father, when in fact it was her who had committed the crime. Tom Lister (Whit Bissel) who was an accountant who decided that he would alter the financial records in his favour to the tune of $3,000 so that he could buy his strong minded wife (Ella Raines) a mink coat. There is also Spencer, (John Hoyt) who made the wrong decision and got involved with a clever female con-artist. Then there is Collins himself(Burt Lancaster) who in desperation carried out a raid on bank to get the money for his girlfriend (Ann Blyth) to have an operation. So that she did not have to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Before Collins and his fellow inmates are able to escape Munsey increases the pressure upon one of the prisoners and Tom Lister commits suicide. Enraged by this Collins is even more determined to make his bid for freedom. Munsey also puts a stop on a parole order for Gallagher and this makes him decide to join Collins and the others. Collins finds out that Munsey via his many stoolpigeons has been informed that there is going to be a breakout, but Joe is undeterred in his plans. BRUTE FORCE is a convincing, taught and gripping slice of cinema, that for most of the picture has the audience firmly on the side of the prisoners, but at the end of the movie the storyline very cleverly does a twist and turnabout, which basically tells us that the use of strong arm tactics ofr Brute Force by the inmates is just as wrong as the Brute Force that has been carried out upon them by their overseers. Director Jules Dassin went onto work with producer Mark Hellinger on THE NAKED CITY, but after this fell foul of the political blacklisting and left the United States to go to Europe, he never returned to America. THE NAKED CITY, was released by Universal pictures in 1948, this is another accomplished portion of film-noir that is a no fuss, no holds barred account of homicide and its subsequent investigationon the gritty and down to earth streets of New York.


Handled with much confidence and expertise by director Jules Dassin, the story centres on a period of six days in the city and although the actual plot of the movie is an engrossing and gripping one, it is probably true to say that it is actually the city with its eastside/Westside divide, Broadway and populace of 8 million that is the star of the picture. For in the this movie there are no props as such , if you see children playing in the streets that is exactly what they are, children from New York, not extras taking on the role, the scenes in the Police station were filmed in an actual Manhattan Police station and in the final chase scene the people we see on the streets again are not extras but New Yorkers, going about their everyday lives. A young and moderately successful model Jean Dexter is found dead in her apartment which is situated in the upper Westside of Manhattan, she has drowned in her bath but it soon materialises that she was knocked unconscious first and then drowned. So it is a case for the NYPD homicide department. Detectives Lt Dan Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) and his younger assistant James Halloran (Don Taylor) are assigned to job. The work that they and the New York Police department carry out on the case is interspersed with brief but important glimpses of life in the city and also the reaction of the cities inhabitants to the murder. The detectives first task is to find out why the girl was killed and after establishing this fact they can then move onto trying to find the person or persons responsible for her murder. After piecing together the final 18 months of the girls life their enquiries lead them to two men who are linked to the woman. Phillip Henderson who was supposedly romantically involved with her and also a Frank Niles (Howard Duff) who succeeds in making detective Muldoon even more suspicious of him when he is a little too fast and easy with the so called truth. Muldoon reaches the conclusion that there were definitely two men involved with the girls murder, but maybe there was a third individual involved who had a vested interest in seeing her dead. It transpires that the girl had a less than moral existence she frequented numerous parties and also had her fair share of male friends. The two detectives pursue their enquiries and explore the high social stratum and seedy sides of New York to find the perpetrators. The final chase scene on the Williamsburg bridge is one of those classic pieces of cinema that can never be forgotten, full of tension, suspense and excitement. Cinematographer William Daniels and film editor Paul Weatherwax both received Oscars for their work on the movie. Producer Mark Hellinger also acted as narrator on the film, and at its conclusion delivered those immortal words, “THERE ARE EIGHT MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY,THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF THEM”.
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Also included on this compact disc is THE NEW ENGLAND SYMPHONETTE from the 1947 movie TIME OUT OF MIND.
This romantically laced period drama set in the 19th Century was directed by Robert Siodmak and took its storyline from the novel by Rachel Field, the film itself was rather disappointing and tended to be a slow moving tale which was made slightly more interesting only because of the efforts of its stars Eddie Albert, Phyliss Calvert, Ella Raines and Robert Hutton. Calvert plays a servant girl named Kate Ferald who falls in love with Christopher Fortune (Hutton),and although he is also in love with her their marriage cannot take place because he is the Son of a wealthy New England sailing family. Kate realises that they can never be wed and encourages Christopher to marry someone from his own social class, as time passes on Kate watches from the sidelines witnessing his increasing frustration and unhappiness, until finally he drinks himself to death. Miklos Rozsa provided the film with a musical soundtrack that was fairly typical of his style during the late 1940,s and condensed his themes into this symphonette which is approx six minutes in duration.

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To say that Miklos Rozsa was a prolific composer of music for the cinema is certainly an understatement, plus we should not forget Rozsa was not just a composer of magnificent film scores but also wrote music for the concert hall another area in which he excelled. Born in Budapest Hungary in 1907, Rozsa was the son of an influential industrialist and land owner. Rozsa came from an affluent family and most of his early years were spent at the family’s country estate in the county of NOGRAD which lay close to the Matra mountains. His first encounter wit music came when his was just five years of age, it was then that he began to study the viola and piano, just three years later after celebrating his eighth birthday he began to perform in public and made his initial attempts at composing music. His Father however was convinced that music was not the right career move for his Son, so insisted that Rozsa should set out to get an all round good education. Miklos attended a High school in Budapest for this 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 some intervention by Herrmann Grabner Rozsa’s Father was persuaded to allow his son to study music on a full time basis and concentrate on making it his career. He began to study at the Leipzig conservatory and in his last years there would often stand in for Tutors giving lectures and also instructing fellow students. Rozsa’s first published orchestral work was a piece entitled HUNGARIAN SERENADE for small orchestra which was given its premiere performance in Budapest during the summer of 1929 by The Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Erno Dohnanyi (sometimes known as Ernst von Dohnányi). The piece was well received and garnered Rozsa much acclaim from composers such as Richard Strauss.


Rozsa soon established himself as a composer of note and built up an impressive musical canon, he collaborated with his friend and fellow composer Arthur Honegger to stage a concert of their combined musical works at the Salle Debussy in Paris. It was whilst working alongside Honegger that Rozsa heard the composer’s music for the move LES MISERABLES and became interested in the concept of writing music for the cinema and utilizing music to heighten the dramatic impact of film. After watching LES MISERABLES and seeing how music enhanced the images on screen Rozsa decided that composing music for movies was what he wanted to do. In 1936, he travelled to England to work on a ballet entitled HUNGARIA, and whilst there was asked to compose the score for Alexader Korda’s production of KNIGHT WITHOUT ARMOUR (1937).


The movie and also Rozsa’s musical score were a great success and later that year the composer was engaged to write the music for another Korda production THUNDER IN THE CITY (1937), shortly after this assignment the composer was signed to the permanent staff of London films which was Korda’s production company. Rozsa first major scoring assignment came in 1939, when he wrote the music for THE FOUR FEATHERS, after this he worked on a movie that is probably still regarded by many as the composers most accomplished and memorable work for cinema which was THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1940). The film and the music thrilled and delighted audiences all over the world and became a lucrative production for the Korda organisation and was also the score that would lead Rozsa to Hollywood, this was because of the outbreak of WWll and the entire production of the movie including Rozsa being relocated to the United States who at that time were not involved in the conflict. The composer’s first Hollywood score was to come two years later when he penned the soundtrack to Korda’s THE JUNGLE BOOK (1942). The composer made a recording of a suite of music from the movie and also included narration on the recording by the films star Sabu, this was the first time that film music had been released on a recording in the United States and it proved to be very popular.


In 1945 the composer wrote the score for Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND and his hauntingly mesmerising soundtrack established him even more as a composer of worth and also garnered him an Academy Award for his efforts, in the same year Rozsa composed the music for Billy Wilders THE LOST WEEKEND and for this he employed what is probably the first electronic instrument within the score the Theremin. In 1947 the composer was awarded the Oscar for his music to George Cukor’s A DOUBLE LIFE and one year later Rozsa joined the staff at Metro Goldwyn Mayer, it is probably true to say that it was whilst at M.G.M that the composer was at his most prolific, writing the scores to such movies as QUO VADIS (1951), BEN HUR (1959), EL CID (1961) and KING OF KINGS (1962). He was awarded an Oscar for his monumental soundtrack to BEN HUR and received much acclaim for his epic score to EL CID. The latter becoming a firm favourite among numerous collectors of film music. As the Golden age of film music reached its sunset and the Silver age began to dawn film making trends and practices altered and styles of film production changed (not necessarily for the better) thus many up and coming film makers were attempting to create their own unique approaches to making movies and this did include the way in which music was utilized within film. Younger composers were beginning to break into the film music arena and although not turning their backs on the what had up till then been the traditional way of scoring movies were inventing new sounds and styles.


Rozsa however still remained busy during this period even though he had himself acknowledged that EL CID was his last major film score. The composer created a number of noteworthy scores that in many connoisseurs opinions were more worthy than the films they were intended to enhance. There were also thankfully a number of production that were creditable vessels for his wonderful themes, these in my opinion included, PROVIDENCE, THE LAST EMBRACE, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, TIME AFTER TIME and DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID, the latter title including a score that parodied Rozsa’s own style and sound that he had employed in movies such as THE NAKED CITY, THE KILLERS and BRUTE FORCE.



During the 1980,s the composer was forced to retire from writing music because of failing eyesight, he passed away on July 27th 1995 aged 88, he left behind a rich and varied tapestry of musical works and is still influencing film music in the 21st Century via his powerful, sumptuous, haunting and innovative style of composing for the motion picture industry.