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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.