Tag Archives: THE SCARLET LETTER

TWO SHADES OF SCARLET.

SCARLETT AND THE SCARLET LETTER BY JOHN MORRIS.

We often associate the late composer John Morris with the films of Mel Brooks, and why not he did after all score BLAZING SADDLES, THE PRODUCERS, SPACEBALLS, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and SILENT MOVIE, as well as the Brooks films production of the David Lynch directed, THE ELEPHANT MAN. There is little doubt that Morris was an exceptionally talented composer, but sadly was at times underatted by both critics and film music collectors alike. Morris scored several movies and TV productions that often do not get mentioned, maybe this is because the said productions were not that popular with audiences of both the big and small screens. However, the music that the composer penned for them was as always excellent. Take THE SCARLET LETTER for example and also SCARLETT, both I am sure were TV movies, but both contained highly thematic scores and had a luxurious and dramatic musical persona.

The latter starred Timothy Dalton who took on the role of Rhett Butler, which of course is a role we all associate with Clark Gable in the epic drama and romance movie GONE WITH THE WIND. Morris certainly took his cue from composer Max Steiner for this sequel to the classic tale of the American civil war, with lush and melodious themes adorning the production, Morris utilising to maximum effect strings and brass that are supported by delicate and subtle woods, which come into their own conveying a sense of melancholy and romance. The composer also includes proud sounding brass at times that gives the score a golden age sound. The cue THIS WAS TARA being particularly poignant and inspiring.  The compact disc was a round for quite a while in many retail outlets but has since become a little more difficult to obtain. However, I would recommend that you attempt to take a listen to the score, which is available on various digital platforms.

THE SCARLET LETTER is another lush sounding work from the composer, again an American TV movie, it is not to be confused with the Demi Moore, Gary Oldman feature film of the same name, which was eventually scored by John Barry. Morris fashioned a lilting and thematic work for the production, again as in SCARLETT the composer created highly melodic sounding compositions written for woods, brass, percussion and led by the string section. The core theme is a sombre but at the same time rich one, and the composer reinvents this as he utilises it throughout the score, this central thematic property becoming the foundation or backbone of the work. So two John Morris scores both for TV movies, that are filled with an abundance of themes and purvey a sense of the romantic, check them both out.