(Film Score Monthly)
When I was twelve years old, I wandered into a record store on Church Avenue in Brooklyn to check the newest record releases. Finding nothing interesting, I aimlessly headed to the back of the store to where the "bargain bin" was located, an isolated section in the least populated area of the store, which had been established, as a last resort, to hopefully unload records they couldn't get rid of at any price. As I went through the very unimpressive titles I happened onto an unopened ten inch record that had colorful illustrations of two of my favorite actors, Robert Taylor and Spencer Tracy, on its cover. For that reason, and that reason alone, I parted company with two quarters and took the record home. It sat there for weeks unplayed. One day, when my homework was particularly light, and with nothing better to do, I half-heartedly started to play the record. As the first rich, vibrant theme boldly declared itself I was instantly transfixed, so thrilled was I by what I heard . By the time I finished playing both sides, I knew my life had changed forever. The record was IVANHOE/PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE and the composer was, of course, Miklos Rozsa. And so began my life-long passion for film music.
While Alfred Newman remains, by a tiny margin, my favorite composer, Rozsa is a close second. There's something about his work that seemed so close to me that I've always known that if someone could musically score my life, with all it's high and low points, it would be Rozsa.
I've often felt that the combination of Rozsa and the MGM Studio Orchestra was an unparallelled alliance, so much so that, as great as his work was for other studios, such as Paramount and Universal , I usually felt something was missing. I've frequently speculated how much greater some of his lesser known later scores, such as SODOM AND GOMORRAH, LAST EMBRACE and FEDORA would have seemed had they been done at MGM in its prime.
Film Score Monthly, much to my great pleasure , has in the past released on cd. such Rozsa MGM gems as IVANHOE, THE WORLD THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL, THE SEVENTH SIN, MOONFLEET, LUST FOR LIFE, PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE, TRIBUTE TO A BAD MAN, GREEN FIRE and my favorite cd. of last year, the double disc of KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE and THE KING'S THIEF.
Their latest release is another double disc, the complete Rozsa score of MGM's 1956 Lana Turner costume romance DIANE, a film that closed out Turner's Metro sojourn, and which opened to tepid reviews and even worse business. (Not knowing how to sell the picture, MGM's campaign slogan was "Lana Turner dares the devil !") Indeed, Turner would, in her autobiography, refer to this, as well as the much worse THE PRODIGAL, as "costume junk".
They say you can't tell a book by its cover, and Rozsa' s score for DIANE proves that you can't tell a score by the film it's attached to. The bottom line is that this is one of Rozsa's richest and most deeply felt scores, replete with an abundance of themes that convey the pomp and grandeur of historical European royalty. The main theme that dominates the score is a work of wonder, triumphant and bold, but with an unmistakable subtext of sadness that so poignantly conveys the torment of unrequited love. So memorable and haunting is it that I defy you to get it out of your head. (DIANE, in spirit and passion, if not melody, is the sister of Rozsa's previous YOUNG BESS. ) The superbly reproduced original stereo tracks sound terrific.
So comprehensive is this double disc cd. that in addition to disc 1, which includes the entire score as meant to be heard in the film, disc 2 adds an alternate, chronological presentation of DIANE's underscore, selected source cues later revised by Rozsa, and additional material that didn't fit on FSM's previous releases of PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE and MOONFLEET.
If you're a Rozsa aficionado, and even if you're not, you won't want to miss this luminous and haunting DIANE.