The 1959 Joseph E. Levine UK presentation of “Jack the Ripper” was one in a long line of films depicting the story of the vicious 1888 murders of several London prostitutes. In this b & w version, only loosely based on the known facts, Jack is finally identified and the film switches to color for its grisly ending. The UK film used a soundtrack composed by Stanley Black (1913-2002). However, on its US release a more jazz-oriented score composed by Jimmy McHugh(1894-1969) and Pete Rugolo (1915- )was substituted.
The Stanley Black score was not then released in full in the US, however it did appear as “incidental music” on an RCA Camden LP of “Jack the Ripper” featuring dialogue from the soundtrack and narration by Sir Cedric Hardwicke (RCA Camden CAL-590 [1960, mono], a difficult to find Lp these days. (See left picture below).Rerecorded tracks of part of the score appeared recently on a CD issue of some of Black’s work. The much more popular LP was the Rugulo/McHugh US soundtrack released on RCA LSP-2199 (1960-stereo)/LPM-2199 (1960-mono) (See right photo below). It features one of the most striking soundtrack LP covers ever released, one you can identify from across the hall at record/CD shows. Having both of them together makes for a nice soundtrack set. Mike
From what little I've been able to learn, Jimmy McHugh had pretty much stopped writing songs by the late 1950s, and had turned to performing in Las Vegas and other venues. Despite regular forays into Broadway musicals, the majority of McHugh's output was songs for films (he was also the composer of the 1930s Universal Studios fanfare). So perhaps it wasn't much of a stretch to contribute to a background score for a film. I also understand that during the early 1960s McHugh published a lot of Pete Rugolo's music. But as to whether his association with Rugolo pre-dated JACK THE RIPPER, I don't know,
My guess is that McHugh pulled out a trunk melody and Rugolo used it in the score - the score seems to me to be pure Rugolo, but I'd again guess that maybe one of the melodies outside of the main title is a McHugh melody.
One of the all-time great stereo recordings and the CD sounds superb.
There is a third recording that is related to JACK THE RIPPER. Jimmy McHugh and Pete Rugolo teamed with Steve Allen to write a novelty song called "Jack the Ripper" as a promotional item for the film. The song was performed by Nino Tempo on an RCA Victor 45 rpm single. The flip side of the release was the main theme from the score.
Thanks to Recordman for starting this thread and to Basil Wrathbone for his recent bump which brought it to my attention. I'm spinning the CD right now for the first time and really digging it. The sound quality is great and the music inventive and mesmerizing. It's like a film noir sandwich with giallo sauce and a side of crime jazz fries. Order up!