Two Loves

Two Loves (1960), adapted from the novel Spinster by New Zealand author Sylvia Ashton-Warner, concerns American Anna Vorontosov (Shirley MacLaine), who teaches in a remote part of northern New Zealand. In spite of her unorthodox teaching methods, Anna’s students and their parents dearly love her, yet she leads a troubled personal life. Sexually inhibited and frightened of love, Anna is an unhappy loner who devotes all of her energy to her students while spurning romantic advances from a fellow teacher, Paul Lathrope (Laurence Harvey). Late in the film, Anna is shocked to discover that her 15-year old Maori teaching assistant, Whareparita (Nobu McCarthy), is pregnant—and even more shocked at the girl’s nonchalant reaction when her twins are stillborn. When Paul dies in a motorcycle accident that may have been a suicide, Anna blames herself for the tragedy, then learns that Paul was likely the father of Whareparita’s twins. In the end, unhappily married school inspector W.W.J. Abercrombie (Jack Hawkins) helps Anna pick up the pieces and start life over with a new attitude.

M-G-M acquired the rights to Aston-Warner’s novel in March 1959, and by July of that year had assigned Ben Maddow to adapt it for the screen. Initially, producer Julian Blaustein and director Charles Walters planned to film the story on location in New Zealand, but the shooting schedule conflicted with the local rainy season and various other complications arose, so production took place in Los Angeles. The studio hired Rev. Kingi M. Ihaka, an expert on New Zealand affairs (who eventually played the small part of a preacher in the film), to ensure authenticity. Shooting began on October 17, 1960, on a tight schedule because several actors had other commitments waiting for them: Harvey, in particular, needed to start filming Summer and Smoke by November 19. This forced Walters, much to his dismay, to shoot the film out of sequence, with all of the major emotional scenes featuring Harvey done first—perhaps before the actors had been able to settle into their roles.

Because Anna is a would-be concert pianist, Bronislau Kaper adopted a classical piece (played by Anna early in the film) for the “Main Title” and develops it throughout his score. Franz Liszt composed his 12 Transcendental Etudes for solo piano in 1837, revising them in 1851. Kaper chose the 10th etude, nicknamed “Appassionata,” for Two Loves—it is perfectly suited to the drama, with its turbulent chromaticism and its yearning, upward-striving half-steps and wider leaps. Kaper also composed some pseudo-native material for source music, including a funeral chant (not on this disc) and a “children’s song” incorporated into the underscore (but only a fragment of which is performed on screen).

Two Loves failed to find an audience, with most critics agreeing that MacLaine was miscast and that Harvey’s performance was over the top (at least two reviewers called it “hammy”). Jack Hawkins earned commendations for the stability he brought to the film in his role as the mature corner of the love triangle, while critics praised Nobu McCarthy for her nuanced performance as a young Maori girl dealing with the clash between her native traditions and Western notions of propriety. Several critics noted Kaper’s music approvingly: Limelight called it “excellent”; Film Daily said it was “pleasing”; Variety wrote that it “provided exciting emotional accompaniment, listenable on its own terms”; and The Hollywood Reporter concluded that “Bronislau Kaper contributes a memorable score, particularly in his use of the piano to give it a concerto-like feel.”

18. Main Title
Kaper opens the film with a full-blown concertante treatment of Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 10 over the title sequence, remaining quite faithful to the original piece—fleshing out and supporting the solo piano texture with full orchestra—while making a few minor cuts in the interest of conciseness and timing. As the film segues to its opening sequence, Kaper begins to explore and develop Liszt’s thematic material in a passage that is distinctly of his own invention. Various solos (violin, English horn, piano, flute) quietly accompany Anna Verantasov (Shirley MacLaine) going about his morning routine—opening a window shade, putting a kettle on the stove, etc. Waiting for the water to boil, she sits at her piano and plays the opening passage of the Liszt work (a performance not included on this disc), thus linking the opening credit music with the narrative.
19. Brandy
As Anna brews her tea, an innocent-sounding phrase (first heard on oboe, then violins) rides over a two-note ostinato. Continuing the cheerful mood, Kaper introduces the melody of an original “children’s song” (“Haere Tonu Ra”), but dour harmonies intrude when Anna fortifies herself with two teaspoons of brandy. An expansive string theme take over as she drives to work across the rustic New Zealand landscape. The sequence ends with a falling minor-third motive from the children’s song, played by French horn.
20. You’re Right (revised version)
Anna argues with Paul Lathrope (Laurence Harvey), one of her fellow teachers, about proper disciplinary measures. When he admits that she is right, Kaper’s music enters on a low string line as the argument cools. Paul tells Anna he is an aspiring singer and when she agrees to hear him “sometime,” his hopes rise as the color of a solo flute brightens the music. A harp flourish covers a transition to Anna’s cottage, where she accompanies Paul singing (rather badly) Schubert’s “Ungeduld” (“Impatience”) from Die Schöne Müllerin (another performance not included on this disc).
21. Alone
The evening does not end well: Paul has a meltdown and begs Anna to let him stay the night, but she rejects him. The music, melodically vague and harmonically ambiguous, develops a theme (introduced on oboe) that cannot seem to escape just two notes. The sensitive orchestration—in a different context it might have become a “love theme”—reflects the unstable natures of both characters.
22. Come In
Kaper reprises the expansive string theme from “Brandy” as Anna takes time out during a shopping trip for a visit with school inspector W.W.J. Abercrombie (Jack Hawkins) to share her concerns about Paul’s emotional well-being.
23. Eugene
Anna reveals something of her past to Paul: she tells him about Eugene, a young man whom she had rejected because she could not bear the thought of intimacy. Edgy sul ponticello strings and alto flute (joined by English horn) provide an unsettling background. When Paul realizes why Eugene and Anna broke up, the piano enters with a development of the Liszt theme, emphasizing the yearning, chromatic nature of the melody; later, the loneliness motive from “Alone” returns. This entire passage mines the same vein of “tortured” music for “damaged” people that Kaper explored so well in BUtterfield 8.
24. Mountains
Anna joins Abercrombie and some of her colleagues on an excursion into the mountains. Strings begin with a development of the children’s song, and as their bus rolls out, the music swells and French horns intone the falling-third motive.
Anna returns from the trip tired but happy. After the cue begins with full orchestra reflecting her buoyant mood, the orchestration thins out. The loneliness motive returns on solo violin when Anna enters her house to discover Paul stretched out on her couch.
25. Afraid of Men
Kaper develops the “loneliness” theme when Paul accuses Anna of being afraid of men. She does not deny the assertion, and as they try to reach out to each other, the motive takes on more of the characteristics of a traditional “love” theme—including major-mode harmonies.
26. Don’t
A gentle string passage leads (via a harp glissando) into development of the Liszt work as Paul embraces Anna and begins to kiss her, the cue rising passionately when she responds—at first. When Anna pulls away, the music wanders aimlessly without settling on any particular idea while Paul—angry and bitter—speaks to her cruelly before storming out. At the end of the cue, a solo cello accompanies Anna’s painful tears.
27. Death
Paul taunts Anna when he encounters her at a hospital, eventually losing control and attacking her, all the while protesting that he loves her. Anna slaps him when he rips open her blouse, and the Liszt theme erupts; she drives off and Paul walks away in a daze. Later, at home alone, quieter variations of the theme accompany her thoughts until she hears Paul’s motorcycle in the distance. As he drives recklessly, the music builds in intensity with anguished strings and muted brass in a fateful agitato that climaxes when Paul drives off the road, precipitating a fiery crash.
28. Tea
After Paul’s funeral, Anna attempts to comfort Maori native Whareparita (Nobu McCarthy), her 15-year-old teaching assistant. Anna slaps the girl when, clinging to her Maori suspicions, Whareparita blames ghosts for the recent miscarriage of her twins. Solo clarinet wanders above suspended harmonies until strings take over, followed by solos for flute and English horn against eerie high-pitched string tremolos. An intense rhythmic escalation (as Whareparita describes the ghosts) leads to an abrupt cutoff before a short orchestral outburst intensifies the slap.
After Whareparita departs, Anna—now cognizant that Paul fathered Whareparita’s stillborn babies—becomes ill with anguish and breaks down in strangled tears. A short phrase ascends through the string section against a pulsating rhythm, while a bit of color from celesta adds further poignancy to the cue.
29. Carnation
Abercrombie arrives to comfort Anna and assure her she bears no responsibility for Paul’s death, which she believes to be a suicide. Solos from alto flute and English horn lead to the children’s song—again on strings. A telling modulation at 0:53 brings additional ardor to the theme, and tender solo strings accompany Abercrombie’s declaration of his love for Anna.
30. End
Anna returns to her classroom with renewed purpose, and Abercrombie walks away whistling the children’s song. The orchestra picks up the tune and Kaper closes the film with a succinct orchestral flourish.

Bonus Track

31. You’re Right (original version)
Recorded at the first orchestral session (on February 1, 1961), this early version of the cue features a slightly different ending compared to the revised cue recorded two weeks later—the flute at 1:02 is an octave lower, and there is no final flourish for harp. —