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 Posted:   May 3, 2023 - 10:38 AM   
 By:   Steve Vertlieb   (Member)

Remembering Hugo Friedhofer, and "The Best Years of Our Lives"

Steve Vertlieb

 Posted:   May 3, 2023 - 11:08 AM   
 By:   sales   (Member)

What a fabulous treasure Steve I first encountered Friedhofer's music tracked into episodes of Voyage to the bottom of the sea . A screening of The Young Lions on UK channel 4 30 odd years ago made me recognise the cue The Death Of Christian as titled on the album bought much later was the same cue Michael Ansara hunted the US destroyer in the VTTBOTS episode Killers Of The Deep Voyage gave me a great appreciation of Friedhofers talents from which I explored further

 Posted:   May 3, 2023 - 12:17 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

For yours truly, it started with the soundtrack album to "One Eyed Jacks", and it built up with there, and then there was "The Young Lions" and the impressive World Premiere Recording to "The Best Years of Our Lives". The only native born San Francisco born film composer to win an Oscar.

 Posted:   Jan 19, 2024 - 1:02 PM   
 By:   Steve Vertlieb   (Member)

Turner Classic Movies screened "The Best Years of Our Lives" in prime time last night. The movie remains a poignant, heartbreaking classic of war time Americana, while Hugo Friedhofer's glorious scoring is rightly considered the composer's crowning achievement, and one of the finest examples of modern motion picture music for the ages.

 Posted:   Jan 19, 2024 - 1:29 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Yup, watched a decent share m'self. Never tire of it. Tremendous nuanced, moving performance from Dana Andrews. A stellar cast through and through.

 Posted:   Jan 19, 2024 - 4:35 PM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

Considering the respect and acclaim for this score, I'm surprised that we have not seen another re-recording of this score. The one from the seventies was very good, but this score deserves all the attention it can get.

 Posted:   Jan 19, 2024 - 5:15 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

I missed this post last year. I loved reading an actual letter from Friedhofer.

I needed the Best Years CD after seeing the movie in the early '90s. Clerks at Media Play, then a national chain store, told me repeatedly that it couldn't be ordered, there was no such CD anymore. Then I finally went to a little, local record store and they ordered it for me 1-2-3. Triumph.

And what a great album. I have the Preamble edition, PRCD 1779. It was later remixed for a Label X release, but I never had a problem with the original mix.

 Posted:   Jan 19, 2024 - 5:20 PM   
 By:   Night   (Member)


 Posted:   Jan 20, 2024 - 7:38 AM   
 By:   Steve Vertlieb   (Member)

If you click on the blue link with the title of the film within the context of the article, you'll also find a brief critique of both the film, and its score.


 Posted:   Jan 20, 2024 - 9:28 AM   
 By:   Bill Carson, Earl of Poncey   (Member)

Yup, watched a decent share m'self. Never tire of it. Tremendous nuanced, moving performance from Dana Andrews. A stellar cast through and through.

I never knew you liked this film howard? wink
I mean it's not like you ever brought it up in zooms at every opportunity more than you did the Twilight Zone lol

 Posted:   Jan 20, 2024 - 5:49 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

I had a premonition you’d show up, Moriarty.

 Posted:   Jan 20, 2024 - 7:14 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

I was just window shopping on ebay, looking at Best Years CDs and LPs, and I saw an item that apparently came with the Entracte LP: a 7-inch vinyl record called Hugo Friedhofer: A 50th Anniversary Tribute. It's spoken by Richard Hatch (presumably of Battlestar Galactica, as it was 1978), and runs 4:47. On Side 2 it has the original soundtrack version of "The Homecoming."

Does anybody have this recording? What could he be saying, for almost five minutes? When you add in the enormously lengthy liner notes by Royal S. Brown and Page Cook (which I have in the CD booklet), I take it there's a lot to say indeed. I wish the CD had included the "Tribute" as a bonus track.

 Posted:   Jan 20, 2024 - 9:49 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

Steve Vertlieb…..

It's such a pleasure to remember Hugo and BEST YEARS in this thread you've started. I'm now the ripe old age of 84, but still out-and-about, doing well, and have at least a generous percentage of my "marbles" still remaining!

But I find that occasional hours of my daily life today are in remembering the enjoyable times and events of my past. All-in-all, I've had quite a wonderful life, enjoyed the varied nuances of my creative profession, and met and worked with so many people whose own work I had admired over the years as well. One of those was Hugo Friedhofer.

When I was young (in the 1940s), my Aunt and Uncle owned a (very) small-town movie theatre. On days when I'd visit them and stay over for the night, they had to operate the theater, so I was taken along and plunked down in a seat to watch the cartoon, newsreel, trailers and evening movie. How lucky can you get! Over the years I remembered some of the films fairly well…..LOVE LETTERS with Victor Young's score, BATHING BEAUTY with Esther Williams and the flaming torches and giant fountains finale, a Technicolor epic that no one else remembers, RAINBOW ISLAND, with Dorothy Lamour, and HANGOVER SQUARE. At the age of 5 years old I was scared out-of-my-wits by that one with Laird Cregar and the Bernard Herrmann score, and remembered it forever---and though ARSENIC AND OLD LACE played as a comedy, it also had Raymond Massey standing in for Boris Karloff, and he scared me too. But those all remain memorable movie-going days of my life.

I believe my first encounter with Hugo (that I was aware of) was in 1947 with THE BISHOP'S WIFE, which I loved (and still do). Hugo's music helps the film enormously.

By the late 1940s-early 1950s our family had moved out west and I was going to the movies on my own, paying my 15-20 cent admission (which was a pretty good value for a double-bill). I went to all kinds, all genres, of movies fairly indiscriminantly as long as they sounded interesting. My next encounter with Hugo's work (…..again, that I can remember), was BROKEN ARROW---a film that at my 10 years, touched me deeply. In hindsight I think Hugo's fine score for the film was an important participant in that emotional connection.

Over the next years I saw hundreds of films, including Hugo's THUNDER IN THE EAST, LYDIA BAILEY, ABOVE AND BEYOND, VERA CRUZ…..and then on to the Fox contract films including WHITE FEATHER, SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD, THE RAINS OF RANCHIPUR, THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER (…..Jane Russell WAS just a dance hall girl and nothing more, right ?), AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL, BOY ON A DOLPHIN, THE SUN ALSO RISES, IN LOVE AND WAR, THE YOUNG LIONS, and THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA. It didn't hurt that all of these Fox films were in CinemaScope and full Four-Track Mag Stereo Sound which really set off the Friedhofer music in a grand manner. What a fabulous time to be a weekly movie-goer!

Other Hugo films followed in the later period, from the good of THIS EARTH IS MINE, to the brilliant of ONE EYED JACKS, to the nsg, WOMAN OBSESSED! (…..or "WOMAN POSSESSED", as Hugo would negatively refer to it whenever I mentioned it).

In the early 1970s I was working with a director on a relatively high-budget short documentary film A WALK IN THE FOREST. Everything was being done first-class, and when post-production time arrived we discussed possible composers who could/would score this kind of film. Because I was the film music "nut" of the team, I had recordings in my collection of the composers we had talked about. We played them, discussed them, and made a list of composers one of which we'd like to try to get. I must admit, I was pushing Friedhofer strongly, but the director wasn't sure because of his lack of relatively recent and important scores. Still, he talked with each of the composers on this list and came back
with high praise for Hugo. There were several minor roadblocks along the way, but Hugo was eventually chosen, and it became very important to him, and very valuable to us for his participation in the project.

Eventually we did another small feature film with Hugo, THE COMPANION, and then, sadly, the director died during post-production of that film, and with it Hugo's hopes of working again with us---and, of course, our working with him. During thIs post-production editing time, which was done at my home studio, I had the honor of having Hugo and his friend/amour/protege, vocalist-teacher-composer Jeri Southern come and visit on several occasions. What an intelligent, creative delight they were!

But, this thread is about THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, and, sadly, I didn't see the film in 1946, nor in 1954 when Goldwyn reissued it to big hoopla. In the mid-1960s, an art theatre on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles was having a major film festival of beautiful new prints of many of Goldwyn's classic films and it was there that I first saw THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES. I was stunned, emotionally and dramatically enraptured by the film, and often in tears with the
dramatically unfolding events depicted. By the mid-1960s, 20 years after the film's release, all the feelings I felt around me in 1946, even as a child, came through in the film. On this, my first viewing, I realized that this was truly a brilliant film achievement, absolutely deserving of the accolades it had received over the years. All the technical and creative aspects of the film, itself, were completely on target, and much of the emotional under-pinnings of the scenes were due to Hugo's, now legendary, score. I will never forget this score, nor will I forget my times with Hugo Friedhofer.

 Posted:   Jan 20, 2024 - 10:43 PM   
 By:   Col. Flagg   (Member)

Thank you for that fantastic post, Manderley!

 Posted:   Jan 21, 2024 - 7:36 AM   
 By:   Steve Vertlieb   (Member)

I can't thank you enough, Manderley, for your sublimely eloquent post. I'm not quite as old as you, my friend, having just turned seventy-eight years of age a month or so ago, but your joyous childhood recollections brought back my own in rapturous remembrance. I envy your experience of having actually known and worked with Hugo Friedhofer. I remain deeply touched by his poignant letter to me, and utterly adore both William Wyler's film version of "The Best Years of Our Lives, and its wonderful music. Your memories of growing up in the forties brought back my own memories of growing up, and going to Saturday matinees, in the early to mid-fifties. As a child of the early days of television, I can well remember sitting in front of our old RCA television, captivated by its magical spell. May God Bless and Keep You, my friend.


 Posted:   Jan 21, 2024 - 7:47 AM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

Manderly, Thank you for your post. It was thorough, touching, and a wonderful story of growing up with the movies and the impact of films and film music.

 Posted:   Jan 21, 2024 - 12:01 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

For those of you relative newbies out there, consider that eloquent tribute as pure just-another-day-at-the-office manderley that goes back to this place’s inception when some of us were relative newbies then but are now (sigh) getting too close for comfort to the eighth (or ninth!) decade ourselves. eek

newbie indeed—

 Posted:   Jan 22, 2024 - 12:32 PM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

Nowadays it's always a pleasant surprise to hear from you Manderley. It's nice to know you're still following threads on this site.

 Posted:   Jan 22, 2024 - 6:59 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

n/a oops sorry please disregard

 Posted:   Apr 2, 2024 - 7:40 AM   
 By:   Steve Vertlieb   (Member)

The new website devoted to Hugo is really quite lovely. I hope that flourishes with time.


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