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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Petulia (1972/1968)
Music by John Barry
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Petulia Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Petulia Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Petulia
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Price: $19.95
Limited #: N/A
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: December 2005
Catalog #: Vol. 8, No. 20
# of Discs: 1

This premiere John Barry CD features two Warner Bros. albums from a period of great creativity for the composer: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972) and Petulia (1968).

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was a musical telling of Lewis Carroll's famous story, with a star-packed British cast including Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Michael Crawford and Ralph Richardson. John Barry collaborated with lyricist Don Black ("Born Free," "Diamonds Are Forever") on the delightful song-score.

Barry characterized the soundtrack as having "almost a Gilbert & Sullivan style, but with a contemporary feeling," but fans will recognize no musical identity except for Barry's own. The score, as wonderfully recorded for the soundtrack LP, includes three ballads, large symphonic pieces, and enjoyable settings of classic Caroll nonsense—with Barry melodies through and through.

Petulia was Barry's second collaboration with director Richard Lester (following The Knack...and How to Get It), a serious, contemporary drama set in San Francisco starring Julie Christie, George C. Scott and Richard Chamberlain. It is regarded as one of the best films of the era, with a sophisticated flashback structure (and cinematography by Nicolas Roeg) anchored by Barry's melancholy and melodic score.

In addition to the haunting main theme, Petulia features a distinctive figure for saxophones anticipating Diamonds Are Forever, and several pieces of vintage Barry source music—low-key jazz tunes that rank with the best instrumental music of the era, and echo some of the source cues of the James Bond films.

This holiday present for Barry fans comes with new liner notes by Jon Burlingame, and is remastered from the original 1/4" stereo album tapes.

John Barry Scores on FSM
About the Composer

John Barry (1933-2011) is a five-time Oscar winner and one of the most successful and beloved composers ever to write for the movies. His career encompasses everything from the James Bond films to Hollywood epics like Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves. His style is marked foremost by melody but also by a thoughtful economy of gesture that has always added a great sense of style and scope to his projects.FSM has released on CD as many of his scores as possible, from intimate dramas like Petulia to the classic Born Free, the 1976 King Kong and the obscure 1968 gem Deadfall. IMDB

Comments (12):Log in or register to post your own comments
I own 2 copies of PETULIA on LP*, and haven't heard it in YEARS. I really should pick this one up.

It's perhaps the last year Barry wrote something that truly intrigued me.**

*2 copies? I couldn't tell you why, in case you were going to ask.
**Apologies to the woman I know who is the Barry expert!

By the by, if you haven't seen PETULIA, you can't call yourself a John Barry fan.

Petulia is one of Barry's most haunting scores from a prime period in his career.

Ironically enough, Richard Lester didn't like the score, just like he didn't like The Knack and Robin & Marian.

Goes to show you how taste can be completely unpredictable.

Alex

Even I love PETULIA (as someone who's not really a Barry fan), but I've never seen the film.

Alex, what is your source on that? I knew Barry and Lester fought over The Knack, and that Lester hated Robin & Marian, but I've never read a word about Lester's views on the Petulia music.

Lester, also, brought Barry in to re-score Joseph Losey's Boom! when Losey didn't like John Dankworth's score and was busy on another project.

Even I love PETULIA (as someone who's not really a Barry fan), but I've never seen the film.[/endquote]

Huge fan of Barry's score as well. The film is worth seeing -- it's a strange but interesting look at what they used to call the "generation gap". George C. Scott plays a newly divorced, middle-aged doctor, who finds it difficult to relate to a culture that is now dominated by young narcissistic, druggies.

It's great-looking movie as well (I suspect due more to DP Nicholas Roeg than Richard Lester). It is also interesting to see late 1960s California interpreted by London filmmakers, when you consider the latter's dominating influence on pop culture was rapidly giving-way to the former's as the 60s drew to a close. There are even cameos by Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead!

Regarding the look of the film, give Roeg credit, sure, but let's not forget that Lester's strong visual sense was a hallmark of his sixties films--The Knack, the 2 Beatles films, A Fuuny Thing Happened . . ., etc.

...

Alex, what is your source on that? I knew Barry and Lester fought over The Knack, and that Lester hated Robin & Marian, but I've never read a word about Lester's views on the Petulia music.

Lester, also, brought Barry in to re-score Joseph Losey's Boom! when Losey didn't like John Dankworth's score and was busy on another project.[/endquote]


Barry did once hint at that in an interview, but I'm not convinced it's accurate.

Like you said, if Lester really didn't like Barry's work, you have to wonder why he kept hiring him, given he was not forced to do so.

As you said, the first thing Lester did after PETULIA was to direct (uncredited) the post-production on Joseph Losey's film, BOOM.

And the first thing Lester did on that was to dump the score that Losey had commissioned and ask Barry to replace it.

Again, you have to wonder why he'd do that if he really didn't like Barry's music.

The thing is, Barry was sometimes a terrible witness to his own history.

It's true that Lester didn't like ROBIN AND MARIAN, but as you know Barry was brought in by the producers to replace the score Lester had commissioned from Michel Legrand. Lester was always sore about that.

It could be that Barry was projecting that on to the other films they did.

Or it could be that Barry found Lester difficult to please on those films and exaggerated it in the telling.

Or it could be that after ROBIN AND MARIAN, Lester retrospectively cast shade on those earlier scores.

Or it could be that he was just plain misremembering.

Cheers

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