David Raksin at M-G-M

This 5CD set is devoted to David Raksin’s time at M-G-M from 1949 through 1952 and again in 1957, presenting eight complete scores along with excerpts from five more, 13 in total.

The documentation for this project is so extensive that it could not be contained in the 36-page booklet that accompanies the CD. Lavishly illustrated by FSM design director Joe Sikoryak, the booklet features an authoritative essay by Raksin’s friend, film music scholar Marilee Bradford (using information from the composer’s personal papers), as well as a producer’s note by Lukas Kendall.

Meanwhile, our customary program notes for each film (with track-by-track commentary) are available right here at www.filmscoremonthly.com/notes; please use the menu at right to navigate among the 13 films. The notes are also available in PDF format for easier printing.

The scores in this collection have been arranged loosely by genre:

Disc One

Disc one features the score for the 1951 Clark Gable frontier adventure Across the Wide Missouri. Due to major re-editing of the film, much of the music Raksin composed was not used in the film as released and is heard here for the first time, along with additional music composed and/or arranged by M-G-M orchestrator Al Sendrey.

Disc Two

Disc two features a pair of “thrillers” from 1951, each about an elderly person threatened in their home by servants: Kind Lady stars Ethel Barrymore as a Londoner terrorized by con man Maurice Evans, while the mysterious title character of The Man With a Cloak (played by Joseph Cotten) assists a young Frenchwoman (Leslie Caron) attempting to ward off the threat to a dying New Yorker (Louis Calhern) from an ex-actress (Barbara Stanwyck) intent on inheriting his estate. The latter film includes a theme for the main character derived from a 12-tone row (perhaps the earliest use of serial music in a Hollywood film score).

Disc Three

The third disc contains the complete scores to two biopics directed by John Sturges: The Girl in White (1952) tells the story of Dr. Emily Dunning (June Allyson), the first woman to secure a surgical residency, while The Magnificent Yankee (1950) concerns Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Disc Three is rounded out with two extremely short scores from 1950, the religious drama The Next Voice You Hear… starring James Whitmore and Nancy Davis and the boxing picture Right Cross with Ricardo Montalbán in the lead, as well as Raksin’s “Toy Concertino,” composed for the 1951 Van Johnson-Kathryn Grayson comedy Grounds for Marriage.

Disc Four

The fourth disc presents the score for The Vintage, a 1957 love story with tragic overtones, set against the backdrop of grape-harvesting season on a French vineyard. The CD also includes the surviving music from A Lady Without Passport, a 1950 romantic thriller set in pre-Castro Cuba.

Disc Five

The final disc begins with Raksin’s score for Until They Sail, a 1957 wartime drama about four New Zealand sisters and the repercussions when the men they love must head off to war. Robert Wise directs, with Paul Newman costarring as a cynical American Navy officer who falls in love with one of the sisters, plaed by Jean Simmons. Eydie Gormé sings the haunting title song.

Disc Five concludes with the (relatively brief) scores to two romantic comedies starring real-life couples: the 1952 Tracy-Hepburn vehicle Pat and Mike and the 1950 June Allyson-Dick Powell comedy The Reformer and the Redhead.