All the Brothers Were Valiant

M-G-M veteran Richard Thorpe directed All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953), a seafaring tale of lust, betrayal, love and redemption. The film, scripted by Harry Brown from a novel by Ben Ames Williams, remade a 1923 picture of the same name and premise. Two sea-captain brothers (played by studio contract stars Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger) square off against each other from opposite ends of the moral spectrum: the younger, Joel (Taylor), is quietly virtuous to the point where he is misperceived as being cowardly; the older, Mark (Granger), is a charismatic bully seduced by greed. When Mark disappears in the Gilbert Islands and is presumed dead, Joel assumes command of Mark’s whaling schooner and sets out on an expedition that eventually leads him to his wayward brother. Joel’s concern is met with betrayal: both brothers share a love of the same woman, Priscilla (Ann Blyth), and it is this conflict—as well as Mark’s lust for a treasure of black pearls—that pits the two against each other in a high-seas adventure setting. Mark ultimately redeems himself by choosing to fight alongside Joel, before dying in a climactic mutiny aboard the ship (which Mark helped instigate).

Miklós Rózsa’s rousing music captures both the grandeur of the film’s sailing sequences and the escalation of the rivalry between the Shore brothers. The score is dominated by a malleable melody for Joel and the Shore lineage, launched by a perfect fifth (ascending for the A section, descending for B), evocative of the sea yet equally appropriate for the film’s complicated love triangle. Not one fragment of the main melody is wasted, with even its concluding three-note neighbor-tone figure becoming a motive unto itself in the body of the score. Rózsa introduces several more ideas throughout the film, the most prominent of which are a longing love theme for Joel and Pris, as well as a conflicted offshoot of the main theme for Mark’s treacherous behavior. The action sequences brim with line-against-line writing and the composer’s boundless sense of thematic invention; motives are dissected and put back together again, with Rózsa creating ingenious new variations on his material right down to the film’s final reel. The general seafaring tone, as well as the brief passages of “island” music (see track 9) even provide a tantalizing glimpse of what a Rózsa-composed score to 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty (which was scored by Bronislau Kaper since Rózsa was otherwise occupied with El Cid) might have sounded like.

Disc 7, tracks 1–15 present Miklós Rózsa’s original score to All the Brothers Were Valiant (recorded in late May 1953) prior to the film being cut down and several cues being adapted and rescored by M-G-M’s Johnny Green and Conrad Salinger in August 1953. (For the rescored cues, see tracks 16–26.) All the Brothers Were Valiant is one of a handful of 1953 scores for which M-G-M long ago transferred the original 35mm magnetic film to ½″ three-track tape, preserving the stereo image (Dimitri Tiomkin’s Take the High Ground!, FSMCD Vol. 8, No. 1, is another such score.) The masters are a generation removed from, for example, 1954’s Crest of the Wave but are not in monaural sound as with The Story of Three Loves from earlier in 1953.

1. Prelude
Racing strings build anticipation under the M-G-M logo before culminating in the score’s first statement of the main theme. Rózsa’s glorious Mixolydian melody underscores the opening titles and footage of a whaling ship on the open sea, establishing a tone of optimism and assuring forthcoming adventure. A transitional development of the theme plays for the ship’s arrival in “New Bedford Massachusetts, 1857.” The first officer, Joel Shore (Robert Taylor), has not been home in three years, and the cue offers a nostalgic welcome before fading away.
2. House of Shore
Joel learns that his brother, Mark (Stewart Granger), captain of the whaling schooner the Nathan Ross, went missing on his last voyage and is presumed dead. A stern, canonic string development of the main theme plays during Joel’s inspection of Mark’s cabin. He opens the ship’s log and skims old entries written by other members of his family who had piloted the ship; images of these sailors are superimposed over footage of the ocean as they recite text that details the fall of each previous Shore (with many of the log entries ending, “All the brothers were valiant”). The score quietly ties the main theme to the heritage of the family, until the ship’s first officer, Finch (Peter Whitney), interrupts Mark to tell him that the owner of the Nathan Ross wishes to see him. A sober statement of the main theme denotes this before the primary version returns and settles on a warm cadence.
3. Proposal
This romantic cue covers the reunion of Joel with Priscilla Holt (Ann Blyth) near her home in New Bedford. Strings and clarinet gently awaken as Joel sits beside “Pris” and tells her that he thought of nothing but her while he was away. It is clear from the hearts carved on a tree behind them that Mark had feelings for Pris, and perhaps she for him, but now that he is believed dead, Joel admits his love for her. Their love theme aches with impressionism, its opening pitches mimicking the neighbor-tone motion of the figure that completes the main theme. The melody also possesses an air of tragedy, foreshadowing events to come. A hesitant version of the theme marks Joel’s marriage proposal, a purer version sounding when Pris agrees to marry him—and to accompany him on a three-year voyage on which he is to be captain of Mark’s ship, the Nathan Ross.
4. Boat
This cue is not heard in the finished film but was likely written for the departure of the Nathan Ross from New Bedford: a typically confident version of the main theme is backed by shimmering string accompaniment (a slower version of the theme was used in the finished film; see “Departure,” track 18). The cue softens and transitions to the love theme, presumably intended for a scene aboard ship between Joel and Pris.
5. Full Sail
Gentle nautical rippling underscores the ship sailing peacefully at sea; in the finished film, the opening 0:07 is replaced by the heraldic main theme (see track 18), a restrained statement of which underscores Joel in his cabin making an entry in the ship’s log. When Pris comes up behind him and reads aloud a passage from this “House of Shore” log written by Mark, Rózsa briefly gives the melody a foreboding treatment (at 0:45) while Joel quietly observes her infatuation with his brother. The main theme concludes the cue warmly for the ship at sea, with chipper flute for activity on deck.
6. High Sea
An exterior shot of the schooner receives a robust statement of the main theme for horns over harp glissandi. As Pris climbs the ship’s shrouds with childhood friend Dick Morrell (John Lupton), the consequent phrase of the theme is sequenced higher and higher until they reach the mainmast. The music creates a blissful dizziness with a transparent string variation on the main theme over trilling woodwinds, followed by the same material with the orchestration reversed. Conflicted muted brass reflects Joel’s reaction when Pris innocently mentions the Gilbert Islands, where Mark disappeared.
7. Love and Pride
English horn takes up a pensive version of the main theme against tremolo strings after the ship passes through a terrible storm at Cape Horn. Joel retreats to his cabin and Pris embraces him, the love theme assuring their devotion; she tells him she is proud of how he handled the storm. A fanfare suggestive of the sailing song “Away for Rio” (see track 18) underscores a transition to a daytime exterior shot of the schooner.
8. Whale
When whales are spotted in the distance, Joel leads a group of men in a boat to harpoon one of the mighty creatures. The score plays through their preparation with a jaunty compound-meter fanfare tied to the main theme by the opening perfect fifth. Pris is disappointed to be left behind but Aaron (James Bell) cheers her up, explaining that whales are bashful around pretty girls; Rózsa responds with a comical clarinet solo (as if chuckling on Pris’s behalf).
Whaliant Brothers/Prince of Whales
A muted brass motive creates suspense as Joel and his men approach an unsuspecting whale. This is Rózsa’s exciting scoring of the whale hunt, which he intended to play through the entire sequence; in the finished film, only the beginning of “Whaliant Brothers” and end of “Prince of Whales” are used. Silva (Keenan Wynn) harpoons the whale (represented by a lumbering theme for low brass); the music is dialed out (at 2:20) as the whale drags the boat on a wild chase. Rózsa’s subsequent music (debuting here) alternates between the whale theme and up-tempo, invigorating statements of the main theme. The writing becomes increasingly frantic, culminating in angry imitative statements of the whale theme before dying down when the whale disappears beneath the ocean surface. The men nervously await the creature’s reappearance, the score continuing to develop the whale theme tentatively over trilling strings. The music is dialed back into the film with the low brass theme as the whale surfaces, overturning the boat and sending Joel and his crew flying into the water. Desperate strings underscore Joel’s rescue of an unconscious Dick, while the main theme returns in low brass for the arrival of a rescue boat. The film transitions to Joel and his men back on the Nathan Ross, accompanied by a gentle reprise of the main theme’s development from “Whale.”
9. Girl
When the Nathan Ross reaches Tubai in the Gilbert Islands, Mark (Stewart Granger) casually surprises Joel by appearing aboard the ship. The older Shore tells the story of his disappearance through flashbacks, beginning as—drunk and feverish—he swims ashore and finds himself at a native celebration. Mark frightens the locals and breaks up the ceremony, but one young woman (Betta St. John) is unfazed, even intrigued by him. Rózsa introduces a flowing pentatonic theme for her as she calmly stares at the outsider; the idea builds dramatically to underline the drunken sailor’s collapse.
The native girl summons her compatriots to assist Mark and the scene transitions to a hut where she nurtures him back to health. The pentatonic theme evokes her gentle wisdom, playing out over a hypnotic accompaniment for marimba and strings. Feeling a bit better, Mark emerges from the hut and shares an intimate moment with the girl, who speaks no English. Playful flute and English horn take up her melody, concluding with the neighbor-tone figure borrowed from the main theme.
10. Abduction
Mark continues the flashback: he awakens in the hut one night to discover that the girl—now his wife—is missing. Brass stings and a gnarled version of the score’s opening “Prelude” string runs capture Mark’s anxiety as he chases after three pirates who have kidnapped the girl.
Mark dives into the ocean and swims after the kidnappers, who are rowing back to their vessel. The score continues to develop the “Prelude” figure, while introducing a nasty diminished brass motive for the pirates. Mark reaches the schooner and knocks out a crewman; the cue settles on an uneasy sustain of dissonant brass and tremolo strings.
11. Fright
Mark finds the girl in a cabin and rescues her from attempted rape by beating a sailor to death. His energy spent, Mark faints, leaving the girl to watch over him. Time passes and the pirate theme returns when two sinister crewmates, Fetcher (James Whitmore) and Quint (Kurt Kasznar) peer into the room. When the girl brandishes a gun, the men quietly retreat; Rózsa reprises the pentatonic theme as her attention returns to a sleeping Mark. A dreamy harp glissando unravels over a transition to the pirate ship on the open sea.
12. Murder
Still in the flashback, Mark decides to join the pirates on their journey to an uncharted island, where they discover a fortune of black pearls in a shallow lagoon. Having already killed Quint, Fetcher lures two local divers into a forest on the island under the pretense of gathering food; Rózsa introduces a corrupted theme for Mark and his desire for the pearls on murky clarinet while Mark and the girl await the return of the pirates. The new melody sports a shape similar to that of the main theme, but its tone is contrastingly ominous. A gentle, repeated-note portion of the pentatonic material reinforces Mark’s bond with the girl, but the tranquility is broken by Mark’s theme when Fetcher returns alone and evades Mark’s questioning. Mark leaves to find the missing men, his theme slowly gathering dread, Fetcher throws a knife at Mark when his back is turned; the girl screams and Mark ducks just in time. The resulting fight between Mark and Fetcher receives aggressive, accelerated outbursts of Mark’s theme that build to a cathartic climax when he succeeds in strangling the greedy pirate. Mark takes off into the forest, his theme grunting apprehensively until he comes upon the dead bodies of the missing divers—Fetcher murdered them rather than pay their salaries.
Tribal percussion and threatening low reeds suddenly emerge for a tribe of natives who follow an unaware Mark back to the beach. Mark’s theme returns as he retrieves a bag of pearls from Fetcher’s pocket and hands them to the girl. The tribal percussion resumes when the natives arrive; as Mark and the girl flee the relentless pursuers in their boat, the cue becomes an assault of marauding brass and furious string writing. A pungent low brass version of Mark’s theme is dressed with string runs, piling on desperation until a native spear kills the girl. An imitative version of her theme surfaces one last time for Mark cradling her in his arms; before the bag of pearls falls from her hand into the lagoon, a fateful descending whole tone line following it down into the water. The tribal action music resumes for Mark fending off his remaining attackers with an oar. His theme closes out the cue as he stares at the girl’s corpse, her death a result of his greed.
13. Disillusionment
Back on the Nathan Ross, Mark convinces Pris that Joel is afraid to travel to the island to recover the lost pearls. She leaves to interrogate Joel and a devious statement of Mark’s theme captures his smirk of accomplishment. The love theme sounds as Pris questions Joel’s courage; his worst fear is confirmed: Mark has driven a wedge between them. The first five pitches of the love theme grow more conflicted as Pris runs to her quarters, crying.
14. Ashamed
Having tantalized the crew with the promise of pearls, Mark organizes a mutiny and—to the disappointment of Pris—Joel initially puts up little resistance. Mark overhears her crying on deck; he consoles her and Rózsa develops the love theme (the third pitch raised a minor third) while she confesses that she is ashamed of Joel. Mark’s theme grows increasingly sinister while retaining a romantic flavor as he presses his advantage and kisses her, to an anguished cry from the love theme. Pris looks up to see that Joel has witnessed this, a shattered version of the love theme’s bridge underscoring his stony reaction. Joel retreats to his cabin and Pris follows, but he will not face her. The love theme continues to reinforce her heartbreak as she runs to her quarters crying, before giving way to a quietly seething rendition of the main theme, which underscores Joel appearing on deck to address his men.
15. Hard to Lee
The crew restrains Joel and confines him in a storeroom. An accelerated outline of the love theme plays on low-register strings as Mark redirects the ship toward the island with the pearls; a brass fanfare rendition of Mark’s theme adds a sense of impending tragedy to a shot of the Nathan Ross as it changes course.
An urgent development of the main theme accompanies Joel breaking through the ropes that constrain him, which were partially cut by the still-loyal Aaron. Accented brass chords stab away as Joel knocks out a rebellious subordinate and rescues Pris; the love theme receives regretful treatment as she begs Joel for forgiveness, but he barks at her to stay in the cabin. Threatening low strings flirt with the couple’s material as he retrieves handcuffs from a drawer and creeps upstairs. The younger Shore arrives on the bridge, backed by an angered version of the main theme, now his own. Tense statements of the neighbor-tone motive sound when Joel orders the disloyal Finch to cuff himself.
The score pits Joel’s theme against Mark’s as the two siblings argue for control of the ship. Joel punches his brother and throws his guns overboard while the score plays through with cold resolve. A sinister octatonic motive appears for the hateful Silva and the rest of the mutinous crew, who gather around Joel; the main theme vies for power over the new idea, and the insurmountable odds it seems to represent. Affected by his brother’s display of courage, Mark chooses to fight by Joel’s side, as do Dick and a few other members of the crew.
For the climatic brawl, the cue launches into rambunctious action writing, featuring a rapid-fire repeated-note idea that culminates in a hemiola figure; this material eventually serves as a chattering foundation, over which the main theme is mounted (the 90 seconds or so of this material was dialed out of the film). Octatonic writing seeps into the music, building to a reprise of the mutiny theme for Mark’s standoff with Silva. Mark proceeds to bash the traitor’s head in—but not before Silva stabs him through the heart with a harpoon; a final chromatic outburst of strings foreshadows Pris’s horrified shriek and the battle comes to a halt. Mark’s theme receives an exclamatory payoff as realization sets in on his face.
Rózsa intended a tragic, redemptive setting of Mark’s theme to underscore the final moments before his death, but this musical material had to be cut from the film along with the footage. Stewart Granger discussed the deleted scene in his memoir, Sparks Fly Upward:
During the resulting free for all [of the action climax], the principal villain comes at me with a harpoon; I crush his skull with a club and he runs me through. Now the place the special effects man had chosen for this thrust was the center of my chest and I suggested to the director that my stomach might be a better target as it would give me rather more time for my death scene. Thinking it would take too long to change, Thorpe said it looked fine the way it was. But, when the film was previewed, there was a howl of laughter from the audience at the miraculous durability of the hero who could still speak after having had a harpoon through his heart. Naturally I asked for a retake but was told it would be too expensive as the set had been demolished, so the scene was cut.
In his cabin, Joel summarizes the tragedy in the ship’s log, explaining the mutiny and how Mark fought gallantly beside him. Pris emerges from her quarters to watch as Joel writes; the tragic version of Mark’s theme gives way to the main theme when Joel writes the standard log-out line, “All the brothers were valiant,” with Pris taking his pen and underlining “All.” When a commotion suddenly sounds from above, Joel and Pris run up to the top deck to find that six whales have been spotted. Pris wishes Joel luck as the main theme gathers in all its glory; he kisses her and the theme receives a rousing sendoff (approximately 0:03 of which was cut to accommodate an edit in the film). Rózsa reprises the “Prelude” for the end titles, with a new but equally exciting finish.

Revised Cues

When Miklós Rózsa signed with M-G-M in 1948, he insisted upon—and won—several conditions for his contract. As he recalled in his autobiography, Double Life, among them was, “Nobody was to add a note to any of my pictures, nor was I to be asked to add anything to anybody else’s.” Despite this, the wheels of commerce (the studio was not about to shut down a movie production due to the composer’s contract) caused both events to transpire: Rózsa wrote (uncredited) cues for Edward, My Son (1949) and Beau Brummell (1954); and for All the Brothers Were Valiant several of Rózsa’s cues were reworked by M-G-M’s head of music Johnny Green and arranger par excellence Conrad Salinger when—presumably from the timeline (August 1953)—Rózsa was on his summer holiday in Europe and unavailable to rescore altered scenes. (In retrospect, a few revised cues from other composers in this film seem like a small price to pay for the popular Violin Concerto, Op. 24, which Rózsa composed during this particular “lay off” period!) Disc 7, tracks 16–26 present these revised cues from the finished film along with the film’s choral source music (for sailors at work).

16. Easy Away, Jo’
This a cappella sailors’ song (arranged by Charles Wolcott) emerges out of the end of the “Prelude” in the finished film, as the ship on which Joel Shore is first officer reaches New Bedford harbor.
New Bedford Bridge
Conrad Salinger adapted Rózsa’s main theme for this short tag as Joel approaches the Nathan Ross, looking for his brother.
17. Too Quick a Way
In a New Bedford tavern, Joel punches out a sailor who had impugned the integrity of his brother. This short tag to the scene (adapted by John Green) takes its title from a line of dialogue by Silva, who remarks that hanging would be “too quick a way” for Mark Shore to die.
Priscilla and Joel/Proposal
The bulk of this combined cue (0:47–3:15) is the same as track 3, Rózsa’s recording of “Proposal” for Joel and Priscilla’s romantic scene early in the film. For the finished film, however, Salinger added a 0:35 introduction (“Priscilla and Joel”) in order to begin the music earlier in the scene.
18. Departure/Away for Rio/Bridge to Full Sail/Full Sail/Full Sail Continuation/High Sea
This track represents the combined music for the departure of the Nathan Ross from New Bedford and subsequent scenes aboard the ship. “Departure” (0:00–0:24) was adapted by Salinger and likely replaced Rózsa’s unused cue “Boat” (track 4) for the ship getting underway. “Away for Rio” (0:25–1:04) is a sailors’ song arranged by Charles Wolcott as the crew works on the sails. “Bridge to Full Sail” (1:05–1:14) is Salinger’s adapted music of nautical “rippling” that segues into most of Rózsa’s original “Full Sail” (track 5, 1:15–2:30) before another Salinger-adapted passage, “Full Sail Continuation” (2:31–3:05) leads directly into Rózsa’s original “High Sea” (track 6, 3:06–4:11).
19. Tubai
When the Nathan Ross arrives at Tubai, Pris shows off a beautiful summer dress to Joel in anticipation of going ashore. This cue represents an addition to Rózsa’s score rather than a replacement of an original cue: South Seas exotica (credited to both Green and Salinger) plays for Pris’s excitement at the foreign locale, ending in a quiet statement of Rózsa’s main theme as Joel goes above deck to find his long-lost brother Mark casually chatting up the crew. (It is likely that Green wrote the Tubai theme, with Salinger scoring this and subsequent cues.)
20. Sister Priscilla
Like “Tubai,” this is an additional cue by Green and Salinger with no equivalent in the Rózsa score. The exotic “Tubai” theme leads to softer scoring for a conversation between Mark and Pris, with subtly darker shades when Pris reveals that she may still have romantic feelings for Mark.
21. Tahitian Dance
This source music is part of Rózsa’s original score—not a revised cue—but placed in the bonus section for aesthetic reasons. “Tahitian Dance” is a percussion track heard at the beginning of Mark’s flashback narration about his disappearance (“Girl,” track 9), when he swims ashore in a feverish state bent on silencing the native music that has kept him awake. This track combines Rózsa’s recording of three drums made during his underscore sessions (on May 28, 1953) with a “pre-recording” of “Tahitian drummers” (per the scoring log) made on January 26, 1953.
22. Intro to Girl/Girl (revised)/Island (revised)
This is Green and Salinger’s rescoring of Mark’s flashback relationship with the native girl (“Girl/Island,” track 9). The recording is entirely different, adapting thematic material from Rózsa’s original.
23. Murder Bridge #1
This short cue (0:00–0:33) added by Green and Salinger features the “Tubai” theme as Fetcher and Mark set sail to the uncharted island in search of pearls (see track 12); there is no equivalent cue in Rózsa’s score.
Murder Bridge #2/Murder/Pearls
This is Green and Salinger’s rescored version of track 12, for which “Murder Bridge #2” (0:34–1:53) replaced the opening of Rózsa’s “Murder.” The balance of the sequence (1:54–6:18) is identical to 1:21–5:45 from track 12.
24. Disillusion Bridge/Disillusionment
For the finished film, Salinger wrote a 1:33 cue (“Disillusion Bridge”) that leads into “Disillusionment,” the same (complete) recording as heard in track 13. The extra music covers the dialogue between Mark and Pris that plants the seeds of doubt in Pris’s mind regarding Joel’s motives in abandoning the pearls; Rózsa intended the music to enter only after Pris sets out to confront Joel.
25. Ashamed Bridge/Ashamed
Similarly, Salinger added 0:13 to the beginning of “Ashamed,” the same (complete) recording as heard in track 14, so as to start the music earlier during Pris’s reaction to Joel putting up little resistance to Mark’s mutiny.
26. Hard to Lee (revised)
Salinger rewrote and extended the beginning of the climactic mutiny cue (track 15), in which Mark commandeers the Nathan Ross and sets off in search of the pearls. (Salinger’s rewrite runs 1:58 compared to the opening 0:37 from track 15.) The added material features Mark’s theme as Pris confronts Mark and tells him that they can never be together—she has realized how Mark has manipulated her and the crew. —