Saturday Soundtrack # 3 – Deutsch: The Maltese Falcon & Others

Adolph Deutsch – The Maltese Falcon and Other Classic Film Scores, 1941-1944

Naxos Film Music Classics series, Naxos 8.557701 DDD, 2002, music composed by Adolph Deutch, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, William Stromberg Score restorations by John Morgan

In honor of Bouchercon and all the mystery fans out there, today it’s all about The Bird , The Sierras and Dimitrios.

Think of composers for dramatic scores at Warner Bros. during the 1930s and 1940s and the big names come to mind: Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Franz Waxman. Maltese Falcon etc CD cvr sml

I won’t be skipping them in future Saturday Soundtrack postings, but today it’s another fine composer at Warner we look at: Adolph Deutsch, under contract 1937-1945.

During this period Deutsch was handed mostly melodramas with some lighter fare sandwiched in. He scored ten films in which Bogart appeared and he did pictures featuring other Warner stars such as James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Edward G. Robinson, Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman, George Raft, etc., but no Bette Davis. She belonged primarily to Max Steiner, and to a lesser degree, Korngold and Franz Waxman. All in all Deutsch worked on 53 feature pictures at the studio, plus a loan-out to Paramount for Lucky Jordan (1943) with Alan Ladd.

This CD contains music from five of his best Warner scores. These are tidbits, not complete scores: we get 13:47 of Falcon, 11:19 of Washington, 16:10 of Dimitrios, 13:17 of Sierra and 21:11 of Northern Pursuit. Yet it’s enough to give you the flavor, and if you want more the complete scores are available. I’m always especially happy hearing the music from Mask of Dimitrios and Northern Pursuit, in my opinion the best of the music included here.

There’s a lot of variety on the CD, it features a cross-section of Deutsch’s talents. There are two milestone Bogart films: The Maltese Falcon (1941) and High Sierra (1941); one Errol Flynn adventure, Northern Pursuit (1943); a Jack Benny-Ann Sheridan comedy, George Washington Slept Here (1942); and the mysterious Mask of Dimitrios (1944).

I know this is two weeks in a row for compilation CDs, and next week I’m back to full length soundtracks, but these collections of music are not to be dismissed. These are good introductions to the work of composers and music from the films.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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4 Responses to Saturday Soundtrack # 3 – Deutsch: The Maltese Falcon & Others

  1. Drongo says:

    I know little about the art of film scoring, but my perception is that the music was much lusher and romantic in the 40’s, whereas today the average score is a bit chillier.

    Of course, I could be wrong.

  2. Rick says:

    Drongo, you’re both right…and wrong. It really depends on the composer, the film, the mood the director is looking for. The 40’s were kind of a bleak time and in some films the music reflects that. Also, the music in many crime films was somewhat strident or minimalist. You have to pretty much take each composer and film on it’s own merits. Certainly the 1940 version of The Sea Hawk, with music by Eric Korngold, is sweeping and lush.

  3. I’ve been impressed by NAXOS, Rick. I know they’re a “budget” label but they put out some really good stuff!

  4. Richard says:

    Naxos has been an excellent label for a long time, in spite of their “budget price” and they bring out more interesting CDs than most labels in the current market. This film classics series is a good one.

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