- Composed by Elmer Bernstein
- Kritzerland KR 20014-2 / 2009 / 77:09
I haven’t done the counting, but I doubt if many composers have been so well-represented in the remarkable run of releases of older film scores which has occurred over the past few years as Elmer Bernstein. His scores from the 1950s and 60s were – with a handful of obvious exceptions – barely represented on disc at all a few years ago, but there has been a steady progression of releases. Kritzerland has put together a pair of scores from the early 60s which have never been released in any format before – Love with the Proper Stranger and A Girl Named Tamiko. Both films were made by big-name directors (Robert Mulligan and John Sturges respectively – you may be familiar with some of Bernstein’s music for their other films, like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Magnificent Seven) but neither is particularly well-known today. As the album producer Bruce Kimmel notes in the booklet, he fell in love with both scores when he first saw the films – and now that the Paramount vaults have been opened for soundtrack labels, he has finally been able to release them on CD.
Love with the Proper Stranger is a real gem of a score. It’s ravenous, ravishing, romantic – absolutely gorgeous. While the main title piece which opens the disc is anything but subtle (it’s a rapturous version of the main theme, which was also a song Bernstein wrote with Johnny Mercer for the film, though that isn’t on this album) the unused main title piece which follows is more typical of the score as a whole – slightly more restrained, gentle, subtle. In any case, the music is truly beautiful – there are occasional moments of action but in general this is excellent scoring of an adult relationship. Perhaps A Girl Named Tamiko isn’t quite such a delight, but it’s still a very strong score. Again the main theme is based on a song for the film and again the song isn’t on the album (presumably for licensing reasons) – and again it’s splendid. It’s a livelier, louder score than its companion on this disc, with some Pacific colour; but certainly not without its more reflective moments. I’d never heard anything of either of these scores before – but both is excellent. This is an essential album for Bernstein fans. **** 1/2