Latest reviews of new albums:
Rich and Famous / One Is a Lonely Number
  • Rich and Famous composed by Georges Delerue
  • One Is a Lonely Number composed by Michel Legrand
  • Film Score Monthly / 2011 / 28:29 + 29:29

The legendary George Cukor’s final film, Rich and Famous studies the lives of two women – a feminist writer living off her only successful book and her friend, a Hollywood socialite.  Despite some attention given to it because of its director (who was 81 when it was made), it didn’t do particularly well – but its music has been well-known to plenty of film score fans thanks to its theme’s appearance on one of the great collections of film music, the three-volume Georges Delerue set “The London Sessions”.  This album marks the first time the brief score has been released in its entirety.  That theme… that theme.  To describe it as ravishing would be doing it a bit of a disservice.  It’s not that it’s not ravishing, it’s that it’s so damn ravishing that listening to it is like eating your way through a room full of foie gras and truffles.  Delerue is not a composer whose output is lacking beautiful themes, but even amongst the loveliest, most beautiful repertoire of melodies ever created by a film composer, this one stands out as being a bit special.  You get five minutes of it on “The London Sessions”.  Now you can have 28 minutes of it on this album.

Georges Delerue

The question is just how much fois gras and truffles you can stomach before you start wondering whether it might not be the best use of your time.  While there are a couple of other brief ideas, that theme’s the thing here, dominating all else, and to be honest I’m not sure there’s a single arrangement of it as perfect as the one the composer would go on to conduct for his famous compilation later in the decade.  It’s beautiful, gorgeous music – no question.  Perhaps it makes me a bad person for wondering it – and perhaps I’ll have legions of Georges Delerue fans pounding on my door in the middle of the night demanding an explanation for this – but I’m not entirely sure what value one gets from listening to this that could not be got from listening to the theme on “The London Sessions”, which of course every Delerue fan will already have.  Less can indeed be more.

Given the brevity of the Delerue score, FSM’s Lukas Kendall wanted to pair it with another one, and finally settled upon one by another great French film composer, Michel Legrand’s One Is a Lonely Number.  It’s another female-centric film, this time from 1972 and about a young woman struggling to come to terms with her divorce.  As with the other female-centric film on this disc, it was directed by a man, produced by men, the music was written by a man, virtually the entire crew of the film was made up of men – good to see the Hollywood machine being so progressive.  (I also found it absolutely hilarious that MGM – upon the film opening to a very disappointing box office performance – decided to promptly re-release it with a new title – Two Is a Happy Number – since that was bound to make more people want to see it.  Honestly!)

Michel Legrand

Legrand’s music is (of course) much lighter than Delerue’s for the album’s first half, very lovely in its own way but in a much more subtle way.  Again, it is anchored around a very beautiful theme, which dominates the score, but since it is considerably lighter in tone and arrangement, that is never a problem here.  It helps that the score is punctuated by a few pieces of very light jazz and a song, “Le Soleil, la Mer et les Bateaux”, sung by Legrand himself.  The composer did write a song based on this score’s main theme and Sarah Vaughan sang it, but that was done after the film had been released and isn’t included here.

The score is almost as short as Delerue’s, but there’s more going on here, a fairly obvious dramatic journey which the music accompanies.  The music flows very well on the album and while it is not a substantial entry in the Legrand canon, it does make for a very pleasant listen.  Indeed, it’s a nice album.  I’d recommend it more to Legrand fans than Delerue fans – the latter may well share my view that they don’t really need this given they already have the main theme elsewhere – but I’m sure that fans of neither composer would regret the purchase!  *** 1/2

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  1. christopher (Reply) on Tuesday 29 March, 2011 at 01:49

    I totally agree that the London Sessions are all you need with many of the scores highlighted on those discs. Memories of Me is another example. Platoon another. I would argue that Agnes of God is another (though I’m sure some, if not many, will disagree). Steel Magnolias and Rich in Love are two albums I’m glad to have, though.

  2. shureman (Reply) on Tuesday 29 January, 2013 at 12:40

    The performance of the “Rich and Famous” theme is much superior on the FSM cd than the rather sluggish-tempoed London Sessions version. And I absolutely love the little clarinet pieces Delerue was so good at writing. An absolute must-have for any serious Delerue fan…§