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The Black Bird
  • Composed by Jerry Fielding
  • Intrada Special Collection Volume 136 / 2010 / 40:14

The black bird in question is in fact the Maltese Falcon, but this time it’s Sam Spade Jr. getting involved; this 1975 film with George Segal is a spoof of films noir.  It’s the only film directed by David Giler, best-known for producing all the Alien films (and writing a couple of them).  It’s fair to say that Jerry Fielding was not well-known for his work on comedies – but the evidence presented here is that he was more than capable.  The first thing one notes is that Fielding (a full five years before Elmer Bernstein did it in such celebrated fashion with Airplane!) plays things very straight – the film may at times be pure farce but you’d never tell it from the music.  The second thing one notes is how very full the score is with glorious melodies – not perhaps something would usually associate with the composer, at least not in the traditional sense, but The Black Bird has one after another.

The jazz funk of the main title is vintage Fielding (think The Big Sleep, that sort of thing); there’s a wonderful nod to golden age film music sensibilities in “First Seduction Scene”; a heartmelting melody in “Anna’s Life Story”.  Even the source music is a treat, particularly the big band swing of “Flakey Lady Tango” and the two “Reminiscent Rhythm Room” medleys – for once, the decision to integrate the source music into the body of the score is fully justified.  Along with all this, there’s some fantastic darker, dramatic noir music too – cues like “The Rescue” are funky, murky noir gems.  This is a wonderful album from Intrada – Fielding’s wonderful music heard in great sound quality and accompanied by liner notes from Nick Redman.  Highly recommended.  ****

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