- Composed by Georges Delerue
- Music Box Records / 2012 / 36:44
A political thriller set during the Communist witchhunts of 1951, The House on Carroll Street starred Kelly McGillis as a woman fired after refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee who subsequently stumbles upon a conspiracy brewing next door. The film was directed by Peter Yates and given an extra something having been written by Walter Bernstein, who was himself blacklisted in the 1950s. Interestingly, Yates was offered the chance to direct this most American (or indeed Un-American) story precisely because he wasn’t American (so could bring an outsider’s perspective) and I wonder if the same is true of the choice of composer, Georges Delerue, whose score is a million miles away from what most Hollywood composers would have written for the film, which tries to be a kind of Hitchcockian thriller.
Delerue’s score is rather restrained for much of its running time, also rather dour, almost completely ignoring the action sections until the end of the film and (rather more surprisingly) not even focusing too much attention on the romantic elements of the story. Instead, the composer strived for (and more than achieved) a powerful sense of melancholy. It is not until the score is half way through that Delerue offers a sustained presentation of one of his trademark melodies, in the gorgeous “Comforting Emily”, a brilliant study of anguish and longing that represents the composer at his finest, gradually tugging away more and more forcibly at the heart strings through its five-minute run time. As the score draws towards its conclusion some of Delerue’s jagged action music trademarks come out – and there’s a glorious, sadness-laden performance of the main theme over the end titles – but by and large this is a rather sombre, understated work and not the easiest album to listen to. Not everything has to be easy to listen to, of course, and it’s certainly a rewarding album – with some individual pieces of absolute brilliance. *** 1/2