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The Pleasure of His Company
  • Composed by Alfred Newman
  • Kritzerland / 2013 / 68m (score 36m)

Based on the play by Samuel Taylor and Cornelia Otis Skinner, George Seaton’s 1961 film The Pleasure of His Company starred Fred Astaire as a wealthy man who reconnects with his daughter (Debbie Reynolds) on the eve of her wedding to Tab Hunter and then tries to woo back his ex-wife (Lilli Palmer).  The film was well-received at the time though has faded into relative obscurity now.  Seaton had worked with Alfred Newman several times during their mutual time together at Fox, but the legendary composer had recently ended his tenure at the studio and both were now freelance (they would work together several more times afterwards, including Newman’s final score, Airport).  While film music was beginning to move away from the golden age sound by this time, of course Newman was one of the best of the best golden age composers and he wasn’t ready to surrender that romantic sound just yet – and so The Pleasure of His Company has all the hallmarks of a romantic comedy score from the golden age.

This means there’s great melody – melody in spades.  The opening “Lullaby in Blue” introduces the first of them, a heartfelt, swooning love theme so typical of Newman; it’s just beautiful.  (Later in “A Tender Reunion” the composer tugs gently at the heartstrings before launching into a fuller arrangement of the theme; it’s dazzlingly romantic and perhaps the score’s standout cue.)  There’s a bouncy, comic theme for Astaire’s character introduced in “Pogo Poole”, also delightful.  Finally, there’s the main theme itself, “The Pleasure of His Company”, which the album notes as being written by Newman with Sammy Cahn, though there’s no vocal on the album; it’s a lighter piece, tender and attractive.  The Pleasure of His Company is not a major Newman score, but it makes for a rewarding album (and Kritzerland’s is the first CD release of the score) – it’s relaxed, charming music, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. AJ (Reply) on Saturday 12 October, 2013 at 15:56

    “Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon”? I think late night. Newman’s saccharine strings get a good run. Toy Radio (Hawaiian war chant) gets things out of the romantic rut.