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The Wrong Box
  • Composed by John Barry
  • Intrada / 2011 / 59:03

A black comedy directed by Bryan Forbes, The Wrong Box is about a tontine whose members were all in the same school class; and their madcap efforts to ensure they’re the last one standing and able to claim the cash.  It’s got an incredible cast – Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson, John Mills, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, cameos from Peter Sellers, Leonard Rossiter and plenty of others – and a score by the great John Barry, the fourth of six he wrote for the director during the 1960s.  It’s tuneful, entertaining, witty music, very much a product of the swinging sixties.  The main theme is a lovely waltz, and while the score has many facets, Barry frequently returns to it (in various different guises) to bind the whole thing together.  It’s resolutely, gloriously even, a product of its time, of film music’s defining voice of the era.

There’s a lot of other delightful content besides – “Montage of Deaths” a great example of the composer’s dazzling creativity at the time, with its comically martial tone, its frequent silent punctuations.  There are some wonderfully sprightly interludes – the breezy “Tontine Box is Put on Hearse”, the breezier “Michael and Julia on Hearse” (it’s a good job Barry was better at coming up with music than he was at coming up with track titles).  This brilliantly uplifting style gets its best presentation in “Hackett Funeral and Fight”.  Intrada’s new album is the first properly-licenced CD release of The Wrong Box – it includes the original LP programme in stereo followed by a couple of mono suites of the rest of the score.  It’s an essential purchase for Barry fans.  **** |

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