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ANNE OF THE INDIES
Swashbuckling adventure score from Waxman
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
A romantic swashbuckler from 20th Century Fox, Anne of the Indies starred Jean Peters as the most famous female pirate, and Louis Jourdan as her exotic romantic interest. The film wasn't all that popular and few will remember it today, but such is the way of the soundtrack collecting world, its music has become available for the first time (and after waiting 56 years for it to be released, fans had a total window of 16 hours to buy it before it disappeared again, presumably never to be available again).
The reason for its release is of course that it was composed by the great Franz Waxman, one of the golden age's most intelligent and most capable scorers. It was his first swashbuckler (he had earlier worked at Warner Bros. at the same time as Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and so missed out on all those!) - he was generally used to scoring much talkier films (he had won an Oscar the year before for the wonderful Sunset Boulevard - and would win one again the same year as Anne of the Indies, for the beautiful A Place in the Sun) and he was really very good at them, managing to be far more dramatically subtle than most of his peers - so I imagine it was with mixed emotions that he found himself writing such a large score as this.
In truth, it is not one of his best - certainly not anywhere near those two Oscar-winners which surrounded it, nor indeed his later epics like Prince Valiant and Taras Bulba - but still contains some great music. The big swashbuckling theme is nothing like as memorable as those in the other scores I just mentioned, but it's a decent one all the same - and this isn't such a bad thing, since it's used so frequently through the score! The big romantic theme is also good, but I do get a sense that Waxman's epic music here simply isn't as personal as his finest work, there's a slight air of detachment, so even though it seems to contain all the right constituent parts, there's never quite that emotional connection which can so easily be made with Waxman's finest music.
The more subtle passages of the score are probably the best - Waxman had a way of writing music for such scenes which was entirely in keeping with the general sound of Golden Age scoring sensibilities, but which somehow seems to have more depth than many of his contemporaries ever really aimed for. It's a decent enough score, then - one well worth getting for Waxman fans, if you can find one anywhere - but not one of his best. After the hour-long score comes a demo for a song from the film (not written by Waxman, and rather curious - indeed, almost laugh-out-loud funny) and a very (very, very) brief four-track suite from Man on a Tightrope, whose abbreviated inclusion is barely mentioned in the liner notes, so I don't really know why it's here, or why there's so little of it (presumably this is all that survives - I guess it may be all that there ever was) - but it's great music!