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** 1/2

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Conducted by

Orchestrated by

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Serial number
VCL 0403 1019

Artwork copyright (c) 1959 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall

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Rather ordinary Waxman effort

We are truly in a great period for film music fans: in days gone by, even the biggest-name composers were lucky to get one score in five released on an album, and things like re-recordings or releases of scores from earlier times would have been laughed off.  But here we are in 2003, with Film Score Monthly, Varese Sarabande, Intrada, Prometheus and others releasing original tracks from decades-old films on a monthly basis, and countless re-recordings popping up, and a great majority of new films released in cinemas getting a score album.  (Of course, we all still bitch and moan, but that's par for the course.)  A great example of how far things have come is this release, by Varese's CD Club in April 2003, of Beloved Infidel.  It's a near-fifty-year-old score for a long-forgotten film that even fans of Franz Waxman would have known little about.  Yet here it is, available to buy to the general public.  Amazing, when you think about it.

The film, which features the great Gregory Peck in an early role, alongside Deborah Kerr, was directed by the legendary Henry King (who gave us treasures like Captain from Castille, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Carousel and many others) and tells of the tumultuous later life of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Ironically, Waxman knew Fitzgerald and according to the liner notes, used to lunch with him in the 1930s while both were under contract at MGM.

I must confess that I find it to be only an average-at-best effort from Waxman.  The main theme, a typical Golden Age effort, does not stick in the memory as other Waxman melodies tend to; and the underscore can be rather dull, if truth be told.  This is the sort of film that Alex North scored to perfection - never overstating anything, but writing subtle music for a small ensemble that accentuated the drama brilliantly.  Waxman's approach could be seen as being somewhat similar, but it is low-key music that doesn't compensate for the small ensemble with more interesting orchestration.  It is true that Waxman's quality sometimes shines through, most notably with the beautiful violin solo in "Malibu" (Golden Age scoring at its best), but too many cues just don't seem to offer much of interest.  There's a song, with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, sung by Aileen Wilson, which is very attractive (in a 1959 kind of way).

The package is, as ever from the Varese CD Club, brilliant.  Christopher Husted's essay says much about the film and how Waxman came to score it, and is both informative and entertaining.  Unfortunately, sound quality is not as high as on other releases from the period - there are obvious deficiencies in the source material.

It is always tempting whenever reviewing Golden Age scores to mindlessly shower them with praise, but it is worth remembering that just as not all of Jerry Goldsmith's output is as good as The Wind and the Lion or Patton, so not all of Waxman's is as good as Rebecca or Prince Valiant - this is the Waxman equivalent of US Marshals, if you like.  It has its share of brilliant moments, but overall certainly can't be considered alongside the composer's best work.


  1. Prelude: Southampton, New York (3:37)

  2. On Stage (1:26)

  3. Blue Moon (Rodgers/Hart) (3:34)

  4. First Rendezvous (3:27)

  5. Tijuana / Jarabe Tapatio (1:16)

  6. The Confession (6:54)

  7. Beloved Infidel Aileen Wilson (3:12)

  8. Malibu (6:09)

  9. Joyeux (3:01)

  10. The Shot (1:19)

  11. Agony (7:11)

  12. Test Me (2:11)

  13. The Attack (4:46)

  14. Panic and Finale (4:18)