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Album running time

1: Main Title Johnny Mathis (4:58)
2: Farewell to Eddie (:53)
3: Goodnight (1:08)
4: The Auditions (:46)
5: The Apartment (2:00)
6: Who Wanted It (:50)
7: Amanda (1:19)
8: London Calling (3:20)
9: The Radio (3:37)
10: Barbara and Sidney (1:05)
11: We Meet David (2:24)
12: Gregg (2:03)
13: The Pied Piper (2:02)
14: The Rape (1:33)
15: Then Let Go - Now (1:01)
16: The Real Kiss (3:57)
17: I'm Busy Tonight (1:43)
18: End of Play (:38)
19: The Corsage (1:06)
20: Gregg's Dementia (2:27)
21: The Pillow Case (1:10)
22: I Won't Be Your Mistress / Death For Gregg (5:06)
23: End Title (2:38)

Source music and demos
24: The Best of Everything (3:08)
25: Again (3:12)
26: Something's Gotta Give (1:23)
27: Kiss Them For Me (1:15)
28: April (piano) (:59)
29: The Cafeteria (3:14)
30: Who Wanted It (:50)
31: London Calling (3:20)
32: Barbara and Sidney (1:05)
33: Gregg's Dementia (2:27)
34: Street Scene (1:42)

Performed by
conducted by


Produced by

Released by
Serial number
FSM Vol 4 No 11

Artwork copyright (c) 1959 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2002 James Southall

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The end of an era

Alfred Newman's tenure as head of music at 20th Century Fox can be looked back on as one of the most significant developments in film score history. Not only composing many complete scores himself while there, he nurtured other talent and frequently employed other superb composers like Franz Waxman, Alex North and Bernard Herrmann. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Newman was a natural American (most of the others were European immigrants) and this led to his music having a distinctly different sound from most of what was around it.

I think because of Newman's legendary talents as administrator, some film music fans today are tempted almost to overlook his contributions of composer and he rarely seems to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Herrmann, North and Miklós Rózsa, which is unfortunate and unfair. At long last a reasonable proportion of his film music is available for purchase on CD (the same certainly couldn't have been said only two or three years ago, when almost none was available) and I think those that study his music with any great seriousness will quickly discover that the talents he possessed as composer were certainly on the same level as his legendary peers. Perhaps his lofty position at Fox led him to work on many of the studio's most lavish and high-profile productions which were not necessarily those most likely to require truly complex scores (the many romances and comedies on which he worked were not really going to produce a body of work as a whole as interesting as say Miklós Rózsa's, who worked on one religious epic after another) but this can't detract from his multitude of wonderful scores.

Why do I mention all this? Well, The Best of Everything was the last film Newman scored for Fox, so it marked the end of an era and almost, you could say, the end of the Golden Age of film music. It's a romantic drama (described by the liner notes as a sort of Sex and the City for the 1950s) starring Hope Lange, from überproducer Jerry Wald. Newman's music is quite light and jazzy, much of it sounding like it could have been used as source music as much as dramatic score.

The main theme is attracted, but used so frequently you may grow tired of it. In the opening track Johnny Mathis sings it, from lyrics by Sammy Cahn. There is one secondary theme that is not given so much airing and a couple of standalone pieces - I think especially of the gorgeous waltz in "The Corsage". "Gregg's Dementia" wouldn't be too out of place in one of Rózsa's film noir scores, and Newman's strings get so intense that they do evoke the same sort of response as Rózsa's theremin. (A point of interest: is it me, or does every film score from the 1940s and 50s have a track called "X's Dementia"? What was it with people in those days? Was everybody demented?)

While there's some fine raw material here, it's a fairly slight work by Newman's standards. Still worth picking up of course - I can't think of anything by the composer that isn't - but if you're just starting your Golden Age collection then maybe go straight to All About Eve if you want some fantastic contemporary scoring from the godfather of film music.