Movie Wave Home
Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer

Composed by

* *

Album running time

Performed by
conducted by

Produced by

Released by
Serial number
VCL 0804 1030

Artwork copyright (c) 2004 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Disappointing comedy score and good, but brief, jazzy one


While it's a bit harsh to generalise so much, before he became the world's favourite composer when he wrote Jaws, John Williams wrote rather hokey scores for rather hokey movies, almost without exception.  He spent much of the 1960s working on terrible comedies, writing - by and large - forgettable scores which probably cause him no little embarrassment today.  Still, because he's John Williams and one of the few film composers almost guaranteed to sell albums of his older works (if not the only one), labels are falling over themselves to release them all; in late 2004, Varese Sarabande issued one of his most popular scores in the genre, 1967's Fitzwilly.  It's about an elderly lady who inherits an enormous home and staff but has no money, so the chief butler - played by Dick Van Dyke - comes up with various mildly comedic money-making schemes to keep her life afloat.  If it sounds daft that's because it was, and it unsurprisingly didn't cause too much of an impression with critics.

It was one of Williams's earliest big screen scores, while he was still making his transition from being a session pianist and tv composer into being a fully fledged film composer in his own right; and he was still billed as Johnny Williams.  It's a jaunty, light-hearted score, mostly written for full orchestra, highly-reminiscent of Henry Mancini's most inconsequential efforts in the light comedy genre.  There's even a distinctly Mancini-esque song, "Make Me Rainbows", sung by a choir, with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman.  The main title is quite infectious and there is some mildly appealing comedy scoring later on and even some faux dramatic music in cues like "The Gimbel's Robbery" but it's very difficult to warm to this type of music from Williams; even back in those days he was too heavy-handed at this sort of thing, and has always been better at writing full-flavoured orchestral music for serious films.  By far the best cue is the (slightly) more serious-minded end title piece.

Fitzwilly is a short score, so producer Robert Townson took the opportunity to also include Williams's score from The Long Goodbye on the album.  It's a very unusual score, a series of jazzy variations on one theme.  The movie is a modern day retelling of Raymond Chandler's novel, starring Elliot Gould and directed by no lesser figure than Robert Altman.  Williams's theme is actually derived from a song he wrote for the main titles, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.  It's a nice song and a nice, laid back theme which - while it certainly would never have been enough to sustain an album on its own - makes for a pleasantly diverting 20 minutes or so.


  1. Fitzwilly Main Title / Overture (3:55)
  2. Make Me Rainbows (3:07)
  3. Fitzwilly's Date (3:39)
  4. Lefty Lovies Love Life (2:47)
  5. The Gimbel's Robbery (3:52)
  6. Make Me Rainbows (3:03)
  7. The Xerox Crisis (1:24)
  8. Sampson and Delilah (2:19)
  9. More Theft (2:27)
  10. Juliet's Discovery (2:14)
  11. Fitzwilly End Title (2:06)
  12. The Long Goodbye (4:27)
  13. The Long Goodbye (3:04)
  14. The Long Goodbye (3:28)
  15. The Long Goodbye (4:30)
  16. Trio Version (2:27)
  17. Trumpet Version (2:02)
  18. Mario in Mexico (3:34)