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MR HOBBS TAKES A VACATION
Tuneful, catchy, but ultimately insubstantial Mancini comedy score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2003 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
Henry Mancini already had two Oscars (and another two nominations) by the time he scored Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation in 1962, despite still being in his thirties. The year would be something of a high water mark for the composer, because along with Hobbs he also scored The Days of Wine and Roses (another Oscar in the bag for that one), Experiment in Terror and Hatari. Mancini was a serious composer indeed, but of course he will always be thought of first as an easy listening artist, something exacerbated by his mega-selling soundtrack albums usually featuring light rearrangements of the scores' most tuneful parts.
A rare original soundtrack (as opposed to re-recording) release of a Mancini score came in 2003 from Intrada, with Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation - and ironically, it's a Mancini score which is genuinely light and fluffy to begin with. The picture, a good-natured farce starring Jimmy Stewart as a banker who takes his family on holiday; everything goes wrong. While other composers scored these madcap comedies in the 60s, none was nearly as good as Mancini; but having said that, this one sadly is no Pink Panther or Charade.
It's extremely lightweight stuff - engagingly tuneful, always pleasant, but insubstantial. Much of the album is actually made up of source music, with light pop and jazz tunes popping forth; but even in the rest, Mancini never really lets things rise above the lightest, fluffiest levels. Nobody else wrote music like this, so well - listen to the young Johnny Williams's attempts, many of which have now been made available on CD, for the opposite end of the scale - and it's very easy to fall under the composer's spell, but it's the kind of music which makes for a perfectly pleasant way of spending 45 minutes, rather than the kind which leaves much of an impression afterwards. You might find youself humming the main theme, though - not as catchy as the composer's finest, but it's still one that might just work its way in and you might find youself whistling it in the shower a few days later!
teams didn't come much hotter than Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, and
there's one tune here which they wrote together, "Cream Puff";
it's deliberately-inane, and quite delightful. The score is a
little treat really, but nobody would claim it's a major work.
Sound quality is excellent, liner notes by Jon Burlingame and
Douglass Fake are as good as you'd expect - only problem is, they're
all sold out!