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Dated pair of scores for "riotous" adult comedies


Not With My Wife composed by
Any Wednesday composed by

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Album cover copyright (c) 1966 Warner Bros. Inc.; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall

This review originally appeared at Film Music on the Web edited by Michael McLennan.

A pair of films released in 1966 by Warner Bros., Not With My Wife You Don’t and Any Wednesday have much in common, not only that they were both “outrageous” sex comedies which were so popular at the time (bizarrely so) but also musically.  Scored by John (“Johnny”) Williams and George Duning, both composers echoed the style of Henry Mancini, who scored a few of these films himself; and now they are both available on one CD, from Film Score Monthly, who have released a few Duning scores recently.

Williams spent seemingly a lot of his early film career scoring daft comedies, usually evoking Mancini in the process.  In the context of his wider body of work, these scores (A Guide for the Married Man, John Goldfarb, Please Come Home etc) barely merit a mention.  They are so lightweight that one might be tempted to say they are almost disposable.  With melodies that simply aren’t as memorable as Mancini’s, and lacking the orchestrational splendour which so defines what makes Williams’s later music so popular, it is difficult to imagine much pleasure being derived from Not With My Wife, You Don’t except from those of, shall we say, a certain age, for whom the music will remind them of happier times. 

The positives are that there is a sweet sense of naïveté running through the music (which seems at odds with the “adult-themed comedy” described in the liner notes); and there are a trio of original songs Williams wrote with the great Johnny Mercer, “Big Beautiful Ball” being of particular note, but even those remove themselves from the memory as soon as they are over.  (A quick note about the film: I can’t imagine a less likely actor than George C. Scott to be in one of these projects, but there he is, alongside Tony Curtis; needless to say, I can’t imagine a more likely actor than Curtis to be present!)  The music tries to be nice, tries to be friendly, but honestly ends up just being irritating.

Duning’s Any Wednesday is by far the more accomplished piece of work (though it’s all relative).  George Duning is not a composer well-represented on CD, nor even very well-known by many film music aficionados, but he had a hand in literally hundreds of films and (mostly) tv shows in a career spanning over forty years.  He even amassed five Oscar nominations in the 1950s (though he never won).  He was coming towards the end of his film career when Any Wednesday came about in 1966, before embarking on a long and successful stint in television.

Like Williams, he scored several comedies in the 1960s, but his approach here isn’t quite as madcap as the younger composer’s.  With a catchy main theme and overall a slightly more mature approach (benefiting, ironically, from using a much smaller, jazz/pop-based ensemble), Any Wednesday is really quite good fun.  It’s still very slight and unlikely to hang around for long in the memory, but satisfies for half an hour.

As with most releases from Film Score Monthly, the packaging is excellent, with fine liner notes from Lukas Kendall and Jeff Eldridge, and amusing reproductions of the notes from the original LPs.  It’s mastered from the original album masters and sounds great.  People who grew up with film music like this will probably have a blast, but I suspect that for the wider audience, it will be a much harder sell (even with Williams’s name on the cover).

Not with My Wife tracks

  1. Big Beautiful Ball (2:56)
  2. My Inamorata (2:50)
  3. Hey Julietta (2:00)
  4. Trumpet Discotheque (2:58)
  5. Two of Everything (2:26)
  6. Not With My Wife, You Don't (2:30)
  7. Big Beautiful Ball (1:51)
  8. My Inamorata (3:10)
  9. Foney Poochini (2:02)
  10. Arrivederci Mondo (2:16)
  11. Hungarian Jungle Music (3:03)
  12. Defending the Flag (1:49)

Any Wednesday tracks

  1. Prologue and Main Title (3:21)
  2. Split Screens (1:32)
  3. Playboy John (1:20)
  4. Frantic Cass (1:35)
  5. Pigeon John (3:18)
  6. Righteous Cass (2:13)
  7. Cass and Ellen (2:06)
  8. Frantic John (2:31)
  9. Double Clinches (2:28)
  10. Wife Meets Mistress (2:57)
  11. Lecher John (2:15)