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Dead Ringer (1964)
Music by Andre Previn
Dead Ringer Dead Ringer
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $19.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: October 2006
Catalog #: Vol. 9, No. 15
# of Discs: 1

Dead Ringer (1964) is one of the most delightful scores in the career of legendary composer, conductor and pianist André Previn. A macabre tale of identical twins (Bette Davis)—one of whom kills the other and assumes her identity—the film was given a gloriously over-the-top score by Previn, with notable use of harpsichord for sinister effect.

The early 1960s were a time of transition for Previn. A wunderkind prodigy at M-G-M in the 1950s, he won widespread acclaim for his stellar music direction on musicals such as Gigi (1958) and Porgy and Bess (1959). As the '60s arrived, he composed some of his finest dramatic scores, such as Elmer Gantry (1960) and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962). In only a few years he would quit film altogether, but in 1963-1964 he was employed at Warner Bros. on the music direction for My Fair Lady (1964) and—while that film was shooting—the underscore for Dead Ringer.

Dead Ringer was a followup of sorts to Bette Davis's comeback hit What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), in which Davis had starred opposite Joan Crawford. Based on a project that had originated in the 1940s, Dead Ringer gave Davis dual roles as the "good" and "bad" sister in a pair of identical twins—but in this case, it is the "good" twin who finds herself going down a path of corruption and tragedy.

From this relatively straightforward premise, Andre Previn hit an absolute home run with his score. Two major themes are present: a jagged, modernistic melody spotlighting strings and harpsichord, used for the determination of the "good" twin to take over her sister's life; and a wonderful homage to Erich Wolfgang Korngold (who scored several of Bette Davis's most famous pictures) in a soaring love theme with uniquely Previn touches.

If anything, Dead Ringer features the same sense of gleeful showmanship and symphonic wizardry (and specifically harpsichord) that is found in John Williams's score for Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot. Both scores seem to live by Hitchcock's reported saying to Williams (and others): murder can be fun.

This CD features the premiere release of the complete Dead Ringer score. Tracks 1-13 feature the Warner Bros. Records LP program in excellent stereo sound (remixed from the original three-track 1/2" album master), while tracks 14-21 feature the balance of the score (and source cues) in monaural sound (the previously unreleased music survives only in mono). Liner notes are by Jeff Eldridge.

Andre Previn Scores on FSM
About the Composer

André Previn (b. 1929) famously broke into film scoring at M-G-M while still a teenager—he was a child prodigy as a classical and jazz pianist who took to composing and arranging as well. In his twenties and thirties he scored numerous films and acted as music director for famous movie musicals like Gigi, Porgy and Bess and My Fair Lady. He largely retired from film in the late 1960s—fed up with Hollywood—to pursue a career as a classical conductor; he has also written operas and stayed active as a recording artist. Previn's early work as a film composer (much of it on obscure projects) is of startlingly high quality and FSM will continue to release it where possible. IMDB

Comments (31):Log in or register to post your own comments

I am writing the blurbs for the next installment of "FSM catalog low quantities and memories" and got to this title... I am trying to be fair in assessing the quality of our projects... some were fan-favorites, others obscure gems, some "archival" in sound quality, etc. Obviously I'm fond of all of them or I wouldn't have released them, but I won't try to pretend they are all the greatest thing since sliced bread.

But when I got to DEAD RINGER... this is such a great score! And it BARELY sold!

Do you love John Williams's macabre harpsichord style (Family Plot)? This is where it came from.

I appreciate that people don't have the money to buy things sight-unseen (or sound-unheard—though we do have ample sound clips) but this is one of the rare CDs where it is delightful and chilling and thrilling and romantic... I feel completely confident in recommending it to all Williams fans, without a doubt. You'll love it.

Lukas

This really is one terrific score. This post inspired me to put it on right now, and it's got everything: it's dark, it's romantic, it's brimming with melody. As you say, times are tough. Believe me, I know. But this is a CD I can't imagine most people here not loving. (To remove the double-negative: I imagine most people here will love it!) What a shame it's barely sold!

I'll chime in too; this one's quite lovely. For those of us asking where the melodies are nowadays, the answer is: right here.

After 40 years, my LP was nearly worn out, so this CD was a godsend. More than 25 minutes of extra music too.

Hell, I've know it was great since I saw it on the late show in 1974, found a stereo copy of the LP at A-1 Record Finders in 1977 , the FSM cd in 2006 and have played it ever since.

I am stunned that we have gotten this far in posting and no one --- NO ONE --- including the esteemed Mr. Kendall has seen fit to mention the composer's name---Andre Previn!!!

Any score by Andre Previn is top notch and this is no exception. It has been a classic of its type since it was released in the '60s, and it should be in everyone's collection.

Symphonic---to creepy (with that ubiquitous harpsichord!!)---to jazzy. Highly recommended!

Love the music around the scene when Duke rips Peter Lawford's throat out. :D

......Love the music around the scene when Duke rips Peter Lawford's throat out.....


Poor June Allyson.....no more French lessons for Peter after that! :)


Of the nearly 250 FSM CDs I've worked on, this is one of my favorites---and not just because I wrote the liner notes. The booklet features one of my all-time favorite Joe Sikoryak covers:



For many CDs, Joe has access to a plethora of studio artwork, but in this case (for reasons Lukas may wish to reveal in one of his posts reminiscing about the FSM history) Joe could only use the handful of black-and-white photos included on the back of the original LP jacket. And yet he created a gorgeous booklet to go along with this phenomenal Previn score. Not that you shouldn't buy this CD even if Lukas had released it in a paper bag...

Lukas, when are you going to post the next installment ? Next Monday?

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Track List
Instruments/Musicians
Click on each musician name for more credits

Leader (Conductor):
Andre Previn

Violin:
Israel Baker, David Berman, Josef Brooks (Schoenbrun), Bobby Bruce (aka Robt. Berg), Herman Clebanoff, Sam Freed, Jr., Benny Gill, Howard W. Griffin, Mort Herbert, Anatol Kaminsky, Nathan Kaproff, Marvin Limonick, Joseph Livoti, Dan Lube, Hillard Lubie, Emanuel Moss, Erno Neufeld, Jerome Joseph Reisler, Sam Ross, Paul C. Shure, Joseph Stepansky, Harry Zagon

Viola:
Alvin Dinkin, Cecil Figelski, Virginia Majewski, George Raymond Menhennick, Robert Ostrowsky, Milton Thomas

Cello:
Margaret Aue-Van Wyck, Justin DiTullio, Anne Goodman (Karam), Armand Kaproff, Raphael "Ray" Kramer, Edgar Lustgarten, Harold Schneier, Eleanor Slatkin

Bass:
Peter A. Mercurio, Keith "Red" Mitchell, Joseph Mondragon

Flute:
Arthur Gleghorn, Sylvia Ruderman

Oboe:
Arnold Koblentz

Clarinet:
Dominick Fera, Mitchell Lurie, John Neufeld

Bassoon:
Norman H. Herzberg

French Horn:
John W. "Jack" Cave, Vincent N. DeRosa, William A. Hinshaw

Trumpet:
Emanuel "Manny" Klein, Larry Sullivan, Raymond Triscari

Trombone:
Hoyt Bohannon, Richard "Dick" Nash, George M. Roberts

Piano:
Russell Freeman, Pearl Kaufman (Goldman)

Harp:
Catherine Gotthoffer (Johnk)

Accordion:
Frank T. Messina

Drums:
Frankie Capp, Frank J. Flynn, Louis Singer

Orchestrator:
Albert Woodbury

Copyist:
Robert C. Clark, Dan Franklin, Arthur W. Grier, Dave Strech

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