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The Fastest Gun Alive/House of Numbers (1956/1957)
Music by Andre Previn
The Fastest Gun Alive/House of Numbers The Fastest Gun Alive/House of Numbers The Fastest Gun Alive/House of Numbers
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $14.96
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: May 2004
Catalog #: Vol. 7, No. 7
# of Discs: 1

André Previn is regarded as one of the world's preeminent conductors, a respected composer of orchestral works, chamber music and opera, and an accomplished pianist. Yet in an earlier time he was also a talented jazz musician, popular recording artist, songwriter and—during a glorious two-decade span—one of the most gifted composers of film music Hollywood has known. His most famous scores from this period include Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Elmer Gantry (1960), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962) and Inside Daisy Clover (1965). Yet there are a number of now-obscure pictures for which Previn provided arresting music, including The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) and House of Numbers (1957), both directed by Russell Rouse when Previn was under contract at M-G-M.

A psychological western starring Glenn Ford, The Fastest Gun Alive tells the story of a mild-mannered storekeeper in the town of Cross Creek who harbors a dark secret: he is an expert sharpshooter but refrains from informing his friends and neighbors for fear that he will become a target for thrillseeking gunfighters. Circumstances conspire to put his abilities with a gun—and the principles of the citizens of Cross Creek—to the test. André Previn's score is dominated by a main theme that suggests both Ford's personal turmoil as well as his eventual nobility and heroism, but also includes a touching love theme, quintessentially American string writing and gripping music for a trio of criminals led by Broderick Crawford.

House of Numbers is a jailbreak film like no other: Jack Palance plays both convicted murdered Arnie Judlow and his gentle brother Bill, who actually breaks into San Quentin Prison in a complicated scheme that results in Arnie's escape. The implausibility of the storyline provided Andre Previn an opportunity to compose a score that is at times gloriously over-the-top: his main theme captures the violent temper of Arnie Judlow and the recklessness of the plan to extricate him from prison, while a secondary theme attaches itself to Arnie's wife, Ruth (Barbara Lang), and Bill's unspoken feelings for her. Two lengthy sequences are played without dialogue and Previn's inventive scoring, featuring constantly varied orchestral colors, produces an aura of genuine tension.

These two film scores offer examples of the distinctive, often exhilarating, music being produced by a young man with plenty of experience and an abundance of talent—a Hollywood veteran still two years shy of his 30th birthday. This CD features the premiere release for each score, both complete and in the best possible monaural sound (as they were recorded). 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 (4):Log in or register to post your own comments
Perfect example of something I took a chance on (Previn who? Didn't he own the
London Symphony or something??), and loved it. Fastest is one of the great hidden
western gems, very addictive. House - a perfect companion, neither score overstays
its welcome and reveal new details on every listen. Now, I'm really getting depressed
you are ending the label......

I always enjoyed The fastest gun alive, good score.

Both are absolutely top-notch scores. FASTEST GUN ALIVE is very addictive (my dear wife, bless her, asked "Why are you playing THE TOWERING INFERNO again?"), but my favourite is HOUSE OF NUMBERS. Lots of extremely inventive low-end piano rumblings (Rosenman meets Williams) and an absolutely classic Main Theme, which goes through various transformations. I just love the way that soaring secondary theme comes in - it kind of straddles the Golden Age and the Silver Age - and reminds me of something like TARANTULA for some reason.

Good to see a little love for this one - finally! I think LK had a rough go with this record too.....

AND, bonus, both of the films are pretty good too, that always helps! TCM plays them sometimes.

Track List
Instruments/Musicians
Click on each musician name for more credits
For more specific musician lists for the scores on this album, go here:
House of Numbers
The Fastest Gun Alive

Leader (Conductor):
Andre Previn

Violin:
Sam Fiedler, Sam Freed, Jr., Werner L. Gebauer, Sidney Greene, Mort Herbert, Arnold T. Jurasky, Bernard Kundell, Joy Lyle (Sharp), Arthur Maebe, Sr., Lisa Minghetti, Irving Prager, Lou Raderman, Albert Saparoff, Dorothy M. Wade (Sushel), Byron Williams

Viola:
Cecil Figelski, Allan Harshman, Virginia Majewski, Reuben Marcus

Cello:
Alexander Borisoff, Julian Kahn, Raphael "Ray" Kramer, Edgar Lustgarten, Michel Penha

Bass:
George F. Boujie, Louis Previati, Arthur Shapiro

Flute:
Arthur Gleghorn

Oboe:
Arnold Koblentz

Clarinet:
Gus Bivona, Mort B. Friedman, Alex Gershunoff, Don Lodice (Logiudice), Hugo Raimondi, Andrew Young

Bassoon:
Charles A. Gould

French Horn:
John W. "Jack" Cave, Vincent DeRubertis, Herman Lebow

Trumpet:
Uan Rasey, Joe Triscari, James C. Zito

Trombone:
Nick DiMaio, Herb Taylor, Simon Zentner

Piano:
Max Rabinowitsh, Milton Raskin

Guitar:
Jack Marshall, Luke "Red" Roundtree

Harp:
Catherine Gotthoffer (Johnk)

Accordion:
Fred Travers, Raymond Van Eyken

Drums:
Frank L. Carlson, Mel Pedesky, D. V. Seber

Orchestra Manager:
James C. Whelan

© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.