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The View From Pompey's Head/Blue Denim (1955/1959)
Music by Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Herrmann
The View From Pompey's Head/Blue Denim The View From Pompey's Head/Blue Denim The View From Pompey's Head/Blue Denim
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $19.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: November 2001
Catalog #: Vol. 4, No. 15
# of Discs: 1

This Golden Age Classics CD showcases the talents of two of cinema's greatest composers, Elmer Bernstein and Bernard Herrmann. The CD combines two previously unreleased scores from the 1950s for socially relevant films directed by Philip Dunne: The View from Pompey's Head and Blue Denim.

The View from Pompey's Head (1955) has nothing to do with Mount Vesuvius, but is instead a slice of Southern Americana touching upon racism, class prejudice and adultery. Richard Egan plays a lawyer who returns to his hometown to sort out a racially oriented mystery and finds himself reunited with an old flame, played by Dana Wynter. Writer/producer/director Dunne asked Bernard Herrmann to score the film, but Herrmann was involved with Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much and suggested young Elmer Bernstein as an alternative.

Only five years into his Hollywood career, Bernstein triumphed with his first romantic score, a rich, melodic and American work with a memorable love theme and haunting passages. The score features the touchstones of Bernstein's best dramatic writing, evoking melancholy and nostalgia as well as joy and warmth. In many ways it was the predecessor to his lush score to From the Terrace (FSMCD Vol. 3, No. 8).

In 1959 Dunne directed Blue Denim, a controversial film starring Brandon de Wilde and Carol Lynley as teenagers facing an unwanted pregnancy. This time Herrmann was available and wrote a "Baby Vertigo" type of score reminiscent of his anguished romantic writing for Hitchcock, with yearning, Wagnerian passages for strings. Perhaps overbearing for the film, it has long been a fascinating curio in Herrmann's career (with several unused cues) and is a powerful score with many elegiac passages written amidst North by Northwest, Twilight Zone's first season and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Both Pompey's Head and Blue Denim are remixed in stereo from the original multitrack sessions; the CD features liner notes by Herrmann archivist Christopher Husted. One director, two forgotten films, and two legendary composers—that is the basis for this doubleheader of great film music with no shortage of personality.

Elmer Bernstein Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Elmer Bernstein (1922–2004) had a Hollywood career that lasted over a half a century; invented and reinvented himself as a composer across several genres (jazz, epics, westerns, comedies and adult dramas); and scored more than a few Hollywood classics—The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Escape and Airplane! to name but five. FSM has released a dozen of his scores and counting, but the most popular may be Heavy Metal (1981)—don't be fooled by the title, it's Elmer's "Star Wars." In addition to his prolific work as a composer, Bernstein was a tireless champion of film music as an art form, serving on the boards of several professional organizations and in the 1970s recording his own LP series of classic Hollywood scores, Elmer Bernstein's Film Music Collection, released by FSM as a 12-CD box set. IMDB

Bernard Herrmann Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) started his film career with Citizen Kane, finished with Taxi Driver, and in-between scored famous projects for Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, Vertigo), Ray Harryhausen and a host of others—to say nothing of the transcendent beauty of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir or the pioneering timbres of The Day the Earth Stood Still. He practically invented “psychological” film scoring and the use of orchestral color to achieve dramatic ends; his music for radio and television is brilliant despite (or perhaps because of) his limited resources. He was a genius and cast a long shadow on music for film. P.S. Check out On Dangerous Ground. IMDB

Comments (3):Log in or register to post your own comments
Hey, I see that nobody's received their copy of this yet and that I am the first to comment. Mind you, it was only released in 2001, and what with strikes, winter snow and things like that, if I were you I'd wait just a few more weeks before you start complaining to Lukas Kendal. He is NOT the postman, FFS!

And so there I was, pondering over the futility of my life, when I thought - as I do three times a year - that I'd fill that existential void and order some CDs THAT I MIGHT NOT EVEN LIKE. That really made me shiver with excitement. I felt almost alive again.

Bernstein and Herrmann are two composers who run hot and cold with me. I adore some of their work, but I feel I've grown away from about 50% of it, for whatever reason. But just reading through the great liner notes by Christopher Husted had me break sweat for the first time since 1963. I'd forgotten how much I love the FSM releases - reading up on the background to the films, following the track-by-track analyses while listening for the first time...

And so it came to pass that I realised that I had put off getting this combo for so long just because there was always something else to do. And THE VIEW FROM POMPEY'S HEAD sounded like it might be Elmer at his soapy sudsy "best", from the era of sobbing violins. And on first listen, I did detect those soap-suds, but I thought they were wonderful. Even the rapturous crescendos for when people kiss (I suppose that's what was happening). I love it all. It's also very like FAR FROM HEAVEN, which is kind of logical.

BLUE DENIM is classed as "Baby VERTIGO". I'm glad I haven't seen the film. I've made up a better one in my head. Yes, Herrmann (from what I gather) was probably too overblown in his approach to this. But it's GREAT Herrmann. If VERTIGO is great, so is this. It's just probably for the wrong film.

A few more observations before you pass out - For THE VIEW FROM POMPEY'S HEAD, the CD credits Fred Steiner with the orchestrations. At FSM's online link to the CD info, it states "Orchestrator Ed Powell", presumably Edward B. Powell. For BLUE DENIM, the CD says "Orchestrations by Bernard Herrmann" (as would be expected). The online link states "Arranger Earle Hagen". Can anyone clarify those enigmas? Thanx!

Looking forward to your own comments when the CD arrives on your doorstep at Christmas!

How does a thread have 6,000 views with only two comments. Does it include views from people who visited the CD's page on Screen Archives' website?

This might be a top ten FSM release for me. Both of these scores are absolutely wonderful.

Track List
Click on each musician name for more credits
For more specific musician lists for the scores on this album, go here:
Blue Denim
The View from Pompey's Head

Leader (Conductor):
Bernard Herrmann, Lionel Newman

Victor Arno, Sol Babitz, Israel Baker, Victor Bay, George Berres, Henry Camusi, Joachim Chassman, Harold Dicterow, Kurt Dieterle, Adolph DiTullio, David Frisina, Werner L. Gebauer, James Getzoff, Anatol Kaminsky, Louis Kaufman, Marvin Limonick, Sid Lippman, Paul Lowenkron, Lewis Main, Jr., Alexander Murray, Irma W. Neumann, Lou Raderman, David Selmont, Eudice Shapiro-Kast, Paul C. Shure, Felix Slatkin, Leon Trebacz, Dorothy M. Wade (Sushel), Heimann Weinstine

Myer Bello, Norman Botnick, Alvin Dinkin, Harry A. Hyams, Maxine Johnson, Virginia Majewski, Alex Neiman, Robert Ostrowsky, Sven Reher, Sanford Schonbach

Naoum Benditzky, Joseph Coppin, Joseph DiTullio, Adolph Frezin, Virgil Gates, Ossip Giskin, Leonard Krupnick, Kurt Reher

C. Magdelano Rivera, Meyer (Mike) Rubin, Murray Shapinsky, Kenneth Winstead

Arthur Hoberman, Luella Howard, Sterling D. Smith

William Kosinski, Gordon Pope

Russell Cheever, Morris Crawford, Charles Gentry, Abe Most, William A. Ulyate

Don Christlieb, Arthur Fleming

French Horn:
John W. "Jack" Cave, James A. Decker, Vincent N. DeRosa, Fred Fox, Alan I. Robinson, Harry Schmidt

Frank Beach, John Clyman, Robert Fowler

Marlo Imes, Ray Klein, John Tranchitella, Bill Williams (aka George Davenport)

Clarence Karella

James G. Rowles, Urban Thielmann

Vito Mumolo

Anne Stockton (Mason), Kathryn M. Thompson Penney

Richard Cornell, Paul DeDroit, Harold L. "Hal" Rees

Ed Powell

Earle H. Hagen

Orchestra Manager:
Simon Waronker

Gene Bren, Walter Brenner, Allan Campbell, Aristide G. Coccaro, Harriet B. Crawford, Wolfgang Fraenkel, W. D. Garlock, George Gordon, Wally Heglin, Elton A. Koehler, Albert Lisi, Jack McTaggart, Joe Petroni, Edgar Roemheld, Jr., Ernest Rosecrans, Paul Sprosty, Harry Stone, Wallace Wheeler, Bill Williams (aka George Davenport)

Fred Combattente

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