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The Long, Hot Summer (Original Film Soundtrack)

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Album Review

The score for The Long Hot Summer (1958), Martin Ritt's adaptation of several stories by William Faulkner starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and Orson Welles, has been a long time coming to CD, and the wait was worth it. One of the most romantic movies ever made about the modern (albeit rural) South, it elicited from composer Alex North one of his most unabashedly romantic scores, starting with the title track, a rich, string-laden, hauntingly beautiful ballad sung by Jimmie Rodgers. North was a man of many musical faces and voices, and he proves no less that here, moving between romantic orchestral pop, lean and virtuosic jazz, and ominous and memorable action/effect music. There's a most effective and memorable jazz component to the score in the broad and suggestive "Hey Eula" and the moodier, sax-and-piano driven "Two Butterflies," but we also get a gorgeous, nostalgic restating of the main theme in "Easy Living," while "Jody" captures, in orchestral terms, the turmoil surrounding the character of the patriarch's dissolute son, and "Barn Burner" is a gorgeously romantic orchestral piece and one of the finest things in North's output. All of this material is remastered beautifully for this CD, with a close, rich sound that makes it one of the best listening experiences that one can have of an orchestral soundtrack from this period in movies. The music from The Long Hot Summer has been augmented on this CD by North's score for Sanctuary (1961), a little-known Faulkner adaptation to come from director Tony Richardson — a much bluesier and less romantic body of music, it captures the dark, brooding side of North's work as little else in movies does, and makes for a startling contrast with and complement to the earlier score. The Varese Sarabande Limited Collectors' Edition CD — with a pressing of 2000 copies — has been well-annotated, as well as beautifully produced by Robert Townson and Nick Redman, and is well worth the premium asking price.

Biography

Born: 04 December 1910 in Chester, PA

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

American composer Alex North hardly needed films to enhance his reputation. A graduate of Juilliard and the pupil of such musical heavyweights as Ernst Toch and Aaron Copland, North was responsible for the incidental music in several major Broadway productions of the 1940s, notably Death of a Salesman. He also composed for the ballet, for symphony orchestra, and even for Benny Goodman. North's earliest film work consisted of the scores for documentary films, an activity he engaged in from 1937 through...
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The Long, Hot Summer (Original Film Soundtrack), Alex North
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