Conducted by Charles Gerhardt and performed by The Ambrosian Singers and The National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Digitally remixed and encoded with Dolby Surround Sonics.
Liner Note Authors: Tony Thomas ; Rudy Behlmer; Clifford McCarty.
Recording information: Kingsway Hall, London (11/18/1974-11/19/1974).
Errol Flynn was one of those larger-than-life personalities who could only find a real home on the screen, and not entirely even then. Almost from the outset of a film career that he never initially sought, he played bold, charismatic, devil-may-care figures, with a cavalier attitude toward life's cares and worries (and toward women) that made him an ideal escapist hero for the Depression and strife-torn 1930s. Aiding and abetting his career most of the way was some of the finest action film scoring in the history of cinema, usually provided by Erich Wolfgang Korngold or, on occasion, Max Steiner, the reigning musical deities at Warner Bros., where Flynn made most of his career. Their best work on his behalf, along with that of Hugo Friedhofer on the late-career vehicle The Sun Also Rises, is represented on this 55-minute CD conducted by film music specialist Charles Gerhardt. Steiner's music for The Adventures of Don Juan is a pleasant surprise, offering some of the boldness and invention that one associated with Korngold, and a richness in the scoring that allows it to hold up as freestanding music across 60 years. Korngold's music for The Sea Hawk is, of course, in a class by itself, offering an almost operatic score, with lots of fiery emotions as well as dazzling settings at the Elizabethan court on display -- indeed, the music is almost the sonic equivalent of Technicolor, and makes up for the fact that the studio, fearing the economic loss of Europe being cut off by the war, declined to film this swashbuckler in color.
They Died With Their Boots On is Steiner's other major contribution here, and it is surprising how well the music works as a freestanding piece -- at times calling up echoes of Richard Strauss or Gustav Mahler -- when it doesn't lapse into military anthems and marches (most notably "Garry Owen," which was one of Custer's personal favorites). Dodge City was never considered a major Flynn vehicle, as a Western that has him cast in a role that was more closely filled by Wyatt Earp or Bat Masterson in real life -- Steiner's music for it, however, has held up well, alternately playful and moody in its mix of romantic and dramatic cues. The brief excerpt from Franz Waxman's score for Objective, Burma! isn't enough to judge the latter's entire contribution, but it is a bracing, stirring piece of music. Friedhofer's music for The Sun Also Rises is a gorgeous, pensive work, represented here by an alternately tempestuous and brooding overture, and elegant underscoring for a vision of Paris in the 1920s. The album ends with 12 minutes of Korngold's music for The Adventures of Robin Hood -- filled with bold fanfares and a lusty love theme, as well as memorable marches and action underscoring, this is the most conventional of Korngold's movie work, but he imparts such fervor to it that it's as though it were the first score of its kind. The recording was one of the best of the entire RCA Victor library and has transferred very well to CD, with a wealth of musical detail in the playback that was merely suggested in the original vinyl pressing. It's all supported by a wonderfully detailed essay on Flynn, his movies, and their music written by Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer, and Clifford McCarty. ~ Bruce Eder