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FSM offers its first full CD of Max Steiner with this Warner Bros. Records LP “two-fer” from late in the career of the Oscar-winning composer: John Paul Jones and Parrish.
John Paul Jones (1959) was producer Samuel Bronston’s biopic of the Revolutionary War naval hero starring Robert Stack. The film follows Jones from his boyhood days in Scotland through his years as a celebrated captain in the newly formed Continental Navy to his final position as head of the fleet of Russia’s Catherine the Great (Bette Davis).
Steiner’s score is anchored by a rousing march, one of a string of marches he had written in the 1950s (as in The Caine Mutiny and Battle Cry). From colonial America to tsarist Russia and all along the high seas, Steiner’s music sets sail for a new generation of Golden Age fans. This CD presents the stereo album re-recording with Muir Mathieson conducting the Sinfonia of London. (Mathieson conducted the performance for the film itself as well; John Paul Jones was produced overseas, so for financial reasons its music recordings—film and record—were made in England.)
Parrish (1961) reunited Steiner with the successful Summer Place team of writer/director Delmer Daves and star Troy Donahue. Based on a novel by Mildred Savage, Donahue plants himself among the tobacco fields of the Lower Connecticut Valley, finding love and lust with a stable of blue-eyed fillies: Connie Stevens, Diane McBain, and Sharon McHugueny. The film also boasts a trio of Oscar-winning costars, including Dean Jagger, Karl Malden, and the return—and final film—of Claudette Colbert.
Steiner’s lighthearted score is composed in his romantic Summer Place vein, flirting with pop sensibilities in a quartet of themes for the women in Parrish’s life. The LP was re-recorded as a program of the main themes from the score rather than a score album proper that follows the story of the film. “Side Two” features easy-listening arrangements of the main Parrish themes and other Steiner classics recorded with guest pianist George Greeley, who had played on such classic scores as Picnic and On the Waterfront, and had recorded a set of popular piano albums for Warner Bros. Records.
This premiere CD release of both the John Paul Jones and Parrish soundtrack albums is newly remastered from the original 1/4' and 1/2' stereo album tapes, respectively. Liner notes are by James Lochner.