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If Erich Wolfgang Korngold served as the supreme musical accompanist to Errol Flynn's swashbucklers at Warner Bros., Alfred Newman performed the same duties, and with equal zeal and skill, for the dashing Tyrone Power costume epics at 20th Century-Fox. Throughout the 1940s, Newman scored The Mark of Zorro, Son of Fury, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes and Captain from Castile. And yet, except for Captain from Castile, these soaring, colorful scores from Fox's chief composer have been largely neglected.
In this second Golden Age Classics release from Film Score Monthly, that half-century of neglect is at last being addressed with the release of all surviving tracks from Prince of Foxes (1949), and in bracing stereophonic sound. Regarded by many as Newman's masterpiece at Fox (acclaim for The Song of Bernadette and Captain from Castile notwithstanding) and long requested from the Fox archives, Prince of Foxes harks back to his epic score The Hunchback of Notre Dame, capturing the dawn of learning and spiritual renewal symbolized by the Renaissance, yet at the same time conjuring up the evil inherent in all tyrants.
Concerning a young soldier-of-fortune (Power) who joins up with black-hearted Cesare Borgia (Orson Welles) to do his wicked misdeeds, only to succumb to love and honor along the way, Prince of Foxes proved to be one of the studio's less successful box-office efforts in post-war America. And yet, there is much to recommend, including Newman's unusually visceral score, boasting a spirited heroic theme for the artist-turned-adventurer which the composer cleverly dissects in order to show the impulses and dilemmas churning within him. In addition, this often darkly atmospheric original soundtrack include several minutes of music trimmed from the film and heard here for the first time.
In addition to rare stills from Fox archives, Bill Whitaker's liner notes include a history of the film, a look at Newman's role overseeing Fox's remarkable music department, an analysis of the score and a definitive explanation of how stereo tracks for this and other Fox soundtracks came to be in the 1940s.