View CD Page at FSM Site (More Details)
The World of Henry Orient is a wonderful, joyful score, bouncing with melody and life. It is one of the cinema's all-time greatest scores for a movie involving children, but only Elmer Bernstein's second-greatest work in that genre. Such is the case when To Kill a Mockingbird, written two years earlier, is also on your resume.
The World of Henry Orient (1964) stars real schoolgirls Tippy Walker and Merrie Spaeth as youngsters in New York City obsessed with a local, fairly bad pianist and lothario with a predilection for married women: Henry Orient, a signature comic role for Peter Sellers. The girls follow Henry throughout the city, spoiling his escapades and causing trouble with their innocent games. In the skillful hands of director George Roy Hill, the film is no mere spoof but an honest and emotional study of the girls whose interest in Henry is an outlet for their yearning for parental love.
That the film manages to stay true to its dramatic origins while providing comic belly laughs is evidence of a brilliant composer. Bernstein evokes innocence, mischief, bonding and heartbreak—sometimes all in the same cue. He scales his music perfectly to the girls' mindset as they tail Henry throughout the city, playing on dramatic film music conventions with a light and comedic touch. His main theme, with gentle mixed meters and a catchy theme, is instantly memorable. As fans of the film have known for 37 years, the score is an absolute gem, without a phony note.
The World of Henry Orient was recorded at the Goldwyn Scoring Stage—now closed—which was widely considered the finest stage in Hollywood. As recorded by Dan Wallin, the acoustics are so crystal clear that one can practically hear the players touching their instruments. The CD also includes the film's sarcastic, avant garde piano concerto, composed for scheduling reasons not by Bernstein but by Kenneth Lauber—the finishing touch on a soundtrack masterpiece.