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Released by Special Arrangement With Turner Classic Movies Music.
M-G-M's Raintree County (1957) was a widescreen spectacular of the late Hollywood Golden Age—a gargantuan Civil War epic based on the acclaimed novel by Ross Lockridge Jr. Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Eva Marie Saint starred in a love triangle meant to encompass the cultural divide between North and South as well as tell a heartfelt human story.
Raintree County was the major landmark work as a composer of Johnny Green (1908-1989), a significant 20th century American music figure who was a gifted songwriter, conductor and music director. He was, at the time, the head of music at M-G-M, and responsible for the studio's legendary music quality both in its underscoring and movie musicals. Unlike Alfred Newman, who held the equivalent position at Twentieth Century-Fox, Green seldom exercised his prerogative to score pictures from the studio of his choosing, but he did so on Raintree County, and created one of the most memorable film scores of all time, with a legion of fans.
The movie and score of Raintree County are somewhat atypical in that they are essentially interior and character-based, even as the movie covers the sprawl of the American Civil War. Green's score is unashamedly "epic" in its size and symphonic scope, but its multiple themes attach not to historical events but to the characters and human dynamics of the central love triangle—with Clift as a young Northern writer, Saint his childhood "soul mate," and Taylor the Southern belle (with a history of mental illness) who steals him away.
The contrast between the "blockbuster" symphonic framework and the psychological nature of the drama created one of the most sophisticated scores of its time—combining conventional symphonic size with innovative, atmospheric moments, and featuring numerous, fully developed melodies. The musicianship of the entire production is remarkable.
Raintree County has had a long and varied history of album editions, most notably a 2LP RCA Victor release that was released on CD by Preamble. FSM's definitive edition—on the eve of the movie's 50th anniversary—features a comprehensive chronological program of Green's masterpiece (containing many previously unreleased cues and passages), along with a bonus section of alternate and unused cues. The entire score (save one-half of one cue) has been remixed and remastered from the original 35mm stereo master tapes for vastly improved sound quality.
Also cause for celebration, FSM reunites the orchestral score with the main title vocal performed by Nat King Cole—Cole was a recording artist for Capitol Records, and previous albums had to replace his vocal with generic chorus for contractual reasons, while Cole's version of the song came out separately on a 45 rpm single. Cole's never-before-heard end title vocal is included as well (dropped from the film), while the alternate chorus versions are included as bonus tracks.
Liner notes for Raintree County come from Ventura County in the person of expert Ross Care.