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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Soundtrack > Penelope/Bachelor In Paradise (Limited CD Set)

Penelope/Bachelor In Paradise (Limited Edition CD Set)


Sound: B     Music: B (both scores)



Silly as they may be, the lite sex comedies of the early-to-mid 1960s actually had giddy and smart scoring, something the recent Down With Love remembered.  The FSM music label of Film Score Monthly Magazine has issued a double set of two of the more obscure, yet interesting.  Penelope is Johnny (John) Williams’ score for the 1966 sex/heist comedy with Natalie Wood, Ian Bannen, Peter Falk and (very briefly) Jonathan Winters in which Miss Wood may have looked good, but the film was as thin in story as a dollar bill.  Bachelor In Paradise is Henry Mancini’s score for the latter-day Bob Hope comedy from 1961 in which he is the last of the title breed, being between Lana Turner, Janis Paige and website favorite Paula Prentiss.


Both were big A-film releases with big and upcoming stars, but outside of now being curios at best, their music and the fact that they were both shot in scope and color to lure audiences away from TV (Panavision for Penelope, later CinemaScope for Bachelor In Paradise), they both also serve as reminders of how much of the studio system was left to even make this lite fare of a higher quality than we would get today.  The purpose of pairing the scores for FSM is to show how Williams would soon be Mancini’s successor in some way as the composer people who knew little about film music knew best for general film scoring.  Sure, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and John Barry were popular, but these men were known for a certain sense of Americana.  Some would even stereotype them as such, though both have also done some very smart, complex scoring for film classics.  Williams has worked with Woody Allen and Brian De Palma, while Mancini’s scores for Charade, Experiment In Fear and Arabesque are underrated in their quality and influence.


The Penelope disc offers a whopping 30 tracks running at about 80 minutes, with two versions of the score of the film, plus additional material at the end of CD 2 running over 10 more minutes.  First is the debut of the music from the film itself, the soundtrack heard on the film instead of the MGM Records album rerecording, which is the second half of CD 1.  However, the album version has Wood singing The Sun Is Gray, a really good song written by singer Gale Garnett, known for her big solo hit We’ll Sing In The Sunshine.  She also did the female lead voice for Mad Monster Party, also available as a soundtrack from Film Score Monthly (all of which can be ordered at www.filmscoremonthly.com) and reviewed elsewhere on this site with the DVD version.  Two more versions of the song appear on CD 2.


Bachelor In Paradise also debuts here from the original film audio release materials and has some of the spirit of his best work at the time.  This is more typical of the whimsy of such productions and will remind one of the “Screen Gems” aesthetic of early live-action cartoon (think TV’s Bewitched) as both films from this CD set have animated credit sequences as well.  Maybe this was a device to push the idea of color, even MetroColor, which could look really good when done right.  It also indicates its aim towards a female/family audience.  Both like using their theme song as a motif to return to, in an almost “Mickey Mousing” way, but the overall scores offer much more.  Mancini also does some covers of older standards from the MGM catalog, Musical and otherwise, though this film has no real singing or dancing.


The PCM CD 2.0 16Bit/44.1kHz sound is stereo in almost all cases, which makes sense for films competing against TV, though a few tracks are monophonic and the album version of Penelope lacks some of the depth of the original recording.  There is also some slight distortion in the Bachelor In Paradise tracks here and there.  However, they sound really good for their age otherwise and playback is overall impressive for the most part.  It is certainly better than the DVDs are likely to sound if they ever get issued.


For Hollywood music fans, this will be a particular treat, especially since neither film is out on DVD and so much of this is debut material outside of the films.  There is also the usual stellar FSM booklet with great stills and archival information that always makes a great read.  However, this is one of FSM’s rare double sets and is limited to only 3,000 pressings, so you may want to go to the weblink above and inquire about ordering it and other great soundtracks while supplies last.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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