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Editor's Choice -
Best of the Month for March
 

RAINTREE COUNTY (1957)

Music composed and conducted by Johnny Green.

Disc One = 17 tracks, 74:02 / Disc Two = 25 tracks, 70:25

Additional arrangements and scoring by Alexander Courage, Sidney Cutner, Robert Franklyn, Conrad Salinger and Albert Sendrey. Orchestrations by Albert Sendrey, Robert Franklyn, Albert Woodbury and Arthur Morton.

Performed by the M-G-M Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
Songs: "The Song of Raintree County" and "Never Till Now" - music by Johnny Green,
lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. Title song sung by Nat King Cole.

Reissue Produced by Lukas Kendall. Production Executive for Turner Entertainment Co.: George Feltenstein. Music Score Remix by Michael McDonald. Difital Mastering by Doug Schwartz. CD Art Direction: Joe Sikoryak. CD liner notes by Ross Care.

Film Score Monthly FSM Vol. 9, No. 19

Rating: ****

This is one of the last great M-G-M films of epic proportions. As with almost all of these huge endeavors, the attempt was to once again have the success of GONE WITH THE WIND. Yet most of them failed to reach that popularity. That is true with RAINTREE COUNTY as well. As Ross Care writes in his excellent CD notes, M-G-M even had the tag line in their publicity: "In the great tradition of Civil War romance." Care also mentions that this was one of the few films shot in "Camera 65 -The Window of the World, which (like CinemaScope) included an excellent sterophonic sound system."

There are far too many tracks to discuss here, yet it must be said that all of them are worth a listen.

The film score is of epic length as befits the epic (1,060 page) novel by Ross Lockridge Jr. (his only novel). Unfortunately, the novelist never got to see the film. He committed suicide in 1948, not long after his only novel received the prestigious M-G-M Novel Award. It took many years until the novel was made into a manageable screenplay and filmed.

Much of the most important themes are stated in the "Overture" (track 1, 3:30) and "The Song of Raintree County" (track 2, 2:44), with the premiere CD release of Nat King Cole's sensitive rendition of the gorgeous title song, originally released on Capitol Records. The original RCA LP release of this film score had a choral version of the title song. It should be noted that Ross Care provides a handy listing of the RCA release track titles, which are somewhat different from this double CD release. The title song is the most prominent thematic idea and is used in many of the cues, often with the use of a nostalgic folksy harmonica. That gorgeous song lingers in the mind long after you hear it.

In addition to the 24 tracks on both CDs from the original soundtrack, there are also 18 bonus tracks. Unlike many CD soundtracks for films today with only a few bonus tracks, this RAINTREE COUNTRY release has a great deal of extras, including several versions of the beautiful "The Song of Raintree County" --for chorus and a vocal version by Bill Lee. You can also hear the snappy theme for "Freehaven" (CD 2, tracks 9-10) and "First Meeting" (tracks 11-12), with a vocal of "Never Till Now" by Carlos Noble. Also several arrangements of a Stephen Foster melody (tracks 16-17).

Johnny Green was one of those composers who has not received enough appreciation for his superb musical talents. In addition to being a film composer and Head of the M-G-M Music Department, he was also a gifted songwriter, with such standards as "Body and Soul"; "I Cover the Waterfront"; and "Out of Nowehere." He received 4 Oscars for his adaptations of popular musicals.

As usual with FSM, this is a first class CD production all around, from the superb sound and colorful art design, to the well-illustrated 28 page booklet with extensive background notes.

If you have any fondness for this vintage film score, and many do, the FSM CD set is the one to get rather than any previous releases.

This is another triumph for Film Score Monthly -- incredibly, this is their 147th release of a vintage film score!

RAINTREE COUNTY is one of their very best.

It is appropriate to have it available in complete form for the 50th anniversary of the film.

Bravo to all involved in this CD release!

 

-- Roger Hall, 31 March 2007

Be sure to read Ross Care's excellent essay at:

Johnny Green's Raintree County

 

Special Note:

This 2 CD soundtrack of RAINTREE COUNTY received a

Sammy Award for Best Vintage Score Released in 2007

 


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