3.5 / 5 Stars
Miklós Rózsa is in my opinion one of the more underrated of the Golden-Age Hollywood Composers. He did plenty of great scores (Thief of Bagdad, Ben-Hur, Adam's Rib, El Cid, Quo Vadis?), won multiple Oscars, and lets not forget he work wrote the theme to Dragnet, but people now just don't tend to focus on him as much as say Steiner or Korngold, probably because he didn't really catch on as a composer until 1940. In fact, I had not even heard about the movie Moonfleet before listening to the album. This is primarily because the movie has never been released on video. It was a Fritz Lang Cinemascope swashbuckler made in 1955, based on the John Meade Falkner's 1958 novel of the same name starring Stewart Granger. The movie suffered from severe re-editing and shooting of a unnecessarily happy ending that was forced on director Lang by the studio heads (luckily a practice that a major studio would never think of doing today). Lang had worked with Rózsa before on Secret Beyond the Door (1948) and this would be their last movie together.
Moonfleet is not one of his great works, but saying it is one of his good works means it beats out most other's music single handedly. The robust score mixes several tones (thriller/gothic romance/adventure) at a very high energy. There's Rózsa trademarks running all through out the score, to many to mention in fact though I clearly noted parts of the love theme eventually lifted by Rózsa himself for one of his last scores Time after Time (1979).
A title tracks from the movie was released in an MGM compilation, but this is the first CD presentation and thankfully this limited run CD from release by Film Score Monthly with Turner Classic Movies Music has restored the original soundtrack in stereo from the 35mm master elements. I doubt the score has ever sounded better and there is an additional thirty minutes of bonus music consisting of source cues, alternative takes and original versions of various tracks. Included as well are dense linear notes documenting the film's production history and careful analysis of the score. It may not sound like a big deal to praise linear notes, but they are an art within themselves and Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall's work is exemplary as always.
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