Friday, July 8, 2016

The Prisoner (Frankel, 1955), The Curse of the Werewolf (Frankel, 1961)

The Prisoner
     The 1955 film, "The Prisoner" stars Alec Guinness as an imprisoned Cardinal who is psychologically manipulated by a political "Interrogator" (once an old comrade) into making a confession denouncing his own religion.  It's based on a play, but the film version features a fascinating score by the film and concert composer Benjamin Frankel.  The score was rerecorded by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Carl Davis and included on the 2006 Naxos disc, "Curse of the Werewolf And Other Film Music".

     The Prelude features a theme developed from a 2-note rising motif (Cardinal theme) which is threaded throughout the score.  The Interrogator gets a 6-note theme which falls in the first 4 notes, then rises and falls briefly near the end.  "Herrmann-esque" wind/harp/percussion ostinati also help impart the "imprisonment" atmosphere "(ex, "Cat and Mouse", "Solitary Confinement").  Some episodes feature music of a more martial nature, to represent the political turmoil resulting from the Cardinal's unfair treatment ("Civil Unrest").  Much of the music has an almost operatic or tone-poem feel to it, reflecting Frankel's background in concert composition.

Trk Dur Title Film Sequence
15 1:28 Prelude Main titles (Cardinal theme with 2-note rising motif developed in strings with supporting brass/timpani, fateful brass/oscillating wind figures, snare/brass fanfares into foreboding brass/bass drum dirge, ending in pensive strings).
16 2:53 The Prison 0:00: The Cardinal arrives at the prison and enters its gates.
0:18: The Cardinal arrives at an audience with the Interrogator, a former comrade (6-note Interrogator theme, timpani).
0:42: The Cardinal is shown to his prison cell and finds that the light fixture is permanently on.  The constant light eventually begins to bother him (tic-toc strings/vibraphone interrupted by brass sting).  He sits and crosses himself.
2:38: (unused) The food slot opens and closes a few times.  The guard enters and wakes him (pizz strings, brass, etc).
17 2:51 Cat and Mouse 0:00: The Interrogator prepares his interrogation room with bright light (Interrogator theme).
0:50: The Cardinal enters and they banter (Interrogator theme in strings dialogue against Cardinal rising motif in winds).  They discuss torture, and the Interrogator tells the Cardinal that instead, he hopes to convert him (Interrogator theme in winds, vibraphone/strings).  The Cardinal says that the idea of torture did not bother him, but that now he is afraid (Interrogator theme in vibraphone).
18 3:06 Cardinal and Interrogator 0:00: The Cardinal is blinded by light, as the Interrogator continues to press his efforts.  He compares himself to a doctor and the Cardinal as his patient (Interrogator theme in strings, harp, vibraphone).  The Cardinal calls on God's help.
1:40: A montage follows of bright lights, tape recordings, marching and interrogations (Cardinal motif in a reprise of Prelude material).  
19 1:52 Mind Games 0:00: The Interrogator finds the Cardinal dozed off and gently wakes him.  They talk about how the Cardinal found his calling in the church. 
1:36: The Interrogator tells him that he sounds tired and afraid of himself (while sketching a man inside a spider's web) (4-note ostinato).
20 3:16 Civil Unrest 0:00: Troops are sent out to settle civil unrest due to the Cardinal's arrest.
0:17: A girl is warned that protest newspapers have been banned.  Her beau, a prison guard, arrives.
0:42: The girl asks her boyfriend to leave his job behind.  They argue about the Cardinal's imprisonment.
2:07: Policemen arrive and arrest a protest journalist (piano chords, martial fanfares).  More violence erupts on the street.  A youth is shot for graffiti.
21 6:30 Solitary Confinement 0:00: (unused) The Interrogator tries to use the Cardinal's ill mother as blackmail to force him to cooperate (I think) (Interrogator theme in strings, wavering vibraphone).
1:13: (unused) The Cardinal is placed in solitary confinement.
2:19: The Interrogator prepares to observe the Cardinal during his solitary confinement indefinitely.  He begins to play a chess game (4-note ostinato developed in vibraphone, harp, timpani).
4:06: (unused) The Cardinal practices math tables but is disturbed by noises.  He begins to be disturbed when he loses his sense of time passing (4-note ostinato joined by Interrogator theme developed in strings/winds). The guard tells him that the light switch now works, but that he will probably be too afraid of the dark to turn off the lights.
22 1:48 The Dark 0:00: The Cardinal turns off the light and tries to relax (tic-toc figures leading to quote of "Dies Irae" in low winds).
0:50: He becomes disturbed (string clusters, brass/drum accents).  He turns on the light and prays to the Heavens for help.  He asks to speak to the Interrogator and begins babbling.
23 3:32 The Confession 0:00: During the Cardinal's forced public confession, he hears an unseen voice echoing the brainwashing arguments (layers of string/vibraphone figures derived from Interrogator motif).
0:35: The Cardinal falls to the ground and throws himself on the mercy of God after he completes his confession (Cardinal theme in brass).  Later, the court prays silently by candlelight for the Cardinal's sentencing, and the Interrogator looks at the somber audience with mixed emotions (brief Cardinal motif in trumpet).
1:36: He walks the riverside and reaches a fish market, which reminds him of his youthful relationship with the Cardinal (leads to rising, building figures).
2:55: A newspaper proclaims the Interrogator as a hero, and the Interrogator crushes it in anger.  He comes across graffiti of a hung Cardinal.
3:19: The Cardinal prays for madness in his jail cell.
24 1:51 Last Meal 0:00: The Interrogator's assistant tells him not to become squeamish before the verdict (Cardinal motif).  The Cardinal is sentenced to death.  His last meal is wheeled to him.
0:26: The Cardinal (now released) tells the guard not to judge the priesthood by the priest (Cardinal motif developed in strings).  He walks free of his cell, as the Interrogator now faces an investigation in a prison of his own making (snare/brass/wind figures).  The Interrogator toys with his gun and then looks out the window as the Cardinal leaves to face a crowd of silent people.
25 1:23 Finale The Cardinal walks away from the prison gate, as the silent crowd parts before him (Cardinal motif developed in strings).  He walks off alone.  End title.

The Curse of the Wolfman
     The Naxos release described above also included most of the score from "The Curse of the Werewolf", a soundtrack which is reputedly one of the first "12-tone" film scores.  In actuality, the 12-tone aspect is more of an incidental texture, and the bulk of the score is written as traditional, dramatic film music (although crafted with a high degree of classical skill).  The werewolf gets a signature 3-note terror-fanfare motif (among other themes).

Trk Dur Title Film Sequence
1 1:49 Prelude Opening credits with eyes of a werewolf, crying (3-note Werewolf fanfare motif surfaces in trumpets/snare).
2 1:59 The Beggar 0:00: (unused) A beggar approaches a church in town and asks why the bells are ringing.
0:42: (partially used) The beggar travels to the Marquis' castle, where a wedding celebration is being held.
3 2:14 Servant Girl and Beggar 0:00: A mute servant girl feeds the imprisoned beggar, who looks hungrily at her. 
0:52: The aged Marquis leers at the servant girl when she enters his room.  He taunts her and tries take advantage of her.  She bites him and runs away. 
1:14: The Marquis has his men lock the servant girl in with the beggar.  The beggar appears, slowly approaches and wrestles her to the ground (also when the beggar is found dead and the guard takes her back to the aged Marquis).
4 2:59 Revenge and Escape 0:00: The Marquis picks at his skin in the mirror.  The servant girl knocks and enters.  She suddenly stabs and kills the Marquis, and then runs out into the forest.  She eventually faints.
1:17: Don Alfredo's servant Theresa realizes that the servant girl they have rescued is mute and feels sympathy for her.
1:39: The servant girl signals that she about to give birth.  As Alfredo lights his pipe, her hears a wolf howl (Werewolf fanfare in muted trumpet) followed by a baby's cry.  Theresa holds the baby to the mother but the servant girl dies.
5 3:43 Baptism 0:00: When the child is baptized, a shadow falls over the window and the baptismal pool ripples strangely.  Lightning flashes and lights up a gargoyle's face (Werewolf fanfare developed).  The baptism is completed.
0:44: Pepe watches over the sheep and hears a wolf howl (Werewolf fanfare in winds, developed).   He shoots and wounds an unseen animal (who is later revealed to be the young Leon).
1:49: Leon tells his father that he dreams that he is a blood-drinking wolf.  Alfredo notices the fur on Leon's palms (Werewolf fanfare in winds, developed).
2:12: The priest tells Alfredo that Leon's werewolf side can be suppressed by pure love.
2:53: A fanged Leon fights to escape his barred window when the full moon is out.  Alfredo puts him to bed.  Meanwhile Pepe shoots a dog who he (wrongly) suspects killed his goat.
6 1:51 Pastoral 0:00: A grown up Leon leaves Alfredo and Theresa to make his own way.
0:35: After a long walk he ends up at a vineyard.
7 1:49 Leon's Assignation 0:00: Cristina returns from an outing and is greeted by her father. 
0:30: She soon sneaks out to have a secret rendezvous with Leon. 
1:29: Her father hears noises and they part.
8 2:22 A Deadly Transformation 0:00: While at a tavern, the full moon makes Leon feel strange (variations of Werewolf motif lead to fanfare).
0:40:  A tavern girl takes him upstairs to comfort him (Werewolf variations).
1:12: Leon gets excitedly amorous.  He bites the tavern girl and then kills her.
2:01: When Leon's friend comes up to investigate, Leon kills him as well.
9 3:28 Leon Confronts the Horror 0:00: Leon flees from the family priest after he learns that he must be chained.  He is stopped by police (Werewolf variations).
0:40: That night Leon fights the moon's effects (string cluster glissandi).  Cristina arrives and he collapses.  The next morning he finds out that her constant company somehow prevented his lupine transformation (Werewolf motif in horns) and he asks her to marry him.  They plan to run away.
10 1:58 Leon Imprisoned 0:00: While in prison, Leon tells Alfredo to get Pepe's silver bullet so that they can kill him before it's too late (Werewolf motif developed in trumpet).  The priest tells a disbelieving Cristina about Leon's lupine affliction.
1:02: Alfredo journeys back to the village to retrieve the silver bullets from Pepe in a race against time, as the sun sets.
11 3:21 Final Transformation 0:00: In the prison cell, Leon begins to change (Werewolf motif in winds).  He tears off his clothes (string glissandi, variations of Werewolf motif).
1:13: Cristina arrives at Alfredo's house.
1:48: A transformed Leon attacks his cell mate.  He breaks out of prison and kills the guard (developed Werewolf motif).
2:22: Theresa comforts Cristina at Alfredo's house.  She tells Theresa that Leon really is a werewolf.
12 6:50 Finale 0:00: The townspeople search for Leon and track him on rooftops.  Cristina races to town to try to save him.  The townspeople try to use fire against Were-Leon, but the Werewolf escapes.  He climbs to the bell tower.
4:05: Alfredo ascends the stairs of the tower with his rifle.
5:06: With Leon distracted by the ringing bells, Alfredo shoots Leon.  He then covers the dead (but still lupine) Leon with his cloak. 
6:21: End credits.

Benjamin Frankel Wiki
CD Sleeve notes
On iTunes
On Spotify
Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde (David Huckvale)

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