Despite his acclaimed scores to films such as Klute, The Parallax View, Marathon Man and The China Syndrome, Michael Small (1939-2003) remains one of the most underrated names in the film score pantheon. Too few a number of Small’s works have been made available on CD, yet his singular voice enhanced a number of great films (and even some bad ones – Ed.). This is especially true during his 1970s peak in which he collaborated with directors as celebrated as Alan J. Pakula, Bryan Forbes, Sidney Lumet, Arthur Penn and Robert Wise. It was for Wise that Small wrote the score to 1977’s Audrey Rose.
Based on the novel by Frank De Felitta, Audrey Rose was a story of the possibility of reincarnation. Anthony Hopkins starred as the mysterious Elliot Hoover who approaches Janice and Bill Templeton (Marsha Mason and John Beck) believing that their daughter Ivy (Susan Swift) is actually his own deceased daughter, Audrey Rose. Kritzerland today announced the premiere release of Michael Small’s Audrey Rose, taken directly from two mono reels of tape residing in the MGM vaults. Hit the jump for Kritzerland’s full press release and details on how producer Bruce Kimmel and mastering engineer James Nelson restored Michael Small’s Audrey Rose!
The problem was The Exorcist. In trying to sell the 1977 film Audrey Rose, the posters for the film made it look like it was going to be yet another ripoff of William Friedkin’s shocking and terrifying 1973 film. But the fact is, Audrey Rose has nothing whatsoever to do with The Exorcist. It is, in fact, about as far removed from that kind of visceral terror as you can get. Based on the 1975 novel by Frank De Felitta (who also wrote the screenplay), Audrey Rose is not about possession by a demon of any sort – it is about reincarnation. Director Robert Wise was certainly no stranger to making atmospheric films of this nature, starting at the beginning of his career when he worked with the master of understated terror, Val Lewton, directing The Curse of the Cat People and The Body Snatcher. Years later, he would direct the brilliant horror film The Haunting, which was very much in the Lewton style. Wise also had an uncanny ability to pick the perfect composers for his projects, and a major part of the film’s atmosphere is its musical score by the gifted Michael Small.
Born in 1939, Small began scoring films in the late 1960s, but it was his masterful score to the 1971 Alan Pakula film Klute that announced him as a unique voice in film scoring. From that point on, he was a familiar name, providing some of the best scores for some of the best films of the 1970s, including The Parallax View, The Stepford Wives, Night Moves, The Drowning Pool, Marathon Man, The Driver, Comes A Horseman, The China Syndrome – there was no mistaking a Michael Small score, you knew it was his instantly, the minute the music began playing. He went on to score many other films, such as Going In Style, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Rollover, The Star Chamber, Target, Dream Lover [and] Jaws: The Revenge, as well as working in television.
Small’s score for Audrey Rose is one of his best. It is filled with his unique music, emphasizing character and drama and never playing for cheap effects. It is at times haunting, at times lyrical, at times downright creepy and scary, but always in service of the story and the characters. Right from the get-go, with his engaging and beautiful main title, right through to the film’s somewhat downbeat ending, Small’s music is simply and unerringly right.
The source material for Audrey Rose consisted of only two reels of tape in the MGM vaults. These mono tapes, made from the music stem (which means the volume shifts up and down repeatedly, as it does in the film), were in good shape for what they were. While it is not always easy to master from an up and down source, our mastering engineer, James Nelson, working his usual magic, got it to sound as good as it probably can. The result is that we finally have one of Michael Small’s best scores on CD.
Kritzerland’s release of Audrey Rose is limited to 1,000 copies and is available for pre-order now at the link below at the cost of $19.98 plus shipping. It is scheduled to arrive the first week of April, but pre-orders made directly through the website usually average an arrival of four weeks early.
Michael Small, Audrey Rose: An Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Kritzerland KR 20018-1, 2011)
- Main Title
- Hoover in Rain/Door Chain/Janice Bed to Street
- Run to School/Alley Run/Phone Wait
- Restaurant Story/After Restaurant/Glad You’re Here
- Hoover’s First Visit
- Top of Stairs/Hoover Calls Audrey
- Janice Reading/Through Window
- Hoover Carries Ivy/Janice After Hoover
- A Nightmare
- Ivy in Mirror
- Janice in Court/Janice After Hoover
- The Hypnotist/Last Seizure
- Life After Life/End Credits
- Source Music (Bonus Track)
All tracks previously unreleased.