Had Sweet Smell of Success been the only film score written by Elmer Bernstein in 1957, the composer’s place in the pantheon would have been all but assured. Yet Bernstein remarkably found time to score four other motion pictures that very same year. The soundtracks to two of those pictures, Fear Strikes Out and The Tin Star, were reissued earlier this year by Kritzerland. A third, Drango, was announced on Monday, July 4 as the latest release from the veteran stage and screen specialist label. (The remaining Bernstein score of 1957 was for Men In War. It received a soundtrack LP on the Imperial label.) Kritzerland’s Drango remasters and reissues the original Liberty Records recording for the first time on an authorized CD, and is a welcome “missing link” in Bernstein’s early period. It follows Kritzerland's June release of Bernstein's 1958 Kings Go Forth!
Drango was produced by its star, Jeff Chandler, through his Earlmar Productions. In the post-Civil War-era drama, Chandler (who died tragically young in 1961, at the age of 42) starred as Major Clint Drango, a Union Army officer resolved to restore the fortunes of a Georgia town he had helped destroy in Sherman’s March. Chandler enlisted Hall Bartlett to direct, and Bartlett had quite an ear for music. His 1955 prison drama Unchained introduced “Unchained Melody,” perhaps the ultimate example of a song outliving the film of its origin. He later enlisted Neil Diamond to pen the score to his 1973 adaptation of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and reteamed with Elmer Bernstein for 1963’s The Caretakers.
The low-budget production co-starred chanteuse Julie London, one of over twenty films she had to her credit. Donald Crisp, Ronald Howard and Joanne Dru were also featured, as well as John Lupton, Milburn Stone, Morris Ankrum and familiar sitcom guest Parley Baer (The Andy Griffith Show, The Addams Family, Bewitched.)
Kritzerland’s CD presents the original LP program for Drango. Unlike a recent European release derived from a less-than-perfect LP (and available due to the U.K.’s 50-year copyright law), the new Drango is fully remastered from the original Liberty album master now housed in Capitol’s vaults. It’s presented in mono. The new CD is limited to 1,000 copies and is available for $19.98 plus shipping, as well as in a special offer bundle to those who purchase directly from Kritzerland. It should arrive the second week of August, but pre-orders usually ship one to five weeks earlier than the announced date! Hit the jump for the label’s full press release plus the pre-order link and track listing!
Drango, a low-budget film from 1957, starred Jeff Chandler, a very underrated actor, and had a terrific supporting cast, including Julie London, Donald Crisp, Ronald Howard, and Joanne Dru, along with John Lupton, Milburn Stone, Parley Baer, and Morris Ankrum. The film takes place in the months following the Civil War and the script presents the story of bitterness, resentment, and redemption, honestly and simply and without any attempts to sugar coat anything from anyone’s point of view.
Directed by Hall Bartlett, who made several films that have become historic for various reasons – Unchained (the story of Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch – and which gave the world “Unchained Melody”), Zero Hour (which was the inspiration and basis for the classic film comedy Airplane), The Caretakers (which features one of the great Elmer Bernstein scores), and the film of the best-selling book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
One thing Bartlett had as a director was extremely good taste in the composers he chose for his projects – Alex North for Unchained, George Duning for All The Young Men, Neil Diamond and Lee Holdridge for Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and, of course, the great Elmer Bernstein for The Caretakers and Drango.
By the time of Drango, Bernstein had already written two masterpieces of film scoring – The Man With The Golden Arm and The Ten Commandments. 1957 was a busy and incredible year for Bernstein – in addition to Drango, he also scored Men In War, Fear Strikes Out, Sweet Smell of Success, and The Tin Star. Drango is a very strong Bernstein score – somber, melancholy, exciting, and, as always, filled with wonderful and unique Bernstein themes.
Drango was issued on a Liberty Records LP. This is its first official CD release. There was a specious overseas limited edition release thanks to the European fifty year copyright law, but that CD was mastered from a not very pristine copy of the LP, with ticks and pops and, for some reason, much of the sound coming mostly from the left speaker (how this can happen with a mono LP is anyone’s guess). This CD was mastered from the original first generation album master housed in the Capitol vaults. The difference in sound is, of course, major, and it is a thrill to hear this prime Elmer Bernstein score in gorgeous and full-bodied mono sound.
This release is limited to 1,000 copies only. The price of the CD is $19.98, plus shipping. Additionally, we are offering a special deal with the purchase of this release. Visit the album page for details!
CD will ship the second week of August – however, never fear, preorders placed directly through Kritzerland usually ship one to five weeks earlier (we’ve been averaging four weeks early).
Elmer Bernstein, Drango: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Liberty LRP 3036, 1957 – reissued Kritzerland KR20019-5, 2011)
- Prelude (Drango Comes to Kennesaw Pass)
- The Hanging
- The Search
- The Gathering Storm
- The Plotters Fail
- The Children’s Gift
- Ransom House Waltzes
- News from Dalton
- Drango and Katy
- Drango’s Chance
- Love and Justice
Mississauga Deck says
Good to hear.