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Rare Alfred Newman Score to “Counterfeit Traitor” Debuts from Kritzerland

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It’s not too great an exaggeration to state that without Alfred Newman, we probably wouldn’t be discussing film music here at The Second Disc, or anywhere else. In a career spanning 40 years and some 200 films, Newman played an integral, early role in the art of composing original music for cinema. He was rewarded with a whopping 45 Academy Award nominations and nine wins, and even made music the family business. Brothers Lionel and Emil had impressive careers, while sons Thomas and David continue today in the top-most rank of film composers. Nephew Randy, of course, made a name for himself in the pop/rock world before making his own, Oscar-winning mark in movies.

Alfred Newman served as musical director at 20th Century Fox between 1940 and 1960, composing the familiar fanfare still heard today before every Fox film. When he began a freelance career in 1960, he continued his winning streak. Just two years after striking out on his own, Newman composed two scores in 1962. The first was for MGM’s Cinerama extravaganza, How the West Was Won. Newman’s West is still recognized as one of the greatest scores of all time. His second was for Paramount’s The Counterfeit Traitor.  Composed by Alfred Newman at the peak of his powers, The Counterfeit Traitor will receive its first-ever commercial soundtrack release from the Kritzerland label.

Based on Alexander Klein’s non-fiction novel, The Counterfeit Traitor starred William Holden and Lilli Palmer and was written and directed by George Seaton (Miracle on 34th Street, The Country Girl). Writing in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther called it “exciting melodrama,” directed with “superior skill and style” and featuring a “dazzling cast.” Kritzerland’s exciting release of Newman’s underrated, overlooked score is derived directly from the original three-track master tapes which have resided in Paramount’s vaults for all these many years.

The Counterfeit Traitor is due from Kritzerland by the last week of April, but pre-orders directly from the label average an arrival of four weeks early. Hit the jump for the full press release plus pre-order link and track listing!

In one of the greatest years for motion pictures and their scores, one of the most forgotten and best films of 1962 was Perlberg-Seaton’s production of the Paramount Picture The Counterfeit Traitor. The film was a sobering, gripping, exciting, touching espionage thriller and at the top of its class, as espionage thrillers go. Starring William Holden and Lilli Palmer, along with a host of wonderful overseas character actors (including Academy Award winner Hugh Griffith), and some great location photography, The Counterfeit Traitor was written and directed by George Seaton (from the novel by Alexander Klein, based on a true story).

Recounting the story of Eric Erickson (Holden), an American-born citizen living in neutral Sweden during World War II, who is neutral enough to be profiting from working with both the Germans and the Allies. He is blackmailed into working for the Allies as a spy – this he reluctantly agrees to because the Allies (represented by the caustic Griffith) have him in a bind. The film is filled with powerful and memorable sequences and great performances, especially by Holden and Palmer. But the film simply got lost in that year’s incredible shuffle, as did many other great films – only later would some of them be rediscovered and achieve classic status – and The Counterfeit Traitor is indeed a classic. The Paramount production values were top-notch in every department, most especially in the costumes of Edith Head and the photography of Jean Bourgoin. And, of course, it didn’t hurt that The Counterfeit Traitor was blessed with a brilliant score by one of the greatest film composers who ever lived – Alfred Newman.

Newman, born in 1901, had spent most of his film music career at Twentieth-Century Fox, where he wrote many amazing scores, including such classics as The Mark of Zorro, The Keys of the Kingdom, The Song of Bernadette, Leave Her To Heaven, Captain from Castile, All About Eve, The Robe, A Man Called Peter, The Diary of Anne Frank and hundreds of others. He only wrote two scores in 1962, but they were both masterpieces and very different – How the West Was Won and The Counterfeit Traitor.

The score for The Counterfeit Traitor is classic Newman all the way, with its propulsive main title, his various suspense and dramatic cues, and one of his most memorable love themes ever – the theme for Marianna. That gorgeous theme weaves itself in and out of many cues in the score. It first presents itself as background music, then becomes more prominent in each successive cue in which it occurs. For those who’ve never seen the film, Newman’s score will be a revelation – one of the great scores of the 1960s and of Newman’s career. It is a treat to finally bring Newman’s great score to CD for the first time.

This CD was mastered from the original three-track Paramount master tapes housed in the Paramount vaults. While ninety-eight percent of the cues were in excellent condition, less than a handful had very minor damage to them, but we felt that it was historically important to include them, even with that minor damage, which only amounts to less than 1:30 of the CDs playing time of just over sixty minutes.

This release is limited to 1,500 copies only. The price of the CD is $19.98, plus shipping, and it can be pre-ordered at the link below. The Counterfeit Traitor is due from Kritzerland by the last week of April, but pre-orders directly from the label average an arrival of four weeks early.

Alfred Newman, The Counterfeit Traitor: Music from the Motion Picture (Kritzerland, 2011)

  1. Main Title and Prologue
  2. He Knew My Background (unused)
  3. First Plane to Berlin/Wansee Garden Restaurant
  4. Tightening the Vise/Riche’s Restaurant/Nazification Montage
  5. Bound for Berlin/Reception in Berlin
  6. German Oil Commission/Train to Hamburg
  7. Klara Holtz/The Little Nazi
  8. Dark Discovery
  9. Eric Insults Max/Ingrid Leaves Eric
  10. A Letter from Max
  11. Espionage/River Rendezvous
  12. Suddenly He Will Become Your Brother/Oil Montage
  13. Marianna’s Guilt
  14. To Love and Part
  15. Sacred and Profane
  16. Gestapo Headquarters
  17. Execution and Aftermath Parts 1, 2 (unused) and 3
  18. Hidden Microphone/Hazards in Hamburg
  19. Son of a Traitor
  20. Escape from Denmark
  21. Escape to Sweden
  22. Journey’s End/Finale
  23. Marianna (Demo Recording) (Bonus Track)

All tracks composed and conducted by Alfred Newman. Tracks 3, 5, 11, 12, 14, 17, 22 & 23 contain parts of “Marianna,” composed by Paul Francis Webster and Alfred Newman.

Written by Joe Marchese

March 14, 2011 at 15:12

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

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