The Second Disc

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En Garde! Hugo Friedhofer’s “Casanova” Rediscovered

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Composer Hugo Friedhofer picked up the 1947 Academy Award for his score to the William Wyler-directed The Best Years of Our Lives.  All told, Friedhofer would rack up nine nominations for the coveted gold statuette.  But despite this success, he didn’t work strictly within the major studio confines.  The 1948 Eagle-Lion film Adventures of Casanova is a B-movie take on the legendary ladies’ man, but it boasts an A-movie score by Friedhofer.  Following Intrada’s release of the composer’s score to 1950’s Two Flags West and its own impressive, quickly sold-out expansion of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Kritzerland is unveiling the world premiere of Friedhofer’s soundtrack to Adventures of Casanova.

For the swashbuckling epic, Friedhofer drew on the widescreen canvas he’d acquired orchestrating for the legendary likes of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, no stranger to the genre thanks to his 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn.  In place of Flynn, Casanova offers Arturo de Cordova in the title role; he’s aided by Turhan Bey, John Sutton, Noreen Nash and Lucille Bremer.  The producer of the limited edtion release, Bruce Kimmel, notes that the music of Casanova is “very much in the Korngold mold, but unmistakably Friedhofer…in the classic adventure tradition, with sweeping themes for fighting and romancing, intrigue, and villains and heroes.”

Adventures of Casanova has never been released on DVD, and its soundtrack has never before appeared in commercially available form.  The Kritzerland release has been derived from Friedhofer’s own collection of acetates, which have been remastered by James Nelson.  The tracks are presented in film sequence.  The 1,000-copy limited edition is available now for $19.98 plus shipping at Kritzerland’s own site.  The album will ship by the second week of September, but pre-orders usually arrive an average of four weeks early.  Hit the jump for the complete press release, track listing and pre-order link!

Kritzerland is proud to present a limited edition world premiere soundtrack release.

Adventures of Casanova presents the legendary womanizer as not only a legendary womanizer but an expert with the blade (sword, that is), champion of the oppressed, and hero for the ages.  In other words, Eagle-Lion’s 1948 release is a standard-issue programmer, one of about fifty titles they released that year.  Adventures of Casanova stars Arturo de Cordova as Casanova, Turhan Bey as his friend Lorenzo, John Sutton as his enemy, the Count de Brissac, and fetching Lucille Bremer as Lady Bianca and Noreen Nash, as Zanetta, her servant.   The film is a swashbuckler, filled with swords flashing, intrigues, double-crosses, switched identities, cowards, an oily villain, and a hero who can out-duel and out-love anyone.  But what really makes the film come to life and even occasionally lifts it from its B-movie roots, is the superb score by Hugo Friedhofer.

Friedhofer had spent years as an orchestrator for Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, so he knew this type of film scoring intimately.  By 1948, he’d been composing for films for years and had already won the Academy Award for his brilliant score to William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives.  How Eagle-Lion could afford him after he’d won his Oscar is anyone’s guess, but they could and they did and Friedhofer provided the film with a lusty, full-bodied, and wonderful score, very much in the Korngold mold, but unmistakably Friedhofer.   This is music in the classic adventure tradition, with sweeping themes for fighting and romancing, intrigue, and villains and heroes.

This is the world-premiere release of Adventures of Casanova.  All that existed from this film were a set of acetates that Friedhofer had.  Our mastering engineer, James Nelson, has done as much as possible in cleaning up the sound and the result is a classic Friedhofer score finally available for all to hear.  Most of the acetates were in really good condition, but acetates are acetates and there is no way around some of the anomalies that are inherent in them – only a couple of cues were in really problematic condition, but we’ve done our best to make those sound as good as they can sound.  It is an archival release, but an important one, as have been several other releases from acetates from the Golden Age issued by other labels.   We have put the cues in film order, which makes for the best listening experience.

This release is limited to 1,000 copies only.  The price is $19.98, plus shipping.   Additionally, Kritzerland is offering a special deal with the purchase of this release.  Go to the item page and click on the link to find out about it.

Hugo Friedhofer, The Adventures of Casanova (Kritzerland, 2011)

  1. Main Title
  2. Death to Oppression
  3. Bring Casanova/The Great Lover/Husband Arrives/The Sister
  4. Lorenzo and Casanova/The Sword/Bianca and Father
  5. The Plan/Attack
  6. Find the Traitors/Ambush
  7. Audacious Casanova/Bianca and Zanetta’s Plan
  8. Count de Brissac Plots/Casanova’s Kiss
  9. Escape
  10. Lover’s Meeting/Success/Casanova’s New Servant
  11. Lovesick Fools
  12. Kisses Before Dinner
  13. Count de Brissac Makes His Move
  14. A Great Swordsman, A Great Lover
  15. Lorenzo an de Brissac Duel/Lorenzo Dies/Casanova Arrested
  16. Zanetta Reveals the Truth
  17. Casanova’s Last Supper/Unhappy Bride
  18. Jail Visitor
  19. Casanova Escapes/Duel to the Death/The End

Written by Joe Marchese

August 1, 2011 at 09:23

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