The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Un homme et une Femme: Classic Francis Lai Score Reissued, Plus Billy May, Maurice Chevalier and More

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Johnny Mathis, Robert Goulet and Engelbert Humperdinck sang it.  Ella Fitzgerald sang it.  Claudine Longet even sang it in its original French!  The song was “A Man and a Woman,” or “Un Homme et une Femme,” from the 1966 film of the same name.  The Francis Lai composition was a favorite of pop singers and jazz musicians alike, and was quite ubiquitous; as Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel asks, “Is there a person anywhere in the world who was around in the 1960s and 1970s who could not instantly recognize the theme from A Man and a Woman? Doubtful, unless you were living under a rock in a cave in Siberia, and even then you’d probably have heard it.”  Well, Kimmel has good reason to hope that you’ve savored the melody of “A Man and a Woman” as much as we have here at Second Disc HQ.  As the first of its latest pair of soundtrack releases now available for pre-order, the label’s new edition of A Man and a Woman is the first-ever “complete” and official version of the soundtrack on CD.  Three previous issues of the original French soundtrack have been released in mono, none from the original masters.  Kritzerland’s edition not only rights this, presenting the French album in stereo from the first generation album master, but also includes the English language version of the soundtrack, as well.

But that’s not all.  The second of Kritzerland’s new releases brings together two very different comedies,  one by a rather well-known composer and another by a composer who deserves to be rather well-known!  Billy May’s biggest legacy may be that of his work as one of Frank Sinatra’s most renowned arrangers; it was May who wrote the arrangement for “Come Fly with Me,” among so many other classic songs.  But May also had a fantastic career in film scoring and television, and one such example is his score to 1957’s The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown.  The Jane Russell-starring comedy offered May his first opportunity to write a film score, and his deliciously sly sense of musical humor is very much in evidence.  A Breath of Scandal came three years later, a somewhat more classy comedy starring Angela Lansbury, Sophia Loren, Maurice Chevalier and John Gavin in an adaptation of a play by Ferenc Molnar (whose Liliom provided the basis for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel).  Alessandro Cicognini was one of Italy’s most respected film composers, and he provided scores for directors ranging from Vittorio De Sica to David Lean.  Cicognini’s soundtrack includes waltzes, romantic ballads and even songs performed by Maurice Chevalier; who could ask for more?  Both soundtracks are freshly remastered from original Imperial Records album masters, with Nightgown in mono and Scandal in stereo.

Both A Man and a Woman and The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown are limited editions of 1,000 copies, and can be pre-ordered now from Kritzerland.  Hit the jump for much more, including the full press releases, pre-order links and track listings!

Is there a person anywhere in the world who was around in the 1960s and 1970s who could not instantly recognize the theme from A Man and a Woman? Doubtful, unless you were living under a rock in a cave in Siberia, and even then you’d probably have heard it. In fact, it became one of the most beloved movie themes ever written almost instantly. It was the right theme  from the right film at the right time. Upon its release in 1966, A Man and a Woman became a sensation everywhere it played. It became the film to see for anyone who considered that they had a romantic bone in his or her body. The soundtrack recording was as popular as the film, so popular, in fact, that a second soundtrack album was released with the lyrics in English (sung by the same singers as the original French). The film was fresh, unique, and beguiling, and so was its score by Francis Lai. It was the perfect marriage of image and music.

A Man and a Woman was only Lai’s third film score, but it put him on the map and he has not stopped working since, and that includes scoring close to thirty films for director Lelouch. Just a few short years later, in 1970, Lai would win the Oscar for Best Score for Love Story. His music for A Man and a Woman speaks for itself – the melodies are stunningly beautiful. Part and parcel of the score are the wonderful vocals of Pierre Barouh and Nicole Croisille, along with Barouh’s lyrics. The score and songs have been loved by lovers all over the world and with good reason – this is simply some of the most romantic and heartfelt music ever.

A Man and a Woman was originally issued on a United Artists LP. With its extreme popularity, United Artists then issued the English language version. There have been three previous CD issues of the French version – two imports from Europe and a stateside release by DRG. However, all three were issued from sources many generations away from the original album masters, and, shockingly, all three were in mono. We are pleased to finally present the first authentic presentation of A Man and a Woman on CD – in stereo from the original album masters housed in the MGM vaults, in both French and English versions. It’s such a pleasure to hear the score as it was meant to be heard.

The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown and Jane Russell: a potent combination, especially when Miss Russell dons the title outfit. Released in 1957, The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown was a kidnapping comedy. A movie star, whose film The Kidnapped Bride is about to open, is kidnapped and hilarity and love ensue. The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown is a perfectly enjoyable bit of fizzy-fuzzy fluff, thanks to Miss Russell and her co-stars, Ralph Meeker, Keenan Wynn, Fred Clark, Una Merkel, Adolphe Menjou, Benay Venuta, and Milton Frome. While it may not be high art, it’s simply the kind of film they don’t make anymore – a low-budget comedy with nothing on its mind other than entertaining people for a brisk eighty-seven minutes and allowing its sexier than sexy star to wear a fuzzy pink nightgown, albeit in a black-and-white film!

One of the most entertaining things about the film is the score by Billy May. Billy May began as a trumpet player in the Charlie Barnett big band, and by the 1950s he would become one of the greatest arrangers of all time, providing amazing and unique work for such singers as Frank Sinatra (several of his most classic albums), Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Jeri Southern, Keely Smith, Vic Damone, Bobby Darin, Nancy Wilson, Matt Monro, and many, many others, as well as a series of wonderful solo albums on Capitol with his own band. The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown is classic Billy – bluesy, swingin’, lush, and gorgeously melodic. It was his debut film score, and he’d go on to write the music for such films and television programs as Naked City, Sargeants Three, Johnny Cool, The Green Hornet, Tony Rome, Batman, The Mod Squad, CHIPS, Emergency, and others.

The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown was originally released on Imperial Records in glorious monophonic sound. This first-ever CD release was mastered from the first-generation album masters housed at Capitol, which was Billy’s home for many years.

Three years later, a very different kind of comedy was released – A Breath of Scandal. Adapted from Ferenc Molnar’s play, Olympia, the film starred Sophia Loren, Maurice Chevalier, Angela Lansbury, and John Gavin. It’s a frothy bubble of a film, filled with seductions and complications, a little singing, a castle to romp about in, a little more singing, all photographed on beautiful sets and outdoor locations in spectacular Technicolor.

What really makes the film a glass of champagne is the delightful and charming score of Alessandro Cicognini. Alessandro Cicognini began scoring films in the mid-1930s, and by the 1950s he was one of Italy’s most prolific film composers, scoring many classic Italian films, such as Miracle in Milan, Umberto D, Shoeshine, Bicycle Thieves (all for Vittorio de Sica), The Little World of Don Camillo, Ulysses, Indiscretion of an American Wife, David Lean’s Summertime, The Black Orchid, It Started in Naples and others. The score for A Breath of Scandal is filled with delectable melodies and plenty of swirling waltzes and lush romantic tunes, and Mr. Chevalier’s warbling is as enchanting as ever.

A Breath of Scandal was also originally issued on Imperial Records in stereophonic sound. This first-ever CD release was mastered from the original album masters housed at Capitol.

It’s always fun to unearth two not very well known scores from two very different comedies. I hope you’ll agree that they make a most delightful double bill.

The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown/A Breath of Scandal is limited to 1000 copies only. The price is $19.98, plus shipping.

CD will ship the second week of April – however, never fear, preorders placed directly through Kritzerland usually ship one to five weeks earlier (we’ve been averaging four weeks early).  Pre-order links are just below!

Francis Lai, A Man and a Woman: Original Soundtrack Recording (Kritzerland KR20021-5, 2012)

  1. Un Homme et une Femme
  2. Samba Saravah
  3. Aujourd’hui C’est Toi
  4. Un Homme et une Femme
  5. Plus Fort Que Nous
  6. Aujourd’hui C’est Toi
  7. A L’Ombre de Nous
  8. Plus For Que Nous
  9. A 200 a L’Heure
  10. A Man and a Woman
  11. My Heart Loves the Samba
  12. All At Once It’s Love
  13. A Man and a Woman
  14. Love is Far Stronger Than We
  15. All At Once It’s Love
  16. The Shadows of Our Love
  17. Love is Far Stronger Than We
  18. A Man and a Woman
  19. A Man and a Woman (Alternate Take)

Tracks 1-9 from A Man and a Woman (Un Homme et une Femme), United Artists LP UAS-5147, 1966
Tracks 10-18 from A Man and a Woman: English Language Version, United Artists LP UAS-5184, 1968
Track 19 previously unreleased bonus track

Alessandro Cicognini and Billy May, A Breath of Scandal/The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (Kritzerland KR20021-4, 2012)

  1. Introduction
  2. Coming Next Week
  3. Kidnapping Scene
  4. Travelogue
  5. Beach House
  6. Malibu Beach Mambo
  7. Dandy
  8. Fuzzy Pink Nightgown
  9. Patio
  10. Laurel’s Theme
  11. No Hard Feelings
  12. End Title
  13. A Prelude/Marcia alla Tedesca/Olympia/Can-Can
  14. A Breath of Scandal (Maurice Chevalier – vocal)
  15. Courtly Humor/Olympia
  16. A Breath of Scandal (Maurice Chevalier – vocal)
  17. Austrian March No. 1/A Smile in Vienna
  18. Hapsburg Waltz/Austrian March No. 2/Lovely Olympia/Tender Thoughts
  19. A Breath of Scandal (Maurice Chevalier – vocal)
  20. Lovesick/Prince Phillip Waltz
  21. A Breath of Scandal (Maurice Chevalier – vocal)
  22. Austrian Dreams Waltz/Finale

Tracks 1-12 from The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown: Original Soundtrack Recording, Imperial LP 9042, 1957
Tracks 13-22 from A Breath of Scandal: Original Soundtrack Recording, Imperial LP 9132, 1959

Written by Joe Marchese

March 1, 2012 at 08:48

One Response

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  1. Until now, I had never realized that the version that I have, which I bought about 21 years ago in Tower Records, was mono. But listening to a sample of the title track on Kritzerland’s website, I immediately noticed the wide separation typical of that era and thus experienced an epiphany about what I’d been missing all of this time. Thanks for telling us about it.

    Video Vision

    March 2, 2012 at 13:39

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