Los Angeles, 1937
(The Rejected Score To The 1974 Film, Chinatown)
Music By Phillip Lambro
Perseverance Records PRD060
17 Tracks/Disc Time: 44:36 Grade: C
Whoever doesn't know about the film Chinatown, which will celebrate its' 40th Anniversary come next year is missing out on a memorable, classic film of the mystery-thriller genre. The film is also known as the last and ever film that Academy Award Winning Director Roman Polanski directed in the U.S. The film had a myriad of production problems from disagreements with Polanski and screenwriter Robert Towne over the script, Polanski and cinematographer Stanley Cortez, who was replaced by John A. Alonzo, and stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway also had their run ins with the fiery director. The film despite all of its off set problems, would go on to garner eleven Oscar nominations including Best Picture and would win for its Towne's screenplay. The story revolves around a hard boiled private detective named JJ "Jake" Gittes (Nicholson) who specializes in matrimonial cases is hired by Evelyn Mulwray (Dunaway) when she suspects her husband Hollis, builder of the city's water supply system, of having an affair. Gittes does what he does best and photographs him with a young girl but in the ensuing scandal, it seems he was hired by an impersonator and not the real Mrs. Mulwray when he is found dead, Jake is plunged into a complex web of deceit involving murder, incest and municipal corruption all related to the city's water supply involving Noah Cross (John Huston), who maybe at the very center of it. The film is famous for its' famous line ""Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown!"" which was voted as part of one of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere Magazine.
After the film's rather turbulant production had wrapped and the film put together, Phillip Lambro was hired by Roman Polanski after hearing his album, "Structures For String Orchestra" (which is also included on this album) given to him by his agent. Lambro wasn't exactly the first option for a film such as this and considering the music that he did write, it wasn't all that bad. In parts, Lambro's music really did suit the film, but producer Robert Evans and many other people behind the scenes didn't see it that way. Feeling that parts of the score and in particular the final half of the film that actually did take place in Chinatown ("Welcome To Chinatown", "Evelyn Shot", "End Titles") were too ethnic in feel and sound that also didn't sit too well with many who saw the cut of the film with Lambro's score amongst the many other things they saw from that version of the film. So the score was ultimately thrown out to the disappointment of Lambro and immediately replaced by the late Jerry Goldsmith, who had only ten days to score the film and pulled off one his more memorable scores earning him a much deserved Oscar nomination in the process. His score isn't all that dissimilar to what Lambro wrote, but what Goldsmith's did have was a memorable theme and a great trumpet solo by Uan Rasey, that is now revered by the film's fans.
Lambro's score does have some pretty solid moments that really did fit the film beginning with the "Main Title", which is nice piece of romantic jazz and the score's main theme that isn't quite as memorable as Goldsmith's piece, but very effective nonetheless. "One Night With Evelyn" is the centerpiece of this score with its' lush romantic strings and piano essentially giving the love scene in the film a special passion. This theme would also make its' way in a more tender and tragic end in "Forget It, Jake" after being lead in by "Evelyn Shot", which is the track that underscores the shocking ending in the film. Lambro also scored the film with plenty of suspense which includes "Noah Cross", "The Boy On A Horse", "The Last Of Ida Sessions", and "Finding The Captive" with unusual arrary of percussive sounds and ambiance that fit the mood of those scenes. "Orchard Chase" is the only action piece of this score and the only scene that was not rescored when Goldsmith came on board which is a buzzing suspense action piece that really overwhelmed the scene in the film when it really didn't need it. "Trailer Music" is a suite of highlights from Lambro's rejected score that Paramount did use for the film's movie trailer which has led to this release sans the use of Chinatown as the album's name.
Also included as a bonus is Lambro's album "Structures for String Orchestra", which are quite interesting and avant grade which classcial music fans would mostly enjoy for the most part and a good bonus to hear his work outside the film music realm. Perseverance Records release is a special one for the label as they have been trying for years to get this score released without any success until now. Without question it is an interesting score and you can see why it works and why it doesn't. The lush material really does stand out most and that I want i like best about it, but the rest just atonal to really enjoy. It's understandable to see how the producers felt about the score and how it would work against the film. The album is another important momento to a classic film and discovery of a rejected score that has been legendary in Hollywood circles. Los Angeles, 1937 is a very good album for what it is and that is an album that stands out as its own outside of the film that it was written for. As a film score, it works for only for so much of the film. Partial recommendation for being an intriguing and unique score to a classic film.