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Extra info for Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music
Major Mancini scenes in the score include a sailboat trip between Martin and the boy, where music suggests a sailor’s delight as we first watch their skiff on the water: bright, zestful gestures in the orchestration as the two play at being offshore fishermen, then suddenly darker sounds at the low end of the orchestra when this unbalanced boy begins to act suspiciously, reaches for Martin’s rifle and, for a moment, seems to threaten him with it so that we begin to wonder if he was involved somehow in the beach house murder.
But then you’d need a transitional moment between, say, some tense music and music that was expressive of some relief. So you would compose your own segue to bridge the gap and maybe stick in, under some line of dialogue, a reference to this particular film’s main theme, then Scotch tape another transition of your own, leading back to a library ending. So they were real patchwork scores—making new cues out of pieces of past cues. Only a few Universal films in those days had specifically composed scores, but those were only assigned to the veterans like Skinner and Salter.
In one case, a grim melodrama about alcoholism known by the oxymoronic title of Voice in the Mirror, the opening song was written by Bobby Troup with a lyric and sultry vocal by the film’s costar Julie London. Mancini’s score often references the song (which is really just a blurry sort of “Bali Ha’i” phrase repeated three or four times) during scenes where London, as the worried wife, and Richard Egan, as the booze-tormented Jim Burton, try to relate to each other. Burton was once a top graphic artist; now he is just a desperate, coin-stealing, excuse-making, bottle-chasing alcoholic.