This CD presents Deanna Durbin & Dick Haymes in Universal International's production of Sigmund Romberg & Dorothy Field "Up In Central Park" co-starring Vincent Price. It also features performances by Jeanette MacDonald; Robert Merrill & Broadway star Betty Bruce (1920-1974).
Back in 1947 post war America needed some glitz and glamour to kick start a sense of rebirth after war time conflict. Both Deanna Durbin and Dick Haymes had been stars who kept the audiences happy during darker days and with hindsight it now appears that Universal International may not have had the confidence in their films and this resulted in no colour and cuts to the scores. In 1945 and 1947, Deanna Durbin was the top-salaried woman in the United States. Her fan club ranked as the worlds largest during her active years.
In the case of Dick Haymes we know that both of his Universal musicals were the subject of musical score/number cuts that in effect halved the value of his contribution. He was still a top ranked attraction with several million selling records to his credit and had a top radio show.
As for Deanna Durbin who it is said made Universal a fortune she seemed to fair little better and also had musical numbers chopped from this film and in fact got so fed up with the whole business that after one more film said farewell to the Hollywood life style.
For Dick, there were only a couple more Hollywood films to go but musically there was still much more to come with his Capitol recordings of the middle to late 1950s regarded by many as masterpieces in the art of ballad singing and renewed popularity in the 1970s.
Sepia now present for the first time commercially in any format, the songs from the 1948 movie version of the Sigmund Romberg & Dorothy Fields stage musical "Up In Central Park" performed by the stars of the film Deanna Durbin and Dick Haymes, with the addition of the studio cast recording from 1945 (RCA) sung by Jeanette MacDonald (1903-1965) and Robert Merrill (1917-2004), likewise appearing on CD for the first time. The film soundtrack was never commercially issued at the time. For many years fans of Deanna and Dick have remained optimistic that one day the full soundtrack would be found and released. Now in 2012 Hisato Masuyama has made available these soundtrack recordings and provided a highly informative liner note that is illustrated with some stunning images. Thanks must also go to Richard Tay for making this CD release available on his label.
The bonus now is the inclusion of newly discovered recordings that were cut from the film score. I will highlight the inclusion here of "Close as Pages in a Book" the main theme which could be heard throughout the film and now restored to its prominent position as the main duet between the two leading players (track 6); "April Snow" a lovely song sung by Deanna; likewise "Rip Van Winkle" and then of perhaps the greatest interest for Dick Haymes collectors his performance of "The Big Back Yard" plus 2 what appear to be out takes (tracks 11 to 12) with track 12 sounding very much like Dick doing character voices from one of the Tom Adair "Auto-Lite Opera" productions from his radio show.
Sound wise I would give this collection 4 out of 5 because it is not hi-fi but the rarity value and new found completeness would warrant 5 out of 5 and so I do not feel you will be disappointed.
So there I was wittering away about Deanna Durbin, and what should appear as a new CD, but the soundtrack to "Up In Central Park", the film that caused Deanna Durbin, one of the most successful actresses and singers of the forties, to throw in her career at 29, to head off to a life of reclusiveness. Eat your heart out, Greta Garbo.
Originally envisaged as a Technicolor extravaganza, the film studio balked at the costs, shot it in black and white, chopped the script to shreds and dumped a pile of songs. The fools. Because even on the small screen, the songs from Sigmund Romberg and Dorothy Fields just leap out at you.
The Broadway musical was set in the Boss Tweed era of New York in the 1870s, with a New York Times reporter investigating a crooked political machine, especially the fraud connected with constructing Central Park. However, he falls in love with the daughter of one of the Boss' henchmen, who marries a politician, who is killed, before ending up in the arms of her true love, yes you guessed it, the reporter.
Deanna Durbin was the biggest US box office star in 1948 when she made this film, and her command of her craft is obvious from start to finish. Sepia have also managed to track down some of the recordings cut from the film, so this is as complete as it's going to get.
They've also included songs from a studio cast recording performed by Jeanette MacDonald and Robert Merill, which are also appearing on CD for the first time, as well as a version of 'Currier And Ives' from the Broadway show, performed by Betty Bruce. Add in a booklet full of photos and a well written precis of the films history, and this is nigh on essential.