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Mikl?s R?zsa does The Red House.


jarhfive
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Several months ago, I was given a truly miserable DVD of "The Red House" (1947). I was so dismayed by the poor video I hardly noticed the soundtrack. Well, last Saturday, my local PBS station broadcast the movie. The PBS version was only a little better (picture-wise) than my DVD, but this time I noticed the score by Mikl?s R?zsa. Has there ever been a more evocative score for the movies? And loud, boy was the musical soundtrack loud...

 

I wonder, do you think the producers of "The Red House" thought so highly of Mikl?s R?zsa's score they made a decision to dramatically highlight the music?

 

"The Red House" is a very odd movie. Odd, in the same sense that "Night Of The Hunter" is odd. Both movies very different from the standard Hollywood fare. Regarding "The Red House", I can't think of any movie made during the classic (or, modern...for that matter) era that includes the combination of pastoral and mystery-supernatural scenes. Like the plot, the Mikl?s R?zsa music is a highly contrasting mix of light and dark moods (with a little wooo....wooo...wooo thrown in).

 

I thought Bernard Herrmann's score for "The Ghost And Mrs. Muir" (1947) was the perfect companion to the on screen happenings. I think I found another "perfect companion" with Mikl?s R?zsa's score to "The Red House".

 

Rusty

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The problem is that THE RED HOUSE passed into the public domain many years ago; consequently, whoever owns the original elements to the film (asssuming that they still survive, or are in reasonably good shape, something by no means certain) has no financial incentive to put out a quality transfer of the movie (and the elements' owners and rights' owners may be two completely separate entities, since the film was an independent production).

 

The film's independent origins are also significant in that the film's production offered employment to Edward G. Robinson at a time when he began to feel the effects of "gray-listing" for his politics, which would not end until Cecil B. DeMille hired him to appear in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

 

R?zsa's music is, indeed, some of his most phantasmagorical, perfectly appropriate to the dark, impassioned psychological fantasy tale he was given to score. I do doubt that the producers' intent was to put the score front and center, which would have come at the expense of the film's images and, most particularly, dialogue. Most likely, they did appreciate the quality of the score with which R?zsa presented them, and were not about to short-change it, unlike so many other producers who never quite grasped music's proper function in film (a problem never so apparent as the present).

 

If you want to hear and appreciate (some of) the music by itself, it's available on the following CDs:

 

"Film Scores of Mikl?s R?zsa" (Angel CDM 7243 5 65993 2 1), tracks 12-15 (mono sound, total time 11:57), conducted by the composer.

 

"Spellbound: The Classic Film Scores of Mikl?s R?zsa" (BMG Classics 0911-2-RG), tracks 1-5 (stereo, total time 12:33), conducted by Charles Gerhardt.

 

As a footnote, R?zsa probably scored more films with colors in their titles than any other composer:

 

THE RED HOUSE

THE RED DANUBE

THE GREEN COCKATOO

GREEN FIRE

THE GREEN BERETS

THE SPY IN BLACK

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CineSage,

 

Regarding the possibility of a future restored version of "The Red House". The second Edward G. Robinson movie on my E.G. Robinson two-fer was "Scarlet Street". My DVD of "Scarlet Street" was harder to watch than "The Red House". Even worse source material was used for my DVD of "Scarlet Street", than the DVD of "The Red House". I understand "Scarlet Street" was a public domain title. However, I notice Amazon has a KINO DVD of "Scarlet Street". The description of the KINO DVD says something like, "re-mastered version". One reviewer notes the KINO DVD of "Scarlet Street" is from a "never released", archive print. I don't know how the movie looks, but it has to be a step up in quality compared to my DVD. Anyway, I hope, if "Scarlet Street" is purchased by KINO for a DVD release...maybe, I will see a future "re-mastered" version of "The Red House". Hey, KINO? What about a "Red House" release?

 

MissGoddess...thank you for your message. Really, try to find a version "The Red House" for a look-see. It is a great movie...please don't be too disappointed when you discover it is hard to see what the heck is happening on your television screen.

 

Rusty

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Lynn,

 

KINO's silent movie DVDs are truly wonderful. Well, the part of their catalog I have watched (maybe, five KINO silents). If you have not already watched, check out the KINO DVD of Murnau's "Faust". My God, it is a beautiful looking movie.

 

I wonder, should I have said..."My Mephisto, it is a beautiful..."?

 

Rusty

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While I agree about Kino, bear in mind that they do the best they can with what they can get. They are not a copyright owner, and can only try to strike deals with owners, or, on public domain titles, with those who hold the best available prints and/or negatives.

 

For example, Kino's put out what's the best DVD copy of Selznick's 1937 A STAR IS BORN. While it's certainly a step or more up from the dreadful quickie DVDs found elsewhere, it only had access to a good, archival print of this public domain film. The original elements are held by Disney, which owns the Selznick library (the independent films, excluding GONE WITH THE WIND and A FAREWELL TO ARMS), with DVD rights most recently farmed out to MGM. If they ever decided to put out a DVD using these elements, it'd make the Kino disc look decidedly second-rate but, as I wrote earlier, the owner of the elements has no financial incentive to release the title, they'd be undersold by the purveyors of low-budget PD discs (and the public is usually not discriminating enough to realize that all DVDs of the film are not created equal).

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Cinesage---do you by chance know if Kino has a decent version of NOTHING SACRED? I bought the terrible Alpha Video dvd which is one of the poorest transfers I've seen---TCM's print is much better, though still not pristine. I love this movie and wish it would get restored.

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