Composed, arranged and conducted [& Piano] by HENRY MANCINI
Produced by Tom Mack
Taken from the book “Lament for the Molly Maguires” by Arthur H. Lewis published in 1964 and used as the basis for the film The Molly Maguires 6 years later, this is the story 0f the secret 19th century group of Irish immigrant coal miners in Pennsylvania who rebelled against the mine owners for their poor working conditions and low wages.
The cast included Sean Connery, Richard Harris and Samantha Eggar. It was a flop of a film due mainly to the choice of the two main stars. Connery couldn’t sustain a film such as this outside of his success as 007 and whilst it was targeted to make Harris a lead actor and he did give the better performance, Harris did seem to be in his co-stars shadow. It’s a shame as it has beautiful cinematography by James Wong Howe and a stillness created by one of the best directors of the day, Martin Ritt.
The score is by Henry Mancini, an unusual choice for what is a gritty and at times violent film. And what was more surprising was that Mancini wrote it with no real dramatic emphasis and yet it is a very good, melodic soundtrack, one of his best. Composer Charles Strouse was originally chosen to score the film but it didn’t seem to go down well with test audiences, enter Mr Mancinci. In 1992 Bruce Kimmel bought the score to CD [on the Kritzerland label] which also included Strouse’s score with notes by John Burlingame. This sadly is not available though it can be found if you seek it out, complete with a high price tag. Fingers crossed I can afford it one day!
The original soundtrack was released on the Bay Cities label [US BCD 3029] then as vinyl on the Paramount label [PAS 6000]. The details of the vinyl I have are:
As you can see from the above cover the squeezed up photo under the coal dust covered fist with a massive white border is not one of the best LP soundtrack cover ever and the album designers even get a credit: SEE/HEAR! by Paula Bard. Sadly the LP’s back cover [below] is somewhat scant of any notes on the film or music choosing to feature back & white images of it’s 3 main stars and the track listing only. Still, the album plays beautifully.
It opens with the The Theme From Molly Maguires [Pennsylvainia 1876] complete with soothing country flute and squeeze box. Once you have heard it it stays with you because of it’s simplistic construction. It’s tender and tells of community and a way of life which works, quite at odds with the storyline but then Mancini didn’t want to go down the route of what would be expected.
The Mollies Strike uses the theme again but with an edge but still retaining an undertone of people working together perhaps meaning the townsfolk and the Mollies themselves. Fiddle and Fife is the first traditional track and I defy anyone not to tap a merry foot whist it plays.
Work Montage is a strong, flowing cue again with an ethnic sprightlyness with brass which heralds the importance of everyone getting on with their task. James and Mary [The Hills of Yesterday] highlights the burgeoning relationship between detective Jame Mcparlan [Richard Harris posing as a would be Mollie] and Miss Mary Raines the daughter of a retired miner in whose house he is living. Room and Board is a beautiful re-vist of the Main Theme. Pure Macinci with goose bump arrangement and a super strength melody, makes me go gooey each time I listen to it.
The Hills of Yesterday is an emotion packed track full of longing and a wanting to stop the strife and hardship of the current day. Here for the first time you can here the Mancini strings – mellow and heartbreaking. A short but poignant cue.
Back to tradition with the piercing and joyous flute led Pennywhistle Jig [hate to repeat myself but another foot tapper]. Sandwiches and Tea yet another sweeping version of the Main Theme. Trip To Town is the comic track, twee and delightful. The Mollies Strike Again is full of determination with it’s thunderous violins. A Brew With The Boys is a great violin and music box jig. A Suit For Grandpa has sombre cellos and is the most film score sounding track full of gravitas and confusion – an excellent track. Appropriately it ends with The End [Theme From The Molly Maguires] – ending where we began with 43 seconds of the haunting theme.
Apparently Mancini was pleased with this soundtrack and genuinely pleased it was released. I am delighted I have this in my vinyl soundtrack collection and will return to it time and time again.
1. Theme From Molly Maguires (04:18)
2. The Mollys Strike (02:45)
3. Main Title (01:44)
4. Fiddle and Fife (01:53)
5. Work Montage (02:13)
6. Jamie and Mary(The Hills Of Yesterday) (02:42)
7. Room and Board(Theme From Molly Maguires) (01:54)
8. The Hills Of Yesterday (01:40)
9. Pennywhistle Jig (01:00)
10. Sadwiches and Tea(Theme From Molly Maguires) (02:08)
11. Trip To Town (01:45)
12. The Mollys Strike Again (02:09)
13. A Brew With The Boys (01:38)
14. A Suit For Grandpa (02:09)
15. The End(Theme From Molly Maguires) (00:43)