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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Angel on my Shoulder
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Screen Archives SAE-CRS-019 (US)
19 Tracks 50:10 mins

Screen Archives continue to champion the work of Dimitri Tiomkin with their release of 1946's Angel On My Shoulder, a little seen film with a complicated history .The film stars Paul Muni, Anne Baxter and Claude Rains and presents a twist on the genre popular at the time, of angels descending to Earth to help someone through a crisis, or God returning someone to Earth for a second chance. This time it is Rains, playing the Devil, who returns gangster Eddie (Muni) from Hell for his own nefarious purposes.
Returning to Hollywood after spending the war years working for the Office of War Information's feature film unit, it seems Tiomkin relished the challenge of scoring such an interesting project. The "Main Titles" presents the first presentation of the composer's lush love theme; followed by the turbulent, choir enhanced "Descent into Hades," which continues as a doom-laden march, quoting the now cliched Dies Irae as it proceeds. This is followed by the largely dramatic "Gotta Crash This Joint," though it does display a touch of whimsy along the way. "Earthly Ascent" trudges onward until a brief metropolitan statement greets Eddie's return to the streets.
There's more whimsy in "Calling Dr. Higgins," along with the first suggestions of the love theme between Eddie and Barbara (Baxter). More typical Tiomkin action fare features in "Political Brawl," with comedy to the fore in the following "His Honor Passes Out." Diabolical strains introduce "Barbara Consults With Dr. Higgins," before a sweet version of the love theme enters, and develops throughout the remainder of the track. The lengthy "Bellamy's Sudden Thought/Making Plans" follows and is largely lightly and sunnily scored, with much romance, sentiment, and just a little whimsy. Things take a much darker turn in "Nick Drops the "S" Bomb," which eventually concludes in a dramatic variation on the love theme. Tolling bells and organ music suitably accompany "A Bargain For marriage," continuing into "The Angel On Your Shoulder," with a spiritually uplifting passage for strings, before taking an almost tragic turn, leading into "Interrupted Ceremony," with solo violin leading to an uplifting conclusion; soon to be brought back to Earth in the following "Smiley Williams," which leads darkly to its dramatic conclusion. "And I Never Even Touched Him" continues the dramatics, building relentlessly to a powerful crescendo. The love theme resurfaces in "Farewell to Judge Parker," but ultimately the romance is doomed, at least as far as Eddie is concerned, as he has to leave the body of the man he has taken over, and the music reflects this, leading into a brief reprise of the love theme for the "End Title."
As always, Screen Archives have produced a wonderful accompanying booklet, with plenty of stills and original artwork from the film, together with notes on the film and its score, and the invaluable cue-by-cue guide. Order your copy from


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