Treat for Maurice Jarre fans! Two previously unreleased Paramount film soundtracks on one CD! Anchoring is 44-minute score from Mandingo, vivid adaptation of Kyle Onstott tale of Southern slavery, directed by Richard Fleischer, starring James Mason, Perry King, Ken Norton, Susan George. Dino Delaurentiis produces film after earlier attempts by others fail, then works with screenwriter Norman Wexler to ensure novel’s potent violence, sex, sadism arrive intact on screen. Maurice Jarre tackles challenging assignment, brings melodic gifts to fore, then adds colors of banjo, dissonant strings, primitive percussion, other disturbing ideas to create unsettling feel for lurid plantation life. Contrasting styles provide considerable depth. Score also features Muddy Waters vocal (“Born In This Time”), used in film at Jarre’s request, who draws upon melody/countermelody of song throughout his orchestral score. Presented from 2″ 16-track stereo session masters housed in Paramount vaults. Second score finds Jarre in still-melodic but now breezier, jazz-like mode for Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, directed by Arthur Hiller, featuring Walter Matthau, Maureen Stapleton, Lee Grant. Brief score melds both warm humor, light drama into one cohesive musical showcase of composer’s tuneful talent. Lukas Kendall helms album assembly, John Takis provides detailed liner notes, Joe Sikoryak provides colorful graphic design. Maurice Jarre conducts both scores.

The 1975 Paramount film Mandingo opens with a blues song, “Born in This Time,” sung by Muddy Waters. Waters’ participation came at composer Maurice Jarre’s request. Much of Mandingo’s underscore derives from “Born in This Time,” with Jarre changing up the rhythm and highlighting its intricate countermelodies. To this, he adds a second theme—a folksy ditty that ranges in tone from genteel romance to spirited bustle. These themes appear initially to be simple parody, but as the film progresses, sour notes and jangling dissonances intrude, to ever more disturbing effect. More subtly, Jarre thickens certain cues with restless harmonies and busy, almost frantic counterlines to create a sense of uncomfortable aural pressure.

The plot centers on Hammond Maxwell (Perry King), his bed-slave, Ellen (Brenda Sykes), and his wife, Blanche (Susan George). When Hammond acquires Mede (Ken Norton), a fighting slave of prized Mandingo descent, to use as breeding stock, it sets into motion an alarming series of events. Jealousy abounds, slaves rebel, and the plot builds to a bloody, taboo-shattering conclusion.

In striking contrast, the score to Mandingo is paired with an earlier Jarre effort from 1971 — the premiere release of his light and jazzy score for the Neil Simon-penned comedy Plaza Suite. Plaza Suite consists of three acts, each starring a different couple and set in Suite 719 of Manhattan’s historic Plaza Hotel. There is no interaction between the stories, although all touch on themes of marriage or fidelity. While the characters in each story were different, Walter Matthau played the male lead in all three, while the female leads were played by Lee Grant, Barbara Harris and Maureen Stapleton.

Brief as his musical contribution is, Jarre manages to infuse each segment with its own distinctive character. Story one begins with an air of stylish elegance and ends with a melancholy passage of disillusionment. Story two is bookended by a swinging, synth-infused number that dovetails humorously with Jesse’s self-important swagger and somewhat ridiculous mod toupée. In between, however, is a solo flute appropriate to the two lonely souls looking for solace in one another’s company. Finally, the wedding segment receives a mellow ballroom waltz, alongside tongue-in-cheek riffs on Richard Wagner’s famous “Bridal Chorus” from the opera Lohengrin.

Mandingo was newly remixed from the 16-track 2″ masters, which survived in excellent condition. For Plaza Suite, four cues were taken from a set of ½″ three-track masters, recorded in early 1971 at Goldwyn Studios. The remaining two cues have been carefully restored from a mono source.

Label: Intrada Special Collection Volume ISC 299
Date: 1975 / 1971
Time: 62:29
Tracks: 29



01. Born in This Time (Muddy Waters, vocal) (3:26)
02. The Dinner Table/Pearl’s Bath/Reading Lesson (5:28)
03. Meet Mr. Wallace (1:15)
04. Ellen’s Seduction (1:53)
05. First Meeting No. 1/First Meeting No. 2 (1:22)
06. Wedding Day (2:08)
07. Blanche Comes Home (2:33)
08. Display of Strength (2:23)
09. Blanche’s Problems (3:04)
10. Ellen Pleads (3:45)
11. After Cicero’s Hanging/Sickness (1:59)
12. The Fight (1:06)
13. The Earrings (0:48)
14. A Gift for Blanche (1:11)
15. To the Market (Muddy Waters, vocal) (1:27)
16. Prelude to the Love Scene (1:22)
17. Blanche and Mede (4:31)
18. Ellen Is Jealous (1:25)
19. Death Potion (1:18)
20. End Credits (Muddy Waters, vocal) (1:35)
     Total Score Time: 44:41

Bonus Tracks
21. Brothel Baby (2:20)
22. Pearl’s Bath (original version) (2:17)
23. Meet Mr. Wallace (original version) (0:56)
Total Bonus Time: 5:38

24. Main Title (Theme From Plaza Suite) (2:31)
25. Theme IV (Theme From Plaza Suite) (0:51)
26. Exit Sam—Enter Jesse (1:58)
27. Exit Jesse—Enter Hubley and Wedding March (2:25)
28. Baroque Room Waltz (1:19)
29. Finale & Bows (Theme From Plaza Suite) (2:43)
Total Score Time: 11:58