Dimitri Tiomkin’s score for Angel on My Shoulder has been issued for the first time on compact disc. This is the third in a series of Tiomkin scores carefully restored by Chelsea Rialto Studios and released by Screen Archives Entertainment, in association with Volta Music. As with Screen Archives’ previous releases for D.O.A. and High Noon, the source material for the Angel soundtrack was obtained from acetate disc recordings in the Dimitri Tiomkin Collection at the Cinema-Television Library at the University of Southern California, thanks to the efforts of Olivia Tiomkin Douglas, Patrick Russ, and Ned Comstock. Ray Faiola and Craig Spaulding produced the CD. Faiola, an avid 16mm film collector and film music enthusiast, wrote the liner notes for the lavish 32-page color booklet, which also includes screen captures that correspond to the music cues.
The film Angel on My Shoulder was released by United Artists in 1946. Archie Mayo directed this fantasy comedy-drama starring Paul Muni, Anne Baxter, and Claude Rains. The choral arrangements by Jester Hairston lend a unique feel to the soundtrack, bolstered by what Faiola aptly describes as a “wailing chorus.” The first minute of track 2 is particularly fascinating. Listen closely as the choir—expertly blended with the orchestra—wafts in and out in a soundscape that would make Lutoslawski proud. Compare this with the Devil music in track 4; here the choir is in-your-face and the orchestra subservient.
Our previous feature article, “Wedding Music by Dimitri Tiomkin,” did not discuss the significant wedding scenes in Angel on My Shoulder. [Note: To find a list of articles and cue sheets that include the term wedding, click “Archive Search” on the navigation bar to the left, then type “wedding” in the search box.] In the film, beginning with track 13’s “A Bargain for Marriage” (cue titles are taken from the CD, not from the cue sheet) and continuing through track 15’s “Interrupted Ceremony,” there are about four minutes of underscore predominated by organ and strings. The film’s plot leading to this point is a bit convoluted to recap here; suffice it to say that it involves the interruption of the onscreen wedding between Muni’s and Baxter’s characters. Tiomkin’s music for “Interrupted Ceremony” opens with a Bach-like chorale to evoke the setting. Soon a lengthy violin obbligato is introduced to underscore the scene, which climaxes with the wedding being dramatically called off.
To listen to sample tracks and place an order, go to Screen Archives Entertainment’s Web site (www.screenarchives.com). The disc (SAECRS019) is priced at US$19.95. The nineteen music tracks time out at fifty minutes; however, the bounty of full-blown dramatic orchestral cues on this disc are well worth the money.