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THE HURRICANE – Alfred Newman


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Actor James Hall’s uncle James Norman Hall co-wrote the 1936 novel The Hurricane, which he felt would provide an exiting romantic adventure set in the South Seas. He sold director John Ford on the idea, and financial backing for production was provided by Samuel Goldwyn Productions. A massive $2.0 million budget was provided with $450,000 allocated to special effects specialist James Basevi, who spent $150,000 building a native village and lagoon, and $250,000 destroying it! Screenwriters Dudley Nichols and Oliver H. P. Garrett were hired to adapt Hall’s novel, and Ford assembled a stellar cast, which included Dorothy Lamour as Marama, John Hall as Terangi, Mary Astor as Madame Germaine De Laage, Raymond Massey as Governor Eugene De Laage, C. Aubrey Smith as Father Paul, John Carradine as the Warden, Thomas Mitchell as Dr. Kersaint, and Jerome Cowan as Captain Nagle.

The film is set in the South Seas and offers a flashback tale by Dr. Kersaint of his stay on the idyllic island of Manukura. We see that the native chieftain Terangi is married to the beautiful Marama and sets sail one day on the schooner Katopua as first mate under the command of Captain Nagle. In a Tahiti bar he gets into a fight with a racist Frenchmen, whose jaw he breaks. Terangi is sentenced to 60 days, but will not suffer imprisonment and so tries to repeatedly escape, which ends up lengthening his imprisonment to sixteen years. He eventually does escape, reunites with Marama, but then perceives dire warning signs from fleeing birds of an approaching hurricane. The island is wiped clean by the storm killing everyone but Dr. Kersaint and his pregnant patient who survive in a canoe, and Terangi’s family and Mrs. De Laage who were strapped to a massive tree. Although Terangi is later discovered by Governor De Laage, he defers arresting him at his wife’s behest, and allows him and his family to escape to a remote island to live in peace. Commercially the film broke even for MGM, which was a big disappointment for Samuel Goldwyn. The film was praised for its ground-breaking special effects, story-telling and performances, earning three Academy Award Nominations for; Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Recording and Best Film Score.

Director John Ford had enjoyed collaborating with Alfred Newman on three earlier films and brought him on board for this latest project without a second thought. This partnership stands as one of Hollywood’s best Director-Composer relationships, with a distinguished record of collaborating on fifteen films over thirty-one years. Upon viewing the film Newman understood that he had a three-fold challenge; first he had to speak to the romances of Terangi and Marama, and Eugene and Germaine De Laage, second, he had to create juxtaposed cultural sensibilities for the Polynesian South Sea islanders and French colonial overlords, and thirdly, he had to support the conflict between Terangi and the French officials. He interpolated a number of pieces to support setting and cultural sensibilities including; The song “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (1928) by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, and “The Wedding March” from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, (1843) Opus 61 by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

To support his soundscape, Newman composed five primary themes. The Moon of Manukura serves as the film’s Main Theme. This nautical theme is string borne by sumptuous strings languidi draped with flowing harp glissandi, which flow with the gentility of the ocean breezes that bless these idyllic islands. Its secondary application when romanticized, is a Love Theme for Terangi and Marama. Governor De Laage’s Theme supports this uncompromising, strict, letter of the law governance. Newman supports his stiff, rigid and austere persona with a melodic construct of woe, completely devoid of humanity, empathy or warmth, carried by a bleak cello line buttressed with forlorn woodwinds. The De Laage Love Theme offers classic Golden Age sensibilities, borne by sumptuous yearning strings romantico as we see two people very much in love. The theme (Germaine’s presence and effect on him) humanizes Eugene as we see his austere veneer melt away. Father Paul’s Theme supports his ministry and offers a solemn construct borne by reverential horns and strings religioso. The song “Aloha Oe” (1877) by Queen Liliuokalani and Edmund King Jr. was written as a song of farewell. Newman utilizes its warm and friendly melody to support the seafaring culture of the island. Lastly, the French Theme represents French colonial rule over the natives. As an emblem of French power, it resounds as a four-note fanfare declaration by horns imperioso. Yet is also offers a darker and more oppressive iteration, which speaks to the cruelty of Terangi’s imprisonment as well as the hierarchal racial subordination of the indigenous people.

The destructive, implacable power and devastation of the hurricane dominates the film’s final chapters. For the most part, Newman chose to only score the aftermath of the storm given the powerful noise generated by the wind machines. The level of technology in the 1930s just did not provide a means for a composer to empower his score to hold its ground against deafening special effects noise. Lastly, there is regretfully no commercial release of the soundtrack, as such I will review the score directly while viewing the film using scene descriptors and film-time indices.

Following the display of MGM’s roaring lion logo, we flow into “Main Title”, which supports the roll of the opening credits that display against nautical South Sea map grids. We open atop spritely strings felice, which yield to ferocious wind sounds as the film’s title “The Hurricane” displays. At 0:44 angelic women’s voices and flowing harp glissandi rise and undulate like ocean waves. Joining at 0:56 are the repeating bold, four-note declarations by horns dramatico of the French Fanfare, which resound powerfully. At 1:09 a dramatic string descent usher in a gentle prelude, from which arises at 1:36 the mellifluous Main Theme. At 1:58 the languorous melody takes us into the film proper in “The Tale of Manukura” as a camera shot off a ship’s stern reveals her wake in a cloud swept sky. The Main Theme is sustained as Dr. Kersaint strolls on the deck and looks off at a desert island, which the ship is passing. The music fades on the breeze as a woman passenger joins, sharing her excitement that they are in the South Seas. At 3:38 a wistful Aloha Oe Song Theme joins as she asks about the desert island and the doctor relates that it was once cherished as the island Manukura, the most beautiful in the archipelago. With sentimentality he blows the island a kiss, but the music darkens when he states the island met its doom during a hurricane. We close on dire horns as we have a parting glance at the barren island.

At 4:20 we segue in a flashback into “Manukura” as the camera pans across the idyllic island supported by interplay of the languorous Main Theme and Aloha Ole Song Theme. At 5:00 trumpets imperioso resound as the camera reveals the French flag. We shift to Governor De Laage’s office where he is sentencing a man arrested for theft. Horns grave portend his incarceration. De Laage’s Theme joins, offering a melodic construct of woe, completely devoid of humanity, empathy or warmth carried by a bleak cello line buttressed with forlorn woodwinds. At 6:10 the doctor interjects and asks for leniency supported by a soft, flute borne Main Theme only to be rebuffed by De Laage. The Main Theme entwines with the austere French fanfare as the doctor continues to intercede. Debate ends with the church bell draped in strings religioso announces the arrival of the Katopua in the harbor, which is bringing home De Laage’s wife. He sentences the man to 30 days of hard labor and informs the doctor as they depart that he will never sacrifice his sense of honor and duty.

At 6:31 we segue into “Arrival of the Katopua”,a wonderful score highlight, as we see the ship navigating the reefs that bracket the lagoon. The languorous Main Theme carries her in atop the waves with grace as all the villagers race out to greet them in traditional show of Polynesian hospitality. Slowly, a crescendo di grandezza swells with mounting anticipation. At 8:15 orchestral energy propels boys diving in to swim to the ship. We then at 8:20 flow into the De Laage Love Theme on sumptuous strings romantico as he looks at his smiling Germaine through his binoculars. At 8:36 the music becomes more serious as Terangi directs the ships path through the reefs from his perch high atop the mast. At 9:24 a romantic rendering of the Main Theme enters as Terangi sees his girl on the shore and dives into the lagoon at 9:43 carried by a descent motif to swim to her. She dives in and swims to meet him carried by bubbling woodwinds animato and energetic strings felice. They hug, race ashore, lovingly embrace and kiss supported by the Main Theme expressed by strings romantico. They express the love and longing and he happily speaks of their marriage tonight. At 10:45 we segue into the “Aloha Oe” Song Theme on warm welcoming strings as the Katopua arrives at the dock. Father Paul and the natives joyfully rush aboard as the women place leis on the passengers. At 11:11 the De Laage Love Theme enters on strings romantico as Germaine is drowned in leis as Eugene walks aboard. The music softens and becomes tender as he kisses her hand, and embraces and kisses her as they profess their shared love. At 11:51 we segue into Father Paul’s Theme on reverential horns solenne and strings religioso as he offers a benediction for the safe return of our loved ones.

At 14:40 we segue into “Marriage” atop church bell chimes and organ religioso. Newman interpolates an organ rendered Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s “The Wedding March” from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, (1843) Opus 61 as the happy couple exits the church. The music exits as both bride and groom are swarmed, buried in leis of good fortune and stripped of their western clothes for Polynesian attire. At 16:22 they approach a native altar where Chief Mehavi marries them in a Polynesian ritual supported by nativist drums, coconut shell percussion, and a swaying women’s choir singing in their language. Next comes to the traditional feast of crab and roasted pig supported by nativist drums. At 18:13 we segue into “Honeymoon”, a romantic score highlight, atop spritely woodwinds of flight emoting the Main Theme as our happy couple runs away to enjoy the night together. At 19:30 a solo violin romantico supports Terangi lifting her into a canoe, which he paddles to a neighboring island carried by a Polynesian rendering of the Main Theme. After they land, Marama makes it very clear that she wants to consummate their marriage, drawing him into a kissing embrace by a romantic rendering of the Main Theme. We fade to black as they lay down together, carried by the soothing strains of the Main Theme.

At 20:12 we segue into “The Next Day” a score highlight where Newman masterful supports the ever shifting emotional dynamics. A solo clarinet gentile, shimmering strings and twinkling ethereal textures support Marama as she pulls open the blinds at dawn while Terangi sleeps. Shifting string harmonics and twinkling ethereal textures create a misterioso as he wakes with the romanticized Main Theme blossoming as they kiss. At 21:15 a solo violin delicato of concern joins with kindred strings of woe and portentous horns as Marama asks him not to sail. Forlorn horns sound as strings descends into darkness with trepidation as she relates, she dreamt that she saw all the birds fleeing Manukura, a revelation crowned at 22:51 by horns of doom. Eerie, intangible phantom auras descend as he asks if there were winds, and she answers, no a deathly stillness. We flow into the Main Theme on pleading strings as she beseeches him to stay and not sail to Tahiti. The theme brightens with optimism as he boasts that all will be fine, and when he wears the sailing hat he is treated like a white man. Yet the music sours as she continues to plead that he take her with him. He is not persuaded and they kiss as she submits to his decision.

At 23:23 we segue into “The Katopua Departs” atop festive nativist drums, which empower natives loading provision onto the ship. At 23:36 Terangi arrives carried happily by the “Aloha Oe Theme. A languorous, rendering of the theme carries their departure. We shift to a nautical rendering of the Main Theme as we see the schooner sailing on open seas. Terangi repels down a rope and at 24:30 a comedic rendering of the Main Theme joins as he slaps a sack on the deck and we hear Marama cry out “Ouch!” Energetic strings animato support her release, as she stands up and slaps his laughing face. The playful Main Theme loses its vitality and dissipates as they embrace and kiss. A tender rendering of the theme supports the kiss, and their discovery by a displeased Captain Nagle. The captain agrees to keep her aboard but demotes Terangi to a crewman. Rather than suffer this, Marama dives overboard empowered by a blossoming Main Theme as they see her wave goodbye and swim back to the island. We close darkly on the French fanfare as Terangi shouts “Aloha”.

“Tahiti” reveals the Katopua docked at the bustling port of Tahiti. At 26:32 we shift to the “Club Hibiscus” night club where a piano supports a woman singing the song “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (1928) by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. Newman creates a festive ambiance as Terangi and his mates sit down and order drinks. A French man comes up, and yells “Get Up!” and all the men but Teranji do. The Man yells “Get up when a white man tells you!” and slaps Terangi. Terangi decks him with a punch which breaks the Frenchman’s jaw. “Terangi Arrested and Convicted” is unscored. The captain orders the men back to the boat, but the police arrive to arrest Terangi. The captain asserts his man was not at fault, and is told to testify before the judge. He grudgingly surrenders Terangi, and accompanies him to court. Terangi is convicted and Nagle’s appeal to the governor falls flat as the victim has connections with the French Ministry of Colonies and the case became political. Nagle asks for a pardon, which the Governor commits to, but at a later date. “Terangi Imprisoned” reveals Nagle explaining to Terangi that he will have to serve his time and to behave, taking from him a gift doll for Marama. At 31:21 dark declarations by the French Colonial Fanfare usher in a beleaguered statement of the Main Theme as Nagle departs and Terangi is taken to his cell and locked in. Portentous horns sound as the Warden promises Nagle to place him on the road gang to keep Terangi outdoors as much as possible since his tribe hates confinement. We close at 32:13 atop a plaintive rendering of the Main Theme full of longing as Terangi grasps his cell bars in disbelief.

At 32:24 we segue into “Road Work” where we see Terangi working with inmates to build a new road. A relentless drum beat of toil fortified with dire declarations of the French Colonial Fanfare supports the men. The Main Theme transforms into a heavy marcia tortuosa as we see Terangi hauling containers of heavy rocks up a hill on his back under the oppressive South Seas sun. At 33:38 the theme swells on a crescendo of pain as he watches the Katopua sailing back to Manukura. At 34:05 we descend in pain as Terangi is whipped as the guard taunts him. The music speaks to Terangi’s sadness with the grim French Fanfare and drums of doom forcing him back to work. At 34:34 the Main Theme rises with growing desperation as Terangi sees the Katopua sailing off the coast. At 34:49 we segue into “Escape” as he leaps over the barbed wire fence and somersaults down the hills side propelled by a Main Theme furioso. He dives off the cliff under rifle fire and swims out to catch the Katopura carried by a desperate rendering of the Main Theme. At 36:37 the theme descends in despair as he turns back, unable to reach the Katopura, which sails away too fast under full sails. He staggers up on the beach collapses and sobs. We close darkly at 37:05 as the French Fanfare resounds with drums of doom as he is whipped and captured. At 37:16 we segue into “Penalty Sentencing” where the Warden advises that a year has been added to his sentence for attempting to escape. Dire French Fanfare declarations supports the devastating sentence. After the Warden departs a solo violin affanato emotes the Main Theme full of despair.

At 37:55 we segue into “The Katopua Returns”, which Newman supports with open wood log percussion communication to the dock answered by nativist drum percussion. The Chief displays anger and throws his lei into the lagoon. Later Nagle explains what happened and his frustrations to the De Laages, Father Paul and the doctor. They all appeal to Eugene to use his power as Governor of Manukura to request Terangi be paroled to his jurisdiction, yet he refuses saying he will not undermine the law, much to the distress of the group. At 41:18 we segue into “Bad News” as Germaine delivers Terangi’s doll gift to Marama, who is expecting, and gives her the bad news of his imprisonment. Weeping strings usher in a Main Theme full of heartache as Marama refuses Germaine’s offer of hospitality saying she will wait the six months for his return. Yet she breaks down and cries on Germaine’s lap. At 42:15 we segue darkly into “New Sentencing” atop declarations of the French Colonial Fanfare as the warden adds two additional years to Terangi’s sentence for another failed escape attempt. As the dire horns resound, he declares that he will add two years for every additional escape attempt.

At 42:30 we segue into “Crucible of Pain” where we see a montage of images of Marama and Terangi’s life in Manukura while Terangi is chained to a revolving platform. Newman supports with his Pain Motif, which emotes in endless cycles of agony as repeating two-note phrases by strings sofferenti, answered by horn chords of despair. At 42:51 we segue into “Failed Escapes” atop strings of suspense and the grim horns of the French Fanfare, which support Terangi tunneling to freedom. A kinetic orchestral storm erupts at 43:08 to propel his flight as gunfire rings out. The French Fanfare motif transforms into an aggressive hunting iteration as he is once more captured, and two more years added to his sentence. A dire French Theme resounds with heavy, descending steps of doom as we see Terangi chained to a wheel after having been whipped. A montage of images of Marama and Manakura stream through his mind as he suffers. At 43:40 yet another escape attempt is supported by rapid strings of flight as Terrangi is again hunted down, captured and whipped. Strings affanato cry out as the Warden writes his new sentence of sixteen years. We close full of despair and hopelessness on the Main Theme as he is dropped down and locked in solitary confinement cell.

In “Governor De Laage is Resolute” we see fervent entreaties by the doctor, Chief Mehevi and Germaine for him to intervene and save Terangi’s life, yet De Laage is resolute in saying the law must be upheld without exception and it is Terangi’s fault for defying it. At 47:23 we segue into “Terangi is Warned” as the captain of the guard torments Terangi declaring that he is going to ensure he serves every day of his sixteen-year sentence. Newman drops a pall of despair and hopelessness and we see Terangi’s spirit crushed as he lies chained in a dark cell, save a single candle flame. At 48:26 we segue into “Free At Last”, the score’s outstanding action cue. Terangi feigns self-hanging to lure the guard into the room. The grim oppressive weight of the French Theme underscores his efforts. At 49:13 an orchestral shriek supports his hanging and scream that lures the guard into the cell as musical suspense heightens. At 49:29 a descent motif supports he being cut down. Dire music supports as he overpowers the guard and a crescendo of desperation empowers his successful harrowing escape out of the prison as Newman whips his orchestra into frenzy. A diminuendo at 50:40 supports a guard being found dead, as Terangi disappears into the darkness. A man hunt unfolds at the docks, which Terangi eludes under water. After they depart, he breaks glass to enter a fuel storage shack, which alerts the guards who reach the door as he is filling a container. At 53:43 they shoot at him and he dives out the window into the lagoon. Grim pursuit music swells as men swarm the docks as he treads water below. He swims to an outrigger canoe, cuts its rope and moves it stealthily away to escape supported by a tense Main Theme.

We return to Manukura where we hear wind and a weather vane pointing south. At 55:00 we segue into “The De Laages” who are playing chess supported by De Laages Theme carried by forlorn woodwinds of woe, juxtaposed by nativist drums. As he looks out the window his theme dissipates as we see the natives celebrating. He goes out with Germaine to investigate. The governor yells to Mehevi and the festivities stop as he explains that the people are celebrating as they are happy that Terangi had at last escaped. At 57:58 the drums return and the people resume celebrating as the doctor declares that Terangi has become a legend among the people. At 58:43 we segue into “Terangi Sails Home” as we see Terangi sailing home against cloud swept skies supported by the languorous Main Theme. The theme becomes weary as we see his food and water supplies depleted and his struggle under the oppressive sun. Day, passes into night, and then day again with the music darkening at 59:41 as he sees gulls flying aloft. He collapses from exhaustion, but is awakened by howling winds, which brings rain that fills his water bin. He drinks the water and his strength revives. At: 1:01:12 we segue into “Murder” as the Governor informs Captain Nagle that Terangi is now wanted for murder. Newman supports with a menacing rendering of De Laage’s Theme as he declares Terangi’s murder and anarchy will leave no legend behind and that he will live out his days and die in the Fortress of Cayenne.

At 1:01:55 we segue into “Terangi’s Torment” as we see him suffering, exhausted and out of food and water. Weary fragments of the Main Theme attempt to break out, but never coalesce. At 1:02:07 Newman creates a mystical effect with fluidic harp glissandi as Terangi sees a small shark approaching. At 1:02:26, desperate for food, he dives in with his knife and attacks it. Newman supports the fight with desperate cyclic string ostinato, which crescendos as they fight for life. The dire horns join and we crescendo as he kills the shark and pulls it aboard. The music dissipates as he devours the shark. At 1:03:24 the music becomes foreboding and Newman creates a surreal ambiance as the skies darken, and fierce winds return. He capsizes trying to secure the sail and at 1:03:54 we segue into “Rescue” atop a thankful rendering of the Main Theme as Father Paul and Mako discover and save Terangi. As he relates his story the Main Theme supports and is joined by the Love Theme when he explains why he came back – to see Marama and his daughter. The Main Theme blossoms as he begs Father to allow him to go home and see them. At 1:06:04 we segue into “Father’s Wisdom”, a score highlight which features and extended rendering of Father Paul’s Theme. Father Paul’s Theme sounds on warm horns solenne and strings religioso as he declares to Terangi that he cannot judge him stating; although you sinned, others have sinned more against you. As Terangi bows to give thanks, Father Paul says no thanks are needed and this matter is now between him and someone else. As the camera pans upwards to the cloud swept heavens, we conclude with a stirring statement of Father Pail’s Theme by refulgent angelic women’s choir.

At 1:06:52 we segue seamlessly into “Terangi Comes Home” as the women’s choir dissolves into the Main Theme as we see Father Paul’s sailboat off the coast. Terangi swims ashore supported by a hopeful iteration of the Main Theme. At 1:07:15 we return to the lagoon docks where Father Paul and Mako secure the boat, and head home supported by Father Paul’s Theme. At 1:07:45 in “Terangi Meets Tita” Newman weaves a tender tapestry of dawn as Marama’s daughter Tita runs to her and advises that she saw a strange man. A misterioso unfolds and slowly shifts to strings romantico as we see hope arise in her eyes, which elicits a desperate runs off to see. The Main Theme blossoms full of love at 1:08:21 as she touches Terangi and he awakes. They embrace and kiss until 1:09:08 when the music softens and becomes tender as Terangi sees a girl and Marama informs him she is his daughter Tita. He sweeps her lovingly into his arms embraces by the Main Theme overflowing with paternal love. We close with Marama expressing her fear that they will come and take him away, as Terangi consoles her to be thankful of this day together. At 1:10:04 we segue into “Mehevi’s Counsel” atop idyllic woodwinds as we see a man in a canoe approaching early morning. As he shouts an ominous French Theme sounds striking fear into their hearts. Newman sow tension as they run to the shore to greet Chief Mehevi to whom Terangi kneels in homage. Newman weaves a tapestry of danger and dread as Mehevi advises that while the tribe supports him, De Laage will hunt him down. As such he orders Terangi and Marama to go to the island Fenua Ino – an island forbidden by taboo where they can live in peace until they die. At 1:11:19 an ominous wind whips up supported by eerie strings of unease as Mehevi says he will move them tonight in his large canoe under cover of darkness.

At 1:11:48 we segue into “De Laage’s Suspicions” as we see the De Laages hosting dinner for the doctor and Captain Nagle supported by the De Laage Love Theme. Shutters are banging in the wind, and Eugene seems distracted. The doctor remarks about the uncommon winds buffeting the house and chit chats with Germaine. At 1:13:05 an aggrieved Governor’s Theme enters when Germaine asks Eugene if he is angry, and he answers defensively no, that instead everyone is angry with him. He begins to rage against Terangi whose spirit haunts this island. The music darkens when Eugene says that today during his daily walk, he felt something strange in the air, and that the natives kept offering phony smiles as though hiding a secret behind their backs. At 1:13:58 an eerie misterioso rises as the doctor relates that Terangi’s mother is dying and Marama’s sister is giving birth. Fear rises in their eyes as a violent wind swell blows out the candles and the banging of the shutters becomes deafening. At 1:15:19 we segue into “Marama And Tita Escape” with Newman weaving tension as we see Mehevi loading his canoe with provisions. A discontented Governor’s Theme full of lurking menace rises as we see Eguene get out of bed to close bedroom doors banging in the wind. The eerie Storm Motif rises as we see Eugene, who is suspicious, exit his house with a flash light. At the dock Mehevi, Marama and Mako are running back and forth to his canoe with supplies, while at home Eugene looks at the wind velocity meter reading 42 mph. Eugene goes to the dock and discovers Mako at the Chief’s boat. He demands to know why, but is met by stony silence. He orders the boy to come with him to see Father Paul and they depart. Mehevi sees this and tells Marama to watch the sail in this wind as she and Tita escape.

In “Mako’s Interrogation” Eugene wakes Father Paul and solicits his help. He states that Mako was loading the canoe with food to take to Terangi, which causes Mako to run to Father Paul’s arms crying “I did not tell!” De Laage interprets this as an acknowledgment that the village is helping Terangi, and that Captain Nagle smuggled him in. Then De Laage demands to know why Father did not join him for dinner tonight, raging that he was complicit. He rages that he will break Nagle for his crime, to which Father Paul replies that it was he that rescued Terangi. De Laage erupts and castigates the priest for his support of a murderer. De Laage then demands with angry menace that Mako tell him where Terangi is hiding. At 1:39:19 De Laage demands information against the murderer, to which Father Paul responds, supported by a powerful solemn iteration of his theme, that there are stronger things in this world than governments, something deeper and more real. De Laage threatens punishment of Mako, to which Father Paul replies that he will bless Mako for keeping silent. An enraged De Laage departs as Father Paul’s Theme resounds on horns solenne. We segue seamlessly at 1:20:07 atop the theme, which yields to the French Theme as we see Marama arriving to a waiting Terangi. The next day in “De Laage’s Rage” the wind is blowing with more intensity De Laage commandeers Nagle’s vessel and orders him to take her out to capture Terangi. Nagle refuses for safety reasons citing the falling barometer and increasing winds. De Laage will have none of it and is insistent, despite the doctor’s vociferous rebuke. As we see the Katopua sailing in the rough seas, Terangi, Marama and Tita depart in their canoe in very rough wind-swept waters. Marama looks up and sees all the birds fleeing before the storm, an ominous discovery. Terangi realizes that they will not survive on Fenua Ino and turns back to Manukura. The town is now beset by fierce hurricane winds as Terangi brings the canoe into the lagoon where they are greeted by the villagers.

Newman defers scoring the following three cues due to the dominating noise of the massive winds and storm. In “Mehevi’s Warning” he tells everyone that the storm comes to take over the land and that they should secure their houses, or take refuge in their boats, and go up into the trees if the waters rise. The church bell tolls as we see the island being slowly destroyed by the fierce winds, and Germaine being forced to abandon the Governor’s mansion as the winds sweep into its interior wreaking havoc. In “The Hurricane” many villagers desperately take to their canoes, some climb trees, while some seek refuge in the masonry walled church. Waves are now seen crashing into the town with winds uplifting wood huts as Merangi takes Marama and Tita up into a massive trunked tree where he ties them down. We see smaller trees uprooted and crashing through thatched roofed dwellings killing villagers. The tidal surge washes in and begins destroying the town reaching the church’s retaining wall. Dozens that took to palm trees are swept way to their doom as they are uprooted. The tidal surge reaches the church and begins eroding its walls, which cause Merangi to climb down and tie a rope to the lower tree branch. He makes his way to the church and takes Germaine as Father Paul and the most of the villagers choose to remain. At 1:31:28 we segue into “Terangi Saves Germaine” as the villagers begin singing a hymn as Terangi escapes with Germaine, and some villagers. Terangi and Germaine make it safely to the tree, but massive waves sweep away the villagers following to their doom. He ties her and himself in just the nick of time as a massive tidal surge engulfs the town. At 1:33:57 we segue into “Death of The Island” where we see Father Paul play the organ as a massive tidal wave sweeps in and consumes the church, town and uproots the tree holding Terangi’s family and Germaine. At sea Mehevi, the doctor and several natives periously weather the storm in a boat as Marama’s sister gives birth.

At 1:35:58 low register horns of death resound in “Aftermath” as we see Manukuru swept clean of all life. Newman supports with a dirge as we see the beached boat with Mehevi, the doctor, Mako, Marama’s sister and newborn and five natives alive on the barren beach. Sadness gives way to joy as they declare the newborn is a boy! At 1:37:06 a beleaguered Main Theme joins as Mako sights the Katopua, which limps in battered and severely damaged, her mast torn off and Captain Nagle’s arm in a sling. De Laage is devastated as he looks upon the barren island swept clean of all life. The Governor’s Theme enters as a threnody at 1:37:32 as De Laage asks the doctor how many survivors and he points to the people of their boat. De Laage attempts to absorb the death of his wife and at 1:38:18 we segue atop the threnody into “The Grace of God” as we see Terangi, his family and Germaine alive at sea on the floating tree. At 1:38:27 tremolo violins of hope and a solitary oboe rise as Terangi sights a capsized war canoe, dives in, and rights the canoe. At 1:38:52 Father Paul’s solemn theme supports the doctor informing Eugene that Germaine went to the church because everyone thought it was the safest place on the island. Elegiac horns support the doctor’s relating the dread he felt when the church bell stopped ringing. The French Fanfare joins when De Laage orders Captain to get his boat ready to sail and look for survivors. At 1:39:25 we see Terangi cooking some fish on a Manukuru beach as they wait for rescue. Idyllic violins support the scene, yet the music darkens on the grim four-note descent of the French Theme as Marama says she fears that they will take Terangi away.

At 1:39:59 we segue into “Rescued” when Tita points to the approach of the Kapopua borne by the Main Theme, which swells with joy as Terangi prepares to flee in the canoe, as he offers a parting goodbye kiss to Germaine. At 1:41:00 the French Fanfare resounds as De Laage is alerted to smoke created by Terangi on the beach. A thankful Love Theme carries Germaine into Eugene’s arms where he tells her he thought that he had lost her, and would she forgive him. Yet at 1:42:01 he turns and sees foot prints in the sand and a dire French Fanfare resounds as he demands to know where are the others. At 1:42:10 we segue into “Other Survivors” atop a dire Governor’s Theme, which rises up with menace as Germaine says there were no others and pleads with him to take her back to the boat. He pulls out his binoculars and observes an object off the coast, which Germaine says was just a log. He clearly sees that it is a canoe with three people aboard, but at 1:42:36 he lowers his binoculars and the Love Theme blossoms as he declares to Germaine that she is right, and that it is only a floating log. We end the film with a forthright declaration of the Main Theme, which ends in a flourish. At 1:42:22 we enter the “End Credits” with a warm and sentimental rendering of the “Aloha Oe” Song Theme.

Alfred Newman received a well-deserved, 1937 Academy Award nomination for best Film Score for his fine effort here, sadly losing to “One Hundred Men and a Girl”, which featured a score by Charles Previn consisting of two original songs by Sam Coslow and Friedrich Hollaender, and a selection of pre-existing classical music symphonic works and operas. There is no commercial release of this film score, which is most unfortunate, and I sincerely hope that in the near future a film score production company will make an effort to re-record it. Newman understood that he needed to speak to the romances of Terangi and Marama, and Eugene and Germaine De Laage, create juxtaposed cultural sensibilities for the Polynesian South Sea islanders and French colonial overlords, and support the conflict between Terangi and the French officials. He composed five original primary themes to support the film’s narrative, foremost being the languorous nautical sensibilities of his “The Moon of Manukura” main theme, which masterfully captured the film’s emotional core as a South Seas story. Using it also as a Love Theme for Terangi and Marama was well-conceived as it spoke to their native Polynesian heritage, as opposed to the more classical and formal European Love Theme used for the De Laages. His contrast of the nativist drums and wood percussion of Polynesian culture with the fanfare imperioso of their French overlords was also well conceived and executed. The most interesting theme for me however was Eugene De Laage’s Theme, which served as his identity as Governor of Manukura, a man of strict, uncompromising, letter of the law governance. Newman supports his stiff, rigid and austere persona with a melodic construct of woe, completely devoid of humanity, empathy or warmth carried by a bleak cello line buttressed with forlorn woodwinds. Folks, this score worked well on all levels and believe is contributed exceptionally well in ensuring John Ford achieved his vision. I believe it to be an early Opus masterwork for Alfred Newman, a gem of the Golden Age, and highly recommend that you experience it in context while viewing the film, until such time as we obtain a bona fide album recording.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the film’s opening with some dialogue; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI8WoXpnf6o

Track Listing:


Unreleased (1937)

Music composed and conducted by Alfred Newman. Orchestrations by Hugo Friedhofer and Edward Powell. Score produced by Alfred Newman.

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