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RICH IN LOVE – Georges Delerue

February 16, 2023 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

On March 18th, 1992, as composer Georges Delerue was packing up and preparing to leave Scoring Stage 1 on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, California, having just finished recording the final cue for his latest film, Rich in Love, he suffered a stroke. He was rushed to the nearby St. Joseph’s Medical Center but never recovered, and he died there two days later at the age of 67. In the days and weeks after his death his friends and colleagues mourned one of the giants of film music; the director of Rich in Love, Bruce Beresford, summed it up by saying that Delerue’s scores “were never trite. They were so melodic and effortless. It was like turning on a tap. The music just flowed.” Of course, it’s impossible to know whether Delerue had any inkling about what was about to happen to him, but Varese Sarabande producer Robert Townson – who knew Delerue well – mused on this very idea in the liner notes for this soundtrack album, and wondered whether Rich in Love represented him writing a good-bye to each of his friends.

The film is largely forgotten today, despite its pedigree. It was written by Alfred Uhry – the screenwriter of Driving Miss Daisy – from a novel by Josephine Humphreys, and has a superb cast, including Albert Finney, Jill Clayburgh, Kathryn Erbe, and Kyle McLachlan, plus Ethan Hawke and Alfre Woodard in supporting roles. It was the last of the five collaborations between Delerue and director Beresford, following Crimes of the Heart in 1986, Her Alibi in 1989, Mister Johnson in 1990, and Black Robe in 1991. The Internet Movie Database describes the plot thusly: “The life of a teenager in her last year of high school in Charleston, South Carolina, is upended when her mother leaves her father and cuts all contact with her family. Things get even more complicated when her older sister shows up with a new husband and a pregnancy she’s bitter and ambivalent about, and moves back in. They all spend the rest of the summer trying to get to grips with their lives.”

The film and its multitude of interlocking familial relationships clearly offered Delerue a great musical canvas to paint on, and he was encouraged by director Beresford to write several recurring themes for different characters, many of which are also represented by specific instrumental textures that range from guitars to flutes to solo violins. As Beresford rightly said, Delerue was a veritable waterfall of thematic ideas. Virtually every single score he wrote contained at least one near-masterpiece melody, but the fact that Rich in Love contains so many of them makes it something very special indeed.

The score absolutely overflows with wonderful thematic ideas, one after the other, and at times it often seems as though Delerue was intentionally acknowledging several key touchstones in his career. The light and breezy ideas go all the way back to his work with directors like François Truffaut at the height of the French New Wave, the more classically-inspired ones seem to reflect his Vivaldi-adjacent Oscar win for A Little Romance in 1979, and then the more deeply passionate and romantic ones are mostly representative of his later-career work in Hollywood.

Trying to pick out highlights from Rich in Love is probably an exercise in futility as the entire score is wonderful, but here are some of them. The “Main Title” is elegant and charming, but also playful and whimsical, emerging from a delightful oboe solo into a theme for the full orchestra. This theme comes back in different guises later in the score, including as a more reflective variant in “Sunset” (which has a touch of Joe Versus the Volcano to it), and as a duet for fragile flutes and harps in the pretty “I Got Her Pregnant,” before finally featuring prominently in the conclusive “Leaving the House”.

“We Have to Find Her” is a little more energetic, woodwinds underpinned with urgent string lines, but there is a hint of drama and mysterious intrigue related to the disappearance of the Helen character that is conveyed with tremolo strings. “Hello Mother” is a little more melancholy and emotional, a gorgeous piece for flutes and warm strings, which eventually segues into the first performance of a devastatingly attractive theme for solo guitar. This theme later anchors cues like the stunning “Stop Thinking About Her” and the astonishingly beautiful “Lucille and Wayne Make Love” – the latter cue has so much warmth and tenderness it feels like the musical personification of romance. When Delerue’s guitars are doubled by woodwinds and strings, the effect is just divine.

The first half of “Put the Best Face On It” is a string lament that just drips with poignancy – it actually reminds me a little of the score for Diên Biên Phu – while “Lulu’s Exit” has some more drama, before melting into yet more lyrical romance in “The Kiss”. “Warren Waits” has some moments of fanciful woodwind-led comedy, and “Time to Move On” reprises the guitar theme from “Hello Mother” for a despondently expressive solo cello, while “Let’s Take A Walk” has a classical elegance that is just lovely, and again returns to the guitar theme from “Hello Mother”.

It’s perhaps ironic that Delerue’s last score was Rich in Love, because his professional life could be described using the same terms. His music was full of optimism, beauty, lyricism, a passionate joie de vivre, and although he could also write music that was exciting, moody, dark, or heartbreakingly sad, it was when he was writing for that most French of emotions – l’amour – that he truly excelled. His music anchored the cinematic lexicon for more than 40 years, and when he died he left a remarkable legacy filled with a staggering number of gorgeous themes that were uniquely, identifiably, unmistakably his. Georges Delerue was indeed Rich in Love, and the film music world was enriched immeasurably by his presence in it.

Buy the Rich in Love soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Title (1:25)
  • We Have To Find Her (1:28)
  • Hello Mother (1:45)
  • Put The Best Face On It (1:14)
  • Stop Thinking About Her (3:52)
  • Good To Have You Home (0:47)
  • Lulu’s Exit/The Kiss (1:15)
  • Warren Waits/Sunset (2:10)
  • Time To Move On (2:18)
  • Of Course You Can (1:30)
  • Lucille and Wayne Make Love (1:01)
  • Let’s Take A Walk (2:56)
  • I Got Her Pregnant (2:02)
  • Lucille and Bill (1:25)
  • Escape on Mower (0:45)
  • Leaving the House (2:00)

Running Time: 27 minutes 53 seconds

Varese Sarabande VSD-5370 (1993)

Music composed and conducted by Georges Delerue. Orchestrations by Georges Delerue. Recorded and mixed by Robert Fernandez. Edited by Jeff Carson. Album produced by Georges Delerue and Robert Townson.

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