While their cinematic relationship became popular through the slapstick destruction of the PINK PANTHER series, the collaboration between composer Henry Mancini and filmmaker Blake Edwards could yield far more serious stuff, complete with a memorable theme song and champagne jazziness. While 1961s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S put a shot of bittersweetness into its party girl antics, 1962s DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES was anything but a happy look at the lush life. Though not exactly hitting the rat-in-the-wall DT’s of THE LOST WEEKEND, Edward’s look at two alkis’ self-destructive relationship was fairly groundbreaking in a developing era of hard-hitting “message” pictures.
However, Edwards and Mancini were smart enough not to completely serve it up bleak. DAYS‘ softly swinging jazz numbers serve as the wry counterpoint for the deceptive good time binges. Collaborating with “Moon River” lyricist Johnny Mercer to the tune of another Best Song Oscar, DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES has a longing catchiness to it, one capable of turning to gut-ripping anguish in Mancini’s instrumental hands. With Universal creature features giving the composer his real first dramatic workout, Mancini’s darkness is about monstrous human behavior, namely enabling one’s significant other, only to leave them in their own ruins. Sure that ROSES‘ tune is wistfully unforgettable, but it’s how Mancini leads it into down unbearable paths for lonely strings, somber pianos and boozy horns that give ROSES its devastating potency. Intrada’s done right with this long-awaited masterpiece, its sound still as wistfully potent as ever, with enough cocktail-ready numbers to fill out the kind of light listening albums Mancini used to arrange his work for (though curiously ROSES never got any kind of soundtrack album until now).DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES manages to contain both the effervescent and hard stuff the composer was best at – Mancini straight up.
Now that Intrada’s put this and CHARADE out, what I wouldn’t give for a fix of the true scores to BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and TWO FOR THE ROAD while the label’s on a classic Mancini binge.
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