Based on the best-selling Harold Robbins novel, The Carpetbaggers (1964) was Bernstein's next foray into period melodrama, with the composer hired to underscore the rise and self-destructive behavior of a driven, obsessive, womanizing industrialist. Somewhat inspired by Howard Hughes' persona and set during the Roaring Twenties, the film also reunited the composer with Walk on the Wild Side's director, Edward Dmytryk.Elmer Bernstein - Memories.mp3 (192 kbps, 3.8 mb)
Like The Caretakers, Bernstein's Carpetbaggers is a formal orchestral score, and besides a few flapper-tinged source tracks, only the "Main Titles" has a jazzy edge. Unfolding like a locomotive, heavy brass, percussion and saxophone belt out the first bars of Bernstein's tribute to industrialism, and after a brief melodic shift, far lighter in tone, the cue ends with a restatement of the industrial motif.
The soundtrack album (Ava A/AS-45) is significantly different from the score, with Bernstein opting for jazz-rock fusion. The updated arrangements and melodic extensions heavily utilize electric bass and guitar, tambourine, and overt rock rhythms.
"The Carpetbaggers Blues" is the album's only real jazz cut [note: not sure where this track is in the present collection --SW], using a small assembly of saxophones, muted trumpet, string bass, light drums, electric guitar, clarinet and vibes. A subtle rock inflection is evident in a series of intermittent chord progressions from the piano, and it's clear that Bernstein's jazz writing was moving away from the dark landscape of his '50s material. The year 1962 signified a time to lighten up, and after scoring several films with dour subject matter, the composer seemed aware that continuing to score similarly toned films would pigeonhole him as a composer of noirish thrillers, kitchen sink dramas and grand westerns. He never eschewed those rewarding genres, but he was well aware of the dilemma Henry Mancini was facing at the time.
As Bernstein explains, "Hank was Hank, and he invented 'the Mancini Sound,' so to speak, which was a double-edged sword. I mean, Hank was a really terrific composer-he could write anything-but he got so stuck with his own Mancini Sound that it hurt him ultimately."
Elmer Bernstein - The Carpetbaggers (Ava, 1964).zip