THE ALBERT GLASSER COLLECTION: VOLUME 2
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Dragon’s Domain Records presents THE ALBERT GLASSER COLLECTION Volume 2, featuring the premiere releases of Albert Glasser’s music for UNMEI (1951, aka THE INVISIBLE MR. UNMEI, aka ORIENTAL EVIL) and GEISHA GIRL (1952). The former film is a crime thriller and the latter is a comedy drama, both taking place and filmed in Japan, both co-directed and co-produced by C. Ray Stahl and George P. Breakston, known for TOKYO FILE 212, JUNGLE STAMPEDE, and the like.
UNMEI, which means “fate” in Japanese, is, according to legend, an invisible supernatural entity who only appears to evil men, knowing the secret passions hidden in their minds. This film tells the story of one such evil man, a corrupt businessman named Roger Mansfield, whose actions threaten or provoke the deaths of the women who love him and the men who trust him. Byron Michie plays Roger, while Martha Hyer co-stars as Cheryl Banning, who arrives in Tokyo to inquire about the untimely death of her brother, and falls under Roger’s spell. Tetsu Nakamura (THE MYSTERIANS, THE H-MAN, MOTHRA) plays Noritomu Moriaji, a local businessman and uncle of Roger’s former mistress. Throughout the film Glasser’s symphonic score is authoritative in engaging the drama, suspense, and revelation of the story, incorporating the famous Japanese folk tune, “Sakura Sakura,” as both a love theme and as a motif of irony as Roger’s crimes evolve. A theremin is used throughout the score in a variety of treatments, its wavering tonalities increasing as Roger’s guilt is painted in haunting musical colors. The film also allows the composer to provide some splendid period-flavored orchestral dance band music, and he also uniquely interpolates the Brahms Wedding Concerto for a Japanese wedding sequence.
GEISHA GIRL is a comedy-romance movie with heavy emphasis on slapstick. Like UNMEI, it was filmed in Japan and has a minor bit of the supernatural woven into the film as it follows a pair of naïve G.I.s, Rocky Wilson (Steve Forrest) and Archie McGregor (Archer MacDonald), who are on leave in Tokyo. While there, they run into a spy ring, discover the stewardess Rocky is dating (Martha Hyer) is a secret government agent investigating that spy ring, and happen to attract the ire of the head of that spy ring, Tetsu Nakano (Tetsu Nakamura). Meanwhile, the local police call in mystical hypnotist Zoro (Dekao Yokoo) to aid them in tracking down the baddies. All ends in hilarity and love and a huge fight in a geisha house. Glasser’s score is a mix of exciting, almost over-the-top symphonic action music while providing the right amount of tension, inserting bits of adventurous Japanese sight-seeing music, and keeping everything light, rousing, and fun.
Dragon’s Domain Records presents the world premiere release of THE ALBERT GLASSER COLLECTION Volume 2, featuring original music composed by Albert Glasser, mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. The booklet contains analytical liner notes written by noted film music journalist Randall D. Larson.
CD 1 - The Invisible Mr. Unmei
01 Opening Titles & Intro (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") (3:10)
02 Unmei Stops The Beggar (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei")2:15
03 “I'm in Trouble" / The Wedding (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") (2:33)
04 Banning Import Company(from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 2:25
05 Dances (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 2:16
06 Roger and Cheryl (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 0:41
07 The British Club (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 2:07
08 Roger Comes Home / War Flashback (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei")2:41
09 Failed Swap (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 1:54
10 The Note & Attempted Murder (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 3:29
11 Roger Proposes to Cheryl (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 4:23
12 Betrayed and Suicide (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei")3:04
13 Setting the House on Fire (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 3:05
14 The Dance Club (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") (1:38)
15 The Last Drink (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei")2:28
16 Final Justice for Thomas Putman / End Title (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 4:38
17 Al's Invisible Mr. Unmei Wrap Up (from "The Invisible Mr. Unmei") 2:23
CD 1 Total Time 45:43
CD 2 - Geisha Girl
01 Main Title 1:08 (from "Geisha Girl")
02 Airport / Lots to Do (from "Geisha Girl") (2:52)
03 Hiro’s Habardashery / No Style, No Taste (from "Geisha Girl") 4:20
04 The Ballet (from "Geisha Girl") 5:58
05 The Bamboo Club / Archie Mugged (from "Geisha Girl") (1:51)
06 Geisha School In My Home (from "Geisha Girl") 2:23
07 Bathing Before Dinner (from "Geisha Girl") (2:11)
08 “How About Paying A Little Attention To Me?” (from "Geisha Girl") 1:29
09 Sedative In The Soup (from "Geisha Girl") 2:27
10 “Try One of the Pills, and See What Happens” (from "Geisha Girl") (2:17)
11 Walking Scene / ”I Need Your Help” (from "Geisha Girl") 4:11
12 Zoro Gets the Pills (from "Geisha Girl") 3:31
13 Stop The Archie Ambush / Sightseeing Tour (from "Geisha Girl") (4:05)
14 “The Masquerade is Over Mr. Wilson” / The Chase (from "Geisha Girl") 4:48
15 End Title (from "Geisha Girl") 1:04
16 Geisha Entertainment (from "Geisha Girl") (2:03)
17 Tokyo Show (from "Geisha Girl") 2:54
18 Zoro FX (from "Geisha Girl") 0:10
19 Al’s Geisha Girl Wrap Up (from "Geisha Girl") 2:44
CD 2 Total Time 53:17
The Albert Glasser Collection, Vol. 2: The Invisible Mr. Unmei/Geisha Girl (1951/1952) *** 1/2
Dragon’s Domain DDR734
Disc One: 17 tracks - 45:43
Disc Two: 19 tracks - 53:17
Last November, Dragon’s Domain released their first volume in a series focusing on composer Albert Glasser (1916-1998), who had a long career scoring B movies, TV shows and radio programs. The first album featured two scores demonstrating his work in action (Huk!) and war/noir (Tokyo File 212). Volume two showcases music for a murder mystery and a romantic comedy, both with Asian backdrops. The films come from the writer-director team of C. Ray Stahl and George P. Breakston, with whom Glasser often collaborated.
Disc One features the score for The Invisible Mr. Umei, aka Unmei, aka Oriental Evil (1951), a film headlined by a fine performance from Martha Hyer (The Sons of Katie Elder), and with a brief running time of just over an hour. After a bombastic “Opening Titles” track sets a dark, mysterious tone, Glasser shifts into a Japanese folk tune to help establish the movie’s setting. Meanwhile, theremin provides some eeriness, emphasizing the supernatural qualities of the story.
An impassioned violin line appears in “I’m in Trouble,” further heightening the drama. Some fine 1940s jazz “Dances” demonstrate Glasser’s abilities at replicating different source genres, also evidenced in “The Dance Club.” Leaning on more original fare, “Roger and Cheryl” features a gorgeous love theme. Overall, the score has a lot of visceral qualities and really showcases the composer’s command of orchestral color.
Geisha Girl’s (1952) plot is the stuff of Saturday matinee guilty pleasures: Two GIs get mixed up in a plot involving a Japanese spy ring during their stopover in Tokyo, where a hypnotist is assigned to the case to help them track down the gang members. Martha Hyer is along for the ride once again, this time doing a turn as a stewardess posing as a secret government agent. Glasser’s “Main Title” places Asian gestures in a comedic mode before introducing a lush, lyrical theme. Tinges of patriotic material depict the two primary characters, while the lighter fare sets the scene, as in “Airport—Lots to Do.”
As it progresses, the score balances action and comedic elements, as in “Stop the Archie Ambush” and “Sightseeing Tour.” Everything climaxes with a great final chase scene before the “End Title” pulls together the score’s key ideas, including the earlier march (“Walking Scene”).
Glasser additionally gets to create source music for a Kabuki performance (“Tokyo Show”), along with allusions to famous themes, like the veiled “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” references in “Bathing Before Dinner” and “Sedative in the Soup,” which are quite humorous.
The scores’ sound quality shows its age a bit here, with occasional loss and distortion from the mono sources. The album features some bonus tracks for each score, helping to pad out the playing time. Certainly, any fans interested in lesser known film music from the Golden Age will want to consider both this and the previous Glasser release, each limited to 500 units. For more information and to check out samples of the scores, visit the label. —Steven A. Kennedy
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