It’s hard to imagine just how popular Martin and Lewis were back in the day, but they were as big as it got, in both personal appearances and all their films together. But it all ended in 1956 with the pair’s final film for Paramount, Hollywood or Bust. Lewis stayed at Paramount and began making solo pictures. Within a short time, he became Paramount’s biggest star.
Visit to a Small Planet began life as a television play by Gore Vidal and then Vidal adapted it for the Broadway stage. The play was a hit, and Paramount bought the rights, turning it into a vehicle that was specifically tailored to Jerry Lewis and jettisoning a good deal of the Vidal play in the process. Appearing alongside Lewis was a terrific supporting cast, including Fred Clark, John Williams, Joan Blackman, Gale Gordon and Earl Holliman.
Visit to a Small Planet was yet another solo hit for Lewis. Aiding Lewis immeasurably in his hijinks is the delightful score by Leigh Harline. Harline’s score for Visit to a Small Planet is a treasure, beginning with a melodic seven-note main theme that is impossible to get out of one’s head once it’s been heard. Harline makes liberal use of the Theremin and keeps the comedy in the film plowing forward with his clever and infectious musical hijinks. There are a few nice source music cues, too, and the whole thing adds up to an entertaining and buoyant score.
The Delicate Delinquent was originally meant to be the Martin and Lewis follow-up to Hollywood or Bust, but when the partnership went bust the film was quickly retooled as a solo vehicle for Lewis, with the Martin role going to actor Darren McGavin. The scoring assignment fell to someone relatively new to film composition, a young wunderkind named Buddy Bregman. Bregman’s score for The Delicate Delinquent is an undiscovered gem. His themes are tuneful and his scoring expert. The score starts out with a bang with the exciting main title – all bongos and drums and percussion until the dynamic orchestra enters with its propulsive rhythms and its jazzy pyrotechnics. There follows a lovely, bluesy theme for saxophone and orchestra and that’s followed by the main theme, a truly beautiful melody that will appear throughout the score, along with more of the big-band, jazzier stuff. Bregman never plays up the comedy – it’s a straightforward score and it’s one of the reasons the film holds up well today.
This is the world premiere release of both scores, taken from tapes housed in the Paramount vaults. These two scores in particular are very different from each other, but each is perfect for the film it’s underscoring, and both are delightful to listen to on their own. -KRITZERLAND
VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET
Composed and Conducted by Leigh Harline
01. Seal and Main Title
02. Crazy Driver
03. To Earth
04. Arrival on Earth
05. The Confederate/Pull My Leg
06. Delton’s Visit
07. Eighty-Six Azalia/Sloppy Barrier – Sloppy Mind/Eighty-Six Little Camera
08. Wig and Dart//Mayberry’s Lamb, Dog, Cat and Mouse
09. Squirting Camera, Etc.
10. Spelding Hits Barrier/The Ceiling
11. Kreton’s Cop/Ellen’s Cop/Easy Eight/Dog and Cat
12. Slow Bus to Memphis (Victor Young)
13. Spelding’s Lamb/Abercrombie’s Thought/Mary and Her Lamb/Rising Table
14. Hungry Brain #1 (fast)/Hungry Brain #1 (slow) (John Mandel)
15. Desdemona’s Lament (Pomus/Shuman)
16. Hungry Brain #4 (dance) (John Mandel)
17. Almost In Your Arms (Livingston & Evans)
18. Floating on Air/That’s What He Thinks
19. Pain and Chase/Goat Butt
20. Tear Gas/Conclusion
(Tracks 14–16 Conducted by John Mandel)
THE DELICATE DELINQUENT
Composed and Conducted by Buddy Bregman
21. VistaVision Logo (N.L. Van Cleave) /Prelude
23. Sidney’s Secret Love
24. Bridge to Street/Record Shop
25. A Near Miss
26. The Cop
27. Garbled Clarification/Police Academy
28. Training Montage
29. The Pistol Shot/Mr. Togo
30. The Bout
31. It’s a Boy
32. The Fight