From the Terrace is both a romance and one man's struggle between society's expectations and his own conscience. Director Mark Robson's widescreen canvas and the film's intimate settings meant that the scale of Elmer Bernstein's score had to be subdued to match—he spoke to the undercurrent of emotion running through the main character of Paul Newman without overwhelming the movie. Bernstein's score opens boldly with a soaring and deeply passionate love theme—which consequently disappears from the lengthy film, only to resurface halfway into the movie, when Newman's character of Alfred Eaton begins a love affair with Natalie Benzinger (Ina Balin). The score grows in complexity with a strained waltz theme that underscores Newman's misguided dalliance with a sexy, manipulative socialite Mary St. John (Joanne Woodward).
Bernstein's score is varied and rich, marking a middle ground between the lush soap operatics of the Golden Age and the leaner, modernistic style of the '60s. The composer wrote bustling, rhythmic traveling music that evolved into a bright and bucolic treatment of the protagonist's return from the war; impressionistic and haunting dramatic underscoring of his family's internal squabbling; stacatto, agitated accompaniment for confrontation with his mother's lover; and bold action music. Between the dark, brooding mood, Bernstein opens the score up with a taste of his distinctive Americana brass sound and a brash fanfare for Wall Street.
Bernstein is unequaled in his instincts and taste when it comes to concluding a score—he has written some of the most sublime musical finales ever to be heard in films, and From the Terrace's concluding chords belong in the company of such other Bernstein finales as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Ten Commandments. Of particular note is the vaulting, propulsive moment that occurs as Newman rushes to embrace Balin near the end of the film. Bernstein's score is timeless and he was actually able to apply a similar approach to Martin Scorsese's period adaptation of The Age of Innocence more than 30 years later.
FSM presents From the Terrace in its entirety, for the first time ever—more than 70 minutes of richly melodic and elegant music by a master of dramatic film scoring—in stereo!
Click on track TIME for MP3 sound clip. Click on track title (selected tracks only) for Real Audio.