By 1965, the family comedy film was about to hit rough times because the world was changing and we were entering a more challenging time and the movies, of course, reflected that change. This was especially true of the quirky family comedy about quirky families doing quirky things. In the 1960s, James Stewart, then in his mid-fifties, made two such comedies at Twentieth Century-Fox – Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation and Dear Brigitte. Both were directed by Henry Koster and both were likeable and amiable comedies that had warmth, quirkiness, and laughs, all that you really needed back then.
Dear Brigitte, which did not make much noise at the box-office, came at the end of the cycle. The screenplay was by Nunally Johnson and Hal Kanter, adapted from the novel, Erasmus with Freckles by John Haase. The supporting cast could not be more wonderful, with the lovely Glynis Johns, the young Billy Mumy, John Williams, Ed Wynn, cute couple Cindy Carol and Fabian, Jack Kruschen, Alice Pearce and Jessie White. Dear Brigitte has a score that is as delightful as the movie it accompanies, aiding immeasurably in making the film so entertaining.
Duning’s music was always tuneful, always served the films beautifully, and his comedy scores especially were models of what great comedy scores should be and Dear Brigitte is one of his most charming. Right from the main title, with xylophone and banjo leading the way to a classic Duning theme (a three-note motif – many composers like to do this – it’s literally the syllables of the title set to music), you know you’re in good hands. The score is fun, frothy, and classic Duning.
Three years earlier, the Stewart family comedy was Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, which also had a stellar cast, including beautiful Maureen O’Hara, John Saxon, John McGiver, Marie Wilson, Reginald Gardner, and Lauri Peters (fresh from Broadway’s The Sound of Music), and Fabian, along with Michael Burns as Stewart’s young son (and an uncredited appearance by someone named Herb Alpert, playing a trumpet player). The film was a huge hit and is as delightful today as it was then. Once again, it’s a perfect match between film and composer, in this case, Henry Mancini.
In 1962, Mancini would write four great scores in a row for four different studios – Experiment in Terror, Hatari, Days of Wine and Roses, and Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. Each score is completely different and each brilliant in its own way. Mr. Hobbs is the lightest of them – a wonderful compendium of classic Mancini music, from the delightful main theme (in its many guises), to Mancini’s usual great source music tracks, to his deft way with underscoring both comedy and scenes of emotion. As with most Mancini scores of this vintage, there is a surprising amount of dramatic scoring that works beautifully in the film.
Dear Brigitte is making its debut on CD. The tapes were mostly in good shape, but a handful of tracks were beyond repair, so badly damaged that there was no way to include them. Thankfully, thematically all that material is covered in other tracks. We’ve done our best to minimize the wow and flutter present on a couple of tracks, but most of it sounds pretty great in stereo. Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation was previously released by Intrada – it sold out and hasn’t been available for years now. The Intrada presentation put all the tracks in strict film order, but because there were quite a few source music tracks in a row, we felt that interrupted the actual score too much, so we’ve switched it up a bit and moved some of the source music cues to the bonus track section. Again, there is a bit of wow and flutter here and there, but we’ve remastered the sound, cleaned up some little sound problems from the previous release, and put a few of the really short tracks together, which, for us, makes for a more seamless listening experience. Any way you listen to it, Dear Brigitte and Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation are smilers – music that just makes you smile, makes you happy, music filled with memorable melodies in a delightful variety of guises and settings, by two great film composers – Henry Mancini and George Duning.
1. Main Title / San Francisco (02:33)
2. The Captain (01:26)
3. Mad Prof / Disturbed Prof (01:02)
4. Magical Moment (01:17)
5. Wise Dog / Erasmus the Brain (01:23)
6. Is It a Trick? (01:44)
7. At the Bank / The Error / Pan Flips (02:17)
8. Puzzled Cap’n / Final (00:50)
9. Hey Dad (02:01)
10. Cap’n Lights Pipe / You’re Finished (01:00)
11. Number Eleven / Fund Building / Swank Café (01:46)
12. She Sank (01:43)
13. B.B.’s Letter (02:15)
14. On to B.B.’s (01:45)
15. Brigitte’s Gift / Erasmus Kissed (02:21)
16. Villain Upjohn / End Title (01:51)
17. End Title (alternate) (00:30)
MR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION
18. Main Title (02:28)
19. A Month Off (00:29)
20. Cream Puff (02:25)
21. Up His Nose (03:03)
22. Early to Rise (03:03)
23. Roger and Peggy (01:32)
24. Boompa / Night Night (01:32)
25. Something for Lauri (01:41)
26. Honest Joe / The Quiet Side (01:23)
27. Rudders and Sails (04:34)
28. All Clear / Red Cap (02:17)
29. Barn Swallow (02:41)
30. About Last Night (00:56)
31. Farewell to Vacation (03:56)
32. Cast and End Title (01:02)
33. B Cups and Braces (02:41)
34. Yacht Club Hop (02:33)
35. Side Winder (02:30)
36. Hobbs’ Bigtime Swing (01:29)
37. Cream Puff (combo demo) (01:11)
38. Mr. Hobbs’ Theme (combo demo) (02:00)
39. Pizza Heaven / Cream Puff (02:08)
Vocal: Fabian & Lauri Peters
Total Duration: 01:15:18