Wednesday, October 4, 2006


Johnny Mandel - Harper Mainstream S-6078 (1966)

This is a different kind of cat named Harper... and excitement clings to him like a dame!

Private eye Lew Harper shows up early at the Southern California estate of Elain Sampson. She offers a drink, he declines, "I thought you were a detective," she says. "New type," Harper answers. Paul Newman memorably plays that new type in Harper, based on Ross MacDonald's The Moving Target. The first detective film in Newman's then 23-film career (he later reprised Harper in The Drowning Pool), Harper revitalized the genre. Newman's sleuth chews gum fast...and slips out of jams even faster as he unravels a twisted case of kidnapping and murder. William Goldman's clever screen-play throws quips and a parade of LA-LA-Land characters Harper's way. There's a woman of means (Lauren Bacall), a gun-toting attorney (Arthur Hill), a poolside gigolo (Robert Wagner), a boozy ex-starlet (Shelley Winters), a jazz junkie (Julie Harris), Harper's estranged wife (Janet Leigh) and the unholy order of the Temple of the Clouds (led by Strother Martin). Each may possess a clue. Or a bullet for Harper.

For me, this soundtrack has it all. A groovy main theme, a couple of cracking vocal numbers by Ruth Price and soul superstar Sam Fletcher, beautiful jazz ballads penned and played by Andre Previn and the obligatory mod-swinging crime tunes. A really great listen all the way through, the epitome of cool!

1) Harper (Main Title)
2) Quietly There
3) Magnus Cum Louder
4) Livin' Alone
5) Harper Does It Better
6) Mexican Breakfast
7) Sure As You're Born
8) Harper's Ferry
9) Temple Of The Clouds
10) Bel Air
11) Finale (Susan)

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