Friday, September 04, 2015

The Lyrical Dreams Within, the Brutal World Without: Jerry Goldsmith’s Haunting Score to A Patch of Blue, and Elizabeth Hartman - A Cinderella Named Elizabeth

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

I can’t thank jazzysclassicjazz4 enough for posting 11 of the following 12 musical passages from A Patch of Blue. I’d thank her at Youtube, but Google’s Thread Nazi Department, for reasons known only to its gauleiter, has banned me from Youtube and Google+.

A Patch of Blue is from one of Jerry Goldsmith’s greatest, yet least celebrated scores.

Goldsmith’s first movie score was for the tragic, modern Kirk Douglas Western masterpiece, Lonely are the Brave. The only problem with that score is that there isn’t enough of it.

Goldsmith found immediate acclaim, and began racking up Oscar nominations. Although the scores that are now his most famous are often from thrillers and sci-fi pictures (Basic Instinct, Total Recall, etc.), those are typically scores that do not stand up well on their own. His earliest movie work saw him compose stunning, often lyrical music that stands on its own.

Main Title Theme


Jerry Goldsmith, during the mid-1960s

Heartbreak upon Heartbreak: A Patch of Blue (1965): Jerry Goldsmith’s Main Theme, “Chores,” and the Short, Unhappy Life of Elizabeth Hartman

July 21, 2014

This was one of Jerry Goldsmith’s first scores, and it is arguably the most lyrical of all. The early Goldsmith wrote music that was not only beautiful to listen to, but worked independent of the movies they served. As Goldsmith aged, his music lost its lyricism, and became less distinguished as music independent of the movies they accompanied, and less original: Like so many composers, he began cannibalizing his earlier work. However, audiences seemed to like him more than ever, as did directors, for Goldsmith was without peer at using musical cues and timing to perfectly enhance a dramatic scene.

My hed was due to the story of A Patch of Blue, and the backstory. Elizabeth Hartman plays Selina D'Arcey, a young, white Southern woman who was blinded by her monstrous, racist prostitute-mother, Rose-Ann, who had intended to throw acid in the face of a sailor trick she’d brought home. Instead of being wracked with guilt, the mother mercilessly abuses and enslaves the daughter. Oh, and did I mention that the mother was a racist?

For her over-the-top performance, Shelley Winters won her second Best Supporting Actress Oscar in seven years. And did I mention that she played a racist?

Enter a savior. Selena encounters Gordon Ralfe in the park of the unnamed city. The brilliant and morally perfect Gordon saves Selena from Rose-Ann. She falls in love with him, but this cannot be, not because Gordon is the black Sidney Poitier, but because he is too superior to fall in love with some low-IQ, white trash.


Scene from A Patch of Blue: Sidney Poitier, L, Shelley Winters, C, and Elizabeth Hartman

Please pardon my cynicism, but that’s really what’s at work in this black-and-movie, and that is likely how it was sold to a studio exec. And yet, excellent movies succeed artistically in spite of their “concepts.” Studio execs live off “concepts,” clichés that any movie can be reduced to, and yet, it’s all in the execution. What is more clichéd than the “concept” of Shane? A gunman seeking to escape his past stumbles into the middle of a range war between a cattle baron and homesteaders. And yet, for my money, it’s the greatest Western ever made, and stands sixth on my all-time list, after only The Best Years of Our Lives; The Godfather; The Godfather, Part II; Citizen Kane; and It’s a Wonderful Life.


The backstory: Patch was Elizabeth Hartman’s first movie role, and shot her straight to the top, with a Best Actress nomination, and a Golden Globe win as Most Promising Newcomer - Female. You’re a Big Boy Now, by a very young Francis Ford Coppola, got her a second nomination for Best Supporting Actress, the following year.

But then Elizabeth Hartman lost her mind to clinical depression. She worked occasionally, and married (and divorced), but was never the same again, and on June 10, 1987, at 43, ended the madness, by leaping from her apartment window in Pittsburgh. As far as I could determine, she had no children.

No wonder there are Youtube commemorations to this tragic figure.

Main Title Theme



Upload by KL0098.



The Park


Stringin' Beads


Pineapple Juice and Discovery


Just the Radio


I Walked Myself




Grandmom's Music Box


Finale: Love, the Equalizer


Experimental Mix

I can no longer find the note, but I recall the person who uploaded this as saying that this was not the way the passage plays in the movie or the album, but that she had done a mix. Though it’s 10 or 20 years since I last saw the picture, I’m guessing that the first 1:50 or so is the opening theme, and the last minute or so is the closing credits theme.


Uploaded on Dec 16, 2010 by jazzysclassicjazz.

1997 soundtrack A Patch of Blue [Intrada]

Long out of print until its revival by Intrada, this score album represents something of the quieter, more contemplative side of Goldsmith's music. Composed for a poignant 1965 film about the gentle friendship between a black man (Sidney Poitier) and a abused blind white girl (Elizabeth Hartman) and the consequences of that friendship, the score relies heavily on piano, harmonica and flute, with Goldsmith's music having a dark quietude as slow, elegant musical figures underscore the plight of the friends and the darkness of the world around them. A Patch of Blue is a lovely score that ought to be placed amongst the finest work of a fine career.


The young Elizabeth Hartman

Elizabeth Hartman - A Cinderella Named Elizabeth


Upload by jt20042.

Other Jerry Goldsmith Music at WEJB/NSU:

“Jerry Goldsmith’s Score to Kirk Douglas’ Lonely are the Brave (1962)”;

The Lilies of the Field: Jerry Goldsmith’s Classic Original Soundtrack;

Jerry Goldsmith’s Epic, Complete, Original Score to The Blue Max!;

Patton (1970);

“Jerry Goldsmith: Classic TV Themes Played by a Full Orchestra”;

The Boys from Brazil (1978): Jerry Goldsmith’s Original Score (Suite);

Executive Decision: Jerry Goldsmith’s Score (Suite)” (1996); and

“The Jerry Goldsmith Memorial Concert: Come Celebrate the Maestro's Life on the Tenth Anniversary of His Death!”


1 comment:

David In TN said...

The role I remember Elizabeth Hartman for is as the wife of Buford Pusser in the 1973 Phil Karlson-directed film, "Walking Tall." This was a big hit that year followed by two sequels, a TV movie, and a short-lived TV series.

"Walking Tall" was about a Tennessee sheriff battling the Dixie Mafia, somewhat fictionalized, although the truth was dramatic enough. I live about an hour and a half away from where the story took place.

You can get the 1973 version on DVD and I recommend it, as it's never shown on TV anymore. Oddly (or maybe not so oddly), the 2004 100 % fictional remake with the black Duane Johnson as the hero, is on the movie channels several times every month.

The 1973 "Walking Tall" is partly a knockoff of the 1955 film, "The Phenix City Story," also directed by Phil Karlson. By the way, the criminal gang depicted in "The Phenix City Story" was basically the same bunch Buford Pusser was up against a decade later.