There are a ton of classic movies that remain unavailable on DVD and Blu-ray. For film fans, this is frustrating to say the least. While these gems have yet to be freed from the vaults, we can still voice our appreciation for them…even if we can’t watch them! Today’s guest post by The Lady Eve looks at the music of one of these favorites:
The Uninvited, from Paramount Pictures in 1944, is an elegantly spooky Rebecca-esque romance with more than one haunting quality. Yes, Windward House, the sea cliff-situated home central to the story, is haunted by a malevolent woman’s ghost, but the film’s music is equally haunting (though not at all spooky).
Victor Young (who composed the film’s Rachmaninoff-influenced score) and his orchestra introduced “Stella by Starlight” in The Uninvited. The melody is a thematic refrain throughout, but takes center stage in a romantic scene between Roderick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland) and Stella Meredith (Gail Russell). The pair is spending an evening together at Windward House and Rick begins to play the music, which he has written, on his grand piano:
Victor Young wasn’t Academy Award-nominated for his rhapsodic score for The Uninvited, but did garner 22 Oscar nominations over his prolific career. He was nominated for as many as four films in a single year, but his only win came posthumously, for Around the World in 80 Days (1956). His scores for Golden Boy (1939) and Written on the Wind (1956) were among many nominated for the gold statuette – and he also scored The Palm Beach Story (1942), Shane (1953), Johnny Guitar (1954) and The Country Girl (1954). Young died in 1956 with hundreds of film credits to his name.
As with Laura, another notable film of 1944 with an evocative musical theme, song lyrics were composed for “Stella by Starlight” after The Uninvited was released and became a popular movie. In 1946, Oscar-winning lyricist Ned Washington (“When You Wish Upon a Star”/Pinocchio and “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’”/High Noon) created lyrics to accompany the music.
In 1947, two versions of “Stella by Starlight”–one recorded by Frank Sinatra, the other by The Harry James Orchestra–climbed the pop charts. In 1952, iconic saxophonist Charlie Parker made the first jazz recording of the tune; the song remains both a popular standard and jazz standard today.