Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

January 7, 2020

something missing on the CONTRACT ON CHERRY STREET soundtrack album

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:00 am
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I watched the 1977 made-for-TV crime film CONTRACT ON CHERRY STREET again recently, thinking I would review it for Blog To Comm (which I still plan to do). In case you have forgotten, this was the “comeback” film for Frank Sinatra, whose last feature film was the 1970 western comedy DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE, which I saw theatrically on the bottom of a bill a year or two after its release, and which was not a classic. Sinatra waited 7 years to make another film, a project developed by his own company, based on a crime novel that was supposedly a book his mother really liked and recommended to him. The film was eventually made for television and was treated as an “event,” spread over two nights (like a “mini-series”!) and given a lot of promotion. It’s a solid 70’s urban crime film, and you can read about it in my review later in 2020.

contract cd

(see Henry Silva on far left)

The musical score by Jerry Goldsmith is excellent, going for a more moody, brooding, downbeat feel than many 70’s crime scores which have an uptempo and hyperbolic “cop show funk” angle. Considering that Frank Sinatra was an older man by the time this film was made, having a more mature and brooding soundtrack was fitting, and it also helped create an atmosphere that emphasized the grueling, depressing day-by-day checking out leads and footwork of the cop on the beat. I managed to find a cheap copy of the obscure soundtrack CD recently, on a Belgian specialist label, fully licensed and from the original tapes. It sounds majestic and takes me back to those dirty NYC 70’s streets where the film was shot as well as making me feel as if I’m walking in the shoes of the Henry Silva and Martin Balsam characters in the film.

One odd thing about the soundtrack, though. While it lists the credits, and the liner notes discuss Sinatra’s character and his production company’s role in making the film, there is not one picture of Sinatra anywhere in it. When I first saw the cover, with Henry Silva looking downcast at a police funeral, I figured that was a good image to capture the feel of the film and the soundtrack and did not think about it. When I read the booklet after getting the album, I did not think about it….I was interested in learning about Goldsmith’s approach to scoring the film.

Today, though, listening to the album while working, and then perusing the liner notes, it dawned on me…..SIX different pictures from the film (one used twice), and not one contains Sinatra anywhere in it. Not even in the background. Lots of Henry Silva and Martin Balsam and Harry Guardino, which is great, but none of Frank. My guess is that licensing the music from Columbia Pictures Television (as they did) did not include the rights to Sinatra’s image. That probably commanded its own fee. This is a small specialist label and the album is a limited 2000 copy pressing. They probably spent every last penny on having the tapes gotten from the vaults, getting them transferred, and paying the license fee. Well, I’m glad that the great Henry Silva didn’t ask for a fee for his image (and let’s hope they sent him a copy!). The album came out in 1999, the year after Sinatra’s death. Maybe things would be viewed differently today, with a consideration of Sinatra’s film legacy….maybe not.

In any event, it is a beautiful, moody, and atmospheric soundtrack and I see you can get a copy for around $7 on Discogs….

Contract on Cherry Ad

1 Comment »

  1. Nice piece Bill, off to find the movie and it’s soundtrack.

    Comment by GL — January 19, 2020 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

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