the Music for The Man on the Eiffel Tower by Michel Michelet
Originally published in Film Music Notes Vol. IX/No.4, 1950
Official publication of the National Film Music Council © 1950
Before coming to Hollywood some years ago, I had lived in Paris for about eighteen years, but I always longed to see again, if only for short while, that extraordinary City of Paris, with its old culture and its modern art. Then something marvellous happened! Paris suddenly came to me in a small projection room, where I saw for the first time the picture entitled THE MAN ON THE EIFFEL TOWER a picture that was filmed almost entirely in the streets of Paris. As the picture unfolded, I could remember every corner of Paris, every street, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Seine, the Champs Elysees, the Place de la Concorde.
The plot is grim and unusual. The three principal characters involved are strange and different: a manic depressive, the murderer Radek; a poor guy, half idiot Heurtin: a clever detective with very personal methods of catching murderers, Maigret. The “City of Paris” receives special screen credit in the picture and frames beautifully all the dramatic incidents of the story. At first, I feared that the many chases through the streets, over the roofs, in the night clubs and the Eiffel Tower, would become vulgar when illustrated musically, and I thought that I would be obliged to use so many runs in violins and woodwinds that it would become boring to the listeners. I spent quite a while trying to figure out how to construct my score so as to do all of this chasing in a different way, for I believe that a score for a picture must have a certain construction and proportions, the same as a beautiful building in architecture. I therefore decided to give each one of the main characters, i.e. Radek, Heurtin, Maigret and the City of Paris – a main theme, and I also decided to use these themes during the chases, to illustrate them by a music that would explain rather the dramatic strain of these chases than the runnings up and down stairs and over roof tops, the way it is often done.
For this picture I was a guest composer at R.K.O. It was a pleasure to see and to feel how everyone in the Music Department of the studio was trying to help me to get the best results from my scoring. Mr. Bakaleinikoff conducted it giving a high concert quality to the excellent playing of the orchestra. The Sound Department did a wonderful job too. A popular song was arranged and published by Regent Music Corporation from the “City of Paris” theme and Perry Como introduced it at his television show. Also, the Coral Decca Company released a record of this song by Bill Harrington. The Song is called: “High on the Eiffel Tower”.
THE MAN ON THE EIFFEL TOWER.. R.K.O. Radio: Franchot Tone, Charles Laughton, Burgess Meredith. Directed by Burgess Meredith. Music by Michel Michelet. Ansco Color.
Michel Michelet is a composer of many classical songs and orchestral selections. The Alco Recording Company, 7265 Helrose Ave, Hollywood, California has just released 10 cello preludes.