Fried, Gerald


Fried, Gerald
(1928– )
   The film score composer for several STANLEY KUBRICK films, Gerald Fried was born in New York City in 1928. He attended the Juilliard School of Music and grew up in the Bronx, a borough of New York City where Kubrick also spent his youth. “I played on a ball club called the Barracudas in the Bronx,” Fried told Peter Bogdanovich. Kubrick “wanted to get into the game; but he wasn’t a good athlete and the guys didn’t want him. And I said, ‘Come on, give him a chance. ’We let him play, and his face lit up. ”Alexander Singer, a mutual friend of Kubrick and Fried, had attended William Howard Taft High School with Kubrick, and when Kubrick was making his first documentary short, “DAY OF THE FIGHT” (1950), Singer, who would one day be a filmmaker himself, suggested to Kubrick that he get Fried to score the film.
   The March of Time documentary shorts, which accompanied feature films in theaters at the time, were well known to Kubrick, but they utilized canned background music from the studio music library. Kubrick, however, wanted a score composed especially for his 16-minute short, so he hired Fried to provide one. Fried knew nothing about scoring movies, and so he and Kubrick would go to pictures together and compare notes about the score of each film. “It was exciting!” Fried told VINCENT LOBRUTTO; “we were in our early twenties; it was a great adventure. ”Kubrick, who had been a drummer in a swing band in high school, had a feel for music, according to Fried, so the two collaborated very well. “Day of the Fight” centers on boxer Walter Cartier and depicts “a day in the life of a man who fights for his existence,” as the film’s narrator, DOUGLAS EDWARDS, points out.
   Fried composed “The March of the Gloved Gladiators” as the short’s principal motif; the theme is built around a stirring fanfare, which Fried employed as a big buildup to the fight which climaxes the movie. “Fanfares are exciting,” he explained, “and fights are exciting. ” In fact, Fried’s march is in essence a musical tribute to boxers everywhere. Fried orchestrated the music and conducted 19 musicians whom he brought together for the recording session at RCA’s New York studios.
   “I hired the best musicians I knew, all of whom were about my age, twenty-two, which was also Stanley’s age,” Fried recalls in the liner notes for the CD Music from the Films of Stanley Kubrick. But the burly studio guard would not let him and his musicians in. “You kids can’t go in there!” he bellowed. “We’ve got a professional recording scheduled!” His career, Fried observes, almost ended before it got started on that fateful day.
   Afterward Fried went on to score Kubrick’s first four features. He explains that he conceived the musical ideas for his scores for these films by “a kind of gathering of all of the theatrical music I’d ever heard, and forging, molding them into a style of my own. ” Fried scored Kubrick’s first feature, FEAR AND DESIRE (1953), a low-budget effort about four soldiers caught in enemy territory during an unidentified war. Fear and Desire, Fried points out, are the two dominant human passions. All four of the soldiers fear for their lives while they are behind enemy lines, and one of them, Sidney, desires a native girl whom they have captured. The music had to be “profound, meaningful, touching, despairing, but yet triumphant” when two of the four soldiers escape from the ordeal unscathed.
   The theme entitled “A Meditation on War” reflects in its inexorable forward motion the dangerous trek of the small squad through hostile territory. “Madness,” another theme, occurs after Sidney tries to rape the native girl and then shoots her dead so she cannot tell on him. David Wishart, in his commentary on Fried’s film music, writes,“The blatantly eccentric tonalities and ominous mounting intensity of ‘Madness’ realizes in music” Sidney’s hysteria, when he is driven to insanity in the wake of what he has done. Walter Winchell, in noticing the movie in his popular column, singled out Fried’s underscore for praise.
   Fried then scored Kubrick’s second feature, another B movie, KILLER’S KISS (1955), a film noir about Davy, a small-time boxer who saves Gloria, a taxi dancer, from the clutches of Vince Rapallo, her mobster boyfriend. Fried employed a restless Latin jazz piece for the scenes in which Davy frantically searches for Gloria in the seedier parts of Greenwich Village, as he seeks to save her from Vince, who has kidnapped her. Latin rhythms are always exciting, Fried points out, and hence they are helpful for scenes of suspense. For Davy’s showdown with Vince, which takes place in a warehouse filled with department store dummies, Fried composed “Murder ’mongst the Mannikins,” an eerie theme scored for high strings and muted brass, with an insistent undercurrent of drums, leading up to the moment when Davy kills Vince in self-defense. Kubrick was very satisfied with Fried’s score, and asked him to provide the music for his next picture, THE KILLING, another film noir thriller.
   The Killing (1956) has since been acknowledged as a classic film noir. Because Kubrick commanded a bigger budget on this film than on any of his previous movies, this time around Fried had a 40-piece orchestra to work with. Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden), an ex-con, gets together a motley gang to pull off a racetrack robbery which ends with disastrous results for all concerned. The pulsating theme for the opening credits, comments Wishart, “both elicits the hustle and bustle of the racetrack” and grimly foreshadows the violent outcomes of the caper with “urgently etched staccato tones. ” Fried was particularly happy with his use of the bellowing, brassy horns in the main title music, which gave the music “a forward thrust,” he says. “The movie had gotten started and, like a runaway train, it just never lets up. ” Among the musicians in the orchestra Fried conducted for the film was the pianist André Previn, who later scored several films himself, including Elmer Gantry (1960).
   PATHS OF GLORY (1957), Fried’s last film score for Kubrick, was an antiwar picture set on the French front during World War I. The movie, which was shot and scored at the Geiselgasteig Studios in Munich, focuses on a battalion of French soldiers who fail to capture a strongly fortified enemy position. General Mireau denounces the entire unit for cowardice to the High Command, and accordingly court-martials and executes three infantrymen to serve as a warning to the rest of the battalion. Fried relied heavily on percussion for the background music of this movie, sometimes using percussion alone in certain scenes. With no budgetary restrictions, Fried explains, he was able to use the entire orchestra, rather than just the percussion section, at times. He recalled: “In Munich we were permitted to hire as many musicians as we wished. ” As a matter of fact, Fried had the entire Bavarian Philharmonic at his disposal.
   He relied on percussion throughout the score, he says, because “Stanley and I were both drum crazy. ” Indeed, Kubrick’s experience as a drummer in high school made him partial to percussion, and Fried maintains that “percussion instruments just by themselves are exciting. ” For example, a suspenseful scene in which a French officer leads a reconnaissance mission into the field on the night before the big battle, is scored solely for percussion. The scene with the night patrol, Fried points out,“seemed to be the perfect place for a percussion solo,” which sounds in this context very sinister and menacing as the little band of soldiers inches its way toward the enemy lines. The opening credits are accompanied by “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, played in a foreboding minor key, followed by the pulsating sound of military snare drums. When the French government vociferously protested the use of their anthem in a film which it considered to be rabidly anti-French, Fried substituted a percussion track for the French national anthem in the opening credits for countries particularly sympathetic to France. (The movie itself was banned in France until 1976. ) By the time Kubrick was hired to replace Anthony Mann as director of SPARTACUS (1960), the studio had already commissioned a musical score from ALEX NORTH, so Kubrick and Fried went their separate ways after Paths of Glory. Fried went on to score a number of films, including Alexander Singer’s A Cold Wind in August (1960), a tale of a teenager’s infatuation with a wayward woman; Robert Aldrich’s gangster picture The Grissom Gang (1971); Nine to Five (1980), a comedy with Jane Fonda about secretaries rebelling against a bossy employer, and many more.
   Fried clearly cherishes his musical scores for the five Kubrick films on which he worked. In retrospect, he muses that most of the films were preoccupied in various ways with power—from Killer’s Kiss’s Vince Rapallo and The Killing’s Johnny Clay bossing their gangs to Paths of Glory’s General Mireau tyrannizing his troops. The use of power fascinated him, he concludes, because he was a young man when he collaborated on these pictures; and young people are preoccupied with power possibly because, as young people,“they generally don’t have any power. ”
   References
   ■ Bogdanovich, Peter, “What They Say About Stanley Kubrick,” New York Times Magazine, July 4, 1999, pp. 18+;
   ■ Fried, Gerald, Music from the Films of Stanley Kubrick, CD liner notes, (New York: Silva Screen Records: 1999);
   ■ LoBrutto, Vincent, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography (New York: Da Capo, 1999);
   ■ Schiff, David,“Taking Movie Music Seriously,” New York Times (April 22, 2001), sec. 2:1, p. 36;
   ■ Wishart, David, Music from the Films of Stanley Kubrick, CD liner notes, (New York: Silva Screen Records: 1999).

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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