Although Max Steiner is prominently credited as the composer of the score for Marjorie Morningstar, the truth is that he was responsible for only about half of the music in the film and almost none by his own hand alone. He was 69 years old at the time, and so perhaps it is understandable that conductor Ray Heindorf and composers Sammy Fain, among others, took a hand in the making of the music. At times Heindorf's conducting treats some of the material, such as "Uncle Samson," depicting the funny, eccentric walk and manner of Marjorie's loving, elderly uncle (portrayed by Ed Wynn) far more briskly than he ever would have done so in the film, but the quicker pacing does work on the album; one also hears the musical motif associated with the title character quoted in full for the first time in the movie and that same track. "South Wind Blues," credited to R. Rayburn, is a pleasing guitar, clarinet, and bongo-dominated piece of effect music. Some of the effect music, such as Heindorf's "Fiesta," doesn't really work as a free-standing track. Gene Kelly's ragged singing on the Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster doesn't do justice to the song, his voice having long since lost its resonance at this point in his career, although the arrangement is pretty enough, and the chorus carries him for much of it. "Uncle Samson's Death" allows Heindorf to put the orchestra, especially the strings and the harps (with some deep glissandi), through its paces, and he follows this up with some beautifully conceived orchestral effects for "Noel and Marjorie's Decision." Ultimately, this isn't one of Steiner's better movies, though it does have its moments of inspiration if not outright brilliance; ironically, just a year or so later, he would write a theme as part of his music for A Summer Place that would give him a permanent place in the easy listening hall of fame, and there are elements of his music for Marjorie Morningstar that anticipate A Summer Place (for which, even more ironically, there never was a soundtrack album, despite the hit "Theme From 'A Summer Place'." Long out of print on LP, the CD remastering (by RCA of Spain) of Marjorie Morningstar brings out the playing in its most vivid detail, but there are no additional notes.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder