Elmer Bernstein's score to the 1961 film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' World War II-era drama Summer and Smoke beautifully evokes the sexual and spiritual friction that galvanizes Williams' narrative. Eschewing the jazz-inspired sensibilities that dominate his work throughout the late '50s and early '60s, Bernstein embraces period-appropriate orchestral elements including strings, woodwinds, and harp, creating a dizzily romantic score with a potent undercurrent of unbridled eroticism. In his liner notes, the composer describes Summer and Smoke thusly: "...We hear the music of loneliness, the sounds of our secret thoughts, whispers of our hidden desires and unspoken hopes, in a musical mystique suggesting at times foreverness and eternity." Nothing to add to that -- it's a masterpiece, plain and simple.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny