Deutsch, Adolph

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Composer and Arranger. Nationality: American. Born: London, England, 20 October 1897; emigrated to the United States with his parents, 1910. Education: Studied composition and piano with Clara Wieck Schumann, Royal Academy of Music, London, 1906–10. Family: Married 1) Hermina Selz, one son; 2) Dianne Axzelle. Career: Worked in accessories department, Ford Motor Company, Buffalo; music arranger with Ager Yeller and Bornstein and with Henry Busse and Arnold Johnson, both in New York, in the 1920s; with Paul Ash, Chicago Oriental Theatre, New York, and with Paramount Studios, Long Island; 1931—first film as music director, The Smiling Lieutenant; 1935–37—radio work with Paul Whiteman's Music Hall; 1937–46—musical director and composer, Warner Brothers, and then worked with MGM, 1948–62. Awards: Academy Award for Annie Get Your Gun, 1950; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 1954; Oklahoma!, 1955. Died: In Palm Desert, California, 1 January 1980.

Films as Composer or Arranger:


Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Capra)


Tovarich (Litvak); Submarine D-1 (Bacon); They Won't Forget (LeRoy); The Great Garrick (Whale); Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (Green); Swing Your Lady (Enright)


Fools for Scandal (LeRoy); Racket Busters (Bacon); Valley of the Giants (Keighley) (co); Broadway Musketeers (Farrow); Heart of the North (Seiler); Four's a Crowd (Curtiz); Cowboy from Brooklyn (Bacon)


Angels Wash Their Faces (Enright); Off the Record (Flood); The Kid from Kokomo (Seiler); Indianapolis Speedway (Bacon); Espionage Agent (Bacon); The Oklahoma Kid (Bacon) (co); Gone with the Wind (Fleming) (co)


They Drive by Night (The Road to Frisco) (Walsh); Torrid Zone (Keighley); Castle on the Hudson (Years Without Days) (Litvak); Saturday's Children (V. Sherman); East of the River (Green); Flowing Gold (Green); The Fighting 69th (Keighley); Three Cheers for the Irish (Bacon); Tugboat Annie Sails Again (Seiler)


The Maltese Falcon (Huston); High Sierra (Walsh); The Great Mr. Nobody (Stoloff); Kisses for Breakfast (Seiler); Underground (V. Sherman); Manpower (Walsh); Singapore Woman (Negulesco)


Across the Pacific (Huston); All Through the Night (V. Sherman); Juke Girl (Bernhardt); The Big Shot (Seiler); Lucky Jordan (Tuttle); Larceny (Bacon); You Can't Escape (Graham); George Washington Slept Here (Keighley)


Action in the North Atlantic (Bacon); Nothern Pursuit (Walsh)


Uncertain Glory (Walsh); The Doughgirls (Kern)


The Mask of Dimitrios (Negulesco); Danger Signal (Florey); Escape in the Desert (Blatt)


Nobody Lives Forever (Negulesco); Three Strangers (Negulesco); Shadow of a Woman (Santley)


Blaze of Noon (Farrow); Ramrod (de Toth)


Whispering Smith (Fenton); Julia Misbehaves (Conway)


Intruder in the Dust (Brown); Little Women (LeRoy); The Stratton Story (Wood)


Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (Taurog); The Big Hangover (Krasna); Father of the Bride (Minnelli); Stars in My Crown (Tourneur); Pagan Love Song (Alton); The Yellow Cab Man (Donohue)


Soldiers Three (Garnett)


The Belle of New York (Walters)


Torch Song (Walters); The Band Wagon (Minnelli)


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Donen) (co); The Long, Long Trailer (Minnelli); Deep in My Heart (Donen)


Oklahoma! (Zinnemann); Interrupted Melody (Bernhardt); Battle of Gettysburg (Hoggman—doc)


Tea and Sympathy (Minnelli); The Rack (Laven)


Funny Face (Donen); Les Girls (Cukor)


The Matchmaker (Anthony)


Some Like It Hot (Wilder)


The Apartment Wilder)


Go Naked in the World (MacDougall)

Films as Music Director:


The Smiling Lieutenant (Lubitsch)


Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Berkeley)


Annie Get Your Gun (Sidney) (co)


Show Boat (Sidney) (co)


Million Dollar Mermaid (LeRoy)


By DEUTSCH: articles—

"Collaboration Between the Screen Writer and the Composer," in Proceedings of the Writers' Congress (Berkeley, California), 1944.

"Three Strangers" in Hollywood Quarterly, January 1946.

On DEUTSCH: articles—

Rivista del Cinematografo (Rome), May 1980.

The Annual Obituary 1980, New York, 1981.

* * *

Adolph Deutsch was one of those great unrecognized talents who collectively worked behind the scenes to help create the great MGM musicals of the 1950s. Deutsch worked on nearly all of them. He was nominated for Academy Awards for scoring The Band Wagon from Arthur Freed's unit, and he won Oscars for his work on two minor musical efforts, Annie Get Your Gun and Oklahoma!, as well as for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Deutsch's career in music divides neatly into three parts. This classically trained musician earned his spurs as an arranger in New York, serving an apprenticeship on many Broadway shows, helping such composers as Irving Berlin, Richard Rogers, and George Gershwin. Like others in the 1930s, he also dabbled, because the money was so good, in the fledgling radio industry. Indeed he toiled full-time on Paul Whiteman's Music Hall, a network radio program, for three years before moving to even bigger money in Hollywood.

Deutsch moved to California in the late 1930s to work for Warner Brothers, and scored such films as High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, and Action in the North Atlantic. But probably his greatest fame within the Hollywood community came with a "loan out" in 1939 when he helped Max Steiner, a fellow Warner contract musician, with the three-hour score for Gone with the Wind.

After World War II Deutsch moved to MGM and became part of the team under producer Arthur Freed which created the greatest set of musicals in movie history. He also scored non-musical films such as Father of the Bride and The Stratton Story. Like many of the great "unknown" musicians of his era, Deutsch understood that his function was to help, not star in the movie, "A film musician is like a mortician—he can't bring the body back to life but he's expected to make it look better." Deutsch was part of an MGM music department which many critics argue may never have been equalled.

—Douglas Gomery