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Daniel J. White – ‘Le Tango De La Perversion’



Daniel J .White’s lush romantic overture for Pierre-Claude Garnier’s directorial debut of 1973, ‘Le Tango De La Perversion’. As it plays in the opening credits, the red-headed vixen, ‘Loretta’, goes through her morning toilette in the ornate rooms of her recently inherited mansion, (a ‘shooting accident’ having eliminated her husband.) The same theme will return in the heat of later sexual conquests such as that of an unscrupulous insurance salesman, before playing out the conclusion, when the law finally catches up with her.

The original orchestration assigned the melody to a flute, with a piano accompanying in the style of Rachmaninoff. Enormous arpeggios span the entire keyboard and such a continuo would probably have been laid down by White himself, coolly directing the small ensemble from the comfort of his first instrument. A swinging drumbeat also gives the sound a ‘Musak’ feel, while a small brass section fills out the harmonies. I have tried to imitate these various instruments, (besides the very difficult piano part), in this humbler solo arrangement.

‘Le Tango De La Perversion’ is an obscure Belgian/French co-production and Patrice Rhomm’s screenplay is an obvious reincarnation of Billy Wilder’s Paramount classic of 1944, ‘Double Indemnity’. Miklós Rózsa’s Oscar-nominated score had served as a key commentator in this complicated crime drama between a provocative housewife, the husband who stands in the way of her fortune, a corrupt insurance salesman and the claims investigator who must sniff it all out. These various characters are all adapted into Rhomm’s version of the events, which proceeds in a much more torrid fashion, (as the title promises), and while Daniel J. White’s original music score could not reach the symphonic heights of his Holywood predecessor, it still stands on its own merits, coming from one of his finest creative phases. The score does not actually feature a ‘tango’ theme per se, but it is clear from Rhomm’s title that music was always going to be an integral part of this story.

Garnier’s film was shot in October of 1973, as evidenced by a copy of ‘Le Chasseur Français’ which we see ‘Loretta’ flick through in the opening scenes, in her search for another wealthy widower. White’s music score was recorded the following year by ‘Grande Avenue’, in Paris. This publishing house was based in Avenue Hoche, not far from the Arc de Triomphe (which became their logo, printed on tape covers and sheet music scores.) Interestingly they were also just a couple of blocks away from the central office of ‘Eurociné Films’ at 33 Champs-Élysées, so it’s clear why they also published White’s scores for the following films that same year –

The Black Countess (Jesús Franco)
Tendre Et Perverse Emmanuelle (Jesús Franco)
The Man With The Severed Head (Juan Fortuny)
La Maison Des Filles Perdues (Pierre Chevalier)
Les Filles Du Golden Saloon (Pierre Chevalier and Gilbert Roussel)

These scores were all recorded between March and August, 1974, for films that were at least co-produced by ‘Eurociné Films’, so their boss, Marius Lesœur, obviously had close ties to ‘Grande Avenue’, while his music man, White, could quickly move back and forth between their offices.

Some tracks from these other scores were subsequently released on White’s library albums (to try and recoup production costs that the film releases themselves never would), but sadly the original music for Garnier’s film was never heard again.

Valérie Boisgel, who played the central femme fatale, was regularly interviewed at the time of the film’s release in March 1974 by the likes of ‘Cinema X’ and ‘Sex Stars System’, in both English and French. She was fiercely critical of the new wave in French X films, which ironically she also began to champion at the time, and it’s no surprise that she quit the genre when it really got stuck into its hard-core phase later in 1973, and instead went on to distinguish herself as a playwright and novelist.

‘Le Tango De La Perversion’ was itself publicised in these magazines and a memorable shot of Joëlle Coeur brandishing a snooker cue also made its way onto the front cover of ‘Euro Cinema’, however the film itself was only given a limited release in France. Go Video acquired the film in 1981, and it was released on tape in the UK as ‘House of Perversity’ and later as ‘Sex Crazy’. With the tagline “Erotic sex drama at its best!”, it is clear what genre Garnier’s film would be left to rot in.

Even if the various ingredients never came together to form a classic, they can still be appreciated individually – Rhomm’s funny dialogue, Garnier’s surreal direction, Boisgel’s highly charged performance, and White’s dreamy music score are all on top form. Maybe a new restoration and release would elevate this old picture into something better, or maybe it is best just left as an obscurity, and its value derives solely from the fact it is so hard to find….

I am just an amateur and do not own any of this.

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